MISSISSIPPI LEGISLATURE

1998 Regular Session

To: Public Health and Welfare; Appropriations

By: Representative Clark

House Bill 280

AN ACT TO CREATE THE COMMISSION ON THE RESTORATION OF THE FAMILY TO FOSTER, IN MISSISSIPPI, AN APPRECIATION FOR FAMILY STRUCTURE; TO PROVIDE FOR APPOINTMENTS TO THE COMMISSION; TO PROVIDE THAT THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE COMMISSION SHALL REFLECT THE RACIAL AND GENDER DEMOGRAPHICS OF THE STATE; TO AUTHORIZE THE COMMISSION TO ADOPT RULES FOR ITS ORGANIZATION AND CONDUCT OF BUSINESS; TO ASSIGN THE COMMISSION TO THE STATE DEPARTMENT OF HUMAN SERVICES FOR ADMINISTRATIVE PURPOSES; TO PROVIDE THAT MEMBERS SHALL SERVE WITHOUT COMPENSATION BUT SHALL BE REIMBURSED FOR TRAVEL EXPENSES; TO REQUIRE THE COMMISSION TO MEET AT LEAST QUARTERLY; TO SPECIFY THE DUTIES OF THE COMMISSION; TO REQUIRE THE COMMISSION TO ANNUALLY REPORT AND MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE GOVERNOR AND LEGISLATURE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES. 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:

SECTION 1. (1) There is created the Commission on the Restoration of the Family, the purpose of which is to foster in Mississippi an appreciation and respect for structure in the family unit and to promote an awareness of the important role that parents play in the well-being and development of their children.

(2) The commission shall be composed of twenty-one (21) persons to be appointed as follows:

(a) On or before July 1, 1998, the Governor shall appoint five (5) members, one (1) from each congressional district. One (1) appointee of the Governor shall represent the Office of the Governor; one (1) shall be a teacher in a public elementary school; one (1) shall be an officer in the Student Government Association at a state-supported university or college; one (1) shall be a member of the clergy or a representative of a religious community; and one (1) shall represent business or industry. The Governor shall designate one (1) appointee to serve an initial term that expires on June 30, 1999, two (2) appointees to serve initial terms that expire on June 30, 2000, and two (2) appointees to serve initial terms that expire on June 30, 2001. The Governor shall designate one (1) of his appointees to serve as chairperson of the commission until the commission has organized and selected its officers under Section 2 of this chapter.

(b) On or before July 1, 1998, the Lieutenant Governor shall appoint five (5) members, three (3) of whom shall be members of the Senate; one (1) of whom shall be an instructor in an alternative school program established under Section 37-13-92; and one (1) of whom shall be a social worker. The three (3) members of the Senate shall each be from a different Supreme Court district and shall serve ex officio. The Lieutenant Governor shall designate one (1) appointee to serve an initial term that expires on June 30, 1999, two (2) appointees to serve initial terms that expire on June 30, 2000, and two (2) appointees to serve initial terms that expire on June 30, 2001.

(c) On or before July 1, 1998, the Speaker of the House of Representatives shall appoint five (5) members, three (3) of whom shall be members of the House of Representatives; one (1) of whom shall be a teacher in a public high school; and one (1) of whom shall be a member of a local Parent Teacher Association (PTA). The three (3) members of the House of Representatives shall each be from a different Supreme Court district and shall serve ex officio. The Speaker shall designate one (1) appointee to serve an initial term that expires on June 30, 1999, two (2) appointees to serve initial terms that expire on June 30, 2000, and two (2) appointees to serve initial terms that expire on June 30, 2001.

(d) On or before July 1, 1998, the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning, the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges and the State Board of Education shall each appoint one (1) representative. The member appointed by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning shall serve for an initial term that expires on June 30, 1999; the member appointed by the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges shall serve for an initial term that expires on June 30, 2000; and the member appointed by the State Board of Education shall serve for an initial term that expires on June 30, 2001.

(e) The Attorney General, State Superintendent of Education and Executive Director of the State Department of Human Services shall serve on the commission or, in their discretion, appoint a designee to serve in their capacity, for the period that each holds his respective office or position.

(f) It is the intent of the Legislature that the commission be comprised of persons having a professional association with or special interest in family advocacy, and that appointments to the commission reflect the racial and gender demographics of the entire state.

(3) Upon the expiration of the initial terms, all members shall be appointed for terms of three (3) years from the expiration date of the previous term. Any vacancy occurring other than by expiration of a term shall be filled for the unexpired term by the appropriate appointing authority. An appointment to fill an unexpired term shall not be considered as a full term.

SECTION 2. (1) The commission shall adopt rules for its efficient operation, which may include designation of its organizational structure including officers and committees, duties of officers and committees, a process for selecting officers, quorum requirements for committees, provisions for special or ad hoc committees, and other such procedures as may be necessary. The commission may establish committees responsible for conducting specific commission programs or activities.

(2) The State Department of Human Services shall designate support staff to assist the commission and the expenses of the commission shall be financed through the department's annual appropriation. Members of the commission shall serve without compensation or per diem; however, non-legislative members of the commission may receive, within the funds appropriated, to the department, reimbursement for travel expenses incurred while engaged in official business of the commission, as authorized under Section 25-3-41. No travel expenses shall be paid to legislative members for attending meetings of the commission while the Legislature is in session, and no travel expenses shall be paid without prior approval of the proper committee in the member's respective house.

(3) The commission shall meet and conduct business at least quarterly, but not more often than once a month. All meetings of the commission and any committees of the commission shall be open to the public, with opportunities for public comment provided on a regular basis. Notice of all meetings shall be given as provided in the Open Meetings Act (Section 25-41-1 et seq.), and appropriate notice also shall be given to all persons so requesting of the date, time and place of each meeting.

SECTION 3. (1) The commission shall:

(a) Serve in an advocacy and public awareness role with the general public regarding family structure issues;

(b) Conduct studies on the following issues:

(i) The various forms of family structure, including and in addition to the traditional two-parent family structure, that are present in America's society and methods to enhance the strengths of all forms of family structure;

(ii) Methods to enhance the role of fathers and their parental responsibility for the lives of their children;

(iii) Methods to reduce the increasing frequency with which single teenagers are creating single-parent families;

(iv) The relationship between family structure and the overall crime rate in a given community and the relationship between family structure and the success of children within the educational system in a community;

(v) Any other issues related to the societal advantages of family structure of all kinds; and

(c) Report annually to the Governor and the Legislature regarding the work and findings of the commission and recommend any state action that would strengthen the structure of the family unit in Mississippi.

(2) In developing its recommendations, the commission may consult with experts and shall examine actions taken in other states and their communities that have proven successful in fostering a greater awareness of the role of the family structure in society.

SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.