2000 Regular Session
To: Agriculture; Appropriations
By: Representative Holland
House Bill 1434
AN ACT TO PROVIDE FINANCIAL INCENTIVES TO VETERINARY COLLEGE STUDENTS AN GRADUATES WHO AGREE TO PRACTICE IN A RURAL COUNTY OF MISSISSIPPI; TO PROVIDE DEFINITIONS; TO CREATE THE RURAL VETERINARIAN INCENTIVE PROGRAM COMMITTEE; TO ESTABLISH CRITERIA FOR ELIGIBLE PARTICIPANTS; TO PROVIDE METHODS OF ACHIEVING FINANCIAL SUPPORT FOR THE PROGRAM; TO CREATE THE RURAL VETERINARIAN INCENTIVE FUND IN THE STATE TREASURY; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The following words and phrases shall have the meaning ascribed herein unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) "College" means The Mississippi State University College of Veterinary Medicine.
(b) "Committee" means the Rural Veterinarian Incentive Program Committee established by this act.
(c) "Eligible participant" means a person eligible to participate in the program under Section 4 of this act.
(d) "Fund" means the Rural Veterinarian Incentive Fund created in the State Treasury by this act.
(e) "Program" means the Rural Veterinarian Incentive Program established by this act.
(f) "Rural county" means a county with a population of less than fifty thousand (50,000).
(g) "University" means Mississippi State University of Agriculture and Applied Science.
SECTION 2. The university shall administer the program in accordance with the rules adopted by the committee.
SECTION 3. (1) The Rural Veterinarian Incentive Program Committee consist of:
(a) The Chairman of the Mississippi Board of Animal Health or the chairman's designee;
(b) The President of the Board of Veterinary Medicine or the president's designee;
(c) The dean of the college;
(d) A veterinarian with a mixed animal practice appointed by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning; and
(e) A veterinarian with a large animal practice appointed by the Board of Trustees of State Institutions of Higher Learning;
(2) The dean of the college serves as the presiding officer of the committee.
(3) An appointed member of the committee serves a term of two (2) years.
(4) The committee shall adopt rules:
(a) Establishing criteria to determine whether a person is an eligible participant as the committee considers reasonable, including the person's:
(i) minimum grade point average; and
(ii) financial need;
(b) Providing for the distribution of money from the fund for the program;
(c) Establishing the criteria necessary for a community or political subdivision in a rural county to qualify as a student sponsor under Section 5 of this act.
(d) Governing agreements of financial support between a rural sponsor and an eligible student; and
(e) Establishing other procedures necessary to administer the program.
SECTION 4. A person is eligible to participate in the program only if the person:
(a) Is enrolled as a student of the college or applies to participate in the program on or before the first anniversary of the date the person graduates from the college;
(b) Will receive or has received from a student loan at least fifty percent (50%) of the funds for tuition and fees for one (1) or more academic years while enrolled in the college; and
(c) Meets any additional qualifications adopted by the committee.
SECTION 5. (1) A community or political subdivision located in a rural county that qualifies under the rules of the committee may become a sponsor of an eligible participant and may provide financial support to the eligible participant under the program.
(2) To participate as a sponsor in the program, the community or political subdivision must enter into an agreement with the eligible participant to provide financial support to the eligible participant in an amount not less than the tuition and fees required for a full academic year for a student enrolled in
the college in exchange for the eligible participant's agreement to practice veterinary medicine in the sponsoring community or political subdivision.
(3) Financial support under this section:
(a) May be provided in whole or part by a grant, scholarship or funds provided by a private foundation; and
(b) Shall be deposited in the fund for distribution to the eligible participant by the university.
SECTION 6. (1) To participate in the program, and eligible participant must enter into an agreement with the university to practice veterinary medicine in a rural county for one (1) calendar year for each academic year for which the student receives financial support under the program.
(2) The financial support received by an eligible participant under this section must be used to retire student loan debt or to pay tuition and fees to the university while the eligible participant is enrolled in the college.
(3) Financial support from the fund shall be awarded in the form of grants.
SECTION 7. (1) The Rural Veterinarian Incentive Fund is created as a special fund in the State Treasury.
(2) The fund consists of any legislative appropriations for purposes of the program, gifts, grants, donations, the market value of in-kind contributions and other sources of revenue deposited to the credit of the fund by the university.
(3) The fund shall be administered by the university in accordance with rules adopted by the committee. The university may use a portion of the money deposited to the credit of the fund, not to exceed ten percent (10%) of that amount, for the administration of the program.
SECTION 8. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2000.