2004 Regular Session
To: Universities and Colleges; Appropriations
By: Representative Young
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-101-293, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT THE EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF MENTAL HEALTH MAY GRANT PAID EDUCATIONAL LEAVE TO MEDICAL RESIDENTS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 37-101-293, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-101-293. (1) Within the limits of the funds available to any state agency for such purpose, the administrative head of such state agency may grant paid educational leave on a part-time or full-time basis and reimburse employees for educational expenses such as tuition, books and related fees to pursue undergraduate or graduate level education to those applicants deemed qualified.
It is the intent of the Legislature that such educational leave program shall be used as an incentive for employees to develop job-related skills and to develop employees for higher-level professional and management positions.
(2) In order to be eligible for paid educational leave, reimbursement for educational expenses or both, an applicant must:
(a) Be working at a state agency for at least three (3) years at the time of application or be working at a state agency at the time of application for part-time graduate level education in a particular profession deemed by the administrative head of the state agency to meet a critical need within the state agency;
(b) Attend any college or school located in the State of Mississippi and approved by the administrative head of such agency, unless such course of study is not available at a Mississippi college or school, in which case the applicant may attend an out-of-state college or school;
(c) Agree to work as an employee in the same state agency for at least three (3) full years after completion of the course of study or, in the case of employees on educational leave on a part-time basis or receiving reimbursement for educational expenses only, to work for a time prorated based upon the total amount of expenses, including leave, paid for by the agency.
(3) (a) Before being granted paid educational leave, or being approved for reimbursement of educational expense or both, each applicant shall enter into a contract with the state agency, which shall be deemed a contract with the State of Mississippi, agreeing to the terms and conditions upon which the paid educational leave will be granted to him. The contract shall include such terms and provisions necessary to implement the purpose and intent of this section. The form of such contract shall be prepared by the Attorney General of this state and approved by the State Personnel Board, and shall be signed by the administrative head of the state agency and signed by the recipient. If the recipient is a minor, his minority disabilities shall be removed by a chancery court of competent jurisdiction before the contract is signed.
(b) Educational expenses for tuition, books and associated fees shall be reimbursed to the employee only after the employee has submitted documentation that the approved course has been successfully completed.
(c) If the recipient does not work as an employee in that state agency for the period of employment specified in the contract, the recipient shall be liable for repayment on demand of the remaining portion of the compensation that he or she was paid while on paid educational leave and educational expenses paid, with interest accruing at ten percent (10%) per annum from the recipient's date of graduation, or the date that the recipient last worked at that state agency, whichever is the later date. In addition, there shall be included in any contract for paid educational leave a provision for liquidated damages equal to Two Thousand Dollars ($2,000.00) per year for each year remaining to be served under such contract.
(d) If any recipient fails or withdraws from school at any time before completing his or her education, the recipient shall be liable for repayment on demand of the amount of the total compensation that he or she was paid while on paid educational leave, with interest accruing at ten percent (10%) per annum from the date the recipient failed or withdrew from school. However, if the recipient remains or returns to work in the same position he or she held in the same state agency prior to accepting educational leave, he or she shall not be liable for payment of any interest on the amount owed.
(e) The state agency shall have the authority to cancel any contract made between it and any recipient for paid educational leave or educational expenses or both upon such cause being deemed sufficient by the administrative head of the agency.
(f) The state agency is vested with full and complete authority and power to sue in its own name any recipient for any balance due the state on any such uncompleted contract, which suit shall be conducted and handled by the Attorney General of the state.
(g) Persons who default on contracts entered into under this section shall have the default determined and lose their professional health care licenses under the procedures provided in Section 37-101-291.
(4) At the discretion of the administrative head of the state agency, any recipient who is granted paid educational leave by the state agency, including nurses, shall be compensated by such agency as prescribed by the State Personnel Board during the time he or she is in school. For employees who are on educational leave on a full-time basis, the State Personnel Board shall establish a maximum salary amount at which any employee may be paid full compensation while on educational leave and shall establish a deduction ratio or reduced percentage rate of compensation to be paid to all employees compensated at a salary level above such maximum salary amount. No recipient of full-time educational leave shall accrue personal or major medical leave while he or she is on paid educational leave.
(5) Each state agency granting paid educational leave to employees or reimbursing educational expenses or both shall file an annual report with the Legislature which shall detail for each recipient of paid educational leave the position of the employee, the cost of the educational assistance and the degree program and school attended.
(6) Within the limits of funds available to the Mississippi Department of Mental Health, the Executive Director of the Department of Mental Health may grant educational leave to medical residents of the University of Mississippi and pay a stipend in an amount not to exceed the salary of a medical resident. In order to be eligible for paid educational leave under this subsection, the applicant must be approved by the Department of Mental Health Educational Leave Committee and meet all obligations established under agreements between the Department of Mental Health and the University of Mississippi and regulations promulgated by the Board of Mental Health. The recipient shall fulfill his or her obligation under this program on an annual pro rata basis for each year on paid education leave.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2004.