2017 Regular Session
To: Education; Appropriations
By: Representatives Crawford, Sykes
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 37-181-11, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE UNEXPENDED AMOUNTS IN THE STUDENT'S ESA TO BE COMBINED WITH SUBSEQUENT YEAR ALLOCATIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 37-181-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
37-181-11. (1) To ensure that funds are spent appropriately, the State Department of Education shall adopt rules and policies necessary for the administration of the program, including the auditing of Education Scholarship Accounts, and shall conduct or contract for random audits throughout the year.
(2) (a) The department or qualified nonprofit shall develop a system for payment of benefits, including, but not limited to, allowing educational service providers to invoice the department or designated nonprofit for qualified expenses consistent with Section 37-181-5(2), or allowing parents to seek reimbursement for qualified expenses consistent with Section 37-181-5(2). All unexpended amounts shall remain in the student's ESA, combined with the following year's allocation of ESA funds, except upon the occurrence of an event that will preclude a student's participation in the ESA program as provided under Section 37-181-5(6) and (8), when any remaining funds shall be returned to the state's General Fund.
(b) The department or qualified nonprofit may make payments to educational service providers or reimbursement to parents via check or warrant or electronic funds transfer or any other means of payment deemed to be commercially viable or cost-effective.
(c) The department may also establish by rule that some payments to educational service providers will be made on a quarterly basis, rather than an annual basis, if the educational services will be rendered over an extended period of time.
(3) The department shall adopt a process for removing educational service providers that defraud parents and for referring cases of fraud to law enforcement.
(4) The department shall establish or contract for the establishment of an online anonymous fraud reporting service.
(5) The department shall establish or contract for the establishment of an anonymous telephone hotline for fraud reporting.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2017.