Senator Parker, Optometrists Launch Statewide Vision Initiative

Mississippi optometrists to provide no-cost eye screenings for children who failed 3rd Grade Reading Assessment

Senator David Parker is working with the Mississippi Optometric Association (MOA) and the Mississippi Vision Foundation (MVF) in a statewide initiative to provide eye exams at no-cost to the nearly 15 percent of third graders who did not pass the state reading assessment test and do not have insurance. The exams are offered through July 31.

“One of the major stumbling blocks of early childhood education is not addressing students who have vision problems. If they’re unable to see their lessons – on the board or in their books – they’re unlikely to succeed. They become easily distracted and give up on learning. Practically and metaphorically some students have no vision for their future because they can’t see in class.  The third grade reading gate is designed to reach students early to ensure they have the skills and knowledge to continue successfully in school.  We hope this initiative addresses a physical impairment to result in students more attentive to learning because they’re now able to see their lessons better,” said Parker who has optometry practices in Olive Branch and Horn Lake and is the only optometrist in the Mississippi legislature.

Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves joined in the announcement of the initiative at the Mississippi Children’s Museum in Jackson on Monday.  “Improving the reading abilities of Mississippi schoolchildren is going to be a community effort, and this is an example of how we have to pull together to make sure our third graders are reading well,” Reeves said. “I appreciate optometrists across the state donating their time and skills to see if some of these students who are struggling have vision problems.”

While there are many issues that can affect a child’s inability to read and comprehend, one of those issues can be a vision problem. Statistics show that 25 percent of all school age children have vision problems and more than 80 percent of those do not get the help they need.

State Superintendent of Education Dr. Carey Wright said, “I have often said that it takes everyone – parents, educators and communities- working together to help students become successful readers. I appreciate the Mississippi Optometric Association’s initiative that will ensure students are not hindered from reaching their full potential because of poor eyesight.”

For students who are covered through private insurance, applicable co-pays may apply due to laws that require the doctor to collect this amount. All children, regardless of their family’s ability to pay, will be seen by ODs participating in the program. The MVF, working with industry partners, will cover the costs for student who needs an exam.

“The MOA and its Foundation are pleased to be a part of making a difference in the lives of these students and we are committed to identifying those students who have vision problems,” said Dr. Tonyatta Hairston, MOA Secretary-Treasurer and MVF Board of Directors member.  “We are also happy to announce that our industry partners are working with us to provide glasses free of charge to any student whose eye test reveals the need for corrective lenses”

To locate a participating optometrist, parents of eligible third graders should go to www.msvisionfoundation.org or call 601.572.0845. When making the appointment, parents should tell the receptionist they are scheduling the third grade eye appointment. They should bring the letter notifying them that their child did not pass the assessment test with them to the appointment.

 

Senator David Parker, an optometrist from Olive Branch, addresses the press conference and discusses the importance of clear vision in the success of childhood learning.

Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves expressed his support for the statewide eye exam initiative and thanked the optometry professionals involved for this component in childhood education improvements.

 

On hand for the announcement were Senator Josh Harkins, Jackson Councilman De’Keither Stamps, Senator David Parker, Senator Hillman Frazier, Lt. Governor Tate Reeves, Representative Kimberly Campbell, Senator Kenny Wayne Jones, Dr. Tonyatta Hairston, Senator Terry C. Burton, Representative Brett Powell, Representative Tom Weathersby, Representative Jason White, Representative Mac Huddleston and Representative John Moore.

Senator David Parker is an optometrist in Olive Branch. He was elected to the Senate in 2012 and serves on the Senate Economic Development Committee, Elections Committee, Judiciary-A Committee, Housing Committee, and Public Health & Welfare Committee. He and his wife Ashleigh have four children: Allie, Jack, Luke and Jude.

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Senator Parker Participates in Olive Branch Memorial Day Tribute

OLIVE BRANCH (May 25, 2015) – Today, state Senator David Parker participated in the annual Olive Branch Memorial Day Tribute and read the names of some of the veterans interred in the Blocker and Payne cemeteries.

“It was my honor to recognize these men who fought for our country to secure our liberty and freedom. We owe a debt of gratitude to these men, and our living veterans, that we cannot repay. But we should try by honoring them and keeping our promises to them,” Senator Parker said.

Participants read the names of more than 160 veterans interred in the cemeteries.

The 4th Annual event entitled “A Time to Remember” was held at Blocker Cemetery in Olive Branch Monday morning from 9:00am till 10:30am. Major Robert Boyeo, the senior Marine Instructor of the Marine Corps JROTC at Olive Branch High School was the keynote speaker.  Four of his cadets served as the color guard, joined by The Sons of the Revolution.

Taps was furnished by the Olive Branch High School Band. The event was sponsored by the Olive Branch Knights of Columbus and area Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts were in attendance.

Senator David Parker participating in the reading of the Roll Call of Honor during the Olive Branch Memorial Day celebration.

These are the names read by Senator Parker during the Roll Call of Honor.

Senator David Parker with the Olive Branch High School JROTC: Cadet Captain Conner Sprout; 2nd Lieutenant Tavaris Malone; Cadet Sergeant Shelby Pupo and Cadet Corporal Robert Boyero.

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Senator Parker & DeSoto County Family Participate in Signing Ceremony of Special Needs Education Act

Our emphasis in this legislation has always been on the children and enhancing their educational opportunities”

 Today, state Senator David Parker and the Dye Family from DeSoto County joined Governor Phil Bryant, former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and parents of children with special educational needs at a bill signing for the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act (Senate Bill 2695).

“Children are unique and one-size-fits-all education policy means some students who could otherwise excel will instead fall through the cracks.  This year in the legislature, we put focus on helping parents and students address those challenges. Some of the leaders in this legislation’s success include parents in DeSoto County, like Debra Dye, and I was pleased she, her husband and children could participate in today’s signing ceremony,” Parker said.

Governor Bryant said, “Today is an important day for families in Mississippi. When only 22.5 percent of special needs students graduate high school, something is terribly wrong. Now, with this bill, we will extend these children a better opportunity to succeed and will give their families the power to make the educational choices that they deem best.”

Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush and The Foundation for Excellence in Education supported the bill.  “Today, Mississippi took bold action to expand parental choice and expand opportunities for students with special needs.  Thanks to the strong leadership of Governor Bryant and state legislators, and the passionate advocacy of parents across the state, Mississippi will be a national leader in helping students with unique learning abilities achieve their God-given potential,” Bush said.

“Our emphasis in this legislation has always been on the children and enhancing their educational opportunities. It was gratifying to see several children join Governor Bryant at the signing.  Governor Bryant asked Lilli Dye and my son Jude if they wanted to sign it, too. They did; Jude marked it with an ‘X’,” Parker said.

The Dyes and Parkers of DeSoto County join Governor Phil Bryant and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush following the signing of the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act. From left to right: Mark Dye, Kimberly Remak, Marshall Dye, Governor Phil Bryant, Debra Dye, Lilli Dye, Cooper Dye, Jude Parker, Jeb Bush, Asheligh Parker, Senator David Parker.

Lilli Dye of DeSoto County adds her signature to the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act as older brother Cooper, mother Debra and brother Marshall Dye look on. Governor Phil Bryant holds the act with Jude Parker sitting in his lap.

A photo of the signed Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act includes the signature of Lilli Dye and an “X” by Jude Parker.

Governor Phil Bryant, with Jude Parker of DeSoto in his lap, is surrounded by children during the signing of the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act.

Jude Parker, son of Senator David Parker and Ashleigh Parker of DeSoto County, sits in Governor Phil Bryant’s lap during the signing ceremony of the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act.

Senator David Parker joins other legislators, parents, children and former Florida Governor Jeb Bush as Governor Phil Bryant signs the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act.

Senator David Parker is an optometrist in Olive Branch. He was elected to the Senate in 2012 and serves on the Senate Economic Development Committee, Elections Committee, Judiciary-A Committee, Housing Committee, and Public Health & Welfare Committee. He and his wife Ashleigh have four children: Allie, Jack, Luke and Jude.

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Senate Update: Dyslexia Education, More DeSoto Prosecutors & Allowing Innovation

Dyslexia Education

On Tuesday, I managed an amendment to HB488 which inserted the provisions of my legislation to create a grant program by the State Department of Education to assist schools in addressing the needs of students with dyslexia.

My amendment provides additional resources to school districts that institute a dyslexia program in the public schools through financial grants for the purchase of curriculum materials and supplies for dyslexia therapy services.

To qualify the school must:

1) Use licensed dyslexia therapists or individuals from an approved training program resulting in State Department of Education licensure to provide dyslexia therapy to students diagnosed with dyslexia;

2) Use daily Orton-Gillingham-based therapy;

3) Possess school leadership trained in dyslexia; and

4) Maintain a current School Program Verification and Assurances form on file with the State Department of Education

A school district meeting these qualifications could apply for up to $50K in funding for these curriculum supplies subject to appropriation.  Such funding would not be coming from MAEP but would be appropriated from the IHL Financial Aid program which also funds the dyslexia Education program.

The amendment passed by voice vote and the Senate passed the legislation 44-8. The measure now returns to the House of Representatives.

More DeSoto Prosecutors

On Thursday, SB2677, which I authored, was sent to the Governor after passing both the Senate and the House. This measure authorizes the Board of Supervisors of DeSoto County to employ and pay additional part-time assistant county prosecuting attorneys. This will allow our local government to make the determination of the number of prosecutors necessary to continue to move the criminal justice system forward in DeSoto County.

Allowing Innovation

Also on Thursday, HB222 – the House companion legislation to the measure I authored, SB2225 – was released from further consideration in the Senate and sent to enrolling, the final step before it heads to the Governor.  This is the legislation that will revise state motor codes to create a new classification of “autocycles” which will not fall under traditional motorcycle regulations and allow a new gas efficient vehicle to be used by consumers in Mississippi.  Removing obstacles to this innovative new vehicle will be a big help to citizens of Mississippi.  It is always necessary to adjust laws to keep pace with new developments. As technology progresses, old definitions no longer fit and this bill updates our motor code to give consumers more options without diminishing safety

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Senate Update

Last week we passed a number of practical conservative measures in the state Senate including a bill providing parental choice of schools for students with special needs (Senate Bill 2695).

Two measures we passed mirrored legislation I introduced this session.

Senate Bill 2394 would reduce the cost of a concealed carry permit by 20-percent. My bill (SB2226) would have reduced that cost by 50-percent but I supported this measure as a strong first step.

Senate Bill 2780 would remove the liability for medical professionals who treat persons who have overdosed on drugs and it also shields from arrest anyone who seeks treatment for a drug overdose or those who call for medical emergency help on their behalf. This is very similar to SB2242 which I sponsored.

I also supported and we passed Senate Bill 2619 which would allow active military personnel and veterans to skip the one day training class needed to acquire an enhanced concealed carry gun permit and would lower the age for concealed carry for them from 21-years-old to 18-years-old. My bill – SB2496 – sought to expand the right of retired law enforcement officers for concealed-carry ability; I strongly supported this measure for our veterans and military personnel.

Also, I cosponsored Senate Concurrent Resolution 567 which mourns the loss and honors the life and legacy of former state Senator and Congressman Alan Nunnelee. Congressman Nunnelee was an encouragement to me when I first ran for the state Senate and offered helpful advice and counsel.  Our sympathies are with his family. Mississippi lost a strong, conservative and dedicated leader when he passed away earlier this month.

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Senator David Parker’s Statement on First Congressional District Race

Today, state Senator David Parker released this statement:

“Since the passing of Congressman Alan Nunnelee, I have been diligently considering a run for Congress and the impact it would have on my family.  I have consulted with the governor, lieutenant governor, fellow senators, local elected officials, friends and patients.”

“During this careful consideration, I have heard excitement about the direction DeSoto County and Mississippi are heading.  Friends and patients told me my service in Jackson is making a difference. I feel God is leading me to continue to serve the state of Mississippi in the state Senate instead of making a run for service in Washington, DC. The peace I feel in this decision is strengthened in knowing I will not be pulled by time and distance from my family or the patients that I love dearly.”

“I know some who have asked me to run will find this disappointing, but I truly feel that at this time my family, my friends, my community and my patients need me to continue to serve as I do now.”

“Thank you for the hundreds of calls, e-mails and texts of support.  I look forward to continuing to serve as your state Senator.”

 Senator David Parker is an optometrist in Olive Branch. A conservative Republican, he was elected to the Senate in 2012 and serves on the Senate Economic Development Committee, Elections Committee, Judiciary-A Committee, Housing Committee, and Public Health & Welfare Committee. He and his wife Ashleigh have four children: Allie, Jack, Luke and Jude.

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Senator David Parker’s “Autocycle” Bill Passes Senate

Legislation allows new innovative vehicle to be exempted from motorcycle regulations

JACKSON (February 5, 2015) – Senator David Parker’s Senate Bill 2225 passed the state Senate today and would revise state motor codes to create a new classification of “autocycles” which will not fall under traditional motorcycle regulations.

Elio Motors of Phoenix, Arizona has developed this new ultra-high-mileage vehicle and there are 240 pre-orders in Mississippi.

“Removing obstacles to this innovative new vehicle will be a big help to citizens of Mississippi,” Senator Parker said. “It is always necessary to adjust laws to keep pace with new developments. As technology progresses, old definitions no longer fit and this bill updates our motor code to give consumers more options without diminishing safety.”

Paul Elio, CEO of Elio Motors, thanked Parker and Representative Steven Massengill, who sponsored similar legislation in the House of Representatives, in a statement from the company in December.

“The Elio Team continues to experience great success in removing legislative hurdles. We are very grateful to Representative Massengill and Senator Parker as primary sponsors of this legislative change in Mississippi State,” Elio said.

According to the company, Elio’s autocycle is three-wheeled enclosed vehicle that will sell for $6,800 and get up to 84 miles per gallon with traditional car features including power windows, power door lock, air conditioning and multiple air bags. The company announced its first manufacturing site will be in Shreveport, Louisiana with plans for the first production vehicle to roll off the assembly line this year.

 

 

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Parker Bill Reforming Child Support For Children With Disability Passes Senate

Legislation allows for continued support of child with disability beyond childhood

JACKSON (February 5, 2015) – Legislation which would allow a judge to continue a child support order for a minor with a disability beyond childhood passed the Mississippi Senate today.  Senate Bill 2148 was sponsored by Senator David Parker and co-sponsored by Senator Chris Massey.

“Children with disabilities can create unique financial hardships on the parent with custody, hardships that in many cases do not end with childhood.  These children may not be able to drive, get a job or care for themselves without assistance.  This legislation would not mandate continued support but would give a judge discretion to examine a case at hand to determine what makes sense for the family and families involved,” Parker said.

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Parker Bills Support Gun Rights; Protect Public Safety

Senator David Parker has introduced legislation to support gun rights in Mississippi and support law enforcement, public safety and veterans.

Gun Rights

Parker introduced SB2226 to reduce the cost of the concealed-carry permit from $100 to $50.

Reducing fees on concealed carry permits is also part of Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves’ legislative agenda. A similar bill to Parker’s (SB2394) passed through the Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency Committee last week and now moves on to the full Senate for consideration. That bill reduces the fee from $100 to $80. The program’s fund at the Department of Public Safety now has a $2.5 million surplus. “It is clear we can reduce the fiscal burden of taxpayers who want to legally carry firearms in this state so no government agency profits off of Mississippi gun owners,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said.

“While I would have preferred we lower the cost even more, I will fully support the compromise bill on the floor of the Senate, and believe a 20 percent reduction is a strong statement of support for gun owners who want to exercise their Constitutional rights,” Parker said.

Parker also introduced SB2496 which would allow the Department of Public Safety to authorize special permitting for retired law enforcement officers to utilize conceal-carry nationwide.

DeSoto County Prosecutors

Parker authored SB2677 to authorize the DeSoto County Board of Supervisors to hire and pay part-time assistant county prosecuting attorneys.  “We don’t want the DeSoto County criminal justice system to get bogged down some like areas of the state. Guilty suspects need to be prosecuted and punished; innocent people need to be released to get on with their lives.  Our sheriffs and police work hard at arrests and we need to give our prosecutors the resources to keep moving defendants through the process,” Parker said.

Parker also introduced SB2197 to increase the per-diem pay of riding bailiffs from $55 to $75. Riding bailiffs serve as law enforcement in circuit, chancery or county courtrooms under direction of the judge.

Public Safety

Parker’s SB2131 would allow a county to authorize a public official to declare a local emergency.  Currently under state law, while a mayor may authorize a local emergency for a municipality only the Board of Supervisors may authorize a local emergency for a county.  “There is a lot of chaos during an emergency and public servants are often pulled in a thousand directions by the people in a county. This measure would allow a county in advance to designate someone to handle the responsibility of declaring an emergency, so supervisors don’t have to quit recovery efforts to call a meeting to do so,” Parker said. He continued, “It is a practical and efficient reform.”

Parker also introduced legislation to help victims of drug overdose to seek medical assistance without fear of criminal prosecution.  “People make disastrous choices in their lives like illegal drug use.  When someone overdoses, they may hesitate to call for emergency medical service because of fear of prosecution, or someone in the room with them may fear legal repercussions of calling for help. Senate Bill 2242 would create immunity for someone seeking treatment for overdose. There is time to turn their lives around, and as a Christian I believe time for God to touch their hearts.  While they may have broken the law, at that moment they are a fellow human being in need of medical treatment and this legislation allows them to seek help without fear,” Parker said.

Veterans

“When our veterans demonstrate extraordinary service, meritorious achievement and sacrifice for our country, they’re recognized in various ways.  I believe those who earn the Distinguished Flying Cross, Air Medal or Bronze Star should be recognized and honored. One way we can salute them is to exempt these heroes from vehicle registration fees and taxes,” said Parker who introduced SB2079 to provide this relief to those veterans.

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Senator Parker Introduces Dyslexia Education Bill

Senator David Parker has introduced legislation to create a grant program by the State Department of Education to address the needs of students with dyslexia.

Parker’s Senate Bill 2296 would authorize and direct the State Department of Education to provide financial assistance for the recruitment, placement and employment of qualified licensed dyslexia therapy professionals to school districts.  These dyslexia therapy professionals would provide dyslexia screening, evaluation and therapy services to the students attending school in the school district.

“Students with dyslexia have specific needs that go beyond standard training, but they deserve to have a quality education like all other students.  This legislation would provide a mechanism for the state to assist local school districts in providing trained personnel to help students with dyslexia succeed,” Parker said.

“As a mom of two boys with dyslexia, we were unable to get the specialized instruction they need within the public school system. With as many as one-in-five students facing this learning difference, our schools need to learn to identify and then address the issue,” said Debra Dye of DeSoto County. “The funding provided by Senator Parker’s bill will help our schools with the resources needed to give these students the education that is appropriate for them.”

In his State of the State Address last week, Governor Phil Bryant spoke about dyslexia and said, “This reading disorder is the number one reason children drop out of school. If we confront it aggressively, we can see a dramatic decrease in our state’s dropout rate and help turn around our reading scores for thousands of Mississippi children.”

Funding for the measure would be appropriated by the legislature and could also be used to purchase curriculum materials and supplies for dyslexia therapy services.

To qualify for the funds, the school district would be required to use licensed dyslexia therapists or individuals participating in an approved training program; use daily Orton-Gillingham based therapy; have school leadership trained in dyslexia; and have a current School Program Verification and Assurances form on file with the State Department of Education.

“All students deserve the opportunity to learn, and measures like this one to address children with dyslexia, as well as others like the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act, can bring needed reforms to Mississippi’s public schools,” said Parker.

The measure has been referred to the Senate Education Committee and the Senate Appropriations Committee for consideration.

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