Mississippi bills to watch in 2023

Editor’s Note: This list will be updated throughout the legislative session.

About 3,000 bills have been filed with the Mississippi legislature for consideration during the 2023 session. Last week was the deadline for lawmakers to introduce general bills.

The deadline, however, does not apply to income and appropriation accounts due in February.

voting initiative

Concurrent Senate Resolution 517, authored by Senator David Blount, D-Jackson, and Concurrent House Resolution 26, authored by Representative Tracy Rosebud, D-Tutwiler, are among several bills shelved to revive the process of state initiative, where voters can bypass the legislature and put questions on the ballot for the electorate to decide. The state Supreme Court declared the state initiative process unconstitutional in 2020 on a technicality, and legislative leadership has pledged to renew it. But that did not happen in the 2021 session.

Medicaid Expansion

Senate Bill 2070, authored by Senator Angela Turner Ford, D-West Point, and House Bill 108, authored by Rep. Bryant Clark, D-Pickens, are among several bills filed for expand Medicaid coverage as permitted by federal law to provide health coverage primarily to the working poor. Under the proposal, the federal government would pay most of the costs.

postpartum coverage

Senate Bill 2212, authored by Senator Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaen, and House Bill 426, authored by Missy McGee, R-Hattiesburg, are among several bills filed to extend Medicaid coverage from 60 days to 12 months for mothers after childbirth.



Health care and hospital crisis

Senate Bill 2371, Senate Bill 2372, Senate Bill 2373, and Senate Bill 2323, authored by Senate leaders with support from Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, aim to help struggling hospitals of Mississippi and strengthen the health care workforce. The bills would spend a combined $111 million of federal state pandemic relief money. This includes $80 million in grants to hospitals based on the number of beds and type of care, a loan repayment program for nursing students, and grants to help community colleges strengthen their nursing programs. Senate Bill 2323 would eliminate legal barriers to hospital consolidation or collaboration.

Senate Bill 2793 and House Bill 1081 would create licensing and regulation – by a new board – for midwives in Mississippi. Currently, midwifery is not regulated in Mississippi like it is in 36 other states, which means that anyone here can claim to be a midwife without formal training or certification. More than half of Mississippi counties are considered “maternity care deserts,” with no hospitals practicing obstetric care, no obstetricians and gynecologists, and no certified nurse midwives. Advocates say midwives can help in these areas. But many medical groups say that childbirth should be supervised by trained doctors.

firing center

House Bill 469, authored by Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, would provide $12 million for Mississippi Baptist Medical Center to create a burn center or unit at the hospital by 2024. The state’s only accredited burn center closed last year, but recently the University of Mississippi Medical Center announced that it will increase its burn-care capabilities.

Wellness agency makeover

House Bill 184 and Bill 188, authored by Rep. John Hines, D-Greenville, would establish a board to oversee the Department of Human Services, removing the agency from the exclusive oversight of the governor’s office. House Bill 1054, filed by Representative Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, would require legislative regulator PEER to evaluate TANF sub-grants. Senate Bill 2331, filed by Senator Rod Hickman, D-Macon, would remove the child support cooperation requirement for TANF and SNAP recipients.

criminal suffrage

Senate Bill 2405, authored by Senator Sollie Norwood, D-Jackson, and House Bill 1247, authored by Representative William Tracy Arnold, R-Booneville, are among several bills filed to change the state Constitution to allow people convicted of felonies to regain their voting rights at some point after completing their sentence.

Elections and polls

Senate Bill 2299, authored by Jeremy England, R-Vancleave, would establish a mechanism for voters to remove state and local officials, including legislators.

House Bill 370, authored by Shanda Yates, I-Jackson, would establish a mechanism for voters to remove city employees.

Government accountability

Senate Bill 2667, authored by Senator Jason Barrett, R-Brookhaven, with various co-sponsors, would reiterate that the open meetings law covers the Mississippi legislature. The bill is a response to a controversial 2022 decision by the state Ethics Commission saying the Legislature is not covered by the open meetings law. The bill also increases the fine for open records law violations from $100 to $500.

Prohibition of gender procedures

House Bill 1125, the “Regulatory Teens Experimental Procedures Act,” is similar to measures passed or debated in other states and was authored by Rep. Gene Newman, a Pearl Republican. The bill, passed in a 78-28 partisan vote on the House floor early in the session, would ban gender-affirming surgery and prescription drugs for Mississippians 18 and younger.

taxes

House Bill 418, authored by Rep. Jansen Owen, R-Poplarville, and co-sponsored by others, would eliminate sales tax on most grocery items.

The deadline for filing invoices isn’t until February 22nd, so more will likely be filed.

Education

House Bill 294, authored by Carolyn Crawford, R-Pass Christian, would ban public schools and universities from enforcing mask mandates.

Senate Bill 2079, authored by Angela Hill, R-Picayune, would create the Mississippi School Protection Act and authorize schools to designate personnel with a firearms license to be armed.

House Bill 112, authored by Bryant Clark, D-Pickens, would create the Mississippi Universal Preschool Act.

House Bill 595, authored by Bo. Brown, D-Jackson, would authorize the Department of Education to create curriculum for African-American studies and racial diversity.

law enforcement

House Bill 1070, authored by Lee Yancey, R-Brandon., would create grants for schools to teach patriotic education.

House Bill 1020, authored by Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia, creates a separate court district within the Capitol Complex Improvement District, which is an area around downtown Jackson where many of the state buildings are located. The judges, who would hear civil and criminal cases, would be paid the equivalent of chancellery and circuit judges, but would be appointed by the Chief Justice of the Supreme Court rather than elected like other state judges.

House Bill 1222, authored by Sam Creekmore, R-New Albany with other cosponsors, would make a number of changes to state mental health policies, including requiring law enforcement agencies to provide “health training mental health in first aid”. It would appoint court liaisons to work with families in counties where more than 20 people are involuntarily interned each year, require chancellery staff to keep more detailed records on civil commitments, and aim to reduce delays in carrying out screenings of people being civilly interned. Under the bill, community mental health centers would be required to hire an accountant and conduct regular audits. It would also change the makeup of the mental health board to include more subject matter experts and at least one sheriff, and reduce the length of terms of board members.







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Mississippi bills to watch in 2023

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