Legislators completed the l
ast day of the 2018 legislative session on Wednesday, March 28, after working through the weekend to finalize the state budget. While many significant pieces of legislation did not make it through the process this year, several did and are now being signed into law by the Governor.
***While still challenging, the
state budget got a slight boost of $56 million. This year the
approximately $6 billion budget (which does not include federal contributions) provided small increases for education, Child Protective Services, the Department of Public Health and the Department of Public Safety. In finalizing the budget legislators also set aside two percent of the general fund for the state's rainy day fund.
***One of the most notable pieces of legislation this session was a
law to prohibit abortion after 15 weeks of pregnancy. Unfortunately, this will be the most restrictive abortion law in the country.
Bonds for this year total $250 million and will go toward the Local System Bridge Repair and Rehabilitation Program (LSBP), universities and community colleges, Ingalls Shipyard, the Department of Finance and Administration and a loan program to assist small cities and counties with water and sewer projects.
***An act was created to provide certain
immunities for a person who requests assistance during a medical emergency caused by the consumption of alcohol.
***The legislature spent a good bit of time discussing Medicaid this year. While the federal government provides certain services, the state must decide what additional services it will provide. This year, members adopted legislation that
mandates that managed care companies pay the same reimbursement rate as the legislature-set rates for Medicaid. The new law deletes the annual limit on physician visits, home health service visits and the monthly prescription limit. It will also provide reimbursement for treatment for those experiencing opioid dependency,
provide payment options for rural hospitals and reimbursements for OB/GYNs and psychiatrists.
***Pharmacists will now be able to provide additional information to patients about affordable
options for medication with the Prescription Drugs Consumer Affordable Alternative Payment Options Act.
***The failure to have mandatory motor
vehicle liability insurance will now be a criminal offense instead of a civil violation.
Transport of unopened beer and light wine on state and federal highways in dry areas of the state will now be allowed. Municipalities that have voted to permit the sale and consumption of alcohol will also be able to establish leisure and recreation districts, which will allow consumers to walk from place to place with alcohol within a designated area.
***The Kaelin Kersh Act will
require that any operator of an emergency vehicle
must use the vehicle's blinking or rotating lights when traveling at a speed faster than 30 miles per hour over the speed limit.
***Legislation to address the concerns of veterans will
remove the prohibition that county veteran service officers may not hold additional elected or appointed positions, and allow the executive or deputy director of the State Veterans Affairs Board to be an active member of the Armed Forces.
***The legislature also
expanded reemployment protections for military servicemen and veterans with a law that will ensure that a service member or veteran be restored to his or her previous position after returning from training with the Armed Forces in another state.
***The issue of
dog fighting was addressed and penalties increased for any person that owns, possesses, buys, sells, transfers, or manufactures paraphernalia for the purpose of dog fighting. The bill sets the maximum penalty for dog fighting at a fine of $10,000 or 10 years in the State Penitentiary.
Dead Legislation for 2018
There were several pieces of proposed legislation that did not make it through the process. They included a
new education funding formula, an all-encompassing road and bridge improvement plan, and a state lottery
to read a Mississippi Today article with more information about legislation that didn't move.