The House met as a whole throughout the week to discuss bills that made it out of committees and onto the calendar. Floor debate dominated legislative activity during the past week as we worked to meet the deadline for consideration of measures originating in the House. In other words, Thursday, February 8th was the deadline for Representatives to discuss House Bills. Any bills that were not discussed by Thursday died on the calendar.
House Bill 898
Medicaid program which serves over 760,000 Mississippians
who qualify for government help in receiving healthcare. The measure was styled as a "technical" bill because it addresses certain program technicalities. The proposed legislation revises some services. Those include removing the annual limit on physician visits, authorizing OB/GYNs to be reimbursed as primary care physicians, deleting the annual limit on the number of home health visits covered, deleting the monthly limit on prescription drugs for Medicaid recipients, providing for increased reimbursement for psychiatrists, and providing treatment for people that suffer from opioid abuse.
Several amendments did not succeed to create Total Cost of Care for Working Families. The change would have provided healthcare to those who work, but are too poor to pay substantial insurance premiums.
Mississippi is losing billions of federal dollars that would help support rural hospitals and the jobs they create. Most importantly, it helps to maintain a healthy citizenry. The bill also voids three contracts awarded by the Division of Medicaid to managed care companies, which would allow for new companies to apply for those contracts. The bill passed by a nonpartisan vote of 108-3.
In my opinion,
House Bill 1238
was introduced in an effort to strip the Attorney General's Office from pursuing cases protecting consumers.
The Attorney General's Office has a long history of taking up for consumers when they are harmed by bad actions.
After intensive debate, the measure passed the House narrowly by a vote of 58-54 and was held on a motion to reconsider. On Friday morning, the bill was tabled by pointing out important Attorney General actions on behalf of Mississippians could cease if the bill becomes law. The valiant efforts of bipartisan dissenters failed by a vote of 55-50. The measure will now be considered by the Senate.
Several members raised the issue related to expanding the gun carry laws. Concerns about
House Bill 1083
were voiced by college football coaches and even the Southeastern Conference (SEC) who fear gun violence might erupt during games if the measure passes. The potential effects of the bill include that
individuals would be allowed to carry loaded weapons into public places including courthouses, ballgames, and other places where groups of people might be present.
While I recognize the Second Amendment's premise that citizens have a right to possess firearms, I believe this measure could have unanticipated and potential consequences that may lead to death. Efforts to stop this bill from moving forward failed by a vote of 80-29.
One of the first bills that passed this week was
House Bill 1476
, which would revise the requirements for obtaining a real estate brokers license. Under the bill, a
person would have to work as a real estate salesperson for at least three years before sitting for the broker's exam
. The bill passed by a vote of 81-34.
Various provisions relating to the Mississippi Windstorm Underwriting Association (MWUA) would be revised with the passage of
House Bill 948
. This bill proposes that money would be provided from the non-admitted policy fee to rural fire truck grants and require MWUA to receive approval from the Insurance Commissioner when reinsurance would exceed a certain amount. The bill passed by a vote of 92-23.
With the passage of
House Bill 1331
anyone would be able to
report someone who does not stop for a school bus
as opposed to the current law which only allows police officers and bus drivers to report such an incident. This measure passed by a vote of 102-10.
A decision about
distribution of BP settlement funds
would be outlined with the passage of
House Bill 1512
, which would establish the "Gulf Coast Restoration Fund." The fund would be administered by the Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) who would be responsible for distributing funds to organizations that apply for financial assistance with restoration projects on the Coast. Any money that does not go into the restoration fund would also be distributed by MDA to different regions of the state. The bill passed by a vote of 110-7.
The House Insurance Committee introduced
House Bill 1198
, which would r
equire that certain health insurance policies provide coverage for women struggling with infertility
. This measure passed by a vote of 82-27.
The "Kaelin Kersh Act" would be created with the passage of
House Bill 1202
. This bill would 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
. The bill passed by a unanimous vote from House members.