Report To The People

Reynolds Introduces House Bill For Regional Jail

By Tommy Reynolds

Last week the Corrections Committee of the House of Representatives reported favorably HB 988, which I introduced, which would allow the Department of Corrections to contract with Yalobusha County for a regional jail for state inmates. This jail would provide for a new jail for Yalobusha County as well as housing state inmates in a regional facility. The Board of Supervisors of Yalobusha County had requested that this proposal be considered.     

This Bill will now go to the House Appropriations Committee for further consideration. Some other counties that wish to have regional prisons have been added to my bill and hopefully the matter will be considered shortly by the House Appropriations Committee. The Bill would allow but not mandate the Department of Corrections to contract with Yalobusha County. A separate appropriation bill would also be passed which would provide funds to begin payment of bonds issued to finance construction of the jail.     

The deadline approaching for committees to act on general bills is Tuesday, February 18. If the bill is favorably reported out by the Appropriations Committee, it must be passed by the House by February 28 to be further considered for this year.

Last week I chaired a meeting of the House Appropriations Committee Institutions of Higher Learning Subcommittee in which we visited the University Medical Center and heard a complete report of the needs of this Facility. The University Medical Center serves as a teaching hospital and trains physicians to serve our state. On Tuesday, the leaders of this Facility shared with us the affect of proposed budget allocations for University Medical Center. The University Medical Center and its other facilities serve a patient visit load of over 250,000 a year of our fellow Mississippians. The services that this Facility provides in training physicians for our state cannot be overstated.

The proposed Executive Budget would cut $17 Million in next year’s funding for the Facility below current year’s funding. The proposed Legislative Budget for the University Medical Center would not reduce funding for the Facility. I strongly support maintaining stable funding for the University Medical Center and not only maintaining stable funding but increasing funding if possible. The University Medical Center wishes to increase the entering class of medical students from the current 110 per year to 150. I believe that it is desperately needed that additional physicians be trained to serve the people of our state. We have the highest doctor to person ratio in the nation, and our state needs to provide access to medical education for Mississippi students who wish to serve Mississippians as doctors in the future. If the University Medical Center can get stable funding and reasonable annual increases in funding, it is likely that the Center can reach its 150 entering medical students per year goal. Adequate funding has to be provided for this goal or accrediting services will not allow our medical school to expand.

I was privileged, following the briefing, to tour with the Subcommittee and University Medical Center officials, the Neonatal Unit of the University Medical Center. Over 90 infants were being treated at this Facility. It was very inspiring to see the care and concern given to these desperately ill infants at our University Medical Center. Many lives of infants are saved at this Facility and also the quality care of desperately sick infants results in an improved quality of life for the infants for the remainder of their lives.

It is also very important that University Medical Center, in my opinion, be adequately funded as it is a vital link in our state trauma care network. Without the link that the University Medical Center provides, the state trauma care network would be crippled.

The House of Representatives this week moved closer to the webcasting of House proceedings. I supported the change of House rules which allowed the live Internet showings of House debates which passed earlier in this legislative session. These live showings of debates will soon be available to every Mississippian. I think this will be a very positive development.

If I can be of any assistance to you please call on me. My phone number in Jackson during the session is (601) 359-3365. The phone number in my Charleston office is (662) 647-3203, and my residence phone number is (662) 473-2571. I can also be contacted by writing me at my home address of 15 CR 429, Water Valley, MS 38965, or at my office address of P.O. Box 220, Charleston, MS 38921.

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