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Report to the People

Bill Co-sponsored By Reynolds To Expand Pilot Program For Mental Health Passes 116-1


During a week marked by a committee deadline and the subsequent deaths of numerous favored measures, a couple of bright spots occurred in the House Chamber.

 

I co-sponsored House Bill 419, a bipartisan effort to expand the pilot mental health court program that we established last year. Of Mississippi’s 22 Circuit Court districts, six districts are eligible to establish a mental health court right now. We want to provide this opportunity statewide.

The pilot program was established through the Rivers McGraw Act of 2017, named after a young man who took his own life due to the mental and emotional anguish associated with addiction. While nothing can remove the pain of losing a loved one to such a terrible disease, we believe that the state can take positive steps to help the struggling regain sober control of their own lives through intervention, positive support and monitoring systems.

The idea is similar to the successful model of drug courts that have helped individuals turn themselves around and become contributing members of society.

Previously, persons under arrest for drug or mental health issues were treated the same as those who were committing intentional criminal acts. Mississippi jail cells are filled today with individuals who would be better corrected through professional intervention and counseling, with adequate supervision to prevent additional infractions. If what we are seeking is peace and safety for our communities then our best effort will be to help individuals achieve sobriety and stable mental health. I believe that Mental Health Courts are a positive step in that direction.

The bill was approved by a vote of 116-1 and now goes before the Senate for review and consideration.

Although no equal pay bills survived the January 30 committee deadline, on Friday Rep. Alyce Clarke introduced an equal pay amendment to a measure prohibiting local governments from raising minimum wages within their jurisdictions. Rep. Clarke’s amendment inserted language into House Bill 1241. 

Her amendment was approved by an overwhelming 84-32 vote. Significantly, the obvious support of making sure that women are paid equally to men performing the same work indicates that should a similar bill have passed committee, it would have passed the House handily. In my opinion, it is past time for this assurance to be in the laws of Mississippi. Alabama and Mississippi are the only two states that do not recognize the right of equal pay for equal work.

We welcomed a number of women’s groups to the Capitol last week who were working hard to raise the possibility of an equal pay bill becoming reality. Although no bills survived the deadline, Rep. Clarke’s effort may keep the issue alive and eventually place it into law. I certainly support that idea.

Please call on me if I can be of any assistance.  My email address is thomasureynolds@bellsouth.net and my mailing address is P. O. Drawer 280, Charleston, MS 38921.  My office number is 662-647-3203. 

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