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Report to the People

Bills Address Slow Driving In Left Lane, Funding For Fire Trucks And Other Needs

House members spent the week considering measures that originated in our own chamber with a deadline for votes on Thursday, February 8. Despite some contentious floor debates, we were able to do some good for the people.

We passed a measure that brings good news to counties in our district. I co-sponsored House Bill 948, which we amended to include funds for another round of fire truck purchases through the Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Act. Addition-ally, the measure offers fire departments funding to purchase firefighting equipment and/or personal protective equipment and related gear.  

It is important that we do what we can to strengthen the capacities of our rural fire departments – it means lower insurance rates and a safer environment for our citizens. It’s also important that we make sure our firefighters, most of whom are serving voluntarily, are operating with the best and safest equipment.  This bill passed the House 92-23. The measure has now gone to the Senate for their action.

I spoke from the floor of the House in strong opposition to House Bill 1238. In my opinion, this measure is a blatant attempt to gut the Attorney General’s consumer protection efforts by changing the agency’s authority to pursue those whose actions harm Mississippi consumers.

Some of my colleagues and I went to the well of the House to warn House members about the dangers of enacting such a measure. It is widely recognized that the Attorney General’s efforts to hold bad actors accountable has brought billions of dollars to the State of Mississippi. Most recently, the office returned $33 million in monies recovered from a manufacturer who charged Medicaid fraudulently higher prices for medicines. The strength of the Attorney General’s Office to protect Mississippi citizens and their families should be preserved. The bill narrowly passed the House and has gone to the Senate for consideration.

The House also took some steps to enhance traffic safety. The “Kaelin Kersh Act” was unanimously approved. House Bill 1202 requires that any operator of an emergency vehicle must use blinking or rotating lights when traveling faster than 30 MPH above the speed limit. The measure is named in memory of a young woman who lost her life in an accident during a police car chase conducted without these warning signs.

We passed House Bill 80, which states that drivers must not drive slowly in the left lane of four-lane or greater highways. Most of us have encountered situations where an individual is blocking traffic from the passing lane while dawdling along. HB 80 will ensure good traffic flow and prevent accidents.

House Bill 49 requires that fire engines must have flashing blue lights on the rear of the vehicle when traveling at night. Although they are large, firetrucks are not recognized by some drivers at night due to the different light configuration on the trucks. This effort is to provide a safe driving situation for both citizens and firefighters. I supported it.

We passed House Bill 898, a Medicaid “technical bill” extending the repealer on the Medicaid statute that provides a list of services. The proposed legislation also 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. 

Some of us supported the creation of the Total Cost of Care for Working Families program under the auspices of Medicaid, but that push was unsuccessful. Even without that provision, I do believe that these changes will help healthcare delivery to those individuals who qualify for the service.

House Bill 898 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 vote of 108-3.

If I can be of assistance to you, please call on me.  My office tel. number is (662) 647-3203 and my email address is  My mailing address is P. O. Drawer 280, Charleston, MS  38921.

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