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Report to the People

School Funding, Infrastructure Concerns Were Not Addressed In 2018 Session

The 2018 Legislative session concluded earlier than expected. Although we were not able to pass a needed comprehensive transportation act, we did accomplish some good things for Mississippians.

The full Legislature agreed with a measure that I strongly supported. We agreed to $4 million in funding for another round of fire truck purchases through the Rural Fire Truck Acquisition Act – the latest in a dozen previous rounds of such purchases. Additionally, we provided fire departments funding to purchase fire-fighting equipment and/or personal protective equipment and related gear. Our firefighters, most of whom work voluntarily, deserve the best and safest equipment. 

We must remember that theirs is one of the most dangerous jobs, and they deserve anything we can do to make them safer. The arrival of newer and better trucks and equipment also means lower insurance rates and a safer environment for our citizens. This action will help all of the counties in District 33.

Healthcare, specifically the Medicaid program, was a topic that rightfully drew much attention during the session. The Medicaid program serves some of the most vulnerable among us – the very poor, individuals with disabilities and the very young and frail. I am pleased that we were able to come together and enact some common-sense changes to the services provided to these Mississippians. We removed the annual limit on physician visits, authorized OB/GYN providers to be reimbursed as primary care physicians, deleted the limit on doctor visits and home health visits, and deleted the limit on the number of prescriptions that can be filled during a month. Significantly, we allowed increased reimbursement for psychiatrists and will now consider opioid addiction as a treatable medical condition.

With these changes, Medicaid recipients are now provided more of the same considerations that other ill Mississippians receive as they address healthcare issues. It is the right thing to do.

In keeping with our push to help the sick among us, we passed a law that allows pharmacists to let their clients know if there are cheaper routes to take when filling prescriptions. Previously, pharmacists were bound to address only the written prescriptions, even if they knew there were other options available that would reduce the costs of drugs to patients. Now, patients will know their options and perhaps save money.

We made another logical move when we decided to provide pharmacies the ability to “sync” prescriptions so that individuals who take multiple medications for chronic illnesses can get their prescriptions filled all at once. This convenience should help.

We passed an appropriation for another Trooper School, which I strongly supported. I hope that we never find ourselves in the situation of only a few years ago when several counties were without the regular presence of these important law enforcement officers. 

A number of issues went unaddressed during the session—fully funding the MAEP, instituting a state lottery for education funding and local transportation funding, a comprehensive road and bridge maintenance and repair funding program — just to name a few.

The bond bill that will provide $50 million for local bridge repair and restoration was the only item that survived that would in any way address the looming crisis of our crumbling infrastructure. I would not be surprised if we are called back into session to address this issue very soon.   

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

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