2020 Session Is One For The History Books

By Tommy Reynolds
District 33 Representative

The 2020 Legislative session finally concluded on Friday, October 2, when we finished up legislation on the CARES money and a few other matters that needed attending. No doubt, this session will be one for the history books in many ways. I believe one of the better decisions we made this year was to leave the sine die date open until we felt we had a grip on the ever-moving COVID-19 issue.  None of us had ever faced a public health crisis of this magnitude, and we made some good decisions to help our people manage and succeed through this historic pandemic.
In our last segment of the session, we appropriated CARES funds to help as many as possible:
House Bill 1812 will provide $10 million to help with needed improvements to our state radio system used by first responders during emergencies state-wide. You may remember that after Hurricane Katrina, one of the chief impediments to offering aid was the lack of a seamless state-wide communication system. I was pleased to support this measure.
As we know, our state veterans homes have been hard-hit by COVID-19. We were proud to appropriate $10 million to these homes. We should do all we can to protect those who protected us. The appropriation primarily will go toward personal protective equipment and additional nurses. I strongly supported this bill and all the other COVID relief measures presented to help our citizens.
Importantly, we appropriated $10 million to hospitals so that they can increase the number of ICU beds, isolation rooms and negative pressure rooms. We are helping them as they prepare for any upcoming virus surges. The Department of Health will administer the program and determine which facilities receive funding. If we’ve learned anything through this, we’ve learned that our hospitals and health care providers deserve every bit of help we can give them.  I think our healthcare providers may need even more help if we have a strong recurrence of the pandemic in our state, but this amount will be helpful.
In HB 1813, we also provided $4 million for specialty hospitals so that they can adequately provide for their patients. This measure was approved by the Senate and is now on the governor’s desk for his signature.
As we know, due to the loss of jobs, a number of property owners have been faced with lost rent revenue and the awful prospect of evicting their renters in the midst of a pandemic. We passed House Bill 1809 to provide $20 million for loss of rent to qualifying property owners. Under the bill, landlords can get up to $30,000 to cover losses they received after they were unable to evict renters who stopped paying during the pandemic. An amendment to the bill says commercial landlords can receive no more than 25% out of the $20 million total relief.  The Senate approved the measure and it is awaiting the governor’s signature.
I thank you for allowing me to be in a position to help. We are truly all in this together, and I appreciate the strength and courage Mississippians have shown throughout these uncharted days. We will no doubt come out stronger on the other side.
If I can be of assistance to you, please contact me.  My email address is thomasu
reynolds@bellsouth.net.  My residential address is 1720 North Main Street, Water Valley, MS 38965, and my office address is P.O. Box 280, Charleston, MS 38921.  My office phone number is 662-647-3203.

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