This is the final week of the regular session, so we’re watching two pieces of 2020 legislation related to mental health. After we published this post, the conference committee’s version of SB 2610 passed the Senate and House and is headed to the Governor for signature.
Last week we shared with you that Senate Bill 2610, legislation that proposes a new position for a coordinator of mental health accessibility to perform a comprehensive review of Mississippi’s mental health system, had gone to a conference committee to work out differences between the Senate version of the bill (Sections 3 – 7, lines 85 – 236) and the House version of the bill are different (Sections 3 – 7, lines 108 -275).
The Senate version of SB 2610 made the coordinator an independent, temporary (3-year) position, while the House version made the coordinator a permanent position within the Department of Mental Health (DMH).
The conference committee filed its report late in the day on June 29. You can read the report here. In the conference report (Sections 3 – 7, lines 118 – 293), the coordinator is appointed by and serves at the will and pleasure of the executive director of the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) and is housed within DFA. Funds for the coordinator and any staff the coordinator hires are appropriated through the Department of Mental Health, but staff members remain accountable to the coordinator.
Both the House and Senate will now vote on whether to accept the conference report. You can contact your state senator and representative at the Capitol switchboard (601-359-3770) if you have feedback about how you think they should vote. This link can help you if you do not know who your state legislators are.
If both the Senate and House approve the report, it will be sent to Governor Reeves who can either sign it into law or veto it. You can contact the governor’s office by calling 601-359-3150 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Our goal is to provide you with information that helps you make choices that are best for you and your family, so Families as Allies does not typically take public stances on legislation, including SB 2610. We do, however, want to sincerely thank the committee members, Senators Bryan, Hopson and Polk and Representatives Mims, McGee and Scoggin for their time, dedication and thoughtfulness in working together to create this report.
Senate Bill 2947, the appropriations bill for the Department of Mental Health (DMH) also went to conference committee, and the conference report was approved by both the Senate and the House. You can read the history of actions on SB 2947 and access all the versions of the bill here.
Representative Mims presented SB 2947 on the floor of the House this past Saturday and explained that it reduces the DMH budget by 1% (most state agencies were cut by 5% due to COVID) and transfers $4 million from institutional to community-based services in response to the Justice Department lawsuit. The total budget of state and special source funds for the DMH is $577,499,530.
Governor Reeves will likely act on all appropriations reports today (Tuesday, June 30) since the agencies will need this money to continue functioning when the new fiscal year starts tomorrow, July 1.