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Legislative Update for March 2, 2022

  • Post category:News

Many bills died on March 1 because it was the deadline for Mississippi state legislators to vote bills out of committee. The next deadline is March 9. The full Senate and the full House must vote on bills from the opposite chamber by March 9, or the bills will die.

Families as Allies is tracking these bills related to mental health, disabilities and childrenThe list sorts bills according to their content areas: mental health, education, child welfare, juvenile justice, special health care needs, disability rights and transparency/access to information. Inclusion on the list indicates the bill is related to the issue listed. It does not imply that we agree with or endorse it. We want you to have as much information as possible to advocate for what you think is best for your children and family.

We marked some bills with **. Two asterisks mean that these bills are likely to go to a conference committee because the House and Senate cannot agree on what should be in the bills. Lt. Governor Hosemann will appoint three senators and Speaker Gunn will appoint three representatives to craft a bill that is acceptable to both sides. Rule 23A in the Joint Rules of the Senate and House states that conference committee meetings are open to the public.

SB 2865 is “an act making an appropriation from the coronavirus state fiscal recovery fund to the Department of Mental Health for the purpose of assisting with behavioral and mental health needs exacerbated by the covid-19 public health emergency, responding to other public health impacts, assisting community mental health centers, and other operational expenses allowable under the American rescue plan act; and for related purposes.” This bill, which allocates $104 million in COVID relief funds to the Department of Mental Health (DMH), appears to be going to conference.

Along with other organizations, Families as Allies sent a letter to legislative leadership on February 12 with these recommendations about SB 2865:

  1. Use the funds to strengthen the infrastructure to sustain the system over time rather than to add services for a few short years.
  2. Create a stakeholder committee to advise and monitor the DMH on using these funds.
  3. Ensure that any recommendations related to the children’s system are coordinated through the Interagency Coordinating Council for Children and Youth.
  4. Require the DMH to regularly report to the legislature and stakeholder group how they’re using the funds and the outcomes.
  5. Support the stakeholder group to coordinate its plans with the Office of the Coordinator of Mental Health Accessibility and Dr. Michael Hogan, the monitor in the lawsuit.

Families as Allies believes these recommendations are consistent with our core value of accountability, the Mississippi state law about the system of care for children’s mental health and the definition of family-driven practice. We encourage conference committee members to consider the letter and its recommendations thoughtfully.

We marked other bills with ***. Three asterisks mean that these bills have strike-all amendments. Strike-all amendments strike out some or all of the bill’s original text and replace it with new text. Sometimes the new text substantially changes the intention or direction of the bill. If you are following a bill with a strike-all amendment, we encourage you to read the amended bill carefully. To read a bill’s amendment, click on the latest action link that follows the bill’s title. That link takes you to an information page about the bill. Look for amendments about halfway down the page.

“Title Suff Do Pass” means the Legislature passed the bill as written. The Senate Public Health and Welfare Committee passed House Bill 732 as written. House Bill 732 creates a State Commission on the 9-8-8 Comprehensive Behavioral Health Crisis Response System. America’s 9-8-8 Suicide Prevention and Mental Health Crisis Lifeline has tremendous potential to save lives and support citizens’ mental health. We encourage you to read the bill and reach out to your Senator about it. You can learn more about 9-8-8 at the 2022 Virtual Mental Health & Wellness Day at the Capitol on March 10 @ 10:00 am – 11:00 am CST

Suppose you support a bill that is now in the opposite chamber. In that case, one of the quickest and most effective ways to give feedback is to call the Capitol switchboard at (601) 359-3770 and ask them to tell your State Senator (if it’s a House bill) or State Representative (if it’s a Senate bill) that you would like them to vote yes on the bill. You can also ask them to vote no if you do not support the bill.

To find out who your state legislator is, go to Open States Find Your Legislator and put in your address. It will also list your federal representatives, but you want to contact your state senator and representative. Contact your state representative about senate bills (the ones that start with SB) and your state senator about house bills (the ones that begin with HB).

The Mississippi House and Senate are both live-streamed. Senate committee meetings are live-streamed as well. The link to join is at the top of the Senate committee agenda schedule.

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