Mississippi Session Update: Week 2

We have just completed WEEK 2 of the Mississippi Legislative Session. All lawmakers will be traveling to Jackson every week to work on policy that they fill is important to our state. Please help educate them on what is important to build healthier lives, free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke. If at any time you need more information on a specific issue, please reach out to me at [email protected] and I will get you what you need.


Action Needed

A You're the Cure action alert was sent out this week that asked you to welcome your elected officials back to Jackson. If you have not taken action on this email, I encourage you to do so ASAP by clicking http://bit.ly/2r0NQh8, entering your contact information and clicking "Send Email" to send the pre-written message to your lawmakers.

Breaking News

  • State of the State Address: On Tuesday, January 9 Governor Phil Bryant made his 7th State of the State Address to a joint session of Senators and Representatives in the House Chamber.
  • New Committee Chairs: On Thursday, January 11 Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves named appointed new committee chairs in the Senate:
    • Briggs Hopson (Vicksburg) – Judiciary A
    • Sally Doty (Brookhaven) – Energy
    • Kevin Blackwell (Southaven) – Elections
    • Mike Seymore (Vancleave) - Executive Contingent Fund
  • Tobacco Tax Support: Both the State Board of Health and the Medicaid Medical Advisory Committee voted this week to support efforts to increase the state tobacco tax by $1.50 per pack, which is a key policy effort for the American Heart Association.

Key Dates

  • Mon. Jan. 15 - Deadline for INTRODUCTION of general bills and constitutional amendments.
  • Tues. Jan. 30 - Deadline for COMMITTEES TO REPORT general bills and constitutional amendments originating in OWN House.

Campaign Updates

State Legislative Campaigns

Bills are slowly being released by both House and Senate drafters. As they are released, I will read and determine the AHA’s level of involvement. I will keep you all posted on all essential bills of interest. Here is the latest heart and stroke news from the State Capitol. 

Tobacco Tax:

Increase the state cigarette tax by $1.50 with Other Tobacco Products (OTP) parity by 2020. The state’s cigarette tax is currently at 68 cents – ranked 39th. As you know, the American Heart Association is a member of the Invest in a Healthier Future coalition that has been working for several months on developing resources, meeting with lawmakers and influencers on this issue. Because this is a revenue bill, it will require a 3/5 by the membership, as opposed to a general bill which only requires a simple majority. So, this will be much more difficult to move through the process. Knowing this, your voice is that much more important! Two bills relate to this policy effort; one for the cigarette tax and one for the tax on other tobacco products.

BILL: Senate Bill 2230 – Increase cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack
SPONSOR: Senator Willie Simmons (Bolivar, Sunflower, Tallahatchie)
ASSIGNED TO: Senate Finance Committee

BILL: House Bill 906 – Cigarette Equity Tax – right now, all cigarettes are not taxed at the same rate because of the Tobacco Master Settlement. This will bring all cigarettes to an equally taxed level.
SPONSOR: Representative Jeff Smith (Lowdnes, Monroe)
ASSIGNED TO: House Ways and Means

Tobacco Control Funding:

There is a possibility that budget cuts could be made to the state’s tobacco education program. The appropriations made to this program are directly from the state’s healthcare trust fund that was set up as a result of the Tobacco Lawsuit Settlement in 1998. The American Heart Association and other partners work extremely closely with the Office of Tobacco Control and will work to ensure that these appropriation dollars remain intact. Appropriation dollars are not dealt with until later in the session.

Tobacco 21: 

An issue that is newer to the tobacco arena is increasing the purchasing age of tobacco products from 18 to 21. While this issue has not yet gained traction in Mississippi, there are around 100 local municipalities across the country that have adopted this policy (most recently San Antonio, TX this week), as well as the state of Hawaii.

Why 21? Evidence shows that nicotine dependence and smoking intensity are strongly correlated with younger ages of smoking initiation. In other words, the younger people are when they smoke their first cigarette, the more likely they will be a smoker for life. Furthermore, some research suggests that adolescent smokers may experience more difficulty in quitting compared with adult smokers. 

We don’t expect these bills to move through the process, but it will allow an opportunity for conversation to begin to educate lawmakers on the issue. So, when the time is right, we will have that much more of a chance.

BILL: House Bill 140
SPONSOR: Rep. Bryant Clark (Attala, Holmes, Yazoo)
ASSIGNED TO: House Drug Policy Committee

Statewide Smoke-free:

Representative Bryant Clark has introduced a statewide Smokefree bill. This is a comprehensive bill that includes all workplaces, including gaming facilities. While this is a priority issue for the AHA, it is not a priority issue for the 2018 legislative session. We have our hands full with the tobacco tax campaign. However, if the opportunity arises to educate members or to move this bill forward, we will take it!

BILL: House Bill 142 
SPONSOR: Rep. Bryant Clark (Attala, Holmes, Yazoo)
ASSIGNED TO: House Public Health and Welfare

State Regulatory Campaigns:

  • STEMI Facility Designation: Enact statewide standards for the formal recognition of STEMI facility designations and the development and implementation of transport protocols for STEMI patients in accordance with AHA criteria.
  • STEMI Registries: Enact statewide standards for the development and utilization of STEMI registries in accordance with AHA criteria for support. We are working closely with the Mississippi State Department of Health, STEMI Advisory Council and the Mississippi Healthcare Alliance on developing these standards. We are expecting a vote by the Mississippi State Board of Health on most of the guideline at the April Board Meeting.

In the News

State Budget:

Other News:

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