Session Update: Week 8

We have just completed WEEK 8 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. I encourage you to PLEASE help educate them on what is important. If at any time you need more information on a specific issue, please reach out to me and I will get you what you need.


Key Dates

Tuesday, Feb. 27: Deadline for COMMITTEES TO REPORT general bills and constitutional amendments originating in OTHER House.

Campaign Updates

State Legislative Campaigns

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.

UPDATE: Over the past weekend and this week, coalition members have been driving phone calls to State Senators and the Lt. Governor! This collective voice was heard!

Senate Bill 3048: This is the omnibus bond bill that was pushed out by the Lt. Governor. On TUESDAY MORNING, HE put the code sections in the bill – this was a HUGE shock to us! The code sections are for a cigarette tax and a cigarette equity tax. While this is not one of the bills that we have been tracking, it does have the code sections in it that will allow this issue to move forward in the process! Also, it does not have specific amounts attached to it, but it can still happen. It has a “reverse repealer” which forces the bill into conference. This is where the amount will likely be worked out.

SB 3048 was introduced in the Senate Finance committee on Tuesday, February 20th. During that committee meeting, Senator Michael Watson from Pascagoula, proposed an amendment to strip out the code sections having to do with the cigarette tax and cigarette equity tax. This amendment failed in committee, thankfully.

On Wednesday, the bill passed the Senate floor this morning. While there wasn’t an amendment made to strip out the cigarette tax code sections, there was a good discussion and debate around it. This opposition discussion was made by Senator Chris McDaniel. Senator Brice Wiggins did a great job defending the code sections, along with Senator Joey Fillingane. There were only 4 NO votes – Senators Watson, McDaniel, Hill and Seymour. None of these NO votes were surprising. As we move the focus to the House of Representatives, we have already had a meeting with the chair of the House Ways and Means committee, Jeff Smith from Columbus.

We still have a LONG WAY TO GO! The challenge now moves to the House. We do not have champions like Senator Wiggins and Senator Simmons to help us provide the momentum that we need. Therefore, we will need the voice of staff, volunteers and advocates now more than ever before!

SPONSOR: Senator Joey Fillingane
CO-SPONORS: Senators Kevin Blackwell, Albert Butler, Bob Dearing, Hillman, Frazier, Robert Jackson, David Jordan, Willie Simmons, Tammy Witherspoon
Assigned to Senate Finance: passed out of Senate Finance on Tuesday, February 20th
Voted on the Senate Floor on Wednesday, February 21
VOTE: 46-4 (2 members were absent)

Senate Bill 2230: Increase cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack with revenue going to the general fund.
SPONSOR: Senator Willie Simmons (Bolivar, Sunflower, Tallahatchie)
Assigned to Senate Finance Committee

Senate Bill 2445: Increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack with revenue going to the general fund.
SPONSOR: Senator Bob Dearing (Adams, Amite, Franklin, Pike)
Assigned to Senate Finance

Senate Bill 2701: Increase the cigarette tax by $1.50 per pack with revenue creating the Medicaid Program Tobacco Cessation Fund
SPONSOR: Senator Brice Wiggins (Jackson County), Senate Medicaid Committee Chair
Assigned to Senate Finance and Senate Medicaid

House Bill 1478: Increase the cigarette tax by $1.00 per pack, a tobacco equity tax on non-settling manufacturers, and a tax rate of 15% on other tobacco products.
SPONSOR: Representative Jeff Smith (Lowdnes, Monroe)
Assigned to House Ways and Means

Health Department Funding

House Bill 1599: Of the funds appropriated in Section 2, Twenty Million Dollars ($20,000,000.00) shall be derived from the Tobacco Control Program Fund, created in Section 41-113-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, and shall be allocated as follows:

  • University of Mississippi Medical Center Cancer Institute: $4,250,000.00
  • Department of Education - Mary Kirkpatrick Haskell – Mary Sprayberry Public School Nurse Program: $3,060,000.00
  • Attorney General's Office - Alcohol and Tobacco Enforcement Unit: $680,000.00
  • University of Mississippi Medical Center – A Comprehensive Tobacco Center: $595,000.00
  • Mississippi Health Care Alliance - ST Elevated Myocardial Infarction Program (STEMI): $382,500.00
  • SKOOL ADS Program: $255,000.00
  • Mississippi Qualified Health Center Grant Program: $3,400,000.00
  • Mississippi Health Care Alliance for the Stroke System of Care Plan: $212,500.00
  • Mississippi Health Department Programs: $7,165,000.00

Passed the House Appropriations Committee on February 13th
Passed the House Floor on February 14th with a vote of 112-0

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 expect a vote by the Mississippi State Board of Health on most of the guideline at the April Board Meeting.

In the News

AHA Legislative Priorities:




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