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New Mississippi laws go into effect on Saturday

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(The Center Square) — Rural Mississippi community hospitals can enter into collaboration agreements with the state’s teaching hospital and Medicaid postpartum care benefits for eligible women will expand, all on Saturday.

The two acts are among most of the bills signed into law by Gov. Tate Reeves that can go into effect the first day of the state’s new fiscal year.

The state’s teaching hospital is the University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson.

Other new laws will allow trained school employees to carry firearms; creation of a public database of those who steal or misuse taxpayer funds; and two others create study committees to examine agricultural land acquisition by foreign powers and mobile sports gaming.

Senate Bill 2695 reauthorized the Tourism Project Sales Tax Incentive Fund program, which would’ve ended without legislative action. The Mississippi Development Authority administers it and redirects sales taxes paid at a tourism project back to the developer to cover a percentage of the construction costs. The developer can receive 80% of the eligible sales tax collected at the site for 15 years or until those collections add up to 30% of the project’s construction costs.

Senate Bill 2323 was sponsored by Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, and will allow any rural hospital in the state to be acquired by the medical center. It will allow a collaborative relationship with the state’s teaching hospital and other community hospitals, and it will not be subject to state and federal anti-trust laws.

Senate Bill 2212 was sponsored by Sen. Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven, and extends Medicaid benefits to eligible women 12 months after they give birth. Reeves signed the bill; in 2019, he had campaigned against the expansion of Medicaid.

Senate Bill 2079 is the Mississippi School Protection Act and was authored by Sen. Angela Hill, R-Picayune. It will allow school employees to carry their weapons at school and be known as school guardians. Each school district, charter school, community college or public university (which would require approval of the trustees for institutes of higher learning) will have an option for armed employees, who would have to receive firearms, communications, deescalation and first aid training. Participants in the program would have to be recertified annually.

Rep. Casey Eure, R-Saucier, is the author of House Bill 606, which creates a study commission to investigate issues concerning mobile sports wagers. Casinos in Mississippi can have sports books, but all bets are made on site. The report of the task force’s recommendations will be presented by the Joint Legislative Committee on Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review, otherwise known as the PEER Committee, by Dec. 15.

Senate Bill 2420 will require the state Department of Public Safety to build a public website that would create a registry of those convicted of embezzlement or misappropriation of taxpayer funds and those convicted of bribing officials. Those on the registry would remain on it until their money and restitution is paid back to taxpayers. Also, the bill authored by Sen. Jeremy England, R-Vancleave, will disallow anyone on the registry from being hired for a state or local government “for any position in accounting, or in a treasury or registrar office, or in any office where monies are collected or received directly from rate or fee payers.”

Senate Bill 2341, authored by Senate Energy Committee Chairman Joel Carter, R-Gulfport, is a one-page bill that will require the construction of transmission infrastructure in the state involved in a regional transmission organization to be compliant with both federal and state regulations.

This would affect investor-owned Entergy, which also serves Arkansas, Louisiana and part of east Texas, and Cooperative Energy, a nonprofit electric power association. Both utilities are members of the regional transmission operator Midcontinent Independent System Operator.

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