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franklin county times

Barbour calls special session

By Staff
from staff and wire reports
June 29, 2004
CANTON State legislators will return to Jackson on Wednesday for the second special session of the year this time to extend the existence of the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
Gov. Haley Barbour said the session should be brief because DHS is the only issue on the agenda. The governor did not include the state Medicaid program on the agenda, as some House and Senate members had hoped.
Instead, Barbour extended until Sept. 15 a plan to cut 65,000 people from Medicaid. He said the delay the original deadline was Wednesday will allow more time to make sure recipients are enrolling in the federal Medicare program.
State legislators from East Mississippi said they were glad to see the governor call a special session on DHS a state agency that otherwise will expire at the end of the day on Wednesday.
Lawmakers respond
Some also said they would have liked the governor to add the Medicaid issue to the session and eliminate the plan to remove 65,000 from the program.
Others said the governor's approach was right.
Barbour said he expects the Legislature to approve a one-year extension of DHS, which oversees food stamps, child support collection and welfare benefits and investigates suspected child abuse and neglect.
No agreement
During the regular session that ended in early May, and again during a special session that ended earlier this month, the state House and Senate couldn't agree on plans to keep DHS alive.
State Attorney General Jim Hood had said in a nonbinding opinion that the governor would not be able to run DHS on his own by executive order.
Barbour said DHS serves "650,000 beneficiaries who rely on it for services that are essential to them."
House Public Health Committee Chairman Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, said Barbour "has the right to his call and his opinion. I think the Legislature will judiciously consider what he asked for."
Senate Public Health Committee Chairman Alan Nunnelee, R-Tupelo said lawmakers needed to "pass the reauthorization in a clean bill. The agency is too important to allow it to go away."
Special session
In the last special session, the House voted to restore the 65,000 Mississippians to the state Medicaid program by attaching the provision to the DHS authorization bill.
Nunnelee said he hoped the House would not inject Medicaid into the special session.
Medicaid Meeting
The Meridian Community Living Center plans to host a program on changes to the state's Medicaid plan. The
program is set for 6 p.m. today at St. Patrick Catholic Church Family Life Center, 2614 Davis St. For more information, call Jamie Ryals at 483-3916.

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