Governor Tate Reeves, in a 50-minute State of the State address Monday evening, outlined his priorities for the ongoing legislative session and what he wants Mississippi to look like when the Republican concludes his first term in 2024.
Here were the four topics Reeves urged lawmakers to act on during the 2023 session.
Establish Parents’ Bill of Rights
An idea that the governor initially mentioned back in November, Reeves once again asked lawmakers to establish a Parents’ Bill of Rights. According to him, such legislation would recognize parental authority over their children’s lives and education.
Reeves said a Parents’ Bill of Rights would serve as protection in the case of school districts pushing social science experiments on children without approval from parents.
“This Parent’s Bill of Rights would further cement that when it comes to the usage of names, pronouns, or health matters, schools will adhere to the will of the parents,” Reeves said. “We have a duty to keep pushing back against those that are taking advantage of children and using them to advance their sick and twisted ideologies.”
Reeves added that schools serve a purpose to teach fundamental courses such as math, science, reading, civics, and writing – not to affirm ideologies that may be contrary to what a child is taught at home.
Cut down on crime in Mississippi’s capital city
As crime continues to surge in the city of Jackson, Reeves asked legislators to further invest in Capitol Police, a unit of the Mississippi Department of Public Safety that helps protect areas around government buildings and other neighborhoods downtown.
Currently, Capitol Police have around 105 officers. Reeves would like to see that number increased by 45.
“In Mississippi, we choose to fund the police. We choose to back the blue,” Reeves said. “That’s why this session, I’m calling on the legislature to make further investment into our Capitol Police by giving them the 150 officers and equipment they need to continue fulfilling their mission and continue pushing back on lawlessness in Jackson.”
With Jackson coming off its third consecutive year with triple-digit homicides, lawmakers have already begun looking into legislation that would not only up the number of Capitol Police officers but drastically expand the department’s jurisdiction.
Help hospitals without expanding Medicaid
Going into the session, officials with the Mississippi State Department of Health warned lawmakers that up to 38 hospitals across the state were in danger of closing.
Democrats have since introduced legislation that would appropriate funding to struggling hospitals while expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. Republicans, on the other hand, continue to argue that both short-term and long-term solutions are viable without the full expansion of Medicaid.
“Don’t simply cave under the pressure of Democrats and their allies in the media who are pushing for the expansion of Obamacare, welfare, and socialized medicine,” Reeves told GOP lawmakers. “Instead, seek innovative free market solutions to disrupt traditional healthcare delivery models, increase competition, and lead to better health outcomes for Mississippians.”
As of now, Republicans have proposed legislation that would provide up to $80 million in lifeline funds, reform the state’s certificate of need laws, help build out school’s residency and nursing programs, institute a nurse loan repayment program, and extend postpartum Medicaid coverage.
Implement new pro-life agenda
Following the recent overturning of Roe v. Wade – which Reeves called “the greatest accomplishment in the conservative movement in my lifetime” – the Republican governor asked lawmakers to work towards making Mississippi an easier place to raise kids.
Legislation suggested by Reeves included establishing a childcare tax credit, increasing support for pregnancy resource centers, expanding safe haven laws, making adoption less expensive, and updating child support laws.
“This is our new pro-life agenda,” Reeves said. “As I’ve said before, it will not be easy, and it will not be free. But I know that together, we are going to get the job done and deliver the support Mississippi mothers and babies deserve.”
The full 2023 State of the State address can be watched below.
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