Session recessed but unfinished business still lingers - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Session recessed but unfinished business still lingers

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By Ashley Conroy

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - The 2010 Legislative Session was supposed to officially end April 3rd, but lawmakers agreed to halt the session and reconvene on April 20th to see if additional federal Medicaid funds are headed to the Magnolia State.

These funds will help determine how to allocate the Fiscal Year 2011 budget.

In the meantime, House and Senate lawmakers say there is still unfinished business to take of for the 2010 session.

The Mississippi Department of Employment Security still hasn't been reauthorized as a state agency. House Democrats wanted additional federal stimulus funds to go to MDES to help unemployed Mississippians. However, Senate Republicans say this will raise unnecessary taxes on Mississippians.

"It's being held hostage because of someone wanting additional federal dollars. It's not the way you go about it in the process, and in fact it's against our oath of office to say I will vote for this in turn for you providing something else for me," Lt. Governor Phil Bryant said.

In addition, Bryant says he isn't opposed to go into a special session to deal with Nathan's Law that died under Chairman Ed Blackmon's committee, Judiciary A.

"We need to simply hold people accountable. We need a tougher law in and around school buses," said Bryant.

Senate Republicans accused the House of trying to pass a watered down version of the bill. But according to Blackmon, current law has stricter punishment than the bill the Senate was proposing.

"I do want to maintain what is current, which I believe under those circumstances a person would be subject to a 20 year prison sentence," said Blackmon.

Blackmon continued to say that his committee would like to further address this piece of legislation.

Another issue House lawmakers say they will take up when session reconvenes on April 20th is the Medicaid department announcing their cutting $14.6 million from various providers throughout the state.

House budget committee member, Cecil Brown says this scenario cannot go unnoticed because of what it could do to providers statewide.

"It was a big surprise to us to find out that that was going to happen. They had not told us that. We've been dealing with deficits in budgets for several months now," said Brown. "We're going to have to try to deal with it when we get back in the middle of April."

In the meantime lawmakers have until May 3rd to finalize these issues when the 2010 session is now expected to officially end.

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