Governor Tate Reeves signs pro-mom and pro-life legislation from 2023 session
The legislation comes after Roe v. Wade was overturned through the Dobbs decision, prompting lawmakers to address gaps in resources for pregnant mothers, families and adoptions.
It was a priority of leadership in the Mississippi House and Senate during the 2023 session to address gaps in services for mothers and families. The push came after the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of Mississippi in Dobbs vs. Jackson Women’s Health Organization. This ultimately overturned Roe v. Wade in the country.
House and Senate establish study committees
Speaker of the House Philip Gunn formed the Speaker’s Commission on Life. Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann also put together hearings on Women, Children and Families lead by State Senator Nicole Boyd. They worked to find solutions that alleviate burdens felt by parents and families. These included efforts to improve healthcare, childcare, adoption and foster care processes, as well as the costs associated with each.
“I’m very proud of this committee’s work. I want to thank those members: Angela Cockerham, Jill Ford, Kevin Felsher, Lee Yancey, Otis Anthony, Sam Mims, Missy McGee, Cedric Burnett, and Dana McLean,” said Speaker Gunn for the work in the House.
Lt. Governor Hosemann expressed similar sentiments for those lawmakers who worked on the issues in the Senate.
“After Roe v. Wade was overturned, I knew we needed to get to work in the Mississippi Senate to address issues facing women, children, and families in our State. Senator Nicole Boyd, chair of the study committee we appointed, set up public hearings and helped craft legislation to make adoption easier, help working families find childcare, and provide life-affirming support for new mothers. Mississippi continues to lead in the pro-life movement,” said Lt. Governor Hosemann ahead of the signing of the bills related to those measures.
Governor makes bills law
Today, Governor Tate Reeves signed three bills aimed at alleviating the burdens families face in the post-Dobbs era.
Watch the Governor’s press conference here.
“Mississippi will always protect life. Our state will continue to be a beacon on the hill, a symbol of hope for the country, and a model for the nation,” said Governor Reeves at his ceremonial bill signing on Wednesday. “Mississippi will be relentless in its commitment to life. We will be relentless in our support of mothers and children. And we will be relentless in our efforts to advance the New Pro-life Agenda. The legislation I signed today is further proof that when it comes to protecting life, Mississippi isn’t just talking the talk – we’re walking the walk.”
Governor Reeves first signed House Bill 510 into law. It creates the foster parents bill of rights and seeks to improve communication between foster families and professionals. It also increases resources within the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services to more readily work with potential foster parents. The bill seeks to ensure that educational needs of foster children are being met while also supporting parents.
Another measure signed by Governor Reeves is House Bill 1671. This is a tax incentive bill proposed by Speaker Gunn. The bill increases the tax credit for pregnancy resource centers from $3.5 million to $10 million.
“After the Supreme Court’s reversal of Roe in June 2022, I knew going into the 2023 session that we had a tremendous opportunity to bolster and build up how we address the needs of Mississippi women and children. Therefore, legislation responding to this ruling was a top priority,” said Speaker Gunn. ”Today, we take great pride in seeing this hard work culminate with Governor Reeves signing this legislation into law.
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Last year, the Mississippi Legislature passed the Pregnancy Resource Act. This measure allowed businesses to begin donating would-be tax dollars to qualifying pregnancy centers. This resulted in increased support for pregnancy centers across the state, according to Erin Kate Goode, Executive Director for Center for Pregnancy Choices in the Metro area.
“With these increased funds, pregnancy centers have been able to launch new programs, expand support options, hire more essential personnel and obtain larger clinic spaces,” said Goode. “I believe right now we are living in a very significant moment in our state. Our work is not over. If we are going to succeed in making abortion unthinkable for future generations, we must continue to work together toward this common goal.”
Lastly signed by the Governor, Senate Bill 2696. It created an income tax credit for families who are adopting. The program covers a maximum of $10,000 for in-state adoptions and $5,000 for out-of-state adoptions.
The Governor also announced several other bills he has already signed related to families and children. Those include:
- House Bill 1149 – Separation and creation of Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services from the Mississippi Department of Human Services.
- House Bill 1625 – Setting the Child Protection Service budget, which is the largest in state history.
- House Bill 1318 – Increasing opportunities for parents to adopt by authorizing safe haven baby boxes.
- Senate Bill 2384 – Creation of Mississippi Task Force on Foster Care and Adoption.
Prior to the end of the Legislative session, lawmakers also passed an extension to postpartum care for women on Medicaid. This allowed for 12-months of postpartum care for those women and their babies. This was the third attempt to push the measure forward by the Senate. It had previously died in the House. The tide changed when the Division of Medicaid, Governor Reeves, and others came out in support of the measure. Many Republicans, including Reeves and Gunn, had previously opposed any legislation that resembled an expansion of Medicaid.
The service was currently provided due to federal mandate, and was considered an extension of current services, not an expansion of Medicaid rolls.