Governor Tate Reeves signs bill to ‘build a culture of life’
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - We’re just a couple of months away from the one year mark since the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade. Governor Tate Reeves’ Wednesday bill signings represent the legislature’s answer to how Mississippi would offer up better supports for women and children in the wake of that decision.
”Mississippi has moved to the next phase in our pursuit to build a culture of life,” said Reeves. “That phase is the new pro life agenda.”
Two of the three bills signed into law are related to a desire to see the foster and adoption care systems improved. One makes adoption more affordable.
“The adoption process is far too expensive,” said Reeves. “The program will cover a maximum of $10,000 worth of adoption expenses for those who adopt a child from Mississippi and $5,000 of expenses for children outside of Mississippi”
Another establishes a Foster Parents Bill of Rights. The Commissioner of the Mississippi Child Protection Services gave this status update.
“Today, I have 3,706 live souls on board,” said Commissioner Andrea Sanders. “So those are the number of children that are in the custody of the state. When we start to really focus on meeting the needs of those children, it also allows us to look at data and start to see where the gaps are in our systems in Mississippi.”
Not all of those children are eligible for adoption. Some have just entered. But Commissioner Andrea Sanders says the number in custody has dropped in the last three-to-five years.
Another bill signed by Reeves expands tax credits for those who donate to pregnancy resource centers where they offer supports to women with unplanned pregnancies.
“If we’re going to succeed and making abortion unthinkable for future generations, we’ve must continue to work together toward this common goal,” said Erin Kate Goode, Center for Pregnancy Choices Executive Director.
The Governor recently signed a bill expanding the Safe Haven law, allowing babies up to 45 days old to be dropped off at a designated location.
“Make sure that children of mothers in desperate situations didn’t end up, left somewhere where they couldn’t survive,” added Sanders.
The Governor was also asked about postpartum Medicaid extension. That’s another bill that’s already signed. But he says it stands to reason that it will improve health outcomes for those mothers.
Governor Reeves signed House Bill 510, House 1671, and Senate Bill 2696 during Wednesday’s press conference. But he also detailed others he has recently signed that are part of the agenda.
Those details from his office below:
House Bill 510- Establishes a foster parents bill of rights. The legislation increases transparency for foster parents, expands communication opportunities with professionals, and makes the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services personnel more readily available for foster parents. Additionally, it helps ensure that the educational needs of foster children are being met and provides access to available resources for parents.
House Bill 167- Expands the tax credit for pregnancy resource centers across the state from $3.5 million to $10 million.
Senate Bill 2696- Creates an income tax credit for qualified adoption expenses. The program will cover a maximum of $10,000 worth of adoption expenses for those who adopt a child from Mississippi and $5,000 worth of expenses for children outside of Mississippi.
House Bill 1149- Establishes the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services as its own agency separate from MDHS. This separation will give it the ability to draw down more federal funds to support Mississippi families. The legislation will also help improve the efficiency of CPS procedures including adoption cases.
House Bill 1625- Gives the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services the largest budget in its history. This equips the agency with the resources needed to effectively carry out its mission and better support Mississippi children.
House Bill 1318- Increases the opportunities available for parents to choose adoption by authorizing safe haven baby boxes across Mississippi. The legislation increases the age that children can be dropped off at these boxes, authorizes safety devices to be sponsored by emergency medical service providers, and authorizes any city or county to sponsor a baby safety device.
Senate Bill 2384- Establishes the Mississippi Task Force on Foster Care and Adoption. The task force will study Mississippi’s laws regarding foster care, adoption, and other related areas and make recommendations for improvement to the legislature.
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