Legislative leaders thwart representation

Dear Editor:

As you pointed out in your recent editorial, beginning in 2014 states have been allowed to expand Medicaid coverage to additional categories of Americans - primarily the working poor. To date, 36 states have done so. In Mississippi, Democrats have made numerous attempts to amend the law to allow expansion, sometimes in committee and sometimes on the floor. But the Lt. Gov. and Speaker have blocked them all. The Speaker in particular has used legislative maneuvers to prevent a floor vote on expansion. He personally prevented his Medicaid chairman from allowing any bill dealing with expansion to come out of committee. When a bill passed the Senate that had the code sections that would have allowed a House amendment on expansion, the Speaker sent the bill to the rules committee so that his Speaker Pro Tempore could kill it. The Speaker has said his members have not told him about receiving phone calls supporting expansion. He may be telling the truth. But it is a half truth. There have been many discussions about Medicaid expansion in the House chamber and editorials of support in many places around the state. In addition, as a member of the Medicaid committee I had several discussions about the issue with the chairman. It is always in the interest of the public to have open conversation and debate about serious legislative matters. Regardless of how Speaker and Lt. Gov. feel about Medicaid expansion, they should allow the legislature as a whole to consider the matter. It is they who are the people’s representatives. At least they could have public hearings so that voters across the state could hear the pros and cons of the issues. But they do not want a public debate. In recent years, for the most part, in the Mississippi legislature, democracy is dead. One hundred percent of the agenda is controlled by two people.

 

Cecil Brown

Central District Public Service Commissioner

 

 

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