Mississippi Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann on Monday announced he was creating a nine-member “Senate Study Group on Women, Children and Families” after the U.S. Supreme Court’s abortion decision last week.
In a press release, Hosemann said the committee would be tasked with making recommendations to the Legislature on policies pertaining to families and children from birth to 3 years old. These, he said, may include making adoption easier and improving foster care, helping children in state custody, and improving child support and child care.
On Friday, House Speaker Philip Gunn announced he would create the “Speaker’s Commission on the Sanctity of Life,” to examine issues and policies affecting mothers and children.
Republicans Hosemann, Gunn and Gov. Tate Reeves have praised the high court’s decision on a Mississippi case last week that overturns the decades-old Roe v. Wade decision providing women abortion rights. But the three said the decision also requires Mississippi leaders to provide more resources to help mothers, children and families.
Mississippi, the poorest state in the nation, suffers from lack of prenatal, postnatal and all other forms of health care. It also has the highest infant mortality rate in the nation and one of the highest maternal death rates. It has for years faced federal court decrees to address its substandard foster care and children’s services system.
On Monday Hosemann said: “From increasing opportunities for early education to addressing health care availability, the Senate has approved common sense legislation which supports our mothers and babies. I look forward to reviewing the recommendations from this diverse group of lawmakers on these critical issues.”
Gunn has steadfastly opposed Medicaid expansion to cover the working poor and earlier this year torpedoed a Senate proposal backed by Hosemann to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for Mississippi mothers.
Hosemann is the only one of the state’s top three leaders who’s said he’s open to discussion about expanding Medicaid, which would provide the state about $1 billion a year in federal funds to provide health coverage for the working poor.
Hosemann said his new study committee will be chaired by Sen. Nicole Boyd, R-Oxford and will include Sens. Kevin Blackwell, Hob Bryan, Dean Kirby, Rod Hickman, Angela Hill, Chad McManan, Angela Turner-Ford and Brice Wiggins. Hosemann said the committee will hold public hearings in the late summer or early fall and hear testimony from state agencies, experts and others.
Gunn indicated his commission would have lawmakers and advocates making recommendations to the House for policies to help women’s and children’s wellbeing.