A view of the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Wednesday, March 1, 2023. Credit: Eric Shelton/Mississippi Today

Efforts to provide state funding to reestablish a burn center in the state are not dead this legislative session even though the bills filed specifically to accomplish that goal have died.

A bill that would have provided funds for a burn center at Mississippi Baptist Medical Center in Jackson recently died in the Senate when it was not passed by a key deadline day.

But Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who presides over the Senate, said the issue is not dead. Money can be awarded to a burn center in an appropriations bill.

“All of that will come up in the next 24 to 48 hours,” said Hosemann referencing the work currently ongoing behind closed doors by legislative leaders to hammer out a final budget proposal for the full Legislature to vote on.

The budget will be passed during the final days in more than 100 appropriations bills that will fund the various state agencies and provide funds for specific projects throughout the state. The funds for a burn center, for instance, could be included in the budget for the Department of Health, which under state law has the responsibility to designate a burn center.

The issue has been a highlight of the 2023 legislative session after the state’s only burn center, located at Merit Health Central in south Jackson, closed last year. Merit officials said it was closing because of challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic and because of recruitment issues.

READ MORE: Inside the final days of Mississippi’s only burn center

In the final days of the session, Hosemann said decisions will have to be made on where and if a new burn center will be designated.

Two separate bills have been debated this session about whether a new burn center should be located at Baptist Medical Center in Jackson or at the University of Mississippi Medical Center, also located in Jackson.

The legislation that passed the House in February designated Baptist as the burn center. At the time, some legislators questioned why the burn center was not being moved to UMMC. UMMC has been treating burn patients, they argued. Others pointed out the director of the burn center, when it was located at Merit, had moved to Baptist.

Going into the final days of the session, which is slated to end by April 2, if not earlier, that debate still has not been settled.

READ MORE: House reverses course, names Baptist as state’s burn center

Correction 3/15/23: A previous version of this story that a bill passed by the House in February awarded $4 million to Baptist for a burn center. The bill had no funding attached to it.

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Bobby Harrison, Mississippi Today’s senior capitol reporter, covers politics, government and the Mississippi State Legislature. He also writes a weekly news analysis which is co-published in newspapers statewide. A native of Laurel, Bobby joined our team June 2018 after working for the North Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo since 1984. He is president of the Mississippi Capitol Press Corps Association and works with the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute to organize press luncheons. Bobby has a bachelor's in American Studies from the University of Southern Mississippi and has received multiple awards from the Mississippi Press Association, including the Bill Minor Best Investigative/In-depth Reporting and Best Commentary Column.