New state laws for 2016

Published 7:00 am Saturday, January 2, 2016

On Jan. 1, new laws took effect in the state of Mississippi, including a law designed to make the financial operations of publicly owned hospitals open to the public.

Senate Bill 2407 requires hospital boards to open most of their meetings to the public. There are exceptions to that rule, if the board needs to discuss patient information, competitive business matters or employment contracts.

The law also required hospitals by Jan. 1 to create a website, or use an existing one, to show how public money is spent by posting financial reports, audits and budgets. The law was filed due to pension problems at the Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula, the Associated Press reported.

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Another law, House Bill 703, calls for the creation of four new circuit judgeships and three new chancery judgeships. The judges were elected in November and take office this month. There will be new circuit judges in several districts, including District 15, which covers Jefferson Davis, Lamar, Lawrence, Marion and Pearl River counties. Claiborne “Buddy” McDonald joins District 15 Judges Prentiss Harrell and Anthony Mozingo as the new circuit court judge.

Another law now in effect is Senate Bill 2500, which calls for pay raises for Mississippi Highway Safety Patrol troopers and Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agents.

Also, House Bill 885 mandates health insurance policies to cover the screening, diagnosis and treatment of autism spectrum disorder and prohibits insurers from dropping coverage if the person is diagnosed or treated for autism.

A new law, House Bill 952, prohibits health plans from charging higher co-payments, deductibles or co-insurance amounts for anti-cancer medication administered by the patient or the health care provider.

Due to Senate Bill 2394, the words “retired law enforcement officer” must be placed on concealed-carry gun permits for honorably retired officers.

Also, House Bill 33 gives a tax credit up to $2,000 for businesses that hire an honorably discharged veteran, who served in the military on or after Sept. 11, 2001 and if they’ve been unemployed for at least six months before being hired by the company. The bill states that businesses could receive the credit for up to five years and the program is limited to $1 million credits in the state, according to the Associated Press.