Mississippi

This article is part of the State Status and News series related to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

On 25-Mar-2010, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood was reported 1) to be considering Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour's request that the state join the Florida litigation.

Mississippi still has not joined a multi-state lawsuit targeting health care reform. The Florida attorney general released a statement Wednesday, saying Mississippi and four other states were joining 13 others already involved in the suit calling the reform bill unconstitutional.

We spoke with representatives for Attorney General Jim Hood and Governor Haley Barbour. AG Hood is still trying to decide if he wants to join the suit. Governor Barbour says he will join, with or without hood, once Florida files its amended lawsuit.

Staff. “Mississippi NOT joining health care lawsuit… yet”. WDAM NBC-7 and WLBT. April 7, 2010, 6:25 PM EDT. Available online as of 2010-04-07. Emphasis in original.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant jointly filed a lawsuit with Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, challenging the constitutionality of the recently enacted federal health care legislation.

Filed Friday afternoon in the Hattiesburg Division of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi, Bryant said this suit is about protecting our rights as citizens.

“If Congress can mandate health insurance, then it can even mandate Americans buying an electric car,” said Bryant. “The Federal government has no business in regulating the rights and freedoms we hold dear as Americans. I have joined this lawsuit as a private citizen, not in my official capacity as Lt. Governor, and I intend to fight alongside Sen. Chris McDaniel to protect our rights of life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

The recently passed federal health care legislation requires each American to have health insurance or pay a fine to the government. The federal lawsuit argues that by imposing such a mandate, the Act exceeds the powers of the United States Government under Article I of the Constitution and violates the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution.

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“The federal government has never before required every American to do something under the penalty of law. If Congress has this type of unlimited power, then the states and individuals are left with no authority,” said Bryant.

Lt. Governor Bryant sent a letter March 22 to State Attorney General Jim Hood requesting him to file suit on behalf of the State of Mississippi. The State Attorney General has not replied to that letter. Today's action by the Lt. Governor adds to the growing number of federal lawsuits against the individual mandate in the federal health care legislation.

“Lt. Gov. Bryant joins lawsuit to block ObamaCare”. WDAM TV-7 (NBC). April 9, 2010. Available online as of 2010-04-09.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant has joined a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the federal health care reform legislation.

Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, and Hattiesburg attorney K. Doug Lee filed a lawsuit in Hattiesburg federal court April 2 against the Obama administration on behalf of Richard Conrad of Laurel, Ryan S. Walters of Hattiesburg and Michael E. Shotwell of Ellisville.

Bryant was added as a plaintiff this afternoon.

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Crisp, Elizabeth. “Miss. lt. gov. joins health care reform lawsuit”. Clarion Ledger. April 9, 2010. Available online as of 2010-04-09.

Governor Haley Barbour has notified the Mississippi Attorney General that Mississippi will join the multi-state, bi-partisan lawsuit against the healthcare reform law, likely in mid-May.

In a letter delivered today to Attorney General Jim Hood, Governor Barbour dispelled accusations that joining the lawsuit was a hasty decision which would be a useless and expensive endeavor for Mississippi taxpayers.

“My decision to challenge this legislation was not taken lightly or made without thorough consideration,” Governor Barbour wrote. “The legislation would prove disastrous for Mississippi's economy, its budget, and its taxpayers who would see their premiums and taxes increased as a result of it. Legal scholars have analyzed the bill and discussed its potential constitutional flaws for at least a year. By now, some twenty states have concluded the law violates the Constitution and have taken steps to challenge it. You are certainly correct that challenging this act will be no easy task, especially as a matter of procedure. Success is uncertain, but I do not intend to ignore my duty simply because of procedural difficulty.”

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Governor Barbour said Michael B. Wallace of Wise Carter, Child and Caraway, P.A., will guide Mississippi's role in the lawsuit, and Wallace has agreed to provide his expertise at no cost to the state.

Mississippi will join the lawsuit once Florida files its amended complaint. That is expected to occur by mid-May.

“Barbour bypasses Hood, will join ObamaCare challenge”. WDAM-TV (NBC). April 13, 2010. 6:40 PM ET. Available online as of 2010-04-14.

A petition drive to nullify a key component of the federal health care law by amending the Mississippi Constitution has been filed with the Secretary of State’s Office by a state lawmaker from Vicksburg and a Biloxi representative running for Congress.

Initiative 32, or a Healthcare Initiative, filed by freshman Rep. Alex Monsour, R-Vicksburg, and Steven Palazzo, R-Biloxi, seeks to create a right for Mississippians to purchase private health insurance and bars compulsory participation in any health care system or plan.

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Under Mississippi’s initiative and referendum process, the potential exists for the public to amend the state’s constitution, although the process, with more than 25 precise requirements, has never been accomplished.

At least 89,285 certified signatures must be gathered statewide for the initiative to appear on the 2011 ballot, when state and county offices are up for election. At least 17,857 must come from each of the state’s five congressional districts as they existed in 2000. A bill Monsour filed to same effect at the start of this year’s regular session died in committee. Palazzo, another first-term member of the House, is a candidate for the Republican nomination for the 4th Congressional District seat held by U.S. Rep. Gene Taylor, a Democrat.

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Barrett, Danny Jr. “Two state lawmakers seek to nullify part of health care”. (Mississippi) Vicksburg Post. April 21, 2010. Available online as of 2010-04-21.

1) WBLT-TV. “Hood undecided on joining healthcare lawsuit”. NBC WBLT-3 News. March 25, 2010. Available online as of 2010-04-05.