OPINION: We must stay diligent 

Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on email

By Nsombi Lambright-Haynes

President, Jackson Branch, NAACP

During the 2024 legislative session, so many very important policy issues were on the line:  healthcare, local infrastructure, voting rights, and criminal justice reform are just a few. As usual, legislation targeting Jackson’s governing authority was introduced, but luckily it did not pass both houses.

Medicaid expansion is this year’s largest legislative issues with bi-partisan support. Twenty years after the passage of the Affordable Care Act, Mississippi lawmakers are finally open to expanding access to health care. And it’s about time!

The facts are, Mississippi ranks last, or close to last, in almost every leading health outcome. 34 of Mississippi’s 74 rural hospitals are struggling financially and at risk of closure.

Too many of our elected officials are operating under the mistaken belief that people in need of health care are not working. Reflective of this belief is the stipulation that recipients of various benefits must be employed to receive assistance. In reality however, according to the Mississippi Department of Health, “. . .most uninsured adults in Mississippi are working full-time, and yet they are either at or below 138% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL). Working full-time does not necessarily equate to insurance access for a large portion of Mississippi adults.”

Though House Bill 1725 has passed the House, there are similar versions of this legislation in the Senate. Hopefully the passage of these bills will limit the extreme number of preventable and treatable deaths and illnesses in our state. It is also our hope that this will lead to more medical facilities in rural communities without hospitals. Too many lives have been lost because of lack of medical care in our state. 

House Bill 1406 is the first piece of legislation about Early Voting and absentee voting reform. This bill allows people to vote in person at their local Circuit Clerk’s office up to 30 days before Election Day. And Early Voting does not require an excuse. People who need to mail their ballots in will still be able to do so. There is also an additional category for people who are incarcerated on Election Day and do not have one of the disqualifying felony convictions. 

Finally, criminal justice reform has received bipartisan support this year on the House side. House Bill 1609 would have voting rights to individuals who have been convicted of most non-violent felonies after the completion of their sentence and a five-year waiting period. Unfortunately, this bill did not make it to the Senate, however, there are several individual requests for Suffrage still waiting to be addressed!

As we approach Presidential Elections, please continue to pay attention to what’s happening in the City Council, the Board of Supervisors, the Legislature and Congress. ALL are important!  Remember to read policies for yourself! Gain your own understanding! Politics are tricky and things are not always what they appear to be!! 

If you want laws to change, then you must change how you exercise your right to vote. Your elected officials are answerable to you, not the other way around. Use that power and vote!

Republish This Story

Copy and Paste the below text.

OPINION: We must stay diligent 

By Jackson Advocate News Service
May 6, 2024