This Thursday, July 1, marks the start of the Mississippi's new fiscal year and perhaps the end for one of the state's largest departments. On that day, the state Department of Human Services is set to go out of business. However, this could change. Governor Haley Barbour is now calling a second special session to address the matter.
"When I was asked to add DHS to the call of the last special session I was told that it could be done in five minutes and it does seem to me that it could be done very quickly," says Barbour.
Done, meaning action taken to keep DHS, which handles millions of dollars in federal programs such as food stamps, open for business. This is something which members of the state House and Senate have previously not been able to do. The issue at hand is that the official authorization period for DHS is now up and the only way it can operate is for state lawmakers to vote to reauthorize it.
Earlier this month during a special session, the state Senate passed a bill to reauthorize DHS for one year. However, the state House rejected the bill citing that it wanted some Medicaid concerns added to the Senate version.
In the end, the Senate did not vote on the proposal by the House and thus the state Department of Human Services is slated to close its doors this Thursday. However, lawmakers are urging constituents not to worry.
"I think if nothing happens Wednesday, then yes I'd be a little concerned," says District 33 Senator Videt Carmichael from Lauderdale County. "Even though what we had was an opinion by the Attorney General that the Governor could not run it by executive order, that's strictly an opinion. So, I guess that could happen if we didn't take care of business Wednesday."
The special session will convene Wednesday afternoon at 1 p.m.