Mims discusses legislative year with Kiwanis

Published 12:00 am Friday, November 3, 2017

NATCHEZ — Rep. Sam Mims touted state legislator rulings Thursday that he says would benefit Mississippi health care.

The Republican District 97 representative outlined some of the work he has done this year at the weekly Natchez Trace Kiwanis Club meeting.

Mims, chairman of the Public Health and Human Services Committee, discussed health care in the state and his committee’s efforts to improve public wellbeing.

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“How can we have better access to care in Mississippi?” Mims said. “We need more people in the medical field.”

Mims said recent legislation would expedite the licensure process for physicians who want to move to Mississippi from other states.

Mims said the newly-formed Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, would allow licensed physicians in states who have joined the compact to receive their Mississippi licenses more quickly than through traditional methods.

“There have been issues with physicians getting Mississippi medical licenses quickly,” Mims said. “This rule will make it easier and faster.”

Mims said 19 states have joined the compact so far.

Another new rule that would improve access to health care in the state, Mims said, is an expansion of a 2012 bill that created new medical residencies for recent graduates.

Prior legislation only included internal medicine and primary physicians. Mims said the new expansion adds the range of residencies available to other facets of the medical field.

Particularly, Mims said legislators found a need for more emergency room and general surgeons in the state, and are working with local hospitals and the University of Mississippi Medical Center to create new residencies in those positions.

During his talk, Mims also discussed recent developments with the Mississippi budget, the creation of which he called the most important part of his job.

Mims said when legislators discovered the state had not met its revenue estimates last year, they knew budget cuts in the 2017 session would be necessary.

Mims said legislators were left with three decisions: use some of the $300 million the state had in its fund balance, raise taxes, or make cuts to the state’s $6 billion budget.

Mims said four cuts were eventually made. But Kiwanis member Robin Person suggested to Mims during a question-and-answer session legislators had other options.

“There are two other ways of increasing state revenue,” Person said. “Reducing corporate tax breaks is one of those and also introducing a lottery. Why are we not moving more on those options?”

Mims said he did not support a lottery, but that the issue may be addressed in the coming session.

“Trying to pass a lottery just to fix our government,” Mims said, “I think, is the wrong approach.”

Mims said he believed corporate tax breaks help attract business and industry, which Mississippi needs.

“We believe in small government,” Mims said. “We believe if you are able to lower taxes, you’ll see that revenue come back.”

Mims also fielded questions about reports of an Internet sales tax that would be implemented on Dec. 1, the Mississippi Department of Revenue announced Wednesday.

The DOR notice says companies without an in-state location must collect a 7-percent tax on sales.

Mims said he did not think this would happen.

“I don’t think they can legally do that,” Mims said. “The supreme court ruled that you cannot tax Internet sales. Until that has changed, I don’t think you can do it.”

Amazon, however, recently agreed to voluntarily pay a sales tax. Mims said Amazon currently controls approximately 70 percent of online sales tax in Mississippi.

Amazon’s taxes, he said, could affect the state budget, though he did not yet know by how much.