by Hunter Dawkins, Publisher/Owner –

Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves  announced Wednesday, April 19, 2023 that he signed a series of pro-mom and pro-life legislation. The legislation strengthens Mississippi’s adoption system, increases support for pregnancy resource centers, establishes a foster parents bill of rights, creates a task force focused on improving adoption and foster care systems, improves the Department of Child Protection Services, and gives the agency the largest budget in its history.

“Mississippi will always protect life. Our state will continue to be a beacon on the hill, a symbol of hope for the country, and a model for the nation,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “Mississippi will be relentless in its commitment to life. We will be relentless in our support of mothers and children. And we will be relentless in our efforts to advance the New Pro-life Agenda. The legislation I signed today is further proof that when it comes to protecting life, Mississippi isn’t just talking the talk – we’re walking the walk.”

The Supreme Court last June used a Mississippi case to overturn Roe v. Wade, its landmark 1973 ruling that had legalized abortion rights. The only abortion clinic in Mississippi shut down in early July as the state enacted a dormant law that bans most abortions — a law contingent on Roe v. Wade being removed.

Health officials said they expect Mississippi to have up to 5,000 additional births per year because of the scarcity of abortion. Mississippi is one of the poorest states, and it has the highest fetal mortality and infant mortality rates in the nation, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — statistics Reeves did not mention during his bill-signing ceremony Wednesday.

“Obviously, the power of the purse is in the legislative branch of government,” expressed Reeves when questioned about the funding for these municipalities if they wish to have a safe-haven baby box.  “I feel the executive branch and the legislature are willing to provide the resources to take care of mothers and babies.  I appreciate our friends in Long Beach for stepping up on this action and feel a lot of groups will continue to step up and provide human capital.”

He also announced that he had signed House Bill 1625, House Bill 1318, Senate Bill 2384, and House Bill 1149.

House Bill 510 establishes a foster parents bill of rights. The legislation increases transparency for foster parents, expands communication opportunities with professionals, and makes the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services personnel more readily available for foster parents. Additionally, it helps ensure that the educational needs of foster children are being met and provides access to available resources for parents.

House Bill 1671 expands the tax credit for pregnancy resource centers across the state from $3.5 million to $10 million.

Senate Bill 2696 creates an income tax credit for qualified adoption expenses. The program will cover a maximum of $10,000 worth of adoption expenses for those who adopt a child from Mississippi and $5,000 worth of expenses for children outside of Mississippi.

House Bill 1149 establishes the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services as its own agency separate from MDHS. This separation will give it the ability to draw down more federal funds to support Mississippi families. The legislation will also help improve the efficiency of CPS procedures including adoption cases.

House Bill 1625 gives the Mississippi Department of Child Protection Services the largest budget in its history. This equips the agency with the resources needed to effectively carry out its mission and better support Mississippi children.

House Bill 1318 increases the opportunities available for parents to choose adoption by authorizing safe haven baby boxes across Mississippi. The legislation increases the age that children can be dropped off at these boxes, authorizes safety devices to be sponsored by emergency medical service providers, and authorizes any city or county to sponsor a baby safety device.

Senate Bill 2384 establishes the Mississippi Task Force on Foster Care and Adoption. The task force will study Mississippi’s laws regarding foster care, adoption, and other related areas and make recommendations for improvement to the legislature.

Photo: Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves answers a reporter’s question after signing bills intended to improve the foster care system, speed up adoptions and provide tax credits for donations to pregnancy resource centers at a news briefing on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at a state office building in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)