As you may know by now, a new law goes into effect on July 1st that forces medical personnel to contact law enforcement anytime they accept a patient who is under the age of 16 and pregnant. What happened today, though, takes it to another level and could potentially result in massive problems for the state.
First Things First
The new law spells out what happens when a young girl gives birth. Those same medical professionals who must contact law enforcement are also required to collect a DNA sample from the cord blood when she delivers her baby. It will then be fed into a database in search of a match for the father. If he has DNA in the system and he’s 21 or older, law enforcement then begins to pursue him for statutory rape.
In an earlier post, I went through all of the problems this law is sure to cause – and those problems might come sooner rather than later.
Everyone’s eyeing July 1st as the date this law, Child Protection Act (revised), will go into effect. But did you know that we have our own mini fiscal-cliff crisis in Mississippi? Apparently, our governor shares something else in common with the president: they both enjoy international travel while all hell breaks loose back home. They both also seem to think they can run the world with no help from anyone.
Vacation in Paris, Anyone?
Before Governor Bryant left for Europe several days ago (he’s attending the Paris Air Show), he made a sweeping statement that upset AG Jim Hood – along with most of the state. Bryant said that he didn’t need the support of state lawmakers to continue with the Medicaid program; and in fact, he can run it by himself. Hood wasted no time providing a 7 page response. In it, he said it’s the role of the state’s legislative arm to ensure all the wheels are turning with these programs. Further, if Bryant continues to insist he’s going to run it himself (assuming Hood is right), the entire Medicaid program as well as all of the jobs the program provides will cease to exist. That too happens on July 1st.
Turns out, the opinion Hood wrote was basically the same thing he provided in 2009 during another brouhaha at the capital.
Old Data in Current Events
Unfortunately, Hood must have forgotten about that big gigantic mess he and his political counterparts created with the new statutory rape laws. While Hood insists there have been no Supreme Court rulings or “new laws” that would change Medicaid and how it operates, the fact is, HB151 will most certainly change everything.
The statistics really get to the heart of the matter: (and really, you should read this post from earlier this week)
- Mississippi is ranked number one in the country for teenage pregnancies.
- 6,200 teenage girls under the age of 16 become pregnant in Mississippi every year.
- Unemployment in Mississippi is still higher than 9%.
- Mississippi has the most families on Medicaid – more than 20% of Mississippians are relying on the government – the most of any state.
- The FBI does not keep (nor does any other government agency) statistics on statutory rape. In other words, Mississippi passed a law for a crime it’s not even sure how prevalent it is or isn’t.
Don’t Mind Me – I’m Here for the DNA
The new law basically changes everything in the criminal justice system: law enforcement must now shift manpower (someone has to take the teenage girl’s statement – you know, when she’s either minutes away from giving birth or is in labor – and the hospital is where these conversations will be had.) Also, even if the girl and her family insists that the father is under the age of 21, those DNA samples will be collected and tested anyway.
Remember – Hood used an old report to justify his argument that Bryant can’t run the program by himself. If Hood would have slowed down long enough to think things through, he’d have realized just how deep that hole is now. We have an egotistical governor who is sure he can run a massive federal program – and apparently, he thinks he can do it from Paris. Then we have an attorney general who doesn’t even take the time to provide accurate information that addresses the current state of affairs.
But are you ready for the icing on the cake? Consider these two truths:
Bryant says Mississippi cannot afford to add anyone else to the state’s Medicaid program. (The new law is about to challenge that statement in spades).
State Democrats insist by adding more to the welfare rolls, it would boost the economy. If by “boosting the economy” they mean shelling out $6,200,000 for DNA testing with absolutely no significant justification, then yes, they’re boosting the economy.
Mississippi is in the spotlight right now, but there are other states that are considering these same dynamics as their own solutions. It’s limited, for the most part, to Mississippians – but it’s spreading.