Opinion – 3/6/2007

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, March 6, 2007

The Panolian: OPINIONS – Senator Nolan Mettetal

 From the 03/06/07 issue of The Panolian        

Future of Mississippi looks bright thanks to Toyota announcement

Mississippi’s future looks very bright following the unbelievable accomplishment of landing the $1.3 billion Toyota Automotive Plant. This nationally recognized economic project in Northeast Mississippi will have an initial estimated annual payroll of $328 million with an initial 2,000 jobs. There are another 2,000 indirect jobs and there are expected to be 2,000 construction jobs at the 1,700 acre site.

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Production of the Toyota Highlander SUV is expected to begin in 2010 at this absolutely amazing plant. 150,000 vehicles will be produced each year.

By Friday the legislature was considering the $293.9 million Mississippi revenue incentive package for this giant project for an area of our state that has been hurt badly from the loss of furniture industry jobs. The bond package included funds for both onsite and offsite infrastructure plus training. This infrastructure includes roads, rail, utilities, air service and fire service plus site preparation. There is a possibility that work could begin on this site next week.

Floor action has been busy this week in the Mississippi Senate. In fact we acted on 65 bills Wednesday and another 43 bills on Thursday. One proposal creates the Mississippi Rural Physicians Scholarship Program. These programs are successfully used by Alabama and Louisiana. Mississippi has one-third fewer physicians than the national average, and it is especially difficult to recruit primary care doctors to rural areas.

A commission would be established and composed of doctors for the purpose of identifying, recruiting and mentoring family physicians through the education process for rural Mississippi areas. The commission will identify and encourage academically gifted students who would otherwise not have the financial resources necessary to attend medical school. This scholarship program has the potential of improving health care services for many Mississippians.

Another proposal passing floor action in the Senate the 9th week of the 2007 legislative session mandates that out-of-state adoption agencies doing business in Mississippi must be licensed in this state. There has been much concern that we don’t have enough knowledge about what is occurring with such unlicensed adoption agencies.

Additionally, a home study is to be performed on all prospective adoptive parents using these agencies unless they are relatives of the child. This is simply an effort to protect the child by making certain that the home is suitable and the possible adoptive parents are capable of caring for the child. This effort to avoid any improper adoptions is not expected to slow the adoption process. The investigation and report will be made available to the court and be paid for by the prospective adoptive parents.

One bill that passed the Senate provides that Mississippi shall be a "right-to-choose" state for the purposes of Medicaid and Medicare benefits excluding Medicare Part A. This will allow patients in long-term care facilities the right to choose their pharmacy provider. The provider must meet the dispensing guidelines required of the long-term care facilities.

We enjoyed having members of the Independence FFA present at the Capitol and we thank them for lunch. They were: Larry Malone (Advisor), Henry Worley (parent), Zac Borthwick, Brandel Greer, Chelsea Powers and J.J. Terry.

We thank this paper for their support and their informing you. You can reach me at 601-359-2220 during the session or at home 662-487-1512.

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