It’s not clear why Hood was fighting the bill. His spokeswoman Jan Schaefer didn’t respond to a request from The Associated Press seeking comment. Hood has defended some of Hayne’s work in the past and expressed concern about how scrutiny of the doctor could affect other prosecutions.
Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, spoke against the bill on the floor. His motion to keep the bill from going to the governor failed. Holland said the issue needs more discussion. Holland said it doesn’t make sense to increase the requirements for pathologists, particularly because the state is having a difficult time hiring a state medical examiner who meets the standards.
“What you’re doing is exacerbating the situation by saying the standards have to be higher,” said Holland, a funeral home director.
Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commission Stephen Simpson, who watched the debate from the House gallery, supports the bill. Simpson said the state is still searching for a medical examiner. For now, a Tennessee-based company is handling autopsies for the Department of Public Safety.
Gov. Haley Barbour said he had not seen the bill on Wednesday and declined to comment on whether he would sign it.