AP analysis: Mississippi House seeks to end self-destruct switch for state agencies

A figurative self-destruct switch is turned on at many state agencies in Mississippi.

No time bombs are ticking in the office buildings that overlook the Capitol. But laws that authorize many agencies specify a date that the law will be repealed and the agency will cease to exist.

Those repealers are traditionally one of the ways that the state’s powerful Legislature has kept departments and commissions on a short leash. Because agencies must return every few years to have their operating authority renewed by the Legislature, lawmakers get a guaranteed chance to make changes in an agency’s mission or pressure agency heads to operate differently.

The power of the repealer was illustrated in 2013 when Democratic lawmakers used an effort to renew the state Medicaid agency to push Republicans to expand the Medicaid program and add another 300,000 low-income people to its rolls. The additional coverage is an option under the federal health overhaul that President Barack Obama signed in 2010.

Gulflive
2/9/14