2000 Regular Session
To: Public Health and Welfare; Appropriations
By: Senator(s) Nunnelee, Chaney
Senate Bill 3160
(As Sent to Governor)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 43-17-37 AND 43-17-35, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO MAKE TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS TO THE MISSISSIPPI REDUCING OUT-OF-WEDLOCK PREGNANCIES INCENTIVE GRANT FUND PROGRAM, AND TO EXTEND THE TASK FORCE ON OUT-OF-WEDLOCK PREGNANCIES IN ORDER TO MAKE FURTHER REPORTS TO THE LEGISLATURE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 43-17-37, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-17-37. (1) There is hereby created in the State Treasury a special fund to be known as the Mississippi Reducing Out-Of-Wedlock Pregnancies Incentive Grant Fund into which shall be deposited the federal funds available for bonuses for the reduction in out-of-wedlock births awarded under the federal Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-193) and such other money as the Legislature may provide by appropriation. The money in the fund shall be used for the purpose of providing financial incentives to counties to reduce their out-of-wedlock birth rates as required by federal welfare reform legislation. The fund shall be administered by the Department of Human Services. Unexpended amounts remaining in the fund at the end of the fiscal year shall not lapse into the State General Fund, and any interest earned on amounts in the fund shall be deposited to the credit of the fund; provided that any unexpended amounts remaining in the fund on December 31, 2003, shall lapse into the State General Fund.
(2) The Department of Human Services shall make annual awards from the fund to the top five (5) counties with the greatest reduction in out-of-wedlock births without an increase in abortions in each of the following categories:
(a) One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00) in counties which had two hundred fifty (250) or fewer * * * total live births;
(b) Two Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($250,000.00) in counties which had between two hundred fifty (250) and five hundred (500) total live births;
(c) Five Hundred Thousand Dollars ($500,000.00) in counties which had five hundred (500) or more * * * total live births.
(3) Determination of the recipient counties will be based on an average of the previous two (2) years' out-of-wedlock birth rates compared to the previous two-year average, and the number of abortions performed on county residents compared to the number for calendar year 1998 as reported by the State Department of Health. In order to qualify for the award funds, the reduction in the out-of-wedlock birth rate shall be at least three percent (3%).
(4) In order to be considered for an incentive award, the county board of supervisors shall appoint an advisory committee * * * which shall develop a plan for the county to be submitted by the county board of supervisors to the Department of Human Services by December 1, 2000, and by December 1 of each subsequent year.
(5) Each county receiving an incentive award will be subject to the following requirements:
(a) The county must use the incentive award for some type of youth enrichment, such as, but not limited to, continuing the implementation of the plan that reduced out-of-wedlock pregnancies, education-related projects, recreational facilities, or a summer work program; and
(b) The county must submit a report to the Department of Human Services on the methods used to achieve the reduction in out-of-wedlock births, and submit a separate report to the department explaining how the incentive award was spent.
(6) If the fund is not adequate to make the distributions presented under this section, the department may award funds to counties on a reduced pro-rata basis.
(7) Funds shall be distributed each year following the release of the vital statistics report of the Mississippi State Department of Health. The first disbursement from the fund shall be made after such report is released which shows the statistics for calendar year 2000.
(8) This section shall stand repealed from and after December 31, 2003.
SECTION 2. Section 43-17-35, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
43-17-35. (1) In the enactment of the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996 (Public Law 104-193), the United States Congress made the following findings relating to out-of-wedlock pregnancies:
(a) The increase of out-of-wedlock pregnancies and births is well documented.
(b) An effective strategy to combat teenage pregnancy must address the issue of male responsibility, including statutory rape culpability and prevention. The increase of teenage pregnancies among the youngest girls is particularly severe and is linked to predatory sexual practices by men who are significantly older.
(c) The negative consequences of an out-of-wedlock birth on the mother, the child, the family and society are well documented.
(d) Currently thirty-five percent (35%) of children in single-parent homes are born out of wedlock, nearly the same percentage as that of children in single-parent homes whose parents are divorced. While many parents find themselves, through divorce or tragic circumstances beyond their control, facing the difficult task of raising children alone, nevertheless, the negative consequences of raising children in single-parent homes are well documented.
(e) Therefore, in light of this demonstration of the crisis in our nation, it is the sense of the Congress that prevention of out-of-wedlock births are very important government interests and the policy contained in this legislation is intended to address the crisis.
(2) The Department of Human Services shall establish a task force in compliance with Public Law 104-193, consisting of public and private organizations and individuals to review the incidence and circumstances of out-of-wedlock pregnancies in Mississippi. Based on these findings, goals will be established by the task force and a specific program will be recommended to prevent and reduce the incidence of out-of-wedlock pregnancies in Mississippi, as well as the efficiency and cost effectiveness of the program, with special emphasis on teenage pregnancies. The task force will establish numerical goals for reducing the illegitimacy ratio of the state as defined by federal law through calendar year 2005. The task force shall publish its findings and recommendations with any proposed legislation in a report to the Governor and the Legislature to be made on or before January 1, 1998.
(3) The task force established under subsection (2) of this section shall continue in existence and shall study the effect that raising the statutory age of sexual consent to age sixteen (16) has on preventing and reducing the incidence of teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancies in Mississippi from July 1, 1998, to October 1, 2001. The task force shall consider whether raising the age of sexual consent to an age above age sixteen (16) would be more effective in preventing and reducing the incidence of teenage out-of-wedlock pregnancies in Mississippi. The task force shall publish its findings and recommendations, together with any proposed legislation, in a report to the Governor and the Legislature on or before January 1, 2002.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2000.