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Governor to call special session, related to automobile corridor

JACKSON — Gov. Phil Bryant said yesterday that he will call lawmakers into special session to deal with an economic development project in what he calls the state’s auto corridor.

The Commercial Appeal reports Bryant talked about the special session when he was in Oxford for a groundbreaking on an unrelated project.

Bryant said he’s trying to determine the starting date, and he expects to have news later this week about the project.

Bryant spokesman Mick Bullock confirmed the governor’s remarks to The Associated Press late yesterday.

“There’s a lot of moving parts in being able to work with an international corporation, working with all members of the Legislature and get things in line,” Bryant said in Oxford. “But we’re beginning that process right now.

“I can’t give many details about the project right now but it’s a part again of our automobile corridor, and it’s very important to our future,” he said.

It’s not unusual for Mississippi governors to call lawmakers into special session to consider incentives for major economic development projects. Several lawmakers have said they expect this session to deal with an automotive supplier near West Point.

Mississippi has two automotive manufacturers — Nissan near Canton and Toyota near Blue Springs.

Bryant said the economic development special session would be separate from a special session he is expected to call later to keep Mississippi’s Medicaid program in business. During the three-month regular session that ended April 4, lawmakers did not adopt a Medicaid budget and did not pass a bill that would keep the program in business once the state’s new fiscal year begins July 1.

The Medicaid bills died amid a partisan dispute over whether to expand the program to people making up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level, which is allowed under the federal health care law that President Barack Obama signed in 2010. At 138 percent of the poverty level, one person would have an income of about $15,000. The Medicaid income cutoff in Mississippi now is about $5,500, and even under that limit, the state still does not cover many able-bodied adults.

Bryant and other Republicans say Mississippi can’t afford the expansion, even with the federal government paying most of the tab. Democrats say the state should extend Medicaid to help uninsured working people and to assure a flow of federal money to support medical providers.

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