Lawmakers will likely extend session as major items are still undone heading into final week

Published: Mar. 27, 2023 at 8:15 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -Three months of work on legislation that will impact you is starting to wrap up. This is expected to be the final week of the session. But most of the major issues are still unresolved.

”A lot of things in the air right now,” said Speaker Philip Gunn around noon on Monday. “A lot of negotiations [are] still taking place.”

But Monday brought the surprise revival of one issue.

“Ask that we suspend the rules, and we hope to be able to bring that back up and that’s the ballot initiative,” said Sen. Dean Kirby, Senate President Pro Tempore.

Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann released this statement.

“At my request, the Senate passed a suspension resolution to revive the initiative process this morning,” said Hosemann. “House leadership has also expressed a desire to continue working on this issue. If the House agrees to this suspension resolution, the Senate will again address legislation providing Mississippians with direct input on policy. We are hopeful to come to a final agreement.”

But the Speaker wasn’t sure they would be agreeing to the resolution yet.

“Have not had any opportunity to have a conversation with them about that,” noted Speaker Philip Gunn. “What are y’all going to propose is different than what you’ve already proposed? We’ve made our position clear twice, both last year and this year. We have passed bills that closely mirror the original law. And so I don’t know what purpose it serves if there’s not going to be any sort of movement or new idea.”

It was also a deadline day for the budget. As of Monday morning, things were still in flux.

“We have finished about half of the budgets, maybe a little less than half of the budgets,” said Sen. Briggs Hopson Monday morning. “And we’ve signed conference reports on about 40 other bills today. So we’ve got, I would say, maybe 70% of them decided and done, we’ve got about 20%, I would say that we got ready to do just need to be typed up.”

Education funding seems to still be a sticking point. Senate leaders want to direct an extra $181 million to the MAEP formula for public schools. However, the House is not on the same page.

“We’re certainly not opposed to spending more money on education,” said Speaker Philip Gunn. “And I think we will. I think we will come forward with a proposal to spend more money on education. But what we’re going to do is going to be outside the formula.”

Education advocates are closely watching to see what will happen with MAEP.

Lawmakers missed some of today’s deadlines and are now expected to have to technically extend the session on paper in order to get the budget completed.

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