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Legislation to revive the initiative...

Legislation to revive the initiative process in Mississippi dies in conference

By: Frank Corder - March 29, 2022

(AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis - Copyright 2020. The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

Efforts underway to continue negotiations through suspension resolution as session winds down.

The only remaining piece of legislation that would have revived the initiative process in Mississippi following last year’s state Supreme Court ruling that effectively killed the public ballot referendum mechanism has died in conference.

HCR 39, authored by Speaker Philip Gunn, initially passed the House by a vote of 92-26. When it made its way to the Senate, changes were proposed through an amendment before it passed 52-0. The House declined to concur with the Senate changes and conference was then invited.

House conferees were State Representatives Fred Shanks, Nick Bain and Dana McLean. Senate conferees were Senators John Polk, Mike Thompson, and Kevin Blackwell.

The legislation would have allowed for a public ballot initiative process to propose new laws or amend or repeal existing laws. It would not have allowed state constitutional amendments through the initiative process, as was previously the case. That authority would remain with the Legislature.

The proposed legislation would have cleaned up the language in reference to collecting signatures from the state’s current congressional districts, not specifying a certain number while distributing them equally, and would have limited the number of initiatives that could be on any one statewide ballot.

At issue, however, appears to have been the number of signatures required to certify the initiative, allowing it to be placed on a statewide ballot, using either 12% of qualified electors who voted for Governor in the last gubernatorial election or a percentage of qualified electors who voted in the last presidential election.

Y’all Politics has learned that efforts are being made this morning to add it to the calendar through a suspension resolution to allow negotiations to continue. However, whether that is possible or not remains unclear at the time of publication.

About the Author(s)
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Frank Corder

Frank Corder is a native of Pascagoula. For nearly two decades, he has reported and offered analysis on government, public policy, business and matters of faith. Frank’s interviews, articles, and columns have been shared throughout Mississippi as well as in national publications such as the Daily Caller. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, providing insight and commentary on the inner workings of the Magnolia State. Frank has served his community in both elected and appointed public office, hosted his own local radio and television programs, and managed private businesses all while being an engaged husband and father.