Skip to content
Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus...

Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus outlines 2023 priorities

By: Sarah Ulmer - January 12, 2023

State Senator Angela Turner-Ford speaks on behalf of the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus at the start of the 2023 session.

The lawmakers call for Medicaid expansion, early voting, increased school funding, and more.

In the 2023 legislative session, the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus (MLBC) plans to take a look at reforming election laws in Mississippi, how the state handles TANF money, and the appropriation of the remaining American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) dollars, just to name a few.

“Since the conception of our organization, we have made it our mission to adopt legislation that embraces and improves the lives of undeserved communities,” said Senator Angela Turner-Ford (D). “We have adopted positions on healthcare, education, critical infrastructure, elections, economic and racial equity and criminal justice.”

The MLBC policy agenda adopted by the MLBC touches on each of those issues for this session.

With hospitals struggling in the state, the MLBC has long taken the position to expand Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act. The lawmakers are calling for expansion once again.

The caucus has also continued to support the full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), while pushing for increased teacher pay and access to more subject area coaches in Mississippi classrooms. This year, MLBC is requesting that the Department of Education release information about the department’s 24-hour tutoring program as well as other academic assistance to schools to assess how Mississippi compares to the rest of the country.

“Although national polls show Mississippi’s quality of public schools and early education
systems rankings have improved, MLBC has found there are schools and parents in some
parts of the State that are unaware of accessible Mississippi Department of Education
(MDE) programs,” the MLBC policy agenda states.

Another major item on the caucus agenda includes election reform. The MLBC is supporting action to allow for early voting as well as fully restoring voting rights to convicted criminals who are no longer incarcerated.

MLBC is again calling for the restoration of the ballot initiative or referendum process. This was halted when the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned Initiative 65 based on the number of Congressional Districts required. The state constitution requires signatures for ballot initiatives to come from five districts, however Mississippi now only has four.

“MLBC supports the restoration of the initiative and referendum process by inserting
language that allows for modification of the number of congressional districts after each
redistricting cycle,” read the policy agenda.

MLBC members will also resume their efforts to address racial disparity. They want to make Juneteenth an official state holiday and pass the Crown Act, a bill that has been proposed that would prevent someone from being fired from their job based off of their hair style.

In addition, MLBC has been holding hearings through the summer to explore ways in which more oversight can be provided over the distribution of TANF dollars after the 2020 scandal which revealed roughly $90 million in misspent funds.

“MLBC proposes a governing board be instituted to oversee TANF dollars and help
MDHS administer appropriations received from the Federal government in a manner that
is fair and equitable. Mississippi childcare providers, program end users and the subgrantee
community are advocating for additional oversight, which can be provided by a
governing board,” read their policy agenda.

You can read the full MLBC policy agenda HERE.

About the Author(s)
author profile image

Sarah Ulmer

Sarah is a Mississippi native, born and raised in Madison. She is a graduate of Mississippi State University, where she studied Communications, with an emphasis in Broadcasting and Journalism. Sarah’s experience spans multiple mediums, including extensive videography with both at home and overseas, broadcasting daily news, and hosting a live radio show. In 2017, Sarah became a member of the Capitol Press Corp in Mississippi and has faithfully covered the decisions being made by leaders on some of the most important issues facing our state. Email Sarah: