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Will signature achievements occur this...

Will signature achievements occur this legislative session?

By: Bill Crawford - April 7, 2024

  • Columnist Bill Crawford looks at the results of the Mississippi Legislature so far this session, saying the signature flops are accumulating.

Will there be signature achievements by the 2024 Legislature or just signature flops?

After Gov. Tate Reeves campaigned on complete elimination of the state income tax, the issue was expected to dominate the 2024 session. It hasn’t. Two bills introduced by Ways and Means Committee Chair Trey Lamar died in committee. Perhaps that is because state revenue collections year-over-year for nine months have been flat as the phase-in of the 2022 cuts take effect. Of course, no issue is truly dead until legislators go home. Whether a surprise achievement or likely flop, the result will be significant.

Meanwhile, the signature flops are accumulating.

A new ballot initiative and referendum process was to be another hot item. Both houses worked up proposals. Sen. David Parker, chair of the Senate Accountability, Efficiency, Transparency committee, allowed the final bill to die. It passed but got held on a motion to reconsider which Parker failed to call up before the deadline.

Despite legislative leaders and State Treasurer David McRae calling for serious action on PERS financing, Sen. Chris Johnson, chair of the Senate Government Structure Committee, killed the lone PERS bill in his committee. It sought to revamp the PERS board and to stall an increase in employer contributions.

State Auditor Shad White called for university diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) programs to be defunded. Bills introduced by Rep. Becky Currie and Sen. Angela Hill failed to get out of committees.  

Bills to allow in-person early voting, close most of the State Penitentiary at Parchman, allow wine shipments direct to homes, examine the efficiency of state universities, and restore voting rights to persons convicted of non-violent felonies died too.

A few bills remain in the running for signature achievements.

The House passed a new INSPIRE funding formula for K-12 schools. The Senate passed a revamped version of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) formula. If the two sides can come together, the result would readily qualify as a signature achievement.

The House and Senate have passed notably different bills to expand Medicaid. Again, if the two sides can come together, the result would qualify as a signature achievement.

If both of those should flop, the top achievement may come from one of these: two bills designed to keep children safe online; a bill to greatly expand tax credits for individual contributions to private schools operating as charitable organizations; or a bill to allow mobile sports betting.

Want to bet on what the top achievement will be?

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds” – James 1:2.

About the Author(s)
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Bill Crawford

Canton native Bill Crawford enjoyed a unique and diverse career before his retirement in 2021 - editor and publisher of three weekly newspapers, EVP and CFO of Great Southern National Bank, VP for Community and Workforce Development at Meridian Community College, and founder and president of The Montgomery Institute. His government service included serving as one of the early Republican State Representatives, on the IHL Board (Fordice), as Deputy Director of MDA (Barbour), on the PERS Study Commission (Barbour), and on the Task Force on Contracting and Procurement for MDOC (Bryant). A graduate of Millsaps College with an MS from Mississippi State University, he has written a syndicated column since 2009. He and his wife Lynn live in Jackson.