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What’s on tap for the 2021 legislative session

Seven days from Miss. legislative session, what’s on schedule
Seven days from Miss. legislative session, what’s on schedule
Updated: Dec. 29, 2020 at 3:04 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - In seven days, lawmakers in Mississippi will be back to work inside the state capitol.

Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann held a press conference Tuesday to cover several hot topics you can expect to hear more about in the new session.

Among items on the agenda are education, healthcare reform, mental health legislation, recidivism, and new business incentives.

“Education is the key to Mississippi’s future,” Hosemann said. ”Those dollars have to be there,” he added, referencing a previous 1.6% cut to education.

Preliminary budget recommendations by the Mississippi Legislative Budget Office also don’t account for a much-needed teacher pay raise and the Department of Education budget, which includes literacy, professional development, and pre-k funding, is cut by 20%.

Hoseman said teacher pay raises will be up for consideration because of their overwhelming sacrifices for students during the pandemic.

“If there’s anybody whose poll numbers have risen over this year, it’s teachers,” Hosemann added.

Another key issue will be addressing the state’s mental health challenges.

September 2019, a Mississippi federal judge ruled the state violated federal civil rights law by not providing mental health patients enough care in their communities, forcing them to be segregated in state-run hospitals.

But Hosemann said lawmakers have labored non-stop to prepare to propose a package on new mental health legislation that will ‘answer all of the questions’ in the federal lawsuit.

“We don’t need the federal government running anything, we can run it ourselves,” the lieutenant governor said briskly. “We are meeting with the department of justice on a consistent basis and we will address this.

Lt. Governor Delbert Hoseman also said policymakers will push for a rebrand of Mississippi that includes showcasing the new state flag and touting business incentives to attract new industry here.

“I think you see a different atmosphere here, we all have things we wanna do for the state, there’s goodwill among people,” Hosemann said. “I think we’ll be more effective this year.”

Hosemann says the new session will also bring into play a corrections reform bill to fight recidivism and new legislation reorganizing Medicaid.

Lawmakers will be more transparent in the 2021 session.

On Twitter, the lieutenant governor said, “The two largest committee rooms in the #Mississippi Senate--216 & 409--are now equipped for webcasting.”

That means all Mississippians will be able to watch the legislative process and business happening at the capitol live.

The session officially begins Tuesday, January 5, 2021.

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