2022 Year in Review: Mississippi politics
JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Mississippi political headlines ran the gamut of topics in 2022.
Lawmakers made quick work of handling legislation to get a medical marijuana program up and running.
“It’s not a perfect bill but we’ve tried to be conservative,” said the author of SB 2095, Sen. Kevin Blackwell in January. “We tried to take initiative 65, the intent of 65, and keep that within this framework.”
They passed the final version with the Governor signing it into law on February 2. It was the first step towards relief for families who’ve been waiting for alternative medicine.
“We are very eager to try to get something in place that is going to offer some relief to him,” noted Christine Loftin about her son.
Another point of agreement was that teachers deserved a raise. Each chamber had its own ideas on how much. Ultimately, they’re getting an average pay raise of $5,140 for teachers and $2,000 for assistant teachers.
Income taxes were the source of GOP in-fighting with some lobbying for full elimination of the tax while others supported only a cut. In the end, they agreed to a cut.
“For a person making 40,000 bucks a year, that’s a tax savings of about $425 a year,” noted Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White. “For a married couple filing jointly making up to 80, it’s a tax cut of over $800 a year.”
The Senate passed a bill to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for a year after giving birth. The Speaker said he didn’t want anything that would appear to be a broader expansion of Medicaid.
“These are live children that are here that have been born here,” said Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann at the end of the session regarding his disappointment in the legislation dying. “We need to refocus ourselves. We’re better than that.”
American Rescue Plan Act or ARPA dollars were also divvied up.
“We’re strengthening our roads, we’re bolstering our bridges, and we’re increasing access to clean drinking water,” said Governor Tate Reeves. “These new pieces of legislation have the potential to massively impact folks’ quality of life.”
And halfway through the year, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn Roe versus Wade, putting the state’s only remaining abortion clinic on a short timetable.
The clinic sued the state, arguing that the STATE constitution includes the right to privacy - not specifically abortion - but says it’s covered under “the right to autonomous bodily integrity.”
Ultimately, the Jackson Women’s Health Organization closed on July 6.
And after some surprise primary runoffs, three of the state’s four Congressmen maintained their seats with Mike Ezell defeating incumbent Steven Palazzo in the 4th district.
An undone item this year that we expect to see another push for in 2023 is the restoration of a ballot initiative process. Voters haven’t had that option since the state supreme court overturned the process in 2021.
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