House Bill 1020 gets changed when it reaches Senate committee, has long legislative road ahead

Published: Feb. 24, 2023 at 7:44 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -We have new details to share with you about the controversial House Bill 1020. You’ve may have seen pushback from advocates and lawmakers, and now, the bill is changing.

You may have already formed your opinions on House Bill 1020. But let’s reset because that bill was gutted, going from 35 to 11 pages in the Senate Judiciary A committee Thursday.

“It may look different, and it is different,” noted Sen. Brice Wiggins, Senate Jud A Chairman. “But the intent is the same, which is to bring safety and public safety to the citizens and the visitors of Jackson and our state capital.”

Here’s the breakdown of the changes:

  • No separate judicial district with appointed judges.
  • Ensures funding of temporary special judges through 2026.
  • There are currently four temporary special judge positions, a fifth would be added.
  • Add another elected judge in Hinds County. Election in 2026, start serving in 2027.

“It’s not a takeover. It’s a here’s assistance, there’s leeway for you to do it, we will help you,” noted Wiggins. “But yeah, there’ll be certain things that have to be done.”

But changes went beyond the judicial piece. Under the Senate proposal:

  • Capital Complex Improvement District wouldn’t expand.
  • Capitol Police JURISCITION would expand to include entire city.
  • Bill now says Commissioner of the Department of Public Safety and the City of Jackson “shall” enter into an MOU.
  • If no MOU, any disputes would be decided in favor of the DPS Commissioner.

That MOU is sparking debate even within the Jackson delegation.

“There’s got to be a better way than that to get a more balanced approach to who’s in charge and who has the last word,” said Sen. John Horhn. “So, that needs to be tweaked.”

“I strongly encourage the signing of an MOU,” explained Sen. Sollie Norwood. “First of all, we need to have direct lines of delineating responsibilities. And also there are some carrots in there that the city can receive as a result of that.”

This still has to clear the full Senate. But even still, it’s expected to go to a conference committee where they’ll work out a compromise between the two versions.

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