Senate makes more changes to HB 1020 before passing it, sending it back to the House

Published: Mar. 7, 2023 at 8:02 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -We’re following the controversial House Bill 1020 for you, and yet again, it’s changing. However, it’s still not a done deal.

In nearly three hours of debate, the focus was on the capital city’s crime.

“If people think that we don’t have a problem, and I say we, then their head’s in the sand,” said Sen. Brice Wiggins. “And this is the legislation before this body that can address this issue with resources.”

Many of you have called on the bill to be killed. Others offered up ideas they thought could improve it. Sen. Brice Wiggins says input, including from some Jackson officials, is what led to more changes on the Senate floor.

“I did say that at times, this was like playing Whack a Mole,” added Wiggins. “Because it was difficult, as has been seen in the media, of getting people to on the same page, so to speak.”

The Senate version still deletes several elements from the House version, including the expanded Capital Complex Improvement District, inferior courts plan, and the permanently appointed judges.

“One of those changes is we act that got a lot of discussion is the MOU, the memorandum, which, when it came out of committee, was a mandate. And instead, if one wasn’t entered, then the Capitol Police and DPS would make those decisions. We took that out, and we changed it to a May and added in the Sheriff of Hinds County.”

Capitol Police jurisdiction would still expand to the entire city under the version passed by the Senate. They also added a requirement for Capitol Police to have cameras on their patrol cars which would be paid for by the state. However, there was still pushback.

“It is vastly improved from where it started,” noted Sen. John Horhn of Jackson. “But it is still a snake, and it needs to be defeated.”

Because they changed it, it still has to go back to the House.

“I do believe the bill will end up in conference,” said the bill’s original author Rep. Trey Lamar. “And hopefully soon, within the next week or two, I’d love to have a final product that we can present to the body.”

Here is more of a breakdown on what the Senate proposal includes.

-First, it deleted language from House version, including:

  • • Expanded CCID plan
  • • Inferior courts plan
  • • Permanently appointed judges

-It provides “temporary special judges” paid for by the state. Three would hear civil and criminal cases. Meanwhile, two would be “Rocket Docket” judges to hear just criminal cases. The Senate version commits the state funding through 2026. Funding for the existing temporary special judges are currently only on a year-to-year basis

-Three assistant full-time public defenders would be paid for by the state “subject to appropriations.”

-It provides additional county prosecutors for Hinds County, paid for by the state until 2026. They would be appointed by currently elected county prosecutors.

-It asks for data from Hinds County Courts and Administrative Office of Courts to be provided to analyze whether an additional judge is needed for Hinds County. Any such judge will be elected from a subdistrict like all the other judges in Hinds County.

-Any new judge will be elected from a subdistrict like other judges

-Body cameras shall be issued for Capitol Police and paid for by the state. They added via a floor amendment that Capital Police patrol vehicles should be equipped with vehicle cameras paid for by the state.

-Hinds County Sheriff, JPD, and DPS MAY enter into memorandum. A copy of any memorandum to be sent to DFA and Chairs of Senate and House Appropriations. Failure to enter memo will NOT affect law enforcement jurisdiction OR obligations of state.

-Capitol Police jurisdiction extended to the city limits of Jackson.

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