Reeves to make a decision on signing H.B. 1020 ‘over the next 48 hours’

Gov. Tate Reeves says people should expect a decision on H.B. 1020 by the end of the week.
Gov. Tate Reeves says people should expect a decision on H.B. 1020 by the end of the week.(WLBT)
Published: Apr. 19, 2023 at 3:53 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Gov. Tate Reeves says he will make a decision in the next two days on whether he will sign a controversial bill that would increase Capitol Police jurisdiction and provide for temporary special judges to hear cases in Jackson.

“We will make a decision, a final decision, on House Bill 1020 over the next 48 hours,” he said. “I would anticipate a final decision coming by the end of the week.”

Reeves spoke at a bill signing ceremony at the Sillers Building on Wednesday, where he took questions from reporters about 1020, which was perhaps one of the most controversial bills of the 2023 session.

“House Bill 1020 was filed with the best of intentions. But as is often the case of a bill, particularly one that is as closely monitored as that one, as it goes through the process, while the process is not particularly pretty, the bills tend to improve,” he said. “House Bill 1020 certainly fits that. It improved through the process, and we’ll make a final decision as we get toward the end of the week.”

Under the final measure, the bill expanded the boundaries of the Capitol Complex Improvement District and gave Capitol Police primary jurisdiction within it.

Outside the CCID, Capitol Police would have jurisdiction along with the Jackson Police Department.

“How many current uniform officers does the Jackson Police Department have? Does anybody know what that number is?” Reeves asked. “They need 450. I’ve heard that they’ve been budgeted for 200, but have roughly half that amount... We currently have 120 in the CCID.”

If 1020 is passed, state lawmakers have allocated funding to expand Capitol Police to 150 officers.

The bill also includes the appointment of additional temporary judges. Three would hear criminal and civil cases, while two others would serve as “Rocket Docket” judges and hear only criminal cases.

The measure has come under fire from civil rights groups, including the NAACP, which signaled it’s ready to take legal action if the bill signed into law.

“They are only imposing this on the city of Jackson. No other jurisdiction in the state of Mississippi will have this type of oversight in taking local authority,” NAACP President and CEO Derrick Johnson said at an April town hall. “That is a direct violation of the equal protection [clause]. As soon as the governor signs any or all these bills, we will be filing a lawsuit the same day.”

Reeves, though, says he only wants what’s best for Jackson, and that law and order are “critical to any growing community.”

“Jackson has so much potential. I’ve lived in Jackson for almost a third of my life, and I want what’s best for Jackson. But for us to continue to see young kids getting killed in the streets, for us to see property crimes that are happening here that are causing people to leave, we’ve got to make sure that we have law and order,” he said.

He touted one provision of the bill would mandate the Mississippi Department of Public Safety to create a 911 dispatch system specifically to handle calls originating within CCID boundaries.

Said Reeves, “What I can assure you of is that if Commissioner [Sean] Tyndall and Chief [Bo] Luckey are running the 911 system in the CCID, if there is a call, Capitol Police will show up.”

Barring any lawsuits blocking it, if signed, the bill will go into effect on July 1, 2023.

Want more WLBT news in your inbox? Click here to subscribe to our newsletter.

See a spelling or grammar error in our story? Please click here to report it and include the headline of the story in your email.