JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Mississippi lawmakers are back at the State Capitol this week as they begin the 2019 legislative session.
If you look at the calendar, you’ll realize there won’t be much time between this three month legislative session and the 2019 statewide primary elections. Because of that, most lawmakers will be pulling double duty as they work on legislation and their campaigns.
“Everybody’s posturing for different positions and it’s just fun around the Capitol this time of year to see what’s going to take place and who’s going to run for what,” said Rep. Lester Carpenter-R.
So, will election year impact what’s accomplished? One impact could be more work across the aisle.
“I do think that we may see a real bi-partisan effort with regard to criminal justice reform, that’s much needed,” Sen. John Horhn-D said.
“We’re going to make sure it accomplishes the goals we have and that’s primarily getting those who leave the system whereby they can be productive members of society," added Lt. Governor Tate Reeves-R.
Teacher pay raises are being brought up by both Republicans and Democrats. But some have said they’d want to also look at the possibility of a raise for other state workers, as well. Speaker Philip Gunn is looking to add strengthening human trafficking laws to the agenda.
“It’s a scourge on our state," said Gunn. "We’re trying to make sure we do what we can to stop that.”
Last year’s special session took care of two hot topics: creation of a state lottery and infrastructure funding. But not everyone thinks it’s enough.
“What we did was like putting a band-aid on a broken leg when we need to put a cast on it."
"We need major help for our roads and bridges.”
And we learned that there will be a change in leadership on the Senate side. Senator Terry Burton was charged with second offense DUI last month.
“I hope that my actions and the spotlight that has been shone on me does not reflect back on the 51 people I’m looking at now,” said Burton.
Burton will remain in his Senate seat but will not seek reelection in 2019. He did announce that he’s resigning from his post as Senate Pro-Tempore effective at midnight.
Other potential topics at the Capitol include changes to rural broadband access, a possible repeal on the hybrid and electric vehicle fee, and a push to limit the amount of state testing.