Mississippi lawmakers wrap up 2021 legislative session

Mississippi lawmakers wrap up 2021 legislative session

JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The legislature called it quits on the 2021 session Thursday morning. But some of the legislation that sparked the most controversy didn’t survive the legislative gauntlet.

Among those: the tax reform plan championed by Speaker Philip Gunn.

“I’ve said it repeatedly and I’ll say it again: I don’t know of any policy item we as a legislature could ever do that will benefit the people more or result in greater economic prosperity in our state than elimination of the income tax,” said Gunn.

The House tried to revive the proposal but the language was removed during the conference process. The Senate plans to study tax issues this summer.

“The bill that was in the House increased about a quarter of a billion dollars to people’s taxes,” said Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann. “I think our goal should be to reduce taxes.”

Medical marijuana is in the state’s constitution now but is facing a court challenge. So, Senators pushed to create a backup plan.

“The people of Mississippi voted for this and we wanted to institute it one way or another,” noted Hosemann.

In a similar way the House revived the tax plan, the Senate revived the medical marijuana plan. But it also didn’t survive final negotiations.

Medicaid gets reviewed every three years. There were initially plans to include postpartum care.

“I was disappointed that we did not get that in the legislation,” explained Lt. Governor Hosemann. “There was an expense for that clearly but I think some of the highest costs we’ve got in Mississippi, y’all, is coming from underweight babies and moms who need some additional help after they’ve had their child.”

As federal incentives are being offered to states that haven’t expanded Medicaid, the Speaker made his position clear.

“I’m not open to Medicaid expansion,” said Speaker Philip Gunn. “I am not in favor of that. From what I know about it, we cannot afford it. There’s numerous reasons we don’t need to do that.”

Some other noteworthy bills: The Governor has already signed the teacher pay raise. And a bill has been sent to him that would expand parole eligibility, an issue that’s critical as the Department of Justice continues to look into our prison system.

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