New poll seeks to gauge support for restoring Mississippi’s ballot initiative process

Published: Jul. 8, 2021 at 7:26 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -The public pressure for a special session continues to ramp up in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Initiative 65.

The public outcry has been evident especially regarding medical marijuana. But the latest poll commissioned by the Southern Poverty Law Center Action fund looked to go beyond that.

“What was important to us in the wake of the Supreme Court decision was to gauge exactly where interest was in the ballot initiative itself, as opposed to one particular issue,” said Brandon Jones, SPLC Action Fund Policy Director.

More than 80 percent of voters polled say they want ballot initiatives in the state. Nearly the same about want the legislature to fix the law as soon as possible. And it wasn’t split down party lines.

“We rarely get opportunities to release data that’s overwhelmingly uniformly bipartisan and overwhelming in its response,” noted Ben Tulchin, President of Tulchin Research.

Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle emphasize that the Governor has sole control over calling a special session and its agenda.

“Rumors are out there certainly that it is nearing a time for us to come back for a special session,” said Senate Minority Leader Senator Derrick Simmons (D).

“My questions are answered and satisfied,” explained Sen. Chad McMahan regarding recent Senate hearings on medical marijuana. “I think the senate is ready to do business. I think the Governor’s ready to do business. I think our colleagues on the other end of the hall still have some questions they need answered. And I think that’s what’s causing the delay.”

But they echo what voters said in the polling.

“I don’t see a need to just address medical marijuana and not address the ballot initiative when we can go ahead and put all this to bed,” added Simmons.

“It’s my understanding we can fix the ballot initiative process with basically three words,” explained McMahan. “Really it could be done with ‘any apportioned district’. So, I am eager for us to address the ballot initiative myself. I’d like to see us do that in a called session.”

Governor Reeves indicated last week that he doesn’t think there’s as immediate of a need to fix the ballot initiative since it couldn’t appear on a ballot till next year. But 76 percent of those polled think he should include it in a special session THIS summer.

To read the full poll results, click HERE.

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