Lawmakers are heading into conference weekend at the State Capitol

Published: Mar. 24, 2023 at 7:35 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -How the state will spend your tax dollars is at stake as lawmakers enter the final days of the 2023 session. The clock is winding down on finding a compromise for the controversial bills that many of you have been speaking up about.

“We’re in the homestretch right now,” said Speaker Philip Gunn. “We will be working throughout the next week, even over the weekend trying to get the budget finished.”

Those details are the sorts of things conference weekend is designed to get ironed out. But most of those meetings are often closed door.

“These conferees are sort of like, like trying to chase a rabbit,” noted Rep. Robert Johnson. “They are all over the place. You don’t know where they’re meeting all the time. There’s no real requirement that they tell you. So I just, I just got to hang around and keep up.”

Faith leaders with Working Together Mississippi are praying for the end to one of the most controversial bills of the session.

“If House Bill 1020 has no virtue and no praise-worthiness in it, then you who never sleep nor slumber, you who understand and monitor the heartbeat of this bill, we ask God that you pull the plug and let it not have life in our city,” said Dr. Reginald Buckley, General Missionary Baptist State Convention of Mississippi.

So, where do those talks stand? Conferee Earle Banks says they haven’t met yet. He reached out to Rep. Trey Lamar on Wednesday and Thursday.

“To have a discussion about House Bill 1020 concerns that I have, and that has been expressed to me by different citizens, lawyers, Mayor Lumumba, and so forth,” explained Rep. Earle Banks. “And I’ve not gotten a response back except a text saying he wants to talk to Lieutenant Governor first. So I don’t know what that’s about.”

Another conferee says he’s trying to gather details like how it could impact the budget. The last version of 1020 would have Capitol Police covering the entire city. Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell making this note.

“I wanted to make it very clear that the city of Jackson would have primary jurisdiction, and we would be as a secondary to help back them up and work with them outside of the CCID,” said Tindell.

They have till 6:00 Saturday night to get conference reports filed. But they could file what they call dummy bills to get an extension on the negotiations. The session is expected to wrap up next week.

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