Mississippi legislators could extend their disrupted session
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) —
The Republican-led Mississippi Legislature is working to extend its session that has already been disrupted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Senators and representatives originally were scheduled to be at the Capitol from early January until early May to enact new laws, plug holes in the current year’s budget and write a new state budget for the year that begins July 1.
Legislators were sent home in mid-March because of the pandemic. Since then, they’ve been back at the Capitol only a few days. They returned Tuesday with plans to work at least three days each week to finish the session by July 12.
With bipartisan support, the House adopted a resolution Wednesday that could extend the session until Dec. 31. Legislators would not remain at the Capitol the whole time.
The extension gives House Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann the power to bring legislators back to the Capitol at any time to deal with any issue, without the need for Republican Gov. Tate Reeves to call a special session.
In a special session, the governor tells legislators which issues they may consider. During a regular session, legislators have more leeway to handle the issues they want to consider.
House Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White said legislators had worked 56 of the allotted 120 session days by Wednesday. He said extending the session through Dec 31 should not cost the state any extra money.
The resolution to extend the session must also be adopted by the Senate. During a news conference Wednesday, Reeves was asked about the issue.
“That’s the prerogative of the Legislature if they’re going to work,” Reeves said. “My understanding is that it was said on the (House) floor that this wasn’t going to cost taxpayers any more money. And so, if they’re going to work for free, then I think that’s good.”