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Lt. Governor Hosemann says “Senate will be ready” for special session

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Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann
Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann

Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann says he supports Gov. Tate Reeves calling a special session allowing legislators an opportunity to reinstate the voter initiative process that the Mississippi Supreme Court overturned on Friday in tandem with the medical marijuana initiative that was overwhelmingly supported by voters in the November 2020 election.

“If the governor chooses to call the Legislature back into Special Session, the Senate will be ready,” Hosemann said in a statement Tuesday. “Because Special Sessions are expensive, my preference is to approach this situation in an organized fashion so when we do return we can minimize costs to taxpayers.”

“Citizen-driven ballot initiatives are an important part of policy-making, and I support reenacting the ballot initiative process.  I also support a medical marijuana program, as evidenced by the Senate twice passing back-stop legislation which did not survive in the House,” Hosemann continued. “We are in the process of talking to Senators about the Supreme Court ruling as it relates to both issues and how to proceed.”

The House is also prepared to go into a special session, according to House Speaker Philip Gunn.  “We 100% believe in the right of the people to use the initiative process to express their views on public policy,” Gunn said. “I support the governor calling us into a special session to protect this important right of the people.”

An important right that Secretary of State Michael Watson said Monday he does not regret standing up for, saying “I made the decision to defend Mississippians’ right to amend their constitution and do not apologize for doing so.”

Watson has also expressed concern that failure to take action could leave current initiatives in a state of limbo until the language defining the initiative qualification process is resolved.

“Because the Supreme Court ruled the initiative process is inoperable, even though all current initiatives are technically still alive, it is doubtful they will make it to the ballot box in the near future barring some type of judicial intervention, legislative intervention, or a timely constitutional amendment,” Watson said.

With both chambers of the legislature in support of returning to the Capitol, it seems likely that a special session will meet.  However, Gov. Tate Reeves is the only person with the authority to call a special session.

Gov. Reeves’ office has declined to comment on the potential for a special session until their review of the Supreme Court’s lengthy 58-page opinion is complete.

If Gov. Reeves chooses to forgo a special session, the earliest that the Legislature could approve a medical marijuana program would be the 2022 session beginning in January.  The ballot initiative process would require a 2/3 vote in both the House and Senate before going before voters.  The next opportunity for voter approval would be the Nov. 2022 general election.

 

 

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