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What Will The Mississippi Legislature Tackle This Year?

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 31 Dec 2010 12:54pm | comments

The new session of the Mississippi legislature begins tomorrow. MPB's Jeffrey Hess has a preview about what you will be talking about this year.

The biggest issue in front of lawmakers this session will be the state's budget. While revenues are rising slightly, it will not be enough to stave off hundreds of millions in cuts.

State Senator Bob Dearing of Natchez says budget wrangling could force push the session into overtime.

"Legislative Budget Committee has us a tentative plan and if we stick to it we may get through on time. If not, we may get extended. I hope we don't get extended," Dearing said.

Legislators also have to redraw the state's voting districts according to new 20-10 census data. Failing to do so this year means they will have to run for election again next year.

Lt. Governor Phil Bryant is pushing the legislature to fight back against the individual mandate in the new health care reform law.

"I think we have got to have individual responsibility for people who say 'I don't have to worry about my weight. I don't have to worry about my smoking. I don't about how much I drink. My insurance company and my employer will handle all of that,' Health care has got to begin with the individual," Bryant said.

He and the governor want to set up insurance exchanges, which are already included as part of the health care reform law.

Some lawmakers might also seek to institute an immigration policy modeled after the recent Arizona law, Senate president pro-temp Billy Hewes.

"We are going to discuss it. We are going to look at that. As the Governor said, we don't have the problems that Arizona does because we are not a border state. But that does not minimize the concerns that we have as far as the impact on our society," Hewes said.

There is also likely to be a lot of politicking over the three ballot initiatives that are up for a vote this fall and every elected state official is running for re-election.

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