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Active ballot initiatives aplenty as Mississippi awaits Initiative 65 ruling

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Photo by News Mississippi

As Mississippi awaits the State Supreme Court’s ruling on the case before it involving the constitutionality of Initiative 65’s certification on the ballot in 2020, several other ballot initiatives are already in the works. 

During an appearance on the JT Show on SuperTalk Mississippi, Secretary of State Michael Watson explained that there are currently several five initiative efforts that, if they receive enough signatures, could appear on the ballot. These measures, listed as active on the Secretary of State’s website, include: 

  • Medicaid Expansion – Initiative Measure Number 76 seeks to amend the Mississippi Constitution to require Mississippi to provide medical assistance, under Mississippi’s Medicaid program, to individuals between the ages of 18 and 65 with income not exceeding 133% of the federal poverty level, plus 5% of the federal poverty level for the applicable family size, under the income methodology provided by applicable federal law, and who meet applicable non-financial eligibility conditions for Medicaid benefits under federal law.
  • State Flag – Initiative Measure Number 74 seeks to amend the Mississippi Constitution to require the Legislature to provide that the official flag of Mississippi shall be chosen at the next statewide general election from the following designs: 1894 Mississippi Flag; Bicentennial Flag with State Seal; “New Magnolia/In God We Trust” design from the November 2020 ballot; and “Stennis Flag” with “In God We Trust.” The design receiving the most votes would become the official state flag.
  • Term Limits Initiative Measure Number 75 seeks to amend the Mississippi Constitution to limit appointed and elected state and local officials, United States Representatives, and United States Senators to two successive terms in office. Service prior to January 1, 2021 would not be counted when determining the number of successive terms served by United States Representatives and United States Senators.
  • Early Voting & Legalization of Recreational Marijuana – Each of these initiatives have a few procedural hurdles left to clear before they can be officially listed on the Secretary of State’s website.

The case involving Initiative 65—the medical marijuana program adopted by Mississippi voters in November—could cause challenges for the state’s initiative process as Madison Mayor Mary Hawkins Butler argues that it was placed on the ballot unconstitutionally. According to Mississippi law, an initiative must receive over 106,000 signatures from across the state’s five congressional districts as they existed in the year 2000. Mississippi lost that fifth congressional seat in 2010 but state law was never amended to reflect that, which is the basis of the lawsuit. 

Should the Supreme Court rule in the mayor’s favor, the initiative process would likely be in limbo until the Mississippi Legislature acts to amend the law. 

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