JACKSON, Miss.–Whether or not a special legislative session could be called this year has, so far, not been decided. But, if it did happen, the governor would be the one to do it. One lawmaker who wants to see it happen is Rep. Chcuk Espy (D-Clarksdale).
Espy said Thursday that he wants to see a bill brought up that would supply police across the state with body cams. Some departments have already put the cams on their officers, to keep the police and the citizens they patrol honest.
Events in Florida, Ferguson, New York, and South Carolina have highlighted the importance of body cameras. After the video of a South Carolina police officer fatally shooting an unarmed black man, the police force since purchased 250 body cameras, said a news release from Espy.
Espy had been working on the use of on-body cameras for more than a year with legislation. However, in this past session Espy introduced a body camera bill which never got out of committee, said his camp.
“On the street, things aren’t always clear. The body cameras will help law enforcement and the public minimize inconsistencies, which we know from other cities, have been a significant factor in lowering crime rates,” said Espy. “We must make sure Mississippi is a leader when it comes to crime suppression, constitutional policing, and reducing violent confrontations.”
“Mississippi could be one of the first states to have a camera on every officer,” said Espy. “This is a bold step we can take to foster openness, community, and a way to build trust. Our community, and in particular the black community, has asked for openness in all levels of government, and that includes policing efforts. I am hopeful the governor will recognize the realtime critical nature of the request, and call a special session, or add it to a possible call for economic development. At a time when there are cameras on highways, streets, in stores, in schools, and countless other places, body cameras allow the version of events to present themselves in the most transparent way. Mississippi should lead the nation on this initiative because of the state’s inequitable past. We have something to prove to this nation, and we can’t wait for a senseless death to make us react.”
A couple of groups who support getting rid of Common Core education standards have called on the governor to veto a bill that would form a study committee to try to decide if Common Core should be done away with. If Gov. Bryant does veto the bill, that could mean a special session to decide what to do about Common Core that would get rid of it faster.
“It does not get rid of Common Core,” said Lynda Troyer, with Miss. Families Restoring Excellence in Education. “All the commission does, at this point, is make recommendations to the state board of education and the state board of education does not have to accept anything this commission comes up with. So there is nor requirement to change anything.”
Another reason to call a special session could be workforce development.
“There’s always about a 50/50 chance of a special session because, hopefully, we have some sort of economic development project that would require certain action, and hopefully you have one of those about every year or every other year,” said Rep. Greg Snowden (R), who serves as House Speaker Pro Temp.
“If such a special session is called, it’s not unusual for the governor to add other things to that. So, it’s not unforeseeable, but I’m not aware of any plans to do that.”
A special session could cost you about $30,000 per day in state tax money.