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Lawmakers attempt to revive legislation restoring Mississippi’s ballot initiative process

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The Mississippi legislature is looking to suspend all deadlines for Senate Concurrent Resolution 533, which would have restored the state’s ballot initiative process before dying on the calendar on Thursday.

Prior to the resolution’s death, SCR 533 proposed that only the legislature can make amendments to the Mississippi constitution, as well as restricted residents from placing issues regarding abortion or PERs on the ballot.

In previous years, Mississippi’s ballot initiative process allowed residents to propose both laws and constitutional amendments before it was stripped by the Mississippi Supreme Court in May 2021.

Since then, lawmakers have attempted to restore the ballot initiative process throughout Mississippi, but disagreements between the two chambers on how many signatures should be required for issues to be placed on the ballot have prevented any legislation from being passed.

The debates continued into this year’s session, with the House amending a version of the resolution earlier this month requiring voters to only collect 106,000 signatures, modifying the Senate’s original requirement of 240,000.

According to lawmakers, the inability to agree on the number of signatures resulted in the resolution dying on the calendar last week, essentially removing the last piece of legislation that would restore the ballot initiative process from being approved this session.

Now, legislators are attempting to revive the now-dead resolution with SCR 572, which passed 48-4 in the Senate Monday morning and now heads to the House.

Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann has since stated that both chambers are attempting to revive the issue once again at his request.

“The Senate passed a suspension resolution to revive the initiative process this morning. House leadership has also expressed a desire to continue working on this issue,” Hosemann said. “If the House agrees to this suspension resolution, the Senate will again address legislation providing Mississippians with direct input on policy. We are hopeful to come to a final agreement before sine die.”

Speaker of the House Philip Gunn explained during an interview on MidDays with Gerard Gibert that he was unsure what the Senate’s plan is for the resolution.

“As you know, the House has passed a plan two years in a row that states out our position. What we passed closely mirrors what was the original bill, and the Senate has just been way, way above that every time,” Gunn said. “So, unless they plan to change their position, I don’t know if it serves a whole lot of good or is going to accomplish anything. I don’t know what their intention was in passing the resolution. They’ve had two opportunities to take it up and it just hasn’t gone anywhere. The ball is basically in their court is the way I see it.”

Senator Tyler McCaughn, who authored SCR 533, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Legislation to restore Mississippi’s ballot initiative process dies on calendar

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