One piece of legislation that would revise Mississippi’s current initiative measure process to allow residents to propose new laws has died in the House following the committee deadline.
Senate Bill 2638, which would revise the state’s current initiative measure process to only allow lawmakers to propose amendments to the Mississippi constitution, failed to pass from the committee on House Constitution on Tuesday.
In addition to allowing only legislators to modify the state constitution, the bill would grant voters the opportunity to propose new laws, amend, or repeal existing laws in an election after a certain number of signatures is acquired.
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.
Although SB 2638 failed to pass through the legislature this session, the bill’s accompanying piece of legislation, Senate Concurrent Resolution 533, was passed out of committee prior to the deadline.
The resolution proposes that only the legislature can propose amendments to the Mississippi constitution, as well as restricting residents from placing issues regarding abortion on the ballot.
House Speaker Philip Gunn has expressed that the House is looking to pass legislation this session that would prohibit abortions from taking place in the state, with several lawmakers recently proposing amendments that would address issues like postpartum abortions.
Additionally, the amended legislation would implement wording from SB 2638 to allow voters to only propose new laws instead of changes to the Mississippi constitution.
If the resolution passes, voters would also be required to collect 240,000 signatures for an issue to be placed on the ballot, bypassing the previous total of 106,000.
“If we’re going to have a ballot initiative process, it needs to be somewhat strenuous to get an issue on the ballot. We don’t need to have a low number of people signatures required to stir Mississippi’s voting process,” Senate Accountability Chairman John Polk, R-Hattiesburg, said. “So this proposal that we sent out requires 12 percent of the number of electors available and registered on the date of the last presidential election.”
SCR 533 will now be placed on the House calendar, where lawmakers have just over a week to act on the legislation.