Efforts to protect pre-existing laws surrounding private property taken by eminent domain have continued in the legislature this week with the unanimous passing of House Bill 1769 in the Mississippi Senate.
Details included in the bill would codify Article 3, Section 17A of the Mississippi Constitution and verify Initiative 31, a ballot initiative passed into the state constitution in 2011.
Focus has turned to the validity of the initiative since the Mississippi Supreme Court’s ruling in 2021 against how the medical marijuana initiative was certified on the ballot.
During this legislative session, the Senate and House have made efforts to ensure Initiative 31 stays in Mississippi law by passing HB 1769.
Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) explained how legislators planned to keep the initiative in the Mississippi Constitution last week, saying:
“After due consideration, we felt we needed to make it clear to the Supreme Court that the legislative intent was to enforce the eminent domain constitutional amendment as it was voted on by the individual citizens.”
The bill would prohibit the transferring of private property to any person, nongovernmental entity, public-private partnership, corporation, or other business entity for ten years after its acquisition.
“We felt like it was important for us to go back in this year and put into code what’s in the constitution just to give us a little more protection,” Farm Bureau President Mike McCormick, a large supporter of the passing of the original Initiative 31, explained.
Several exemptions to the bill included drainage, levees, public roads and bridges, airports, ports, and more.
To ensure the bill makes it through the House and Senate during this session, legislators signed Senate Concurrent Resolution 583 on Friday, which suspends any deadlines related to the bill before sine die.
The bill now heads to the desk of Governor Tate Reeves, who has until the end of the session to sign.