The 2017 legislative session convenes today at noon, and lawmakers are anticipating a busy three months.
Lawmakers will likely spend the next 90 days discussing everything from education to state spending to tax reform.
There’s also been increased interest in passing a plan to fix the state’s crumbling roads and bridges. The Mississippi Department of Transportation estimates that it will cost the state an addition $350-400 million a year to repair and maintain the state’s infrastructure.
House Minority Leader David Baria of Bay Saint Louis says any increase in funding shouldn’t come at the expense of Mississippi’s working poor.
“We could combine a rollback of corporate tax cuts, corporate welfare if you will, that we’ve handed out over the past few years with a modest increase in the gas tax and we could derive enough revenue to fund a program that fixes our crumbling infrastructure.”
Social issues have also been a hot topic over the past few years. Last year, lawmakers passed a bill that forbid the state from taking action against public or private individuals who refused to perform services for same-sex and transgender couples. The law is currently before the U-S 5th Circuit Court of Appeals.
However, this year, Republican Speaker of the House Philip Gunn says he doesn’t foresee any major actions taken on social issues, but Mississippi’s controversial state flag could once again come up.
“Those are ongoing discussions,” says Gunn. “You know my position on that and we continue to have discussions on ways to address that.”
The 2017 legislative session is scheduled to adjourn sine die April 2nd.