Mississippi lawmakers are making their way to Jackson for the start of the 2019 legislative session. It's an election year and as MPB's Desare Frazier reports, the House Republican leadership says the agenda includes issues everyone can support.
Mississippi Democratic Party Chair Bobby Moak says his party isn't afraid to take on the tough issues such as expanding Medicaid and fully funding education. But he says he doesn't believe those issues will be addressed during the 2019 legislative session because it's an election year.
"Nobody is holding their breathe thinking that this majority in the legislature is going to even put their legislators in the position of having to vote on tough issues that effect Mississippians everyday," said Moak.
In 2018, Republicans tackled the controversial issue of trying to revamp the state's public education funding formula, but failed. Critics argued it would provide less funding overall. But recently House Speaker Republican Philip Gunn said there are no controversial items on this year's agenda. He says the issues are ones he thinks everyone can get behind such as combating Human Trafficking.
"One of those areas is to try to protect young people who are caught in this issue from being prosecuted for any crimes that they could be charged with," said Gunn.
Gunn says they will also look at tweaking criminal justice reform, mental health courts and expanding internet service to rural communities. He has also said he'd like teachers and state workers to get a pay increase if the revenue is available. State workers haven't had an across the board raise in more than 10 years.