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High Court Rulings May Bring Lawmakers back to Capitol

High Court Rulings May Bring Lawmakers back to Capitol
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Courtesy:Flickr, Elaine_Smith

Mississippi legislators say two U.S. Supreme Court rulings open the door for a possible special session to fund the state's crumbing infrastructure.

Mississippi Lawmakers haven't been able to reach an agreement on funding the state's crumbling infrastructure. Many say a tax increase is off the table. But recent rulings by the U.S. Supreme Court could help with funding for roads and bridges. One decision allows states to enforce collecting internet sales tax. The other makes sports betting legal. Democratic Senator Willie Simmons of Bolivar County chairs the Senate Transportation Committee and says it's a start.

"Hopefully that will be an incentive for us to take a look at ways and means of doing that. Both of those combined will not be adequate enough to take care of the needs we have. But both they are starts," said Simmons.

Simmons says the state needs $350 million per year for 10 years to meet the infrastructure needs. Kathy Waterbury with the Mississippi Department of Revenue estimates what the online sales tax could generate.

"We think for the next fiscal year which is fiscal year 2019, we will see between $30 and $50 million dollars. We think the years after that we will see between $50 and $75 million," said Waterbury.

Waterbury says its too soon to estimate revenue from sports betting. House Republican Charles Busby of Pascagoula chairs the House Transportation Committee. He says he's hopeful Governor Phil Bryant will call a special session.

"We have a bill drafted. We are ready. I believe we will pass a bill, if a special session were to be called, immediately," said Busby.

A spokesperson for the governor says in a statement Bryant is in discussions with the legislative leadership about a special sesson. The governor has already said he won't call one unless an agreement can be reached.