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Saturday, June 3, 2023

Several big issues await the state legislature

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PINE BELT, Miss. (WDAM) – The Mississippi legislature is scheduled to return to session next week with several key topics for discussion.

While many big themes loom over Jackson before the session, there is one that really stands out.

“We have a medical marijuana problem that has yet to be addressed,” said Senator Joey Willingan, R-District 41.

Although there has been much speculation regarding a special session for medical marijuana, the legislature was not called during the fall season.

But Willingan said he believed it would be one of the first issues to be addressed.

“It is clear that some disagreements arose between the different negotiators on the important points of the bill,” said Willingan. “So we’re going to have this to deal with, which I feel is going to be one of those things that we also try to take early in the session and get it off the plate.”

Another salient topic: the state has to decide how to spend $4 billion from the federal government.

“There’s been some talk, obviously, about how we’re spending the $4 billion that we have and that’s the kind of extra that we don’t normally have because of the COVID infrastructure and all the different packages that (passed through) the federal government in the last year,” said Wellingan.

That extra money doesn’t have to be spent over the next year, and Willingan says the legislature should be careful about how it decides to spend the money.

“Most of these federal packages have a window of three or five years,” said Fillingan. “So you will definitely start discussing how to spend those dollars wisely knowing that you are not going to get that much cash every year.

“I mean, this is probably a generation-type opportunity to do some meaningful things with infrastructure, rural broadband, you know, education spending, things like that that you know it’s not going to be every year that you get to do that. So, we have to think a lot. How to spend those one-time dollars.”

The state legislature meets again on January 4.

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