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Mississippi Senate passes part of its plan to restore ballot initiative process

The Mississippi Senate passed part of a plan to restore the ballot initiative process on Thursday, meaning the conversation hasn’t died in the east corridor of the capitol.

Lawmakers narrowly approved Senate Bill 2770 with a 26-21 vote and little Republican support after an hour and a half of conversation on the floor. The legislation did not include a signature count needed for a proposed law to be put on the ballot by citizens. However, it did provide a list of requirements that could be part of a new ballot initiative process in Mississippi.

“If we do not adopt this bill, there’s no reason for us to discuss the number of signatures required,” Sen. David Parker, a Republican from Leakesville who wrote the bill, told the floor prior to the vote.

Stipulations included in the statutory implementation were: an initiative must contain a single subject, its sponsor must be an elector of the state and identify the source of revenue for the issue and how it would be funded without imposing on the Capital Expense or Rainy Day Fund, and it must be submitted 90 days before the start of a legislative session. The third of which would give lawmakers a chance to pass an initiative petition before it goes on the ballot.

The Legislative Budget Office would produce a fiscal analysis of what implementation of an initiative would look like with a 50-word fiscal impact not being included beside each measure on the ballot. Parker and company also decided that only two initiatives would be allowed on a single ballot, going against the wishes of some Democratic lawmakers, and initiatives could only go up for a vote during presidential or gubernatorial elections due to the higher rate of voters Mississippi typically sees in those elections.

The most controversial part of SB 2770 was an amendment approved to require 67 percent of total votes cast to pass a ballot initiative. The original text had the number at 60 percent, which was still higher than the previous initiative process stripped by the Mississippi Supreme Court over a technicality issue that arose

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