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The show will go on: Lawmakers revive budget bills

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune.

  • A suspension resolution will extend the session on paper to allow lawmakers to revive appropriations bills and set a budget for FY2025.

The Mississippi House of Representatives filed a suspension resolution on Monday to extend the 2024 legislative session and change deadlines, allowing lawmakers to revive all budget bills that died over the weekend.

Representatives passed the resolution to extend the deadlines for appropriations and finance bills that were in conference, ultimately extending session on paper until May 14. The resolution then went over to the Senate where it was also approved.

Procedural rules require five days be left on the legislative calendar when appropriations bills are filed. After many of those bills died on Saturday, lawmakers were forced to file a suspension resolution to rectify the problem and suspend the session on paper.  

State Senator Briggs Hopson (R), chair of the Appropriations Committee in the Senate, told reporters after passage of the resolution that he anticipated beginning to take up the money bills first thing Tuesday morning.

“We are close. We have one or two small issues we have to iron out but most of the things we’ve got resolved,” said Hopson.

Hopson did not indicate what the dollar amount would be for the new fiscal year budget, only saying it was about $7 billion.  

The resolution will not impact any other bills. Lawmakers currently face an 8:00 p.m. deadline for conference reports on the remaining general bills left on the calendar. Any bills not filed by that time will die. This could include the Medicaid expansion legislation, as no news of a compromise has been announced by either the House or Senate conferees.

Initial reports indicated disagreements regarding the total budget amount between House and Senate Appropriations conferees. The FY2025 budget estimate number was adopted at $7.6 billion earlier this year.

Members said appropriations reports will be available to be signed Monday night. After conference reports are signed, they will be taken up in each chamber.

Senator Hopson also commented on the breakdown Saturday between the chambers that caused the bills to die, telling the press that the Senate was prepared to file placeholder bills, or “dummy bills,” by the Saturday deadline. This is a common procedure lawmakers utilize during the budget process when negotiations are ongoing. However, Hopson said the House came to the conference report signing with numbers in their budget bills.

Senator Hopson indicated at that time Senators were not prepared to approve any official budget numbers, given that big ticket items like Medicaid remained unresolved. He said he still anticipates a few dummy bills to be filed, but that official numbers could be placed in those bills on Tuesday.

This article first appeared on the Magnolia Tribune and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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