TUPELO, MISS. (WCBI) – Mississippi lawmakers are preparing to begin a new legislature next week. Three lawmakers from the region shared their priorities for the 2021 session.
For District 19 Republican representative Randy Boyd, workforce development and the phasing out of state income tax are on the agenda of the new session. Representative Boyd says Mississippi is losing to other states with no income tax when it comes to attracting businesses and residents.
“We have other states that are holding that up and negotiating with these companies. Your employees don't want to pay income tax if they can go to a place where it won't happen, but it will be an exit, we need to get some revenue in certain areas and fill in loopholes that exist in the tax law, "Rep said Boyd.
District 16 representative Rickey Thompson said he had heard from his constituents of the need for criminal justice reform. The Democratic legislature sponsored House Bill 1273 at the last session. This bill would have revised the provisions on the conviction and release of certain nonviolent offenders. The bill died in committee.
“This is one thing we want to look at that has not committed nonviolent crimes. Let them out. We want those who have an addiction problem, a re-entry program to work on. They need some kind of rehabilitation and some kind of re-entry into society that would definitely reduce overcrowding, ”said Rep. Thompson.
Senator Chad McMahan represents District Six. Republican lawmakers say it will campaign for a raise in teachers' salaries and funding for rural health care across the state.
“Our educators have shown how important they are during this pandemic. We need to find ways to strengthen education and public education. I think the pandemic has also shown the importance of rural health care and we are finding ways to find ways to support rural health care, hospitals and clinics, the whole network, "said Sen. McMahan.
Both the governor and lieutenant governor say salary increases for teachers are a priority for the upcoming meeting.
Legislators are also expected to deal with mental health issues. Last year, a federal judge ruled that Mississippi violated civil rights law by inadequately caring for mentally ill patients in their communities. The lieutenant governor says the issue will be addressed during the 2021 session.
The meeting is scheduled to begin on January 5th. It should be completed in April.