JACKSON, Miss. (WJTV) – Efforts to revive the ballot initiative process in Mississippi have begun in the 2023 session with bills filed in the House and the Senate.
Since the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled the ballot initiative process was unconstitutional in 2021, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle have been working to bring it back.
“Sometimes we work too slow, too slow for the people. It’s important for them to be able to have an opportunity to get stuff on the ballot, to push policies that they believe in and have a direct impact on the future of the state,” said State Representative Jansen Owen (R-District 106).
Efforts to bring back the initiative during last year’s session passed through the house but died in the senate. State Senator David Blount (D-District 29) has authored legislation this year that would amend the state constitution and allow for voters to have an impact on statewide issues.
“I think there’s some bipartisan support for this, quite frankly, because the people have the right. The people ultimately are in charge of the government, and the legislature needs to get out of the way sometimes. And so, we’re trying to restore that right, and we need to get it done this session,” said Blount.
Two other bills in the House have been filed that hope to change the signature requirements needed for petitions to be recognized.
“It’s pretty safe to say that Republicans and Democrats in the House are supportive of reestablishing our initiative process,” said Owen.
“I do not see this as a partisan issue. I think it’s about giving the people their rights, the right they had for more than 25 years until the Supreme Court took it away,” said Blount
The legalization of medical marijuana, voter ID requirements and eminent domain laws are the only ballot initiatives that have been signed into law in state history.