With hot button issues including medical marijuana, elimination of the statewide income tax, allocation of federal COVID relief funds, criminal justice reform and more awaiting legislators headed to Jackson next week, State Representative Nick Bain of Corinth says the upcoming session will be anything but quiet.

Bain said this week he expects an extremely busy session when the gavel falls on Tuesday as the state senate and house grapple with numerous major issues.

The representative said he’s heard a lot of questions about the medical marijuana issue and he believes the legislature is poised to pass a program into law this session, but don’t expect a quick resolution.

“I think that there is an atmosphere that the legislature wants to pass something. Now what that’s going to look like, I can’t tell you right now but I do think there’s an atmosphere to do that. The governor has his ideas, the legislature has ours, so I think you’re going to see medical marijuana go forward in some capacity,” said Bain.

However, with so many factors involved, he anticipates it being an issue that will linger throughout the session because it’s vital it be done right.

“That’s really the thing. We want to do the people’s will, there’s no doubt, we always want to do the people’s will, but we want to make sure it’s done the correct way,” he said.

Mississippi voters approved a medical marijuana program in a November 2019 statewide vote but the plan hit a roadblock when the state supreme court ruled the state’s initiative process was out of date and therefore the referendum was invalid.

Another major issue facing legislators is a plan to eliminate the state income tax, an idea whose time Bain believes has come.

“I’ve been vocal and active in the House about trying to get rid of the state income tax. I think the House is ready to move on it. I can’t tell you how the Senate feels, but the House is ready to move. We think we have a plan that’s going to work, that’s going not only to allow people to put more money in their pockets but also mitigate any type of damage that may occur to the state’s overall revenue,” he said.

As chairman of the house’s Judiciary B Committee, Bain said he expects discussion of criminal justice reform to be on the agenda. He said the state is facing the threat of a major lawsuit from the federal government regarding prison conditions and numerous ideas will be on the table this session including looking at expansion of parole eligibility, alternative sentencing for non-violent offenders and finding ways to help these offenders turn their lives around while avoiding sentencing them to prison where appropriate.

“I want people to understand we’re having to do some of this stuff because we’re staring a billion-dollar lawsuit in the face,” he said.

He also hopes to see movement on improving resources for law enforcement with the creation of a third state crime lab in addition to the ones currently located in Jackson and on the Gulf Coast. He said he’d like to see a new lab located in Corinth.

The current situation has created a major backlog on the processing of evidence.

“That really hurts when you’re trying to prosecute crimes when you’re trying to get victims some closure because it takes so long,” he said.

The legislature will also be grappling with how to spend federal COVID-19 stimulus funds and Bain said he’ll be working hard to steer funds to his district to help improve infrastructure in the area such as water, sewer as well as getting more funds allocated to counties and cities to help with roads and bridges.

Banner Independent Editor

Managing editor of the Daily Corinthian’s sister newspaper, Booneville’s Banner-Independent, Brant Sappington has been a member of the Daily Corinthian family since 2001.

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