Mississippi governor sets special session to start June 5

Published 11:17 pm Tuesday, April 25, 2017

JACKSON (AP) — Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is calling Mississippi legislators back to the Capitol for a special session starting June 5.

He is asking them to set the final pieces of the state budget for the year that begins July 1.

Legislators ended their three-month regular session in late March without passing budgets for the attorney general’s office or the Department of Transportation.

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Only the governor can call a special session, and he sets the agenda.

“Although the legislative process will determine the length of the session, I anticipate lawmakers will finish their work as quickly as possible, to minimize costs to taxpayers,” Bryant said Tuesday on Facebook in announcing the session.

Spending proposals for transportation and the attorney general died because of disputes before a deadline late in the regular session. Both chambers are controlled by Republicans, and the disputes were largely among members of the GOP.

House members sought to have some taxes on internet sales directed toward roads and bridges, but Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves balked. Reeves said it is unconstitutional to try to force retailers to collect internet sales taxes, but Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn said the plan is legal because it relies only on taxes that sellers voluntarily agree to collect.

Hood, the only Democrat in statewide office, said after the regular session ended that he hopes lawmakers can put aside politics and fund his office.

The attorney general’s budget bill died in a dispute over requiring Hood to quickly deposit any checks from lawsuit settlements. In late March, days before legislators finished negotiating most of the $6 billion budget, Hood announced he was depositing $34 million into the state treasury, and he suggested lawmakers spend it on mental health services. Such suggestions from Hood have long irritated Republican legislative leaders who see it as showboating.

Bryant could add other issues to the special session agenda, but he didn’t indicate Tuesday whether he would do so.