Lt. Governor-elect and current Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann outlined several key issues he plans to see addressed during the 2020 Legislative Session.
Hosemann said that since 10 a.m. the day after the General Election he got to work because thats what the people asked of him. In that time he has met with the 52 Senators that will report to the Capitol on January 7 for work.
“Those meetings, I thought, went well. I like our team. We have a diverse group of individuals who I think are motivated and ready to go to work,” said Hosemann.
Hosemann said he has met with agencies ranging from Medicaid, mental health, local law enforcement, transportation and Child Protective Services to name a few.
Some of those meetings included conversations surrounding the December 3 hearing on mental health in Mississippi. Federal District Judge Carlton Reeves recently indicated in a federal lawsuit that he does not believe Mississippi is doing what is necessary when it comes to mental health services across the state.
**Correction to original quote: The judge has requested that there be a remedial plan set by mid-febuary, but no special master has been appointed yet.**
He also expressed concerns with the drug and mental health courts and the opportunity to expand those.
“I think part of the discussions around the mental health court will be involved in the overall decisions with the Federal Courts litigation that is ongoing,” said Hosemann.
Commitment to archive legislative proceedings
Hosemann also anticipates increasing transparency between lawmakers and the public moving forward, as mentioned in his campaign.
At this time, the only live stream access from the Mississippi House and Senate are from the floor of each chamber and are not archived for later viewing. The Mississippi College School of Law does keep an archival record of Legislative proceedings but can take months to become available. Archiving information on a daily basis would provide the average working Mississippian with the ability to review legislative happenings unfiltered. Hosemann said they are already looking into the logistics of creating an archive before the end of 2020. His plans include at least two of the larger committee rooms.
Hosemann also made the rounds to schools and superintendents in the past weeks. He plans to introduce funding for all 50 Pre-kindergarten initiatives, more funding for special needs students and of course a teacher pay raise. He did not specify what amount he planned for the raise, but did say that whatever was appropriated would never be enough for the work teachers do.
He said an important part of improving education and workforce development would be to equip students with the skills they need to choose the best path when entering the workforce. He said those questions need to be asked before a student enters the 12th grade.
“Part of the culture here, and my discussions with these Superintendents, community colleges, universities and all these others, is to realize that we are not separate silos in education,” said Hosemann. He said it’s imperative for an overall improved education system for all the elements to be seamless.
He plans to start at Pre-K with the plan to educate that child until they exit those silos prepared for the workforce, to whatever degree that may be.
“We should not leave any child out of this group,” said Hosemann.
He believes in order to make real changes in some of these areas, it will require lawmakers to sit and listen to each other. He said that he has found more common ground among those he met with, rather than opposition.
“Many times we get to the point where we have some pre-conceived notions because we watch one tv station over the other. I think if we just sit and listen to each other there is more commonality than there is disparity. I have found that in these conversations on education, infrastructure, healthcare, all the issues we will be discussing very shortly. I have found common ground where there may not have been before,” said Hosemann.
Hosemann will be sworn in as Lt. Governor on January 7, 2020. He said he plans to release the assignments for committee chairmen on January 10. “You should anticipate that our chairmen will hit the ground running, because I’m running,” said Hosemann. He said the weekend of January 10 he hopes they rest up, because when they come back “we are going to get started.”