The Legislature is set to return to the Capitol on January 5th to begin its 2021 session. However, multiple sources in the Mississippi Senate have confirmed to Y’all Politics that discussions are being held between members on the possible delay of the start of the session due to ongoing concerns over COVID-19.
Mississippi is currently seeing its highest daily reporting of the virus since the pandemic began in Spring 2020. Rollouts of vaccines could reportedly begin by year end for first responders and those most at risk, namely the older population and those in care facilities, per Governor Tate Reeves. Vaccines for the general populace could be available by Spring 2021.
Many lawmakers in both chambers, as well as Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann and Speaker Philip Gunn, are on record as expressing the desire to not have a repeat of the 2020 session where the Legislature extended its work beyond the end of the fiscal year. Sine die was not official until October when it was initially set for May. This extension caused much wrangling for members in their day jobs as serving in the Legislature is considered part-time.
The Department of Finance and Administration has already canceled all Capitol events during the 2021 session so as to limit the number of persons walking the halls.
If an agreement is reached to delay the 2021 session, the question becomes when would lawmakers return and when would they sine die. Members are discussing a framework that would set the session to start in earnest at the beginning of March and then attempt to squeeze the full session in with sine die by the end of May 2021.
State law sets this year’s session at 90 days as opposed to the 120 allowed during 2020 as it was the start of a new term.
Y’all Politics will update this story as more information becomes available.