Mississippi: Stuck in Ballot Measure Purgatory
Washington, DC – This week marks the end of the 2022 Mississippi legislative session, and lawmakers in Jackson failed to advance legislation that would have revived the process of direct democracy in the state. As Frank Corder of Y’all Politics writes:
“The only remaining piece of legislation that would have revived the initiative process in Mississippi following last year’s state Supreme Court ruling that effectively killed the public ballot referendum mechanism has died in conference… The legislation would have allowed for a public ballot initiative process to propose new laws or amend or repeal existing laws.”
In 2021, the Mississippi State Supreme Court overturned Initiative 65, a voter-approved ballot measure to legalize medicinal marijuana, and as a result, repealed the state’s constitutional ballot measure process due to a reduction in Mississippi’s congressional representation. This legislative failure means Mississippians still don’t have a mechanism to alter state law through a citizen-led ballot measure process. Until the legislature returns for a new session to address restoring the initiative process, residents of Mississippi have no mechanism to place policy directly on the statewide ballot.
In reaction to this, Fairness Project Executive Director Kelly Hall released the following statement:
“The loss of the ballot measure process in Mississippi was another serious blow to voting rights and a step backward for so many efforts to improve the quality of life in the state. Without a ballot measure process, important policies that Mississippians want are on hold, including Medicaid expansion. Medicaid expansion would deliver health care to nearly 300,000 Mississippians, and the only path forward is the ballot measure process. Until the legislature reinstates the initiative process in Mississippi, this critical form of democratic participation and policy making is in purgatory.”