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10.29.21 – MPB – 

Business leaders and state officials are discussing ways to improve the state’s economy and industries. Lawmakers are sharing their goals for the upcoming 2022 legislative session.

At the annual Hobnob event in Jackson, hosted by the Mississippi Economic Council, lawmakers are discussing their plans for the upcoming 2022 legislative session. Speakers focused on topics that would directly affect economic development within the state, ranging from education programs to tax cuts. Some officials also discussed their concerns with a potential medical marijuana program, and federal mandates for coronavirus vaccinations.

Speaker of the House Philip Gunn says bills were passed by the legislature this past session to focus on workforce training, but the bills were vetoed by the Governor. He says those bills will be reintroduced in this upcoming session.

Gunn says “There was some concern that there might be a loss over federal dollars, that turned out not to be true as I understand it. I have met with MEC, I have met with our new workforce development director, I have met with the SWIB board director, and we are focused on trying to craft a bill to address their concerns and produce a very high quality piece of legislation.”

Governor Tate Reeves spoke at the event and continued his advocacy for the elimination of the state income tax, which he says will help retain the state’s workforce. Reeves says this will not negatively impact the state’s budget.

Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann has been working on a budget plan for the 2022 legislative session and says inflation must be accounted for. He is also supporting efforts to build Mississippi’s education system to prepare students for higher-paying jobs.

“It’s not acceptable for us to not have an educated workforce, and it doesn’t occur when they start at 18. So we will need to support education. Our teachers got a pay raise last year, they need another one. And we need to proceed from right here until the best people are standing in front of our children to get them ready to go to work for you.”

Agriculture Commissioner Andy Gipson shared his concerns about the state’s potential medical marijuana program. A bill was drafted by lawmakers and has been amended to address some parts of the legislation, however the Governor has yet to call a special session of the legislature to pass the bill. Gipson says he does not want the Department of Agriculture and Commerce to oversee the program’s security and distribution.

Gipson and Speaker Gunn also shared concerns about President Joe Biden’s coronavirus vaccine mandate for federal employees and contractors. Speaker Gunn is requesting the state’s Attorney General join a lawsuit to challenge the mandate.