Just as farmers have to prepare for planting season, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation’s policy staff has to prepare for the 2022 Mississippi Legislative Session, which convenes on January 11, 2022.

In preparation for the upcoming session, policy staff selected several issues to study that we believe the legislature will focus on this year. If agreements are not made during the general session on these issues, a special session could be called.

Income Tax

It appears Speaker Philip Gunn, along with the rest of the House, will revisit eliminating income tax. In the 2021 Mississippi Legislative Session, Gunn led an effort to eliminate Mississippi’s individual income tax.

Farm Bureau initially opposed the legislation because it raised sales tax on several agricultural inputs by 2.5%. After voicing our concerns to House members, the bill was amended to exclude agricultural inputs from the tax increase.

We will be watching to make sure any legislation pertaining to income tax does not have a negative impact on agriculture.

Medical Marijuana

The Mississippi Supreme Court issued a ruling on May 14, 2021, nullifying the Initiative 65 referendum, which would have legalized medical marijuana in Mississippi. This decision came after a large majority of Mississippi voters supported medical marijuana during the 2020 General Election.

The Supreme Court found that the initiative was not correctly listed on the ballot because the requirements in the Mississippi Constitution for a maximum of 20% of signatures from each congressional district was impossible. The initiative process was placed in the Mississippi Constitution when there were five congressional districts, and we now have four.

The Senate Public Health Committee, chaired by Senator Hob Bryan, held hearings throughout the summer on medical marijuana. Both the House and Senate seem to be working toward new legislation.

The Supreme Court’s ruling also struck down the initiative process – the voice of the people – so the legislature is poised to either fix the old process or create a new one.

Eminent Domain

The Supreme Court’s decision also brought into question two initiatives – Initiative 31, the Mississippi Eminent Domain Amendment, and Initiative 27, the Mississippi Voter Identification Amendment – that passed over 10 years ago after Mississippi moved from five congressional districts to four.

Initiative 31 amended the Mississippi Constitution to prohibit state and local governments from taking private property by eminent domain and then turning it over to other persons or businesses. Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation led this initiative in 2011, and to ensure Mississippians will continue to have protection, Farm Bureau plans to advocate for a statute that will copy directly from Initiative 31 this year.

Grain Indemnity Program

Farm Bureau membership have begun discussing whether or not Mississippi should establish a grain indemnity program to protect farmers from massive losses should a grain dealer or warehouse go bankrupt.

Each year, the House and Senate propose thousands of pieces of legislation. Rest assured, Farm Bureau will be at the Mississippi Capitol advocating for helpful pieces of legislation and working against legislation that could have a negative impact on farmers, ranchers and rural Mississippians.

Taylor McNair is the Public Policy Coordinator at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.