Golden Triangle representatives expect intense legislative session for Mississippi in 2022

COLUMBUS, Miss. (WCBI) – Between medical marijuana, redistricting, and a big pot of federal money to spend, the 2022 Mississippi legislative session could be one of the most intense in recent memory.

“I think it’s going to be a very eventful session,” says District 41 Representative Kabir Karriem. “There’s a lot to unpack.”

When the session opens on January 4th, Rep. Karriem expects that they will hit the ground running.

“Day one 12:01, we’re going to be working,” he says.

Starting with the debate with Governor Tate Reeves on signing the proposed medical marijuana bill.

“We sit down with him and we understand at least where he’s coming from because, to be honest with you, I think some of his concerns may be a little overblown,” says District 43 Representative Rob Roberson. “But I may not know exactly what he’s referring to. And we just need to make certain that we’re at least communicating and understanding each other.”

“The people voted overwhelmingly across the state for a medical marijuana program,” Rep. Karriem says. “And that’s what we’re supposed to do. We should give the people what they want.”

In addition to the medical marijuana bill, redistricting, teacher pay and COVID-19 relief will be among the main topics of concern.

Rep. Karriem hopes the redistricting process can be as non-controversial as possible.

“I represent House District 41. It’s a long-standing, majority of African American, district,” he says. “I want to make sure that we continue to represent the people in House District 41.”

Both Rep. Karriem, a Democrat, and Rep. Roberson, a Republican, would like to move forward on increased pay for Mississippi teachers.

“We’re going to take a real good stab at trying to get us to the Southeastern Average,” Rep. Roberson says. “I’ve been in favor of that for years. But something to keep in mind is when we move our pay to that Southeastern Average, it moves the Southeastern Average.”

They also both have concerns specific to their districts. Rep. Karriem hopes to continue pushing a pilot program to create jobs for young people as part the effort to reduce juvenile crime.

“I’m going to continue to push that legislation until we get something passed,” he says. “I think that’s part of the problem. We need to make sure that our young people are responsible, that they’re accountable, they have opportunities to work.”

Rep. Roberson is hoping for more flexible spending options for the roughly $9 million in ARPA funds expected for Oktibbeha County.

“We have multiple bridges that need to be repaired, we have multiple roads that need to be repaired,” he says. “Of course, that’s every county in every city, but we also have a vision for what we want our community to look like.” 

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