State legislative session suspended on recommendation of state health department

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For the first time in Mississippi’s 202-year history, the state’s legislative session has been suspended.

Lawmakers have been debating how to close down the session. The House voted Tuesday and the Senate made it official Wednesday morning.

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A recommendation by the state health department spurred the decision.

Legislators also passed a bill to allow city and county governments, along with school boards to offer paid leave.

Right now, one big concern is how big of a blow will COVID-19 make on the state’s budget.

Representative Gary Chism said the state’s Rainy Day Fund sits at $545 million but no one knows if that will be enough.

“With the restaurants shut down, with casinos shut down, we don’t have any idea of how hard we are going to be hit. We were in good shape, and will be in good shape through April, but May and June, the bottom is going to hit. So, the closer to July 1, the better off we’re gonna be about really projecting what our revenue that we have to spend,” said Chism.

The Speaker of the House and Lt. Governor could decide to extend the April 1 gavel date or bring lawmakers back early.

Then lawmakers must pass a budget for the next fiscal year.

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