Some bills are headed to the Governor while others are sent to conference committees for negotiations to begin

Published: Mar. 14, 2023 at 8:22 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) -If you don’t follow politics, the lingo of the legislative session can get confusing.

”Item number 46, invite conference,” said Rep. Nick Bain.

You hear that a lot this time of year if you’re listening in on Capitol conversations. Put simply, a conference committee is made up of three members from each chamber. When the House and Senate can’t come up with a compromise, that group is tasked with finding one.

“It is behind closed doors,” noted Rep. Chris Bell. “It could be walking down the hall. It could be in a meeting. It could be over a cup of coffee, but it does occur. It does happen quite often around this time of the year. And, you know, we look forward to seeing what comes out of these conferences.”

Big groups of money bills got sent to conference this week.

“This is the normal process,” noted Senate Appropriations Chairman Sen. Briggs Hopson. “It’s very rare that we’re able to agree upfront on the amount of money that goes in each agency’s budget. But we’re working through the process. And this is the normal procedure. So things are on course right now.”

But some members caution about the shift to more private talks.

“It matters because we spent the greater part of the session going back and forth in debating bills,“ said House Minority Leader Rep. Robert Johnson. “And, sadly, sometimes, it’s reduced to three people from each side getting in a room and sometimes making wholesale changes to bills that we’ve actually vetted and talked about all session. So, I always implore the public to pay attention.”

Parts of bills you thought were deleted can make their way back in those conversations. But not everything goes to conference.

The House, for example, sent a bill tweaking the medical marijuana law, cracking down on “gas station heroin,” and adding mental health resources for law enforcement to the governor’s desk Tuesday.

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