Mississippi lawmakers end 2018 session topped by abortion

Mississippi lawmakers concluded their 2018 regular session Wednesday after killing one last proposal on transportation funding, highlighting their inability to agree on that issue.

Posted: Mar 28, 2018 11:30 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi lawmakers concluded their 2018 regular session Wednesday after killing one last proposal on transportation funding, highlighting their inability to agree on that issue.

The House and the Senate adjourned the three-month session, the third of the four-year term. The 2019 session will take place in the run-up to statewide elections in which all 122 representatives and all 52 senators will be on the ballot, as well as the governor, lieutenant governor and other statewide officials.

The headline achievement for the 2018 session could be a ban on most abortions after 15 weeks of gestation, but a federal judge temporarily blocked that law hours after it took effect, and there has yet to be a full hearing on whether it's constitutional.

RELATED: Mississippi bans abortions at 15 weeks, earliest in the nation 
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Judge temporarily blocks 15-week abortion ban

Lawmakers renewed rules for the state's Medicaid program.

On other major issues, lawmakers either rejected or were unable to agree on major overhauls. Senators rejected a plan to rewrite the state's school funding formula, while House and Senate negotiators couldn't agree on plans to provide a substantial increase for transportation funding. Wednesday, the Senate killed a House plan to send money to roads any time state revenue grew by more than 2 percent. Even House Transportation Committee Chairman Charles Busby said he was not particularly enthusiastic about that plan, saying he thought it would be ineffective because state revenue is not growing rapidly.

Lawmakers also were unable to agree on how to spend $700 million in economic damages that oil company BP PLC is paying to the state over the 2010 Gulf of Mexico oil spill. For now, the money will continue to pile up in Mississippi's rainy day fund.

Legislators enacted a $6.1 billion budget for the year that begins July 1. It provides a little more for some agencies, with revenue growing after several years of flat collections. They agreed to borrow more than $250 million for state projects after borrowing little money last year.

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