The fight to defend civil rights and liberties in Mississippi has never been more important. Here's what's on our agenda this Legislative Session.
2024 Legislative Priorities
- Protecting the Right to Vote
- Ensuring Citizens Have a Voice
- Protecting and Preserving the Freedom to Learn
- Protecting LGBTQ Rights
- Supporting Women in their Reproductive Choices
Protecting the Right to Vote
Ensure Access to Voting
Voting is a free expression of speech and must be protected. Ensuring access to voting allows us to protect our futures and communities collectively. With one of the lowest voter turnout rates in the country, Mississippi is a state in need of reforms to encourage eligible voters to register, not block them from doing so.
Mississippi is the only state without either online registration or no-excuse early voting. As our lives evolve daily so must our policies. Having no-excuse early voting provides convenience and flexibility for voters, and online voter registration increases the accuracy of voter rolls.
We will continue to urge our Legislature in the right direction, eliminating unnecessary administrative hurdles that may hurt our voters or election security.
- Online voter registration
- No-excuse early voting
- Protection for registered voters
- Automatic voter registration at age 18
- An accurate correction of voter rolls
We DON’T need:
- Barriers to voting that have no proven connection to election security
Ensuring Citizens Have a Voice
Ballot Initiative Restoration
Mississippi has been without a ballot initiative process since May 2021, when the Mississippi Supreme Court struck down a medical marijuana initiative passed by voters in November 2020 by removing the entire ballot iniative process. In March 2023, legislators let a measure that would have restored a ballot initiative process die without taking a vote.
Previously, the court ruled that the process was invalid because of a requirement in the state constitution. The outdated language mandates that the required number of signatures necessary to place an issue on the ballot be gathered equally from five (5) congressional districts. The neglect of the Legislature to not act in correcting the language to four (4) districts shows a blatant disregard for the voice and free will of the citizens of the state. Having this initiative allows citizens to go beyond the politics of the legislature in advocating their support on an issue.
- A ballot initiative process that would allow voters to propose new statues and amend or repeal existing statutes
Voting Rights Restoration
Mississippi is one of only 10 states where voting rights are not automatically restored to people convicted of felonies after completion of their prison sentence. Under the 1890 Constitution, Mississippians are stripped of their right to vote if they are convicted of certain crimes. Currently, individuals returning from prison must request restoration of voting rights however, the process is complicated, inconsistent, and discouraging.
Our voting laws should support equality for all individuals, especially those seeking to return to their community. Our justice system is built on the premise that those who commit a crime must do time as restitution; we believe that once that restitution is paid and the sentence has been completed, their rights should be restored.
All citizens should have a voice in making their community, and our state as a whole, a better place.
- A constitutional amendment to end the practice of voter disenfranchisement
- Automatic restoration of voting rights upon release
Protecting and Preserving the Freedom to Learn
Opposing Dishonest Lawmaking
In the 2023 session, legislation was created to “protect” minors from harmful content. SB 2346 was said to have been crafted to create guidelines for access to pornographic content. While we support protecting children from explicit content and abuse, this bill is just one example of how lawmakers have weaponized fear to pass restrictive legislation across the country.
SB 2346, which utilized inflated and misleading terms, prevents “vendors” (online libraries) from providing any book resources if they cannot verify all its content. By utilizing inflamatory language to blanket dishonest lawmaking, lawmakers have restricted access to books and other materials formerly available in public libraries. Many of the materials that have been banned or restricted have been a part of the academic framework for decades, but are being silenced to protect a manufactured image of history and a jaded view of the real world.
Laws like SB2346 do greater harm than intended by limiting an author's freedom of speech, restricting access to mature scholars, and attacking the LBGTQ community. These laws also position the individual beliefs and feelings of lawmakers above civil liberties guranteed by our constitutional rights.
All children in Mississippi deserve access to a rigorous and well-rounded education—that includes protecting access to essential digital resources and centering the needs of students over political posturing.
We DON’T need:
- Dishonest lawmaking
- Overly intrusive legislation that limits access to educational resources
Protecting LGBTQ Rights
In 2023 alone, over 500 anti-LGBTQ bills were filed in state legislatures across the country. Mississippi was no exception. From SB2346, which targeted and restricted queer stories, to HB1125, which banned life-saving gender affirming care for minors, legislators pushed through several discrimatory bills attacking the LGBTQ community.
This session, we are committed to continuing to fight to uphold the civil rights and liberties of LGBTQ Mississippians. Legislation that targets this community is particularly heinous because it openly advances the ability for trans youth to be targeted, excluded, and harassed. In 2021, the Trevor Project reported that 41% of LGBTQ youth considered suicide in the past year. We cannot stand idly by while discrimination is one of the main factors for the consideration of suicide. Furthermore, we cannot allow this bigotry to take root as a societal norm in our state.
- A safe and fair state that welcomes and respects LGBTQ+ individuals
- Oppose actions that are specifically discriminatory
Supporting Women in their Reproductive Choices
With one of the highest maternal mortality rates not just in the United States but across all developed nations, Mississippi is an inherently dangerous place to give birth. Following the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization to overturn Roe v. Wade, Mississippi’s reproductive healthcare has become even more inaccessible and unaffordable.
More than 23% of women in Mississippi live below the poverty line; as a result, many of the most vulnerable are ignored and denied adaquate access to healthcare and reproductive choices. This problem is furthered by our state's crumbling healthcare infrastructure, which leaves healthcare workers overworked, underpaid, and undermined by restrictive laws that place women—particularly Black women and those living in rural areas—in harm's way. By attacking healthcare workers and staff, we create a closing loop that chokes essential support systems.
80% of Mississippians support the expansion of Medicaid despite Governor Reeves repeatedly going on the record to oppose it. To that end, ACLU of Mississippi will continue to join coalition partners in the fight to improve Mississippi’s maternal and reproductive healthcare system. ACLU of Mississippi will also fight against any further attacks on a person’s right to make reproductive choices, and against intrusive laws that degrade privacy rights to enforce abortion restrictions. Particularly, we will fight to uphold privacy by defending the confidentiality of physician-patient priviledge, blocking the collection of third-party digital data, and preventing the use of healthcare facility records as tools to incriminate healthcare institutions or individual clinicians.
- Adequate and accessible maternal and reproductive healthcare
- Blocking overly intrusive legislation