- Associated Press - Monday, June 5, 2017

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Latest on a special session of the Mississippi Legislature (all times local):

6:52 p.m.

The Mississippi Legislature has set budgets for the attorney general and the Department of Transportation.

Those were the two biggest items on a to-do list for a special legislative session that started Monday.

Both measures go to Gov. Phil Bryant for his approval or veto.

During the regular session that ended in late March, the House and Senate set most of the $6 billion state budget for the year that begins July 1. But, they disagreed then on funding for the attorney general and transportation.

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2:15 p.m.

A Mississippi bill that some hope would boost the state’s credit rating is advancing.

The state Senate on Monday approved Senate Bill 2002, which would increase the limit on the state’s savings account from 7.5 percent of its general fund to 10 percent. Gov. Phil Bryant wants the move, in addition to lawmakers passing budgets for the attorney general and transportation.

The account is currently below the 7.5 percent limit and shrinking. Democrats question whether raising the limit would cause any improvement. They say tax cuts are the underlying cause the state’s financial stress.

Senators also passed a bill meant to free up $9.8 million that stranded last year when lawmakers emptied certain accounts and barred agencies from charging each other for services.

The bills move to the House for more debate.

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12:15 p.m.

Mississippi legislators are working quickly to set the final pieces of the state budget for the year that starts July 1.

During the first two hours of a special session that started Monday, the House passed bills to fund the attorney general and the Department of Transportation.

Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood had asked the Republican-led Legislature to restore $4 million to make up for a portion of the money they had cut from his budget the past two years. The bill that passed the House did not fulfill that request.

The two budget bills move to the Senate for more debate.

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10:15 a.m.

Mississippi lawmakers have started a special session to finish writing the state budget.

They need to set spending plans for the attorney general’s office and the Department of Transportation for the year that begins July 1. They set other parts over the overall $6 billion state budget during the regular session that ended in late March.

Attorney General Jim Hood is requesting $4 million more than legislators considered giving his office during the regular session. That would cover a portion of the budget cuts from the past two years. Hood, a Democrat, says he needs the money to purse online criminals, including people who exploit children.

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant says he wants lawmakers to complete the special session in one or two days.

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7:01 a.m.

Mississippi lawmakers have little flexibility in setting the final pieces of the state budget.

The fiscal year starts July 1, and dollar amounts for most agencies were approved before legislators ended their regular session two months ago.

A special session starts at 10 a.m. Monday, and legislators need to set budgets for the attorney general and the Department of Transportation.

Attorney General Jim Hood is requesting $4 million more than legislators considered giving his office during the regular session. That would cover a portion of the budget cuts from the past two years. Hood says he needs the money to purse online criminals, including people who exploit children.

House Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden says investigating cybercrime is a worthy cause, but it might be difficult to find the money.


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