Having recently arrived in Mississippi from England, I have discovered many things I admire about the Magnolia state; the food, music and sunshine, as well as the Southern civility and hospitality.
Having been a Member of the British Parliament, however, one thing that especially stands out is the way that the Mississippi state legislature only meets for three months of the year.
While the House of Commons in which I sat for twelve years found endless excuses to sit in session, here in Mississippi the process of making laws is short and to the point.
Having begun at the start of January, three months later the 2021 legislative session is now over. State senators and representatives have now returned home.
So what, if anything, did they do that was of value?
Actually, here are a number of ways in which lawmakers did things to advance the cause of economic freedom and limited government.
Protecting Women’s Sports: Washington DC is clearly looking to impose a cultural agenda on the rest of the country. Fearful that a transgender agenda might deny female athletes the freedom to compete fairly against other female athletes, lawmakers rallied behind Senator Angela Hill’s Fairness Act. Where our state took a lead, other states now follow.
Reducing Barriers to Work: We at the Mississippi Center for Public Policy believe American’s have a right to earn a living without being required to overcome unnecessary regulatory obstacles. That’s why we pushed for a law (HB 1263) making it easier for new residents to obtain a Mississippi occupational license. This was a win for us all.
Advancing Economic Freedom: Inspired by the efforts of our litigation center, the Mississippi Justice Institute, we helped spearhead efforts for a reform (HB 1312) that allows individuals in select fields of cosmetology to practice their profession without acquiring thousands of hours of training. This might not seem critical to every Northside Sun reader, but these are the kind of reforms that extend economic opportunity to every Mississippian.
Preventing Welfare Expansion: Perhaps one of the best things our lawmakers did this session was when the rejected the urge to act. The legislature resisted the siren-voices in DC urging them to expand welfare dependency in our state. We believe that the best program to defeat poverty is a job. By rejecting various bills that would have expanded welfare, our lawmakers showed that job creation, not welfare dependency is the path our state needs to take to prosperity.
Of course, the most eye-catching idea during this legislative session was a proposal put forward by Speaker Philip Gunn to eliminate the state income tax. The idea of shifting the burden of tax off of incomes and onto what we consume is a good one. It would make our state a more competitive state to do business, and give every almost worker in Mississippi a tax break.
Although the proposal did not progress into law, we want to be sure that if and when a further proposal to axe the income tax is put forward in the 2022 session, it is a plan that a broad coalition is able to rally behind.
With Washington DC determined to impose a radical economic and cultural agenda on the rest of the country, we are going to be busy doing all we can to defend limited government. I believe that this is a battle that we can win.
Douglas Carswell, President & CEO, Mississippi Center for Public Policy.