Another Do-Nothing Legislature? | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Another Do-Nothing Legislature?

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Laurie Bertram Roberts

This year will mark my fourth year of watching the Mississippi Legislature at work. When I say watching them, I mean literally watching them in person from the gallery.

If you have never had the pleasure of going to the Capitol and seeing our lawmakers in action, you should give it a go if you have a chance. We in Mississippi have one of the most accessible Legislatures in the country, and that is good. It is really easy to go to the Capitol and chat with your lawmaker.

I must say, though, after these several years, I am not impressed with the work I see not getting done. I do not look forward to another year of watching our state's lawmakers eat, sleep, text, and chat while on the floor of the state House of Representatives and Senate—all while the business of the people remains undone.

Don't get me wrong: Some lawmakers are busting their humps to get meaningful bills passed, but let me tell you what I've really seen. For the past four years, I have read almost every bill presented to the House and Senate, and most of them are complete and utter nonsense. They are nothing more then busy work, personal agendas and wedge issues to make voters think that lawmakers have been busy making a difference, when really nothing in our state has changed.

How can I say this? We've had numerous bills including "personhood" presented since we voted it down as a state. Just think of how many abortion bills we've had versus how many bills to fund education, create jobs or ensure accessible health care. Instead of focusing on "adequately" funding the schools, we have charter schools and an ongoing debate about "school choice."

I would hope the majority lawmakers would focus on working to improve our state rather than fighting Common Core, abortion and equal marriage. We still rank last in the nation in education. We still have remarkably low health outcomes for our citizens from birth to death. All our citizens aren't protected from being fired at their jobs if they are lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender. Heck, our state's legal definition of rape isn't even in line with the FBI's last I checked.

We're last in so many things that lawmakers have many issues to pick from and work on in substantial ways. Yet, here we are gearing up for another year of useless bills and rhetoric, especially in an election year.

I want more. Mississippi needs more. We must demand more. You can watch live webcasts of the Legislature and find contact information for your senator and house member at legislature.ms.gov.

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