June Update: BIPEC Business Champion, Constitutional Update, Final Thoughts
BIPEC Business Champion
Recently, I was honored to be named a Mississippi Business Champion by the Business and Industry Political Education Committee (BIPEC). Each year, BIPEC grades all 174 state legislators on their support for the state’s business community by looking at legislative action on bills that impact economic development in Mississippi.
I have long believed that the best way to improve the quality of life of Mississippians is to implement pro-business policies that foster an environment where industries can grow and thrive. More businesses means more jobs, which means more opportunities for Forrest and Perry county residents to obtain high-paying jobs that allow them to provide for themselves and their families.
I commit to all my constituents that throughout my time as your Senator, I will continue to support pro-business policies that grow our economy, provide more jobs, and put more money back into the pockets of Mississippians. In fact, my efforts have already resulted in economic development funds for our area: $1,000,000 for natural gas infrastructure for the Perry County Industrial Park and $500,000 for road and bridge repairs to the Eagle One Mega Site just south of Hattiesburg.
One of the legislative highlights included in the BIPEC grading was SB 2822, which was designed to streamline the incentive structure for businesses looking to locate in Mississippi. Although this bill ultimately failed, I was pleased to vote in favor of making it much simpler for companies to identify potential incentives offered by the state if they choose to locate here.
Another important bill this year was SB 2626, which allowed companies to continue to hold shareholder meetings virtually. This allowance was originally afforded to businesses in the wake of the pandemic when meeting in-person was considered dangerous. However, in the connected world in which we live, it made sense to make this rule permanent and give companies an opportunity to save costs associated with in-person meetings.
I also voted for HB 633 this year. This bill requires all of Mississippi’s public K-12 schools to offer computer science classes to students. Computer science and coding jobs are in high demand right now and offer lucrative opportunities to young men and women looking for a career path. Exposing our students to computer science will allow them to engage an issue that will increasingly dominate their lives and potentially careers.
To take a look at the whole BIPEC scorecard, go to their website HERE.
One of the most pressing issues facing Mississippi today is the status of our constitutional ballot initiative process. Last month, the state Supreme Court ruled that the ballot initiative process cannot stand the way that it is currently written.
While I agree with the Supreme Court’s ruling, it does present a very real problem for Mississippians, as it leaves residents without a route to effect changes at the citizen level. As the Chairman of the Senate Constitution Committee, I take this issue very seriously. I am working alongside leadership in the House and Senate to come up with a plan to replace the current constitutional language to give back a voice to the people.
As we begin to prepare for the upcoming legislative session, I’d like to hear from my constituents on your thoughts about Mississippi’s ballot initiative process. That’s why I’ve set up an email address specifically to hear from you about how you think we should go about fixing the language in our Mississippi Constitution.
If you have thoughts, comments, perspective, or otherwise want your voice to be heard, I encourage you to reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mississippi has been through a lot over the past year. We have experienced storms of all kinds, an unprecedented pandemic, and one political rollercoaster after another. Throughout it all, Mississippians of all stripes came out to help their fellow neighbors in every way they know how.
These events haven’t been easy for any of us. But it has shown what we have known for years: when times get tough, Mississippians step up to help each other. From businesses changing their operations to produce PPE during the initial shortage, to folks delivering groceries and other necessities to at-risk individuals, to our healthcare workers and teachers going above and beyond the call to assist those in need, Mississippi has proven that it is the greatest place in the world.
The efforts I’ve seen from all of you coupled with the resilience Mississippians have shown throughout the last year has made me proud to be from the great Hospitality State. It’s because of experiences like this that I love having the opportunity to be your State Senator.