Mississippi Legislature underwayPublished 11:20am Thursday, January 9, 2014
The new legislative session is just a few days old and already state senators and state representatives are considering the matters before them.
In their deliberations, we hope they will keep in mind all of the state’s citizens and not just a few that they consider to be friends or supporters. Also, we hope that they will look at special interest groups from all sides with a jaundiced eye.
Too often over the years, those identified as friends or supporters of this legislator or that one and special interest groups have gotten more attention from some legislators than have the residents of this state as a whole.
By this we mean that if a bill more closely affects these people or that interest group, does it also in some way help all the rest of us as well or make our state’s laws clearer and fairer to all of its citizens? That should be the goal of all the bills they consider.
An example of an issue that will come before the Legislature this year is how to better fund the state’s highway maintenance and road building efforts. More money is desperately needed for those purposes, which are a part of the state’s economic development effort.
In the past, the roads have been funded with a tax on the sale of gasoline at the pump. However, with more people driving vehicles that use less gasoline, the income from that tax has fallen. The idea behind the gasoline tax was that users should pay.
Some legislators want to come up with a new way to derive part of those funds. Fine. Let it be fair to everyone, though.
That’s just one example of an issue that could find itself sidetracked or skewed because of special interests. There are many others, though.
Fairness should be the watchword for our legislators as these matters come before them.