With more than a million pages of local, state and federal laws and regulations in this country, I'm not sure it's a good thing our Legislature is busy passing new laws.
One step in the right direction comes from Republican state Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon. He proposes to repeal Mississippi's Certificate of Need, law which restricts hospitals and clinics from opening.
Mississippi's CON law was passed in 1974 when the federal government required it. By 1987, the feds realized it was a bad law and since then 14 states, including Texas, have repealed it. Not Mississippi.
Since the CON laws were passed we have seen exactly what would be predicted -- high prices and scarcity.
Trying to open a new hospital or clinic in Mississippi means years and years of expensive CON litigation. How does that help our state? It is time to repeal this misguided law.
Northside Democratic Sen. David Blount has proposed a law that would allow performance audits for private companies using state-funded incentives. Currently, $482 million in private incentives are exempt from such scrutiny.
Crony capitalism is a real problem in our state and it gets worse by the year. Private companies need to compete, not lobby the Legislature for sweetheart deals. This type of corporate welfare raises taxes, misallocates capital and hurts job growth in the long term.
"We have no way of knowing if those companies are doing what they said they were going to do," Blount said. "Taxpayers have a right to know if publicly funded incentives are effective in creating jobs."
GOP in control
Proving that the Republicans are firmly in control of the Senate, the Senate passed several bills strengthening right to work.
Senate Bill 2473 prohibits forcing employees into neutrality agreements, card check agreements and collective bargaining recognition. Senate Bill 2653 prevents using objects, such as a vehicle, to block a business' sidewalk, entrance or exit, during picketing. Senate Bill 2689 allows employers to continue criminal background checks. Senate Bill 2797 prevents cities and counties from using ordinances, zoning, licensure or conditions of a procurement to force employers to use organized labor.
Reeves and the Senate have also been putting the brakes on the blanket teacher pay raise train, although some raise is likely to pass. Reeves doesn't want to spend more money while we are still using one-time funds for recurring expenses.
Meanwhile, the Democrats are still strong in the House and are led by McComb-area Rep. Bobby Moak. House Speaker Philip Gunn's support of the teacher pay raise is a testament to this reality.
Moak spoke recently at the Stennis Institute. Not surprisingly, a teacher pay raise was tops on his agenda. Moak pointed out that the state has never properly funded the Mississippi Adequate Education Program and was short $290 million last year.
It should be pointed out that many teachers have gotten raises over the past seven years. What hasn't happened is a massive across-the-board pay raise for all teachers.
Medicaid is the 800-pound gorilla. By not expanding Medicaid, Mississippi is turning its nose up at a billion dollars a year in federal funding. "That's three million bucks a day. That money is never coming back," Moak said.
In addition to losing the Medicaid billion, hospitals are being cut $145 million this year and $210 million next year.
Moak lambasted Republican job creation efforts, claiming Gov. Phil Bryant is looking at unemployment statistics "with rose colored cornea implants."
Although fewer Mississippians are looking for jobs, Moak said the total number of people employed today in Mississippi is the same as 1998.
Wyatt Emmerich, president of Emmerich Newspapers and publisher of The Northside Sun, can be contacted at P.O. Box 16709, Jackson, MS 39236. Email: email@example.com.