The Gulf Coast Business Council had three Mississippi Coast lawmakers in for a discussion of the just completed, and sometimes disappointing session. John Hairston, the Council's leader, said when it comes to BP money, he won't go quietly.
Mississippi has a racially biased system of removing voting rights from people convicted of certain crimes and a burdensome method of restoring those rights after ex-convicts serve their time, according to two federal lawsuits that seek change.
The Mississippi Legislature for the third straight year failed to figure out how to spend money from the BP oil disaster. House and Senate negotiators hung up over whether a Coast board or the Legislature would have control over about $700 million from BP.
In Mississippi, the fate of $700 million in BP economic damages money rests with six conferees trying to hash out differences in House and Senate bills. They have until 8 p.m. Monday to reach an agreement. Even with agreement, the bill would go back to both the House and Senate for floor debates and votes.
Brain drain is common enough in Mississippi that some policymakers are starting to recognize it as a long-term problem for the economic well-being of the state, which has long been one of the poorest in the nation.
About one out of every 10 people in Mississippi has one of 7,000 rare diseases. About half of them are children. And there are few cures or treatments. All they and their parents want is a fighting chance and they say a state Senate bill is a good place to start.
Coast leaders went to Jackson to meet with legislators last week, and on Monday a bill passed by the Senate Appropriations Committee directs all the the BP settlement into a fund to benefit the environment and the economy that were hurt by the Gulf oil spill in 2010.