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MBJ Editorial

David Letterman, the amusingly sarcastic, often goofy host of the Late Show on CBS, returned to the air last week after recuperating from heart bypass surgery. In the dark giddiness characteristic of Letterman, he ran out of time and didn’t read his nightly Top 10 list. To make up for the Top 10-list-that-never-was last Monday night, here’s one from the Mississippi Business Journal’s home office in Jackson.

Today’s list: The Top 10 Reasons Mississippi Business and Industry Wish the Legislature Would Just Go Home…

No. 10. Senate Bill 2668, which would create a new government regulator, the Mississippi Department of Labor-Management Relations.

Nos. 9-3. Senate Bill 2668

No. 2. Cheap haircuts. Actually, it’s still Senate Bill 2668.

And the No. 1 reason Mississippi Business and Industry Wish the Legislature Would Just Go Home…Senate Bill 2668.

Are you chuckling? Probably not. SB 2668, and it’s House counterpart, HB 980, are serious threats to Mississippi business and industry and our long-range economic development plans.

In a public hearing last week held by the Senate’s Labor Committee, proponents of the new state labor department said that Mississippi needed to have a one-stop, job training clearinghouse to help unskilled and displaced workers. This idea is valid. However, legislation proposed last year would have accomplished such a goal, but it became hopelessly entangled in a political turf battle typical of how serious business issues are handled by the Mississippi Legislature.

Workforce training does need to be consolidated — and well funded. The most logical existing state agency to handle this task is the State Board for Community and Junior Colleges. Mississippi’s two-year colleges already have successful workforce training programs in place. The 15 campuses, which cover the entire state, are in tune with the specific skills that employers in their districts need from workers. These folks don’t need a bloated bureaucracy in Jackson, which is what a state labor department would be, telling them what to do.

Government rarely offers meaningful solutions to our problems. Mix government and business, except in the rarest of circumstances, and you end up with more problems than you started with, and that is why Mississippi does not need a state department of labor.

We must vigorously oppose this move to create a Mississippi Department of Labor Unions and Anti-Business Red Tape.

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