As this issue of the Mississippi Business Journal went to press in Hattiesburg last week, a number of very important bills were moving through the legislative process.
Thousands of bills are filed with each session of the Legislature, where most of them die a fitting death. However, there are those pieces of legislation which are critical to Mississippi business, industry and economic development, and it is these which the state’s business community must watch with great diligence.
This year, while much attention has been paid to the budget problems, the beef plant situation and Medicaid, there are other concerns of equal importance. Among them:
• Senate Bill 2480, which would allow Mississippi employers to lower their unemployment tax next year and add $21 million to workforce training funds. Clearly, no losers here. It has passed the Senate and is now under consideration by the House.
• House Bill 1668, which advances the proposed SteelCorr project in Lowndes County (see a related story on page one) was overwhelmingly approved by the House of Representatives, 110-6.
As Gov. Haley Barbour noted, “This is not only good for Columbus and Northeast Mississippi, but good for all Mississippians.”
Quick action on this measure is expected in the Senate.
• Senate Bill 3101, which funds several projects related to cultural tourism, was approved in committee and headed to the full Senate February 22.
With tourism a key segment of the state’s overall economy (again, see a related story on page one), projects such as the Mississippi Arts and Entertainment Center, a B.B. King Museum and a science and visitors facility at the Stennis Space Center are playing a much larger role in economic development.
Are there other critical bills before state legislators this session? Of course. We’ve touched upon a mere few here, but each of these bills illustrates the vital role that business plays in government.
Advocacy from organizations like the Mississippi Economic Council, the Mississippi Manufacturers Association and many others is vital, but so too are the efforts of individual owners, managers, workers and CEOs.
All of us have a vested interest in what’s going on under the Capitol dome in Jackson. Make sure that your voice is heard in the coming days.
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