Gov. candidates of one mind on eminent domain (Update)

October 6th, 2010 No comments

Magnolia Marketplace is not finding much disagreement among the 2011 candidates for governor on the issue of employing eminent domain for private economic development.

Two of the three Republicans who are running support Farm Bureau’s efforts to put the issue on the ballot.

So do the two Democrats who hope to reach the Governor’s Mansion.

“As a businessman I strongly encourage economic development, but using eminent domain as a device to take privately owned land to transfer to developers is improper,” Bill Luckett, a Clarksdale attorney, said in a statement emailed to Magnolia Marketplace.

“Mississippians should be able to count on preserving their individual and personal rights against overbearing big government. (Farm Bureau’s) initiative protects private citizens from governmental abuse. Passing this initiative will greatly discourage government entities from taking one’s property for the sole purpose of making money.

“Unless property is taken truly for the good of the public, I do not believe in using confiscatory endeavors as a means of economic development.”

Luckett joins Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant and Gulfport businessman Dave Dennis in supporting the Farm Bureau petition.

“I tend to agree with them,” Hattiesburg Mayor Johnny Dupree, a Democrat who will oppose Luckett in the primary, said in a phone interview Monday afternoon. “It it is used for public use, I certainly support that.”

The other Republican in the race, Pearl River County Supervisor Hudson Holliday, has not returned a voicemail we left on his cell phone Tuesday afternoon. If and when he does, we’ll let you know his stance.

UPDATE : We just heard back from Holliday. He said he understands the principles behind employing eminent domain for private economic development. That doesn’t mean he agrees with them.

“It’s a slippery slope and something that can easily be abused,” Holliday said. Holliday added that he signed Farm Bureau’s petition. That makes two gubernatorial candidates — Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant is the other — who have confirmed that they signed it.

So if you’re scoring at home, every candidate who has either unofficially or officially started pursuing the governor’s seat is in favor of restricting the use of eminent domain to projects that serve a direct public use — like roads, bridges and utilities — and eliminating the government’s power to take private property and give it to a private entity for development.

Burton hopes for quick, efficient redistricting

October 4th, 2010 No comments

Third District Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Pearl, took the podium for two minutes or so this morning at the monthly lunch meeting of the Stennis Capitol Press Corps in Jackson.

He wasted no time in chiding his colleagues for leaving Washington and hitting the campaign trail without passing a budget.

“You have to wonder about the leadership abilities in place right now,” Harper said, noting that this is the first time since 1974 the House has not passed a budget before the start of the fiscal year. Harper also all but guaranteed that Republicans will reach a majority in the House with this year’s elections.

When Harper finished, State Sen. Terry Burton, R-Newton, chairman of the joint committee that will grapple with reapportionment and redistricting next year, spent about 15 minutes providing an update on where that stands.

Burton and other officials just wrapped up a series of 12 meetings across the state to gather public input on the redistricting process. They’ll take that and some Census estimates and begin the process of drawing Mississippi’s state and congressional districts.

Burton is optimistic that the process can and will be done on time, and will avoid some of the legal and political wrangling past efforts have encountered.

“We believe we need to get this done so we can avoid the conflict of running (in consecutive years),” Burton said. “Some of us have been through that and it’s not a very pleasant thing to go throught.” Burton was referring to the redistricting in 1991 and 1992, when the districts had to be redrawn in both of those years, forcing lawmakers to run for office twice.

Burton made it a point to say that he and his counterpart in the House, Rep. Tommy Reynolds, D-Charleston, enjoyed a good relationship and shared a desire to get the redistricting done as quickly as possible.

Considering all the requirements each of the districts has to meet, and all the special interest groups who are sure to take an interest in and try to influence the process, that may be wishful thinking.

Categories: Elections, Gregg Harper, News, Politics Tags:

Bryant, Dennis agree: No eminent domain for private use

September 30th, 2010 12 comments

If Dave Dennis and Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant are going to butt heads over an issue in their bids to be the Republican nominee for governor in 2011, they’ll have to find something other than the use of eminent domain for private development.

Both are adamantly against it.

“I have long tried to find common ground between Farm Bureau and the Governor on this issue,” Bryant said in a press release. “There must be a balance between growing jobs in our state while not trampling the rights of our citizens. I am for property rights and congratulate Farm Bureau on what appears to be a successful petition drive.”

Bryant was referring to Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation handing over to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann Thursday morning 119,000 signatures of registered voters who oppose the use of eminent domain for private development. Mick Bullock, spokesman for Bryant, said the lieutenant governor was one of the folks who signed Farm Bureau’s petition.

Most likely, the issue will appear on the 2011 ballot. Bryant also alluded to Gov. Haley Barbour’s vehement opposition to the restriction. During the 2009 legislative session, Barbour vetoed a bill that would have eliminated the government’s power to employ eminent domain for projects that did not serve a direct public use, like roads or bridges. His veto was narrowly sustained in the Senate, after being overwhelmingly overridden in the House.

Barbour argued then that stripping government of the power to use eminent domain for private economic development would be deal-killers for major projects like Toyota and Nissan.

Dennis, a Gulfport businessman, disagrees.

“Plainly and simply, if a development is that good and that attractive and that resourceful, then there should be appropriate dollars associated (with it),” he said. “If somebody thinks there’s that good a return coming in, they should be willing to pay market or even premium-of-market value. If for some reason people still would not sell, then you work around them.”

Dennis told Magnolia Marketplace that he has had two pieces of property over the years seized by eminent domain, both times to clear the way for road-widening projects.

“That eminent domain I’m very comfortable with,” he said. “Eminent domain should not be used to take private property for private development. If you’ve got a piece of property that has stayed in your family, it’s hard for me to swallow somebody coming in and taking it.”

Waide: No decision about running for election

September 30th, 2010 1 comment

Magnolia Marketplace just returned from Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann’s office, where the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation delivered 119,251 signatures of registered voters who oppose using eminent domain for private economic development projects.

The issue will very likely be on the ballot in 2011.

Lots of media were there for the ceremony, including our favorite reporter ever, Bert Case of Jackson television station WLBT.

Case asked Hosemann if he would run for re-election next year, or seek a higher office. The rumor mill has been churning for some time now over that very question.

“Are you addressing that to David?” Hosemann retorted, with a hearty laugh. “I think we’ll stay on eminent domain today.”

Afterward, Magnolia Marketplace asked Waide if he had made a decision about next year’s elections. He too has been the subject of a lot of speculation. He will step down from Farm Bureau Dec. 6.

“I’m President of Mississippi Farm Bureau,” Waide said. “I asked the people in ’96 to elect me, and I promised them I’d serve my term. I’m stepping down Dec. 6, but I actually  have not made a decision. I don’t anticipate announcing prior to my leaving office.”

So has Waide not made a decision about whether to run, or has he not made a decision about which office he’s going to seek?

“I have not made a decision about whether I’m running or not,” he said.

So there you go.

Farm Bureau delivers eminent domain signatures

September 29th, 2010 No comments

Looks like the question of whether to use eminent domain for private economic development projects will be on the 2011 ballot. Here’s a release Farm Bureau sent out earlier today:

JACKSON – The Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation today delivered more than 118,000 certified signatures to Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann so that the issue of eminent domain reform can be placed on the November 2011 ballot for the people of Mississippi to vote on.

After several failed attempts to get an eminent domain reform bill passed in the legislature, the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation (MFBF) decided to go the initiative route and gathered the necessary signatures to allow the people of Mississippi to speak on the issue of private property rights.

“For three years, Farm Bureau urged legislators to protect homeowners and landowners from confiscation of their private property by eminent domain, but to no avail,” said MFBF President David Waide.  “The 2009 Legislature passed H.B. 803, which prohibited the taking of private property under the guise of economic development for private development or business. Both House and Senate passed the bill, but Governor Barbour vetoed it.”

In 2005, the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 5-4 decision in Kelo v. City of New London that a Connecticut city could take away people’s homes and turn the property over to a private party to develop the property for its own profit. The Court justified this result because the increased tax revenue on the developed property would benefit the public and the use of the property was, therefore, a public use.

Farm Bureau and many others disagree with this decision.

Since 2005, forty-four states have strengthened their private property rights laws to keep property from being taken by eminent domain and used for economic development.  This initiative will give the people of Mississippi the right to vote to ensure that eminent domain will be used only in the traditional ways for public use such as roads, schools, and utilities.

Two businessmen among Medal of Service recipients

September 27th, 2010 No comments

Gov. Haley Barbour announced this morning that he will present seven Mississippians with the Medal of Service tomorrow during a ceremony.

Among the recipients are former Lt. Gov. Brad Dye, former Ambassador John Palmer, former state Archives and History director Elbert Hilliard, former Meridian mayor Al Rosenbaum, the Rev. John Perkins of Jackson, and businessmen Harry Martin of Tupelo and Victor Mavar of Biloxi.

Martin owns and operates a real estate firm and is former president of Tupelo’s Community Development Foundation, where he served for 44 years.

Mavar is director emeritus of Hancock Bank and Holding Co., and has been involved in the radio business and the shrimping industry.

Barbour will present the medals at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday in Jackson at the Woolfolk Building’s conference center east.

Categories: Haley Barbour, News Tags:

Pledge is the new Contract

September 23rd, 2010 1 comment

Magnolia Marketplace was in the 9th grade in the fall of 1994, so we had no idea then what the Contract with America meant. The only contract we worried about was negotiating a deal with  the parents that would produce a vehicle that was all ours.

Sixteen years later, Republicans are dusting off the broad outline of its Contract with America and rebranding it as the Pledge to America. Different name (barely). Same principles (in fact, nearly identical).

Both plans were unveiled while there was a Democratic president in the White House who wasn’t very popular with anybody at the time, and when the economy wasn’t exactly blazing. Both seek to capitalize on voter fears and frustrations — whether they’re real or perceived — and stake Republicans to power in the halls of Congress. Both hit on general themes of fewer taxes and less government.

The Contract worked in 1994, launching the national political career of then-Rep. Roger Wicker and making current Gov. Haley Barbour, who was RNC head at the time, one of the most powerful and important members the GOP had seen since Ronald Reagan. He’s still considered such, probably more so than ever.

Predicting voter behavior isn’t easy, so who knows if the Pledge will prove as effective as the Contract. But you can be guaranteed that even though political winds will shift, they’ll eventually all blow in the same direction.

Barbour: tea party, GOP stand for same things

September 21st, 2010 2 comments

During one of his recent State of the State addresses, Gov. Haley Barbour made it a point to say he wrote the speech himself.

Barbour (presumably) broke out the pen again for a column in today’s Wall Street Journal, in which he says most of the Tea Party’s principles mirror those of the Republican Party. He makes that point in saying that the GOP establishment should support tea party candidates who are victorious in Republican primaries. That’s been an issue, especially in Delaware. It’s a pretty interesting read. Find it here.

Categories: Elections, Haley Barbour, News, Politics Tags:

Pop the corks: The recession’s over

September 20th, 2010 2 comments

The same group that declared that the Great Recession started in December 2007 is now saying it ended last summer.

The National Bureau of Economic Research announced this morning that the recession officially ended in June 2009, 18 months after it started.

In a conference call on Sunday, the Business Cycle Dating Committee of the NBER determined that business activity in the U.S. hit a low point that month, and that an expansion began immediately afterward.

In a press release, the NBER said it noted that the average of Gross Domestic Product and Gross Domestic Income in the second quarter of 2010 was 3.1 percent above the low it reached in the second quarter of 2009. GDP and GDI are the two broadest measures of economic activity.

So even though the credit markets are still shaky, most businesses still aren’t hiring, and unemployment levels remain in double digits, the recession’s over. Celebrate by reading the full text of the NBER’s findings here.

Gene Taylor is not in this to make friends

September 17th, 2010 5 comments

Gene Taylor has had an eventful week.

Last weekend, the Democrat who has represented the 4th District for two decades was quoted in the Sun Herald in Biloxi railing against the insurance industry’s recruitment of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce to oppose his multi-peril insurance legislation, an issue he has been pushing since shortly after Hurricane Katrina. His efforts to push the bill, which would allow the federal government to offer wind and water coverage to homeowners in hurricane-rich areas like his district, through Congress have stalled. A big reason for that is the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the insurance industry’s adamant stance against it, and the subsequent unleashing of their armies of lobbyists to kill it.

“It will, unfortunately, probably take a major East Coast hurricane, with some other people suffering as we suffered, for us to pass insurance reform,” Taylor told the Sun Herald in its Sept. 11 edition.

A favored tactic of the business lobby when it runs into opposition is to label its opponents “anti-business.” Most politicians, from both parties, are terrified of that label. Some Republicans would rather kiss Nancy Pelosi than be slapped with it.

That label won’t stick to Taylor, though.

Because five days after his insurance rant, he became the first Democrat to join the GOP’s effort to repeal the recently passed Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act, commonly called healthcare reform. It was a major victory for Democrats this summer when it passed, and its repeal has become the centerpiece of many a campaign this fall. Business groups and trade associations hate it, and want it gone yesterday. So does Taylor.

“I didn’t vote for it, people don’t want it, and the taxpayers cannot afford it,” Taylor said in a statement issued on his website.

In less than a week Taylor has called out one of the biggest, most powerful and richest segments of the business lobby over one of his pet projects, and likely enraged his party leadership over one of theirs.

Say this for him: He believes what he believes. That’s pretty rare in a politician these days.