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Perception, reality hurting business in Magnolia State

MBJ Editorial

So it would seem that both the perception and the reality of the state`s legal system continues to hurt the overall business climate here, as well as challenge the medical community and the care providers vital for the good health and well being of every Mississippian.

Gov. Haley Barbour released a letter April 26th written to him by a Toyota executive asserting that the state`s legal climate had been a critical factor in the automaker`s decision to locate a manufacturing plant in Texas, rather than at a site in Panola County.

The governor, in an interview for this week`s Mississippi Business Journal, stated clearly that “… my goal is to get comprehensive tort reform during the regular session. If we don`t get it in the regular session, I`ll call a special session or special sessions if necessary. I’m committed to comprehensive tort reform this year. We`ll do this and get it behind us.”

In fact, this message is one that the first-term Republican has been hammering away with in speaking engagements and appearances throughout the state. Whether the governor accomplishes this goal remains to be seen.

And in an interview with The Associated Press last Tuesday, Mississippi Insurance Commissioner George Dale said that out of the 18 companies that offer some type of medical malpractice coverage, he does not think that any are looking for new business.

Finding adequate malpractice coverage remains a tough – and expensive – proposition for Mississippi physicians, clinics and hospitals.

A certain level of partisanship can be good for the body politic, but in these final days and hours of the 2004 legislative session, leadership, and the willingness to compromise, offers the best hope for resolving the tort reform situation.

The business and medical communities, along with a majority of legislators, want this issue discussed, debated and voted on – now.

That`s what ought to happen. Then we can tackle the perception part of the problem – an equally daunting task.

Mississippi is a good place to do business. It`ll be even better when tort reform is behind us, and the epithets of “judicial hell-hole” and “lawsuit mecca” are little more than unpleasant memories.


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