By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Gov. Phil Bryant said Thursday at the Neshoba County Fair that the focus of the 2014 legislative session would be public safety.
Bryant told fairgoers during the second and final day of the annual political speechmaking that his first session as governor was focused on economic development, and his second, earlier this year, was keyed toward education.
“We are going to put together an aggressive agenda to protect you and punish criminals,” said the first-term Republican governor.
Bryant specifically cited the crime problem in Jackson, the state’s capital city, saying he lived in nice, government housing in downtown Jackson and understood the issues.
If the crime problem is solved, Bryant told a modest off-election year crowd on a sweltering day at the fair that the state would be poised to make giant strides in terms of economic development and education.
Speaking to a Republican-leaning crowd, the governor spoke of the importance of religion in school and ensuring that legislation passed earlier this year allowing people to openly carry a weapon without a permit is enacted. The law currently is being challenged in court, with the issue pending before the state Supreme Court.
Referring to comments by some legislators saying they wanted to introduce a bill to repeal the open-carry law, Bryant smiled and said, “Go ahead, make my day,” indicating he would veto any such effort.
He criticized liberals as too quick to try to block good legislation in court.
While Mississippi still has one of the state’s highest unemployment rates, Bryant said the state has created 7,200 jobs during his tenure as governor with a capital investment of $1.1 billion.
“Mississippi is growing and doing dynamic things,” Bryant said.
After his speech, the governor said he intends to announce his appointments to the charter school authorizing board next week. The appointments are supposed to be made by Sept. 1 with the goal of having charter schools in operation by the 2014 school year.
The governor has three appointments to the board while the lieutenant governor and state superintendent of education also have appointments.