Snail’s pace

The House and Senate negotiators have started meeting to try to agree on how much to increase Mississippi’s tax on cigarettes, which is the third lowest in the nation, more than $1 below the national average and 46 cents below the average of the surrounding states. Rep. Jimmy Puckett, D-Amory, summed up the negotiations. When asked if he was going to watch the negotiations, which are open to the public, he said he was. “I like watching snails,” he explained. Puckett might be a little hard on snails. During Thursday’s opening meeting, there wasn’t much negotiations. Neither side seemed willing to make the first offer. Finally, the House folks did, essentially offering as a compromise what passed their chamber earlier this year — an 82-cent increase to $1-per pack. The Senate rejected that offer, but offered nothing in return. For the record, the Senate passed a 31-cent increase to 49 cents per pack earlier this session. Eventually, the two sides are going to have to offer some legitimate compromise proposals. That is what negotiations is all about.