Tupelo Tea Party lauds Lt. Gov. Bryant for lending an ear

JACKSON – The Tupelo Tea Party didn’t participate in a recent meeting another Tea Party group had with Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, but one of its chief organizers praised him for holding such an event.
“I think the fact he would be willing to meet with a Tea Party group, I appreciate that,” said Grant Sowell, who said he does not have an official title with the Tupelo group but considers himself as a “facilitator” of the grassroots group.
The Tea Party groups across Mississippi are independent of each other, but share numerous beliefs, such as the desire for smaller government and an emphasis on the Bible in the public schools, Sowell said.
The Republican Bryant, considered a frontrunner in the gubernatorial election in 2011, recently met with a group calling itself the Mississippi Tea Party.
“The Tupelo Tea Party is completely independent,” Sowell said. “If the Missisisppi Tea Party does something, we may want to be a part of it.”
For instance, Sowell said he did not attend the recent meeting with Bryant, but said it was a good idea, though he admitted that he thought some of the proposals espoused during the event by his Tea Party colleagues “were a little strong.”
Sowell said, “I was looking for more of a dialog … But it is something going in the right direction if the Tea Party has the ear of an elected official.”
According to published reports, some of the Tea Party group that met with Bryant called for the reinstatement of a General Legislative Investigating Committee, for the elimination of all welfare and the repeal of all state laws regarding public education.
The General Legislative Investigating Committee was created in the 1940s apparently as kind of a legislative oversight committee, based on the language in the bill establishing the joint committee. The Legislative Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Committee performs a similar function now.
Apparently, the committee used its powers to get involved in the hot button issues of the time, such as civil rights.
Bryant said he would support the re-enstatement of the committee “that looks at unfunded mandates imposed by the federal government and protects the rights of the states under the 10th Amendment. As I understand it, that is what the Mississippi Tea Party is trying to accomplish.”
When asked about eliminating state laws regulating local school districts, the Republican lieutenant governor said, “I would support legislation to reduce the burden of federal and state regulation placed on successful school districts.”
As far as welfare, “Obviously, we must take care of our elderly and abandoned children. We need to persist in rooting out and eliminating abuse in our welfare system.
“In addition, I support drug testing for welfare recipients, just as many Mississippians are subject to at their jobs every day. I continue to support a workfare program, similar to the program that President Bill Clinton signed into law. I also want to ensure that illegal aliens and inmates do not receive benefits.”
Sowell also said he believes some welfare programs are needed “to help people get back on their feet,” but not as a permanent solution to a person’s problems.
Bryant said, “We will continue to work on these issues and find common ground for the betterment of Mississippi’s future.”
Contact Bobby Harrison at (601) 353-3119 or bobby.harrison@djournal.com.

Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal