By Sun Herald, Biloxi/Gulfport
The Mississippi Legislature is a day away from completing half of its 90-day session. Let us hope lawmakers are saving the best for last, because thus far, their productivity has been less than auspicious.
Not that legislators have not made headlines since convening last month.
There was the failed attempt to establish a state commission to pass judgment on actions by the federal government.
There are also the ongoing attempts:
• To put firearms in the hands of school teachers (without, of course, a psychological evaluation).
• To keep large soft drink containers in the hands of Mississippians.
• To permit students to give voice to their silent prayers.
If by now legislators had passed a balanced budget and reformed public education and done all they could to improve the state’s economy and the health of their constituents, then it wouldn’t matter that such legislative initiatives occupied lawmakers’ time at the Capitol.
But too little heavy lifting appears to have been done.
Gov. Phil Bryant has gotten his Education Works package passed by both chambers of the Legislature. And even before senators and representatives work out their differences on the legislation, Bryant has declared, “It is bold, it is dramatic, it will upset the status quo.”
It would also be bold, dramatic and upsetting of the status quo to have a legislative session where priorities were set early on and the real issues facing Mississippians were debated and addressed weeks before legislators had to start meeting until midnight to complete their task.
Some hard choices need to be made in Mississippi, and we don’t see how delay will make any of them any easier.
We appreciate that there is a legislative process and officeholders are accustomed to a certain pace and the introduction of legislation doomed from the start.
But Mississippians struggling to stay employed and healthy – or to get that way – have little tolerance for distractions.