By NEMS Daily Journal
Speaker of the House Philip Gunn brings his statewide listening tour to Tupelo at 9 a.m. today in Tupelo City Hall’s council chambers – an opportunity for Northeast Mississippians to succinctly present suggestions and concerns on topics that could become legislative issues or the seed of long-term planning and eventual action.
Gunn, who resides in Clinton, is the first Republican speaker in Mississippi since the 19th century era after the Civil War when the GOP held sway during Reconstruction and for a time after full rights of statehood were restored in 1870.
The listening tour is bipartisan, so ideas can come from either side of the aisle.
Gunn decided the off-months between sessions should be used to ask citizens directly what the issues need to be. The 2013 session begins in little more than three months.
The 75-minute sessions obviously cannot be exhaustive but they can be diverse, with ideas as different as public school support, corrections system issues and programs like Medicaid, affecting thousands, presented for information.
Gunn set the ground rules at the first session Monday in Jackson, limiting participants to five minutes each, keeping legislators silent, and not allowing debate on the ideas presented.
“This is not for people to hear us talk,” Gunn said. “It is to hear from Mississippians. ‘What are your ideas for improving the state?’ Hopefully, they can give us some ideas that we can make law.”
Later this month, Oct. 26, Gov. Phil Bryant brings his own issues tour to Tupelo, a three-stop promotion of the health-care industry.
Tour stops are scheduled for:
* 7:30-9 a.m. at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum and Convention Center located at 2350 Beach Blvd. in Biloxi
* 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. at the Summit Center located at 852 North Gloster St., in Tupelo
* 3:30-5 p.m. at the Hilton located at 1001 East County Line Rd. in Jackson.
Tupelo should attract a large crowd since the largest hospital in the state, North Mississippi Medical Center, is in the city. The health care industry employs thousands of Northeast Mississippians, so what the governor says could have special resonance in the region.