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Speaker Phillip Gunn on ‘Ideas Tour’

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 08 Oct 2013 09:14am | comments

With the next Mississippi legislative session less than three months away, the speaker of the house is traveling the state looking for new ideas lawmakers might consider, Speaker Phillip Gunn is calling it his 'ideas tour'.

 Speaker Gunn will stop at nine cities this week, seeking to hear ideas, recommendations, or problems that the state legislature might address.

 Gunn says the nine stop tour, which visits cities all over the state, will diverse enough to put at least one town hall within an hour drive of every resident in the state.

 "More than anything this is for them to have an opportunity to express where their interests are. What their concerns are. And sometimes we take those ideas and put them into legislation and sometimes we don't," Gunn said.

 This is the second year for the tour and Gunn says the first tour lead to nine bills being submitted into the 2013 legislature.

 The first stop in Clinton yesterday drew about three dozen people who made suggestion on a wide range of topics from education, to health care, and even dealings with federal government.

 Robert Ledbetter of Clinton attended the ideas tour to encourage the speaker to join a 'convention of states' to fight what he considers gross federal over-reach.

 "And I think that is where the key to taking this country back is and where we can really get our economy back rolling. Quit worrying about what the rest of the world is doing. But the biggest thing is we are going to cut of the credit card of the federal government, all this spending and get rid of our debt. So it is a great project," Ledbetter said.

 Others urged the speaker to fight the implementation of the new Common Core educational standards, or consider adding more flexible school days, and addressed a perceived lack of transparency in the selection of the new Superintendent of Education.

 A number of people showed up to push ideas that the Speaker had previously been averse to including state funded pre-K and full funding of the MAEP formula, which guides state K-12 education spending.

 Jane Streets attended to push for Medicaid expansion, something Speaker Gunn has firmly rejected.

 "But I want to be heard. I want him to know that there are many of us in the state who do support this and would like to see it implemented," Streets said.

 Today the speaker is in Oxford, Corinth, and Starkville.

 The tour stops in Vicksburg and Natchez on Wednesday and concludes on Thursday in laurel and Pascagoula.





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