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Tuck touts tort reform to Wesson audience

WESSON — A record crowd turned out Tuesday for the annualWesson Chamber of Commerce banquet to hear Lt. Gov. Amy Tuck, whowas the guest speaker.

“I’m delighted to be here tonight,” said Tuck to the crowd ofover 150 people. “I appreciate the opportunity to come and speak tothe people of Mississippi.”

Tuck, who Monday announced her switch from the Democratic Partyto the Republican Party, covered a variety of topics in her15-minute speech following a meal in the Thames Center onCopiah-Lincoln Community College’s campus. Tuck did not mention theparty switch during her speech.

Tuck’s major point of interest was tort reform, a concern thatplagued Mississippians and legislators this year with a specialsession lasting 83 days.

“This is a major issue that affects every one of us in thisroom,” she said. “We need it because we want to have a positiveimage about Mississippi.”

She hopes the decision by lawmakers to stick it out and notaccept a “watered down bill” would help maintain a stable healthcare industry for the state.

Before a tort reform bill was passed, about 80 percent ofUniversity Medical Center students preparing for graduation said ina poll they would not stay in the state to work aftergraduation.

“Hopefully, after 83 days, these people can say, ‘Yes, I do wantto stay in Mississippi,'” said Tuck.

She also believes the special session action changed theopinions of businesses that were starting to direct their attentionaway from Mississippi because of lack of legislation.

“We did take a giant step in our state, and by working togetherwith our Washington delegation, we will be able to move forward,”she said.

Tuck also spoke about other legislative actions and issues thathad positive effects on Wesson as well as the entire state.

Tuck praised legislators for their continuous support ofeducation and Christian values, such as a bill that put “In God WeTrust” posters in every classroom in the public education system.Another bill passed this year ensured the Pledge of Allegiancewould start off the school day as well, said Tuck.

“Your legislators do an excellent job for you. You have goodleadership, and that’s what it takes to make great things happen,”said Tuck, acknowledging the presence of Rep. Jim Barnett, Sen.Lynn Posey and Rep. Tom Weathersby at the banquet.

Teacher pay raises and increased standards of accountability ineducation were two other topics Tuck was especially proud to seecome out of this year’s legislative session.

She added that the attention now needs to be pointed towardearly childhood development, pointing out that Mississippi is theonly state in the southeast region that does not fundpre-kindergarten services.

“The mind of a child will not wait, and every day there areprecious minds that are being left behind,” she said.

Tuck’s speech was not only highlighted with applause from thecrowd, but she finished to a standing ovation, thanking everyonefor allowing her to be the guest speaker.