Hosemann touts ballot initiatives

Published 6:00 pm Thursday, June 30, 2011

Mississippi Secretary of State DelbertHosemann addressed the Brookhaven Kiwanis and Lions clubs as theguest speaker at a joint luncheon at Poppa’s Fish House Wednesdayafternoon.

    Hosemann primarily focused on three citizen-initiated ballotmeasures that voters will be deciding on in the November generalelection. He said the issues make for the mostconstitutionally-based ballot in years.

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    “All three initiatives deal with the most basic rights, our rightsin the constitution,” Hosemann said.

    The 2011 initiatives that will appear on ballots in the Nov. 8general election are the personhood initiative, voteridentification initiative and the eminent domain initiative.

    The personhood initiative would amend the Mississippi Constitutionto define the word “person” to include every human being from themoment of fertilization, cloning or the functional equivalent.

    The voter identification initiative if passed would require votersto submit a government-issued photo identification in order tovote.

    The eminent domain initiative would prohibit the state and localgovernments from seizing private property and giving it to otherpersons or private businesses.

    Hosemann introduced a public hearing schedule for citizens acrossthe state to attend and voice their opinions about theseissues.

    The town hall style meetings will be statewide, with the first oneon July 7 in Southaven. The closest one to Brookhaven will be Aug.25 in Natchez at the Co-Lin Community College Auditorium.

    Hosemann said that if someone is not able to attend a meeting, theycould still express their thoughts through posting comments onlineon his office’s website, www.sos.ms.gov.

    He encouraged voters to be informed of the initiatives and attendthe public hearings in order to make educated decisions when theyhead to the polls Nov. 8. The hearings will include presentationsfrom both those in favor of the ballot issues and those opposed tothem.

    “All the public hearings will have pros and cons,” Hosemannsaid.

    Hosemann also spoke about 16th Section lands and his office’sefforts to boost revenue from the lands that are set aside tobenefit schools. Lincoln County has $3.3 million in funds from theland, with Brookhaven having around $1.3 of that total.

    Schools are generally prohibited from spending the principal incertain 16th Section revenue accounts. Schools may spend theinterest the land money earns.

    With savings accounts not generating a lot of interest currently,some have suggested allowing schools to spend a portion of theprincipal in the school land funds. Hosemann was leery of thatidea, saying the danger might be people taking advantage andoverspending the money.

    “It doesn’t work,” said Hosemann, referring to similar kinds offunds on the state level that have been raided over the years. “Inthe short-term, it has never worked. I’ve never seen it work outthat when they put their hand in the cookie jar, they come out withonly one cookie.”

    The other main point Hosemann referenced Wednesday was theredistricting issue the state faces. Hosemann said that it is astates’ rights issue that the constitution requires the state towork through, without any input from federal courts.

    Hosemann said the redistricting issue adds to the constitutionalfocus of this year’s election.

    “It’s been a while since there was such a constitutional focus,”Hosemann said. “I think it’s good to have this.”