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Hosemann pushes legislative reforms

Brittany Brown // Published June 10, 2008 in Hattiesburg American Newspaper
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann pushed what he called needed legislative reforms Monday at a luncheon for business and community leaders at the Jackie Dole Sherill Community Center.

Hosemann presented "Report to the Pine Belt," a slideshow about legislative issues to about 100 people.

Among several concerns, he highlighted voter fraud, 16th Section land leases and business law. "I want to keep everyone informed about what's going on and the purpose it has within our state," he said.

Monday's presentation was part of a statewide initiative to inform Mississippians about changes Hosemann says are needed, starting with implementing voter identification laws. Hosemann said 85 percent of Mississippians believe voter fraud was key in the last state election.

"That's unacceptable that people don't believe you got elected fairly," he said.

Hosemann said voter fraud correlates with high unemployment rates and poorly performing schools.

Hosemann said voter fraud has been found in Jefferson Davis, Noxubee, Benton and Wilkinson counties.

After voter fraud reform, Hosemann is pressing for more meticulous guidelines for leasing 16th Section lands, a source of state revenue that earned $54 million last year. Hosemann said a lack of communication about lease prices across the state has led to huge disparities in costs.

In Jones County, lessees are paying between $2 and $125 an acre per year.

"Nobody had any comparable data to know what each school district was (charging)," he said, adding prices are now available through the state Web site. "Apparently, some (lessees) are paying too much and some are not paying enough."

Hosemann said he's requesting after July 1 his signature be required on all 16th Section land leases to assure accuracy and fairness.

Fairness is also a component in Hosemann's plan for business law reform.

"The circuit court system has become a criminal court system," he said, adding it can take up to three years for a case to go to trial. "And businesses get pushed back further than that."

Hosemann said the gridlock can be broken with the creation of a business court system, an idea currently under study by an appointed committee.

Hosemann said if approved, it would quickly handle cases, lower litigation costs, improve legal system infrastructure and make the state more attractive to future businesses.