- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:


Aug. 1

The Enterprise-Journal on traffic cameras in Mississippi:

The Mississippi Legislature, reflecting a strong bent toward individualism in the state, was slow to follow national trends mandating the use of automobile seat belts for front seat passengers, helmets for motorcycle riders and making it illegal to text while driving.

Common sense finally prevailed, however, and there are now such laws in Mississippi, albeit they probably aren’t as strict as they should be.

In 2009, when a few locations in the state, including McComb, had either installed red-light cameras or were contemplating doing so to use technology to catch people running red lights, Gov. Haley Barbour signed into law legislation banning them in Mississippi.

A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety indicates that was a mistake.

IIHS compared 57 cities that started and continued red-light programs from 1992 to 2014 with 33 cities that don’t have any. Cities with red-light cameras had 21 percent fewer deaths related to collisions with red light runners and 14 percent fewer deaths from other crashes than cities without cameras.

The organization also looked at 14 cities that ended their programs between 2010 and 2014. It then compared those cities with 29 others that had similar populations and regions. The IIHS discovered that doing away with the cameras resulted in a 30 percent increase in deaths due to crashes with red-light runners and a 16 percent increase in deaths from other collisions.

“Debates over automated enforcement often center on the hassle of getting a ticket and paying a fine. It’s important to remember that there are hundreds of people walking around who wouldn’t be here if not for red-light cameras,” said Adrian Lund, president of the IIHS.

Arguments that have been made against the red-light cameras include the contention that they are used more for financial gain to the cities and the companies that manufacture and install them than for safety. Critics also have contended that they can cause more rear end crashes as motorists slam on brakes to avoid a ticket as the light changes.

But the statistics show that the benefits of red-light cameras outweigh the negatives, real or imagined. It’s an issue the Mississippi Legislature should revisit.




July 31

The Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on progress in the state:

Politics blew through the Neshoba County Fair’s Founders’ Square last week, and some of what was on the breeze had more than a hint of political clashes to come.

Other speeches were the kind of politics providing cover from unpleasant facts.

Gov. Phil Bryant said Mississippi is not getting the credit it deserves, particularly in education and economic development.

Granted, Mississippi has made some progress in parts of both broad issues, but the negative track of our state is more visible nationwide. That is not to place blame directly on Gov. Bryant, but the familiar bottom slot occupied by our state is discouragingly regular.

Statistics from the Bureau of Economic Analysis, a federal agency, don’t offer much for Mississippians to brag about.

Utah was listed as the best economy among U.S. states, beating out top 5-ranked Washington, California, Massachusetts and Colorado.

Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Maine and New Mexico are the worst areas for commercial activity.

The U.S. economy as a whole didn’t offer much to brag about either, but when everybody else is ahead, continuing on the bottom is discouraging.

WalletHub, a financial website, measured state economies with several methods, including business activity, health and innovation potential. Massachusetts was No. 1 in the technical ranking because of its well educated work force, while West Virginia ranked last.

The report lists as the top 10 growth states: Utah, Washington, California, Massachusetts, Colorado, Delaware, District of Columbia, New York, Texas and Oregon.

It lists as the bottom 10 growth states Mississippi, Arkansas, West Virginia, Maine, New Mexico, Louisiana, Kentucky, Alabama, Oklahoma and Hawaii.

Similar measures show Mississippi remains at the bottom in per capita income and household income that is more than $15,000 per year behind the national average.

Perhaps most disturbing, 19.47 percent of Mississippi’s households have incomes of less than $15,000.

The Mississippi Economic Outlook, a state analytical publication, forecasts regaining employment levels in 2010 by 2018, a slow rebound.

The Outlook also places Mississippi’s growth in perspective: Mississippi has been so far behind that realization of consecutive years of low growth in 2015, 2016, and 2017 would mark a significant turning point in Mississippi’s economy as it continues to recover from the Great Recession.

Mississippi needs more progress than a gain slightly better than others among the lowest in the nation.




July 31

The Greenwood Commonwealth on Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn:

Speaking last week at the Neshoba County Fair, Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn said that Republicans’ push this year for a religious freedom law that condoned discrimination against samesex couples was based on principle, not politics.

“We operate based on conviction,” he said. “We don’t need a poll to tell us that we need to fight for your religious liberty.”

That’s funny, coming from Gunn.

He’s the same person who came out briefly last summer in favor of changing Mississippi’s state flag, only to forget about the issue once he got opposition from other conservative legislators and proflag zealots.

Real political conviction means pushing for what’s right and sticking with it even when those who put you in office disagree.

It takes no courage to follow public opinion. The courage comes in leading it.



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