Secretary of State talks I42, future plans in Picayune visit

Published 7:00 am Thursday, October 29, 2015

Questions and answers: Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann stopped in Picayune Wednesday to meet with supporters and with members of the media the Picayune Item’s offices.

Questions and answers: Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann stopped in Picayune Wednesday to meet with supporters and with members of the media the Picayune Item’s offices.

By Jesse Wright

Picayune Item

Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann stopped in Picayune Wednesday to chat with supporters at the Italian Grill. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Hosemann is on the campaign trail seeking re-election Nov. 3.

Kathleen Holland was one of about 20 people who stopped by the Italian Grill at noon to chat with Hosemann.

“I think Delbert has been doing a very good job for the state of Mississippi,” Holland said. “If you write him or email him, you get an answer back, which is important. And he’s tried to save the state money.”

Prior to the meet and greet, Hosemann stopped by the offices of the Picayune Item for an interview. He said the big question this campaign isn’t one particular candidate—it’s ballot Initiative 42. 

Initiative 42 would legally obligate the legislature to fund “an adequate and efficient system of free public schools.” If the initiative passes, it will add language to the state’s constitution that will allow citizens to sue the state if lawmakers do not fully fund public education. 

Some politicians, particularly Republicans, are opposed to the measure because they say it takes power from the state legislature and gives it to a different branch of government, the judiciary.  Hosemann said he’s spent time on this campaign season correcting some misconceptions, chief among them the timeline for compliance and cost to the state. 

When Luther Mumford, the sponsor of the initiative, filed the paperwork for Initiative 42 with Hosemann’s office, he included a timeline for implementation that would give the state years to fully fund public education. 

“The initiative will be funded by maintaining current funding levels for public education through the 12th grade adjusted for inflation, and then devoting to public education not less than 25 percent of future increases in general fund and other tax collections in order to achieve the constitutionally required level of adequacy and efficiency in the public educational system by a target date of Fiscal Year 2022 and maintain it in the future,” Mumford wrote. 

But Wednesday, Hosemann was clear.

“We don’t phase in the constitution of Mississippi,” he said. 

He pointed out there is no such timeline in the ballot initiative, and he said if it passes, then the initiative will become law in December and the funding obligations will begin at that time. 

“If ‘adequate and efficient means funding the MAEP (the state’s funding formula for education), then you will have to fully fund MAEP, if that’s what it means,” said Hosemann. 

Besides Initiative 42, Hosemann also talked about some legislation he would like to see through to completion, should he win re-election. 

Since 2014, Mississippi has required identification in order to register to vote. Since that law passed, Hosemann said very few people have been turned away at the ballot box. He said 99.7 percent of voters have been able to cast their ballots, and now he would like to reform other voting laws. 

Although he declined to talk specifics, he said he is meeting with lawyers about changing all manner of voting laws. 

“It will address early voting, it will address absentee ballot fraud, online registration and many, many, many issues about bringing our electoral process up to the 21st Century,” he said. 

Besides legislation, Hosemann said he is also proud to have rolled out Y’all Business four weeks ago, a website that aggregates all manner of information in each county in order to help existing or prospective business owners access county-specific data. He said in four weeks, the site has had 8,000 new users. 

“I have started with an aggregation of all the census data, all the contact data for each county and the consumer data,” Hosemann said. “On Ya’ll Business you can pull up Pearl River County and see what your growth is, what the traffic count is, what newspapers there are, how many restaurants and how many businesses you have. It will tell you how many people have an iPad in your county.”

He said the website includes business projections for counties, too. 

“It will also tell you where you’re going to be in 2020,” he said. “It’s a phenomenal resource.”