Sen. Seymour sets sights for January

Published 9:56 am Monday, December 14, 2015

In January, Mike Seymour will be sworn in as the newest state senator representing District 47.

Although Seymour is a freshman legislator, he said he has some ideas of what he’d like to see happen next year. 

“I will go up there and help them, and put my two cents in on stuff, but my biggest thing is to get the BP money used here on the coast and to protect our property rights,” he said. 

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Besides working to keep settlement money from the Deepwater Horizon oil spill on the Mississippi coast, he wants to look at expanding the oyster season and he would like to make it harder for the state government to take private property for commercial development.

Seymour said he wants to find out why oyster season in Mississippi isn’t as long as it is in Alabama and Louisiana. Seymour is quick to point out he needs to do more research to find out whether the regulations are federal or state, but he said he’d like to see all three states have similar seasons to level the playing field. 

“I would like to find out why were not all playing by the same set of rules,” he said. 

He said Mississippi is getting shortchanged with shorter seasons than both its neighbors. 

“I can’t believe we’re just so polluted outside of Pascagoula where you can’t harvest oysters over there, and yet you can go to Mobile Bay in Alabama with everything that goes down the Tombigbee and all, and you’re able to harvest oysters,” he said.

Seymour said he would also make it harder for the government to take private land for private economic development. As it stands, the state may buy private property for public benefit, and that includes private commercial businesses. In 2011, voters approved a change in the eminent domain law that required a 10-year waiting period for commercial use, but Seymour wants to discourage such taking even further. Seymour said the decade buffer is not enough and he said it is conceivable the government could still take property he believes it should not.

“You can conceivably get a bunch of politicians where they can eminently domain the property and do the assessments on it for environmental and archeological impact and by the time you get through all the paperwork and the footwork of it … well, it’s taken 10 years, and you can then sell it to your buddy who is not in politics and they can develop it as they see fit,” he said. “Some see that as far-fetched. But from the time the Mayflower came over here, men sold themselves into servitude for seven year just to own property. And that’s America. Our property rights are as dear to us almost as religion.”

Seymour said he is opposed to all eminent domain taking unless it is for a utility or a non-commercial purpose.

Finally, Seymour said the state needs to seriously tackle the roads and bridges. 

Seymour said he will rely on senior legislators to help him figure out the best way to fund needed repairs, but one option, he said, is out: Raising taxes.

“Raising taxes is not in my way of doing it,” he said. “Every tax that’s ever been on the books for fuel has never come off. Way back when I was little, there was a 1 percent tax on fuel for the sea wall, but as these projects become finished, there’s always a way to throw the money here or there.”