Conservative group ups Legislature’s ranking

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The rating of the Mississippi Legislature by the The American Conservative Union Foundation (ACU) rose three points to 80 out of a possible 100, the ACU said in a press release Tuesday.

The complete Mississippi Legislature ratings guide includes scores for all legislators.

“Mississippi’s 2016 session enacted much needed small business tax relief and made conservative reforms to the state’s welfare and education systems,” said ACU Chairman Matt Schlapp. “Key bills included SB 2161, which made charter schools available to parents with children in failing schools, and another bill that extends the state’s abstinence education program for five years.”

Schlapp also praised a new state law allowing terminally ill patients to choose to take potentially life-saving medication that the Food and Drug Administration has yet to approve.

Interestingly, the ACU opposed the law passed in a special session giving tax breaks to Continental Tire to locate a plant in Mississippi. The group said that it “opposes using taxpayer funds to support one company over another.”

The group did not include in its rankings votes on HB 1523, the law since blocked by a federal judge that singles out three “sincerely held” religious beliefs as worthy of protection: that marriage is between one man and one woman; that people should not have sex outside such marriages; and that a person’s gender is set at birth. The law would have protected from litigation anyone who refused marriage-related services because of those beliefs. Opponents of the law say doing so unfairly targets gay, lesbian and transgender individuals for discrimination.

Schlapp also complained about new laws that permit “unnecessary government interference in the marketplace.”

“Auctioneers are now included on the growing list of businesses that require a government license in order to operate as a business,” he said in the press release.  “Another bill funds the Mississippi state board of Barber Examiners to the tune of $750,000.  Conservatives believe that Mississippians should not have to fund a bureaucracy that dictates who can and can’t cut their hair.”

ACU said its state ratings reflect how elected officials view the role of government in an individual’s life.  Mississippi legislators with the strongest scores consistently voted with the ideals articulated in the U.S. Constitution, the release said.