The Founding Fathers of the United States viewed voting as one of the biggest privileges granted to Americans. This year, Mississippians will have the opportunity to vote in the 2019 General Election on November 5.
“I highly encourage all Mississippians to make it a priority to get to the polls on Election Day. Exercising your right to vote allows you to have a voice, so make sure your voice is being heard this November.”Mike McCormick, Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation
Mississippians must be registered to vote and must bring a form of identification to the polls in order to vote on November 5.
Since the last election, MFBF has been working with the state’s elected officials to influence legislation impacting our members. The major issues MFBF staff has focused on are property taxes, right to farm, rural broadband, rural infrastructure and seed preemption.
In 2017, Mississippi Rep. Robert Foster authored a bill to help slow the growth of property taxes on agricultural land. The Mississippi Department of Revenue uses a formula created by Mississippi State University to determine the value of agricultural land. The formula considers crop prices over a three-year average, the soil type, and several other factors. Previously, the cap of the valuation rate was up or down 10 percent. The bill amended the language to lower the cap to 2 percent. After a great deal of help from Senate Finance Chairman Joey Fillingane, the bill survived negotiations and the cap was lowered to 4 percent.
At the 2017 MFBF Annual Convention, members added language to the MFBF policy book supporting legislation assuring agricultural regulation at the state level is based on sound science. During the 2018 Legislative Session, Rep. Chris Johnson and Sen. Jenifer Branning both authored legislation that eliminated duplicative regulation by prohibiting local governments from restricting agricultural operations, traditional farm practices, or forestry activity on land zoned agricultural or not zoned at all.
Further, the legislation ensured consistency by requiring that rules from the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and the Mississippi Forestry Commission have priority on ag land or unzoned land.
With the help of Speaker Philip Gunn, Mississippi House Agriculture Chairman Bill Pigott, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, and Mississippi Senate Agriculture Chairman Billy Hudson, the bill passed with resounding support. Gov. Phil Bryant also supported the measure from the beginning.
At the 2018 MFBF Annual Convention, members adopted two policies supporting electric cooperatives being granted the ability to provide broadband service. During the 2019 Legislative Session, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn authored House Bill 366, which removed the prohibition of electric cooperatives’ ability to provide broadband service.
The bill passed both ends of the Capitol with resounding support. The legislature’s approval of electric cooperatives’ ability to provide broadband to its members gives hope for the future of rural Mississippi.
During the 2018 Special Legislative Session, the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act of 2018 was passed. The Act is projected to provide $120 million to $130 million a year for infrastructure. A portion of the money will be used on county roads and bridges.
In 2016, Appropriation Chairman Buck Clarke, along with leadership from the Mississippi House, helped pass seed preemption legislation to thwart local ordinances from conflicting with state seed laws. While this has yet to happen in Mississippi, municipalities across the U.S. are passing local ordinances to prevent the use of GMO seeds. This new law is similar to the pesticide law already on the books preventing local ordinance from contradicting state law.
To find a list of 2019 General Election candidates, maps of districts and voting precincts, and registration deadlines, visit msfb.org/public-policy.