Senators meeting with residents to discuss issuesPublished 12:09am Tuesday, September 17, 2013
NATCHEZ — Sen. Melanie Sojourner and a group of state senators will attend a town hall meeting today to get feedback from local residents on what they want to see in the upcoming legislative session.
The Mississippi Senate Conservative Coalition — a group of 11 Republican senators — met with political, business and education leaders from Madison, Rankin and Hinds counties nearly two weeks ago and has another series of meetings planned for Desoto County later this year.
The Natchez-Adams County Chamber of Commerce is hosting the town hall meeting from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. at the Natchez Convention Center.
Sojourner said she and members of the coalition will have an open-policy discussion and answer questions about goals and legislation that could be introduced in the upcoming session.
“This is a chance for us to get around the state and share with people as senators what are some of the primary things we’ve been working on,” Sojourner, R-Natchez, said. “But more importantly, this is an opportunity to get feedback from the local community on what their needs are and what they want us to focus on.
“We want to know what their priorities are as we plan for the beginning of the session, so we can prepare legislation to address their needs.”
Sojourner said issues brought up at previous meetings included education reform including the Common Core State Standards and health care initiatives including Medicaid expansion and the Affordable Care Act.
“We’re getting a lot of questions revolved around the Common Core State Standards — what do they mean for our school systems and what are going to be the adjustments to meet some local needs?” Sojourner said. “We’re also talking to several groups who helped drive Medicaid reform bills in Florida and Oklahoma that have seen success.”
Sojourner said meeting with constituents and residents across the state has given her an insight into what issues she needs to push forward this session.
“To me, this is the greatest part of what we do,” she said. “Most people think we work from January to April and we go home, but the reality is that it’s the other months that are the most critical time for legislators who serve and want to serve the people.
“We can go to Jackson and sit in meetings all day, but I don’t think we do great work until we get out and meet with the people that are the backbone of this state.”
Apart from the town hall meeting, Sojourner said the group would also meet with local business leaders as well as the Natchez Young Professionals group.