Don’t expect any quick compromise

Published 12:00 am Monday, May 31, 2004

Cost of the first day of a special session? $49,336. Cost of each subsequent day? $33,915.

Cost of not having tort reform in Mississippi? So high we can’t calculate the impact on businesses and medical professionals.

State lawmakers go to Jackson today to begin a special session on civil justice reform, their second in two years. They will also be discussing voter identification.

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Key lawmakers are already predicting a long special session reminiscent of the contentious session in fall 2002.

Here’s where lawmakers stood on Monday: The Republican Senate judiciary chairman was adamantly for a bill that sets a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages for things such as pain and suffering.

The Democratic House judiciary chairman was adamantly against such a bill and refused to change his mind.

That kind of deadlock, while not surprising, is indicative of the kind of disagreements that hold our state back from progress.

While we stand firm in our support of tort reform, we also know that such unwillingness to compromise &045; on either side &045; isn’t going to get us anywhere.

Democrat Ed Blackmon is the judiciary chairman so firmly against reform, but many of his colleagues in the House do support measures that would give relief to small business owners and physicians who struggle against frivolous lawsuits. As a committee leader, Blackmon has a great responsibility toward his colleagues’ opinions &045; and the best interest of the state &045; not just to his own deeply held convictions.

We’re not expecting a short session, but we are hoping for the right outcome that will benefit Mississippi.