Recent editorials from Mississippi newspapers:
The Sun Herald, Biloxi, Mississippi, on state needing more amenities:
The message coming out of the Southern Gaming Summit was loud and clear: to be competitive, the Coast must have more amenities and attractions to expand its appeal to visitors.
Only one-third of visitors to Las Vegas now go there to gamble, according to Gary Loveman, CEO of Caesars Entertainment. Most guests, he said, are looking for experiences.
South Mississippi may be about to accommodate Mr. Loveman in a couple of ways.
The Biloxi City Council may finally move the vision of a minor league baseball park on the coast closer to becoming a reality. Such a facility would not only serve as an attraction for sports fans, but could easily be employed to attract concertgoers as well.
Earlier this month, Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann announced the state's purchase of a large slice of Cat Island. The acquisition builds on the state's earlier purchase of almost all of Deer Island. Hosemann said he is working on making these public assets more accessible to both residents and visitors. His planning begins with Deer Island, where visitors could be ferried across the narrow waters separating it from Biloxi. At the island, a barge could be positioned with facilities for visitors. That would maintain the island's natural condition. And a barge could be moved out of harm's way in the event of a storm.
Both these enhancements happen to be connected to Biloxi, where Loveman's company could also be of considerable assistance. In 2007, Caesars Entertainment stopped construction of a casino on the beach. The shell of that project remains an eyesore on Beach Boulevard. "I think over time, the facility will be taken down," Loveman told reporters after his presentation at the gaming summit. We hope "over time" turns out to be soon.
In addition to adding to our amenities, we need to make the ones we have as attractive as possible. That certainly includes the scenery along the beach.
Enterprise-Journal, McComb, Mississippi, on tax fairness gets a victory:
The U.S. Senate has taken a big step toward leveling the playing field between Internet and brick-and-mortar retailers — and helping out strapped state treasuries to boot.
Last week, senators passed the aptly titled Marketplace Fairness Act. It requires Internet retailers doing more than $1 million in sales annually to collect state and local sales taxes based on where the shopper lives. Under present law, only Internet retailers with a physical presence in a state are required to collect sales taxes for that state.
The situation has left most Internet companies with a pricing advantage — 7 percent in Mississippi — over traditional Main Street stores. It also has cost states a lot of money — an estimated $11.4 billion last year on Internet transactions plus another $12 billion on catalog, mail-order and telephone-order sales.
For years, Internet-based businesses were largely exempt from the onus of collecting sales tax on the theory that this nascent industry needed time to develop and not be burdened with too much government regulation and bookkeeping.
That was a fallacious argument from the start. No such consideration was given to the mom-and-pop brick-and-mortar stores that open every day and have been required to collect sales taxes from Day One, except in those few states that don't have a sales tax.
It's an even worse argument now that Internet sales in the United States have grown to an estimated quarter of a trillion dollars annually and have been increasing by double-digit percentages every year.
The Internet tax has the support of most traditional retailers, including some who also do a fair amount of business online. The nation's governors, regardless of party, also have been lobbying for the change for years.
The Republican-dominated House, though, may still buck the idea. Opponents portray it as a new tax. It is not. It's just a tax that has been largely ignored.
In most states, such as Mississippi, buyers are supposed to pay use tax on purchases for which the seller did not collect a sales tax. Although businesses, which are routinely audited, are more compliant with paying the use tax on items they initially buy tax-free, individual buyers rarely do.
Having the Internet retailer charge sales tax is the only practical and fair way to collect the money and to stop the unfair pricing advantage that e-commerce presently enjoys.
The Greenwood (Miss.) Commonwealth on history lesson about Medicaid:
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant should study the record of one of his predecessors, the late John Bell Williams.
Williams, a longtime congressman who had lost an arm in World War II, was about as conservative as they come, a Democrat in name only when he defeated William Winter for governor in 1967.
Williams had been stripped of his seniority privileges by congressional Democrats for openly supporting Republican Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential race. He had opposed President
Lyndon B. Johnson's "Great Society" anti-poverty programs, including Medicaid, a health-insurance program for the poor.
Veteran Mississippi journalist Bill Minor, who covered the state Capitol for the New Orleans TimesPicayune during the Williams administration, recalls in a column how Williams changed his stance on Medicaid "after getting all the facts and finding out Medicaid's importance to the health of Mississippians, especially the poor with no health coverage."
Williams convened a special session of the Legislature in July 1969, Minor writes, "after a 23-member committee, comprised of legislative, health and lay leaders named by him, studied the impact and problems of implementing the federal-state program in Mississippi. ...
Lawmakers wrangle over funding it almost every year, and there currently is an impasse over funding as legislative Democrats, now a minority in Mississippi, want to expand it under provisions of the
Affordable Care Act. Bryant and his colleagues in the Republican leadership want to fund the existing program but are against expanding it.
This time, though, the expansion is not about covering the non-working "poorest of the poor" but the working poor who are caught in the middle of making too much to be eligible for Medicaid but not enough to afford private insurance. ...
In a state as poor and in as poor a health as Mississippi, it is unconscionable that we would continue to make Medicaid available only to the truly destitute while leaving the working poor to rely on charity care at hospital emergency rooms or to go without.
John Bell Williams would probably recognize that. At least he did when he was governor.