One lawmaker's view of 2011 legislative session

BAY ST. LOUIS, MS (WLOX) - By David Elliott – bio | email

JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Tuesday, January 4, lawmakers from around the state will convene in Jackson for the 2011 legislative session. Plenty is on the line going into the new year.

State Senator David Baria says to listen for one familiar tune.

"The budget will be the upper most priority," Baria said. "It's another year with revenue down, based on where we were in 05', 06' and 07'.

Senator Baria and his colleagues see continuing revenue shortfalls forcing legislators to seize control of spending. According to Baria, "Every area of the state government is going to be cut. It's a matter of prioritizing what should be cut more and what should be cut less."

A big issue facing the coast in 2011 is redistricting. The 2010 census revealed a loss of population along the coast, due primarily to Hurricane Katrina. That will mean a loss of representation at the capitol.

"It looks like there is a chance we could lose one or two seats in the Mississippi Senate in the six southern counties, and they'll go the Rankin County area and Desoto County. When you lose seats, you lose clout in the legislature, and that's not a good thing for the Mississippi Coast."

Evidence is everywhere. The availability and cost of insurance is suppressing development and redevelopment in South Mississippi.

The Senate Insurance Committee has a track record of killing Baria's insurance reform proposals. But he said one in particular should, and must, be passed.

"The Unfair Claims Practices Act has been passed in 48 states. Two states have not adopted it, Mississippi and Alabama."

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