Chamber members and lawmakers meet face to face

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Twice a year, members of the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce host a legislative briefing. One is held before the January session begins, the second after the session is over. That briefing happened Thursday morning.

The room was packed with the movers and shakers of the business world, who listened intently as lawmakers talked about what was accomplished in the last legislative session.

"I think it is a great idea to have a constant dialog between elected officials and the business community," explained Chamber CEO Kimberly Nastasi. "We have a symbiotic relationship and each of them need the other and so for us to have an open communication and for us to facilitate the forum is excellent."

The give and take helps to open some eyes, including those of State Senator Brice Wiggins.

"It allows them an opportunity to ask questions, as I find that most of my colleagues do is that when people ask questions they get a little more information than just listening to us talk," Wiggins said.

One topic of concern, the continuing insurance woes that began after Hurricane Katrina struck in 2005, and continue to this day.

"We have very little that we can do as a state to fight some of the larger insurance companies. But what we've been able to do, and what we've been successful at, is taking little small incremental steps in making the markets a little bit more efficient for the gulf coast," State Representative Scott DeLano said.

While the state lawmakers had their say, they also took the opportunity to listen to the business people who attended this conference. Many said they are tired of regulation.

Amber Olsen is a small business owner.  "It really makes it hard for small restaurants or any kind of small business to have employees," Olsen said.  "We all want to employ people, but the laws and regulations are so strict that you end up deep in paperwork and not able to keep up with the day to day business."

Their concerns were heard and may very well be addressed in the coming years.  About 150 chamber members attended Thursday's briefing.

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