Gulf Coast Business Council Ready To Lobby For New Session

Members of the Gulf Coast Business Council say they want to make sure lawmakers don't overlook the issues important to South Mississippi. On Wednesday, the group will meet with the new State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney in the morning, and then other lawmakers that night at the coast's annual legislative reception.

Last session, the Gulf Coast Business Council made insurance reform the center of its efforts. This year insurance relief is still near the top of the wish list, but it's not the only thing the council plans to push.

Reforms and improvements in the state wind pool have given many coast home and business owners a break on rising insurance premiums. The Gulf Coast Business Council pushed hard for that reform.

Ron Peresich co-chairs the legislative and government committee.

"There is still more to be done. One of the things we want to do this year is pretty expansive, really. We want to try to organize a group of coastal states, not just Mississippi, to get together and see if we can't come up with a common proposal, not only to the governmental entities, but also to the insurance industry."

This session, the Business Council will also focus rebuilding the coast economy. One goal is to convince lawmakers they made a mistake by leaving casinos out of a tourism tax incentive passed last year to build more amusement parks and golf courses.

Another goal, helping employers find workers. The council will lobby for tax-free grants to pay the moving expenses of people who move here for jobs.

"We still have a shortage. And people are moving back into the area, but not at a fast enough pace for us," said Peresich. "This is an opportunity to give them some incentive to come back and entice them to get here and help us with the recovery."

Peresich says he doesn't expect the Mississippi Gulf Coast to get everything it wants this legislative session, but he says it doesn't hurt to ask and it helps to get as much support in Jackson as possible.

"Legislators are like everybody else," Peresich said. "They'll listen to people that they have some respect for and that they have a history with, people who they know won't mislead them. And people they know have their heart in the right place and are trying to do the right things for the right reasons."

The Gulf Coast Business Council says the coast delegation will sponsor the bills. It hasn't been determined in which house the legislation will be introduced.