BILOXI, Miss. (WLOX) - City leaders from around the state are meeting at the Coast Convention Center for the annual Mississippi Municipal League (MML) Conference from June 24 until June 26.
One issue is getting a lot more attention this year. Cities want more home rule, where they can decide some issues without going to the legislature.
Thousands of elected officials from towns and cities around Mississippi are on the Coast talking about subjects impacting their residents. Mississippi, like 40 of the 50 other states must get permission from the legislature to enact a host of laws and ordinances.
“With home rule, it would allow us the opportunity to take care of business at hand when it’s needed,” said French Camp Mayor Glen Barlow.
Many towns and cities want more authority to determine their own destiny. A lot of them believe many of those matters should be decided on a local level, where officials and residents better understand local concerns.
Home Rule allows Mississippi municipalities the authority to regulate their own affairs and to adopt orders, resolutions, and ordinances. League officers and their legislative team fight hard at the Capitol each year to encourage the Mississippi Legislature not to pass laws that preempt local authority.
“We see our constituents everyday. We see them at church, in the grocery store and at restaurants. We know what’s best, and we get their feedback. I think it’s better to let us control what happens on the ground there,” said Tunica Mayor Chuck Cariker.
For example, Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes says some legislators think the state should determine laws governing short-term rentals in the state. It’s a hot issue on the Coast, and city leaders believe key decisions should be made on the local level.
“There are a lot of moving parts. There is a mindset that maybe we do a blanket policy on the state level and make it apply to every city. On that particular matter, every city is not the same, and the demands and needs are different. That decision is best left to the local community to decide what’s best for them,” said Mayor Hewes.
Hewes will become the new president of the MML this week.