BY: Steve Wilson |

There were some bills during the annual session that expanded personal liberty — such as “Right to Try” and the Special Needs bill, which provides tuition and books for parents of children with special needs. There was the popular end to the pesky $5 inspection stickers for cars and trucks. Some reforms of the state contracting process and pro-gun rights legislation were signed by Gov. Phil Bryant.

But the biggest news was something that didn’t happen: a tax cut. Leaders of both chambers promised a tax cut, with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves unveiling a plan that would’ve scrapped the state’s onerous corporate franchise tax and House Speaker Philip Gunn proposing phasing out the state’s income tax by 2030. The two plans were miles apart and a compromise died with little resistance by Gunn in the House. While the GOP has tried to pin the tail on the donkey in an election year, the two chambers failed to come together on tax reform and come up with plan that would’ve satisfied both sides.

The strong bipartisan support beind “Right to Try” gives terminally ill patients in the state and their doctors the ability to use experimental medication that’s passed one stage of the Food and Drug Administration’s decade-long approval process.

“There’s an FDA process that’s out there that’s not working to do this,” said Jameson Taylor, vice president for policy at the nonprofit, pro-limited government Mississippi Center for Public Policy. “It’s an example of a broken federal process. What’s exciting is the states are reaching back and saying ‘this isn’t working for us and we think there’s a better way for us.’ This is one example of pushing back against a a broken federal process.”Photo illustration by Steve Wilson

The state’s $5 inspection sticker was the Freddy Krueger of Mississippi politics. No matter how many times the Legislature tried to kill the extremely unpopular program, something always intervened to keep it alive over the past decade. The inspection is rudimentary at best with a test of the horn, turn signals and brake lights. Come July 1, it’ll be history.Bipartisan support wasn’t entirely the case with the Special Needs bill, which gives parents of children of special needs the funding to seek a private program that serves their child’s needs better. The program also funds books and other educational materials. The state’s pro-public school groups helped defeat the bill in 2014, but couldn’t stop the legislation from making it to Bryant’s desk for signature this year.

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