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▣ My Legislative Priorities

posted by admin on June 21st, 2008 at 8:03 AM (MST)

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When the people of Mississippi send me to Washington on November 4, 2008, I will endeavor to push for three legislative items that will be beneficial to our state and to the nation. I believe these three legislative priorities will give people the real sense that their government, specifically their Congress, is truly working for their best interest.

Priority One: Eliminating the income tax on overtime pay.
This is a crusade I have fought for during my tenure as a state legislator, especially after Hurricane Katrina hit the Gulf Coast. Many people here in Mississippi work overtime, as well as an extra job, to make ends meet. However, many workers don't have anything to show for it after taxes are taken out from their check. In order to alleviate that burden placed on them for seeking a little extra, the Federal Government must end the taxation of overtime pay as if it were regular income.

Eliminating the tax on overtime pay will do more than any economic stimulus rebate could. More money would circulate in the economy, work places will be more productive, and then, I believe, many of the states will follow suit that have an income tax, giving working people a real tax break that they could benefit from immediately.

Priority Two: The Commercial Property Re-Investment Act.
How many of you have been through communities and downtown areas and seen abondoned properties? Main Streets that were once the hubs of commerce now littered with empty shells.

In the current economic crisis we are in, businesses still need capital to expand and create more jobs, but loans for expansion are becoming harder to obtain. My goal is to create a program where every state is given a pool of money to allow small businesses, and even non-profits, to buy commercial properties, restore them, and use them to revitilize hard-hit communities. This will not be a loan program. It would be the Federal Government supporting the small businesses that hire the majority of the workforce (80 percent in Mississippi)and, at the same time, re-investing in some of the country's hardest-hit communities, without increasing taxes.

You might ask where will the money come from? Let's just say that if we stop spending $12 billion a month in a military action that needs to come to an end, the issue of funding will not be a problem. My proposal will be for three years. By then, the funds generated by the new jobs created will show dividends not only nationally, but at the state and local level as well.

Priority Three: Placing more funding emphasis on public transportation.
As we brace ourselves for the now-more-than-real possibility of $5 a gallon gasoline, we must place focus on re-investing in current mass transit systems and greater emphasis to create viable systems in places, like Mississippi, that do not have mass transit operations.

When people don't have to depend on cars to get to work, to do grocery shopping or go to the doctor, it eases a tremendous financial burden on them and it contributes to a cleaner environment for them to live in. It will contribute in many factors from less congestion and infrastructure repair on our interstates to lowering the rates on asthma-related incidents, which is the number one health reason for absences in our public schools.

I will seek diligently to serve on the Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee in the U.S. Senate so that I can place my main legislative emphasis on addressing this issue, because I firmly believe that in the poorest state in the union, its citizens should not be forced to have a car note in order to survive and get where they need to be. I served eight years on the Transportation Committee of the Mississippi House of Representatives, and those that served with me know that public transportation has always been my passion.

Those will be my priorities as a U.S. Senator, even as I would have to make educated decisions about all matters that come before that body. If given the opportunity, I will work tirelessly to make these priorities real public policy to enhance my great state and the nation I hold dear to my heart.

Comments

The Revd. oonagh Ryan-King says:

my dream is to see MS as THE "green state" in the nation. my first question has always been: why can't we have commuter rail service? (i mean it works to Philadelphia & the Choctaw Nation!) trains still run through MS; what would it take to make all the little and larger towns, once again, connected by rail? just looking at a map, rails appear better than BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit, CA); commuter trains still connect the NE--NYC, etc. i would THINK the process would also increase jobs. i realise trains, as they are, are far from those in Europe and, especially, Japan, but it beats the parking lots of commuter traffic back & forth to the JXN Metro area.

we just returned from 3 years in Panama, the Republic. while this is one of those magical rainforest places holding up the world, it is a VERY poor country but their buses and taxis go EVERYWHERE & for expats, the cost is dirt cheap. for "real people," however, the cost is often out of sight, as the cost of living in Panama TRIPLED in the past year (building, construction, more and more expats & gringoas retiring, building, buying, & driving SUV's. a poor family in Panama these days is finding it almost impossible to afford rice. sorry, i digress.) it would SEEM that reliable, frequent, commuter buses could run the Lakeland parking lot in & around JXN, particularly at peak commute times. we could have ALL GREEN & HYBRID & ELECTRIC taxis, depending upon how far one is going. at least put evil Wal-Mart to some good use--bus terminals or covered seats in their parking lots! can we not IMMEDIATELY "create" a car pool lane for 3 people or more? if one has a 2-seater car, then 2 people could use the car pool lane, as would motorcycle drivers? could not people who PROVE they use the car pool lanes be tax-reimbursed somehow? and when green cabs & buses or trolleys arrive, commuters would get benefits from using them? ditto with hybrid vehicles, even if they are used vehicles. ditto motorcycles, bicyclists.

if MS could market itself as THE GREEN STATE, then we would INSIST that ALL new businesses coming to our area be green. there is soo much innovation in the recycling & recycled paper/plastic/rubber etc that make incredibly green construction materials like insulation, solar, the use of rain water to heat homes & water yards? because we are MS, people using the "new stuff" would get great benefits/tax breaks from building & buying green? as would the green factories making the stuff? i understand Prius is coming to N MS? any chance of INSISTING that NISSAN add a green car to their existing plant? and the folks who are designing & building electric & other alternative bicycles or the combination car/motorcycle vehicles could build, live, & create here instead of very costly CA? (no offense; CA is our 2nd home & the location of all of our adopted family).

many say, "well, it's still the 'good ole boy' system & that's never going to change"... i beg to differ. there are people here with VISION--the late Sambo Mockbee, for example, of Auburn's School of Architecture RURAL STUDIO. Why can we not be a part of that? Why can't HABITAT homes now ALL be green?

Why aren't we attempting to eliminate the evils of the MS Chemicals of our state? Why aren't we INSISTING that there be organic farming--crops, cattle, goats, sheep, chickens, etc. We could, then, eliminate the OTHER huge MS evil, Tyson and its ilk? While honeybees are disappearing like mad, it seems there are a good number of bee-keepers here; why aren't we increasing bees & marketing our products? NO Monsanto evil seed should be allowed in this state. we could raise all sorts of alternative crops for paper, clothing/fabric, knitting and weaving goods. the seedman.com sells all sorts of super seeds that are good for the environment, water, air, non-humans, and people.

back to rail: buses and bicycles and green by-the-hour car rentals and car pools and green vans would run from train depots. see:
http://www.zipcar.com/

yes, there are more & more organic products here in MS than there were five years ago, but too many are being imported when this rich, wonderful earth continues to be polluted by an evil agribusiness.

all those abandoned lots all over JXN and in other poorer (and more affluent) areas could become organic community gardens. folks could even raise chickens and turkeys--forgetting Avian flu for a minute.
http://www.organicconsumers.org/foodsafety/fresh071604.cfm

http://news.ncmonline.com/news/view_article.html?article_id=aa75b587a95eb1cfda95eb2afd602d3e&from=rss

http://www.californiasolarcenter.org/solareclips/2003.09/20030930-2.html

there could be organic groceries in poor neighborhoods. (oakland CA is not unlike chicago in that so many folks are from MS).... The Peoples' Grocery is a prime example.

We could begin organic agriculture, permaculture, water recycling systems (even if they are like old wooden cisterns), composting toilet companies that actually build these. i mean one can even build a composting "outhouse." I know; we built one in Panama. i'd gladly use a "green outhouse" vs making one flush in the First World take away water for one to two people in a 24 hour period in a Third World. When I return to the family land in MS, we still catch rainwater to water the garden and I still have an old metal washtub that gets filled with rainwater, then sits in the sun for my warm evening bath. (we need to remind ALL of us here in MS and the US to ALWAYS close our eyes when bathing/showering if we wear contact lens; Katrina and the atrocious tsunami has really fecked up ALL the world's water) Are we teaching people to boil and bleach non-filtered water? And why not?

wouldn't organic gardening and permaculuture, etc benefit Piney Woods School and EVERY educational program from HeadStart to Millsaps? why couldn't we include green in our community college and university curriculums? ALL green production would be a HUGE part of vocational education here. our hospitals, etc could be solar; one of Panama's hospitals is solar. and there are enough abandoned rubber tires in MS that can be recycled into all sorts of fabulous building materials. if we stopped cutting down trees for endless rows of white-flighted ticky-tacky, bunny-warrened subdivisions, more children could have more tire swings!

and another thing, have we not learned by now that JXN is NOT a mall-town??? JXN Mall didn't work; MetroCenter's not working; NorthPark is cratering. We no longer look like MS; we look like the rest of the world. What a sin! If this were CA, we'd have taken this glorious natural beauty & made a super green & glorious tourist industry and the Trace would be the equivalent of HWY 1....

we'd have NO more hideously ugly strip malls.

we'd get over our racist, fearful selves and revitalise one of THE most beautiful downtown areas in the world!

ALL buildings would be multi-functional. For instance, mega churches used only 1 to 5 hours a week. We'd at least be housing & feeding homeless folks in our parish halls and/or in/on our pews. AND, for God's sakes, how can a church even consider being non-green in this day and time?

my dream? an art museum not unlike Houston's Rothko Chapel--combination gorgeous personalised with glass doors in the niches columbarium (like the Neptune Society's famous Columbarium in San Francisco)--combination interfaith sacred space---the literal walls would be the columbarium--all green of course. the acoustics and architecture would be gorgeous. and all sorts of art forms would be celebrated and enjoyed--from african drumming to irish drumming and dancing, from the Whirling Dervishes to Choctaw dance & music--to Lavay Smith and Her Red Hot Skillet Lickers to all our great blues and jazz folks performing there...to local talent to famous talent. and the acoustics would be perfect for chamber music, too, like the SF Columbarium. there would be space for great art--we need to find an equivalent of a Mark Rothko--but we could also quilt history--from warmth and design to the Underground Railroad... in this sacred space, all the furniture would move; there would be a labyrinth on the floor (good for the development systems of children's brainis); and ALL sorts of small communities could share this sacred space--from Quakers to Buddhists to Starhawk's Spiral Dance to the Whirling Dervishes to Harlem Dance to Twyla Tharp to Aaron Neville and his siblings to social justice hip-hop and poetry jams to the Vagina Monologues to the AIDS quilt to Keith Haring to recreations of Hildegard's music and opera. we could bring traveling Irish art and a part of Riverdance--or whoever's popular in that venue these days. Irish dancing, Morris dancing, highland flings, a display of sheela-na-gigs to Choctaw baskets and Navajo weaving and Gorman lithographs to NW aboriginal art to an invitation to Dr. Chung Hyun Kyung's reintroducing the powerful prayer and dance from the 1991 World Council of Churches. We'd invite Huston Smith & Pastor J Alfred Smith Sr. We'd retell the stories of MLK (and get off the dream speech and get on with his serious social justice) and the Black Panthers. Alice Walker would come; so would Anne Lamott and YoYo Ma. Sweet Honey in the Rock would sing for us, and the Orthodox would chant Vespers for us & aboriginal Peruvians would play their flutes.

The Columbarium would be open for prayer and solitude 24 hours a day.

We'd serve MS food--we'd learn how to grind cornmeal ourselves & make our own buttermilk and have REAL, MS-raised organic cornbread. We'd drink sassafras tea and chew sweet gum. Grain and perfect biscuits would be slathered with homemade organic butter and organic, picked from the woods huckleberry and wild plum jelly and jam. High tea would be served with chamber music 5 days a week, unless we were being introducted to the sacred Tea Ceremoney-with appropriate music.

We'd have a yearly film series. We'd celebrate PRIDE here and the parade would begin and end at the Columbarium/Church-Sacred Space-Syngagogue-Quaker Meeting-Buddhist chanting place/art museum and place for the performing arts. The St Patrick's Day parade would also begin and end here; and we'd celebrate the Feast of Brigid's Fire. Panels of the AIDS quilt would always hang there.

The Blue Souler Planet would be healthier because of a Green, non-toxic MS. And we'd be THE place for people with Multiple Chemical Sensitivity to live and thrive!

We'd maintain wilderness and replant indigenous trees, plants, shrubs, fruits....

oonagh+

The Revd. oonagh Ryan-King
The Inclusive Celtic Church

We could build it so solstice light would shine and show in a special way. The new and full moons would show thru the moon and star (green) roof.

There ARE visionaries here; there ARE people who care;

the OTHER "easy" thing to do when we create a car pool lane would be to INSIST that ALL garbage bags be the recycled kind. canada's already done it.

July 17th, 2008 at 4:38 PM (MST)

Chris Stimpson says:

Dear Mr. Fleming:

I am preparing information for the user base of Solar Nation* on upcoming US Senate election races.

Could you provide me with information on your position on energy and environmental issues?
I am specifically interested in:

1. Your position on government financial support for renewable energy development and use
2. Your sense of priorities between nuclear, clean coal, and renewable (wind, solar, geothermal, etc.) energy development
3. Your feelings about opening new areas for oil drilling offshore and in environmentally sensitive areas

Chris Stimpson
Solar Nation Executive Campaigner
chris@solar-nation.org
www.solar-nation.org
603-925-1004
603-589-2080 (universal)

*Solar Nation is a countrywide grass roots advocacy organization working to support the use of solar power in our energy future. It has 30,000 members spread throughout the country.

July 8th, 2008 at 3:57 PM (MST)

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