This year, Mississippi is voting on a constitutional initiative to legalize medical marijuana. It seems like there’s been a different initiative on every ballot for the last 10 years, and I have a few issues with it. Until 2009, there were 27 proposed initiatives, and since then there have been 45 more. Mississippians are slinging them around like hash at the Waffle House on important issues like abortion, changing the state flag to remove the rebel flag from the top corner, cutting the size of the state legislature, reinstating Colonel Reb as the Ole Miss mascot, and putting the rebel flag back into the Mississippi state flag after the legislature finally removed it earlier this year.

And, why shouldn’t they? The process is simple. You submit your initiative idea to the Secretary of State, and then get the Attorney General’s office to help you with the wording and to insure you’re not trying to do something illegal like outlaw college football. Once you’ve done that, you have one year from the date it is approved to gather a little over 100,000 verified signatures of registered voters with a minimum of 1/5 of the required total coming from each of the five former congressional districts in the state. (We’ve had four for about 20 years now, though.) If you can do that, then they’re submitted to the Secretary of State whose office verifies the verified signatures before sending it to the legislature to give them the opportunity to draft a competing amendment so the voters will have a complex cube of voting options on the ballot when it’s presented to the voters at the next general election. Finally, to get passed, 40% of the total number of voters in that election must vote on the amendment before the results will be valid. Simple. Right?

I have a couple issues with the process. One is that we’re trying to put mostly piss-ant ideas into the state CONSTITUTION. You know, the document that serves as the basis for our system of government. Why in the cat hair should Colonel Reb be a part of the constitution? A vast majority of these things should be codified in state statutes if not immediately thrown in the trash for being ridiculous. If it’s a law, it’s much easier to be modified as times, situations, and public sentiment change as opposed to doing another constitutional amendment to make it happen.

But, why are people submitting so many more initiatives lately? My opinion is that it’s in response to a lack of representation in the legislature. No, it’s not a taxation without representation deal. It’s a lobbyist/donor vs voter representation deal. People feel like their representatives aren’t paying as much attention to them because they don’t have enough money to buy the elected officials’ time or vote. So, in order to make action happen, they pull out the nuclear submarine to kill the squirrel. (I need to be clear, that there are some very fine, hardworking men and women in the legislature, along with those who are less than.)

Anybody who knows me well enough to have heard me go down my political rabbit hole knows that I think the only way to fix government is to fix campaign finance and lobbying. Make it where the Baptists or Budweiser or utility contractors can’t buy more political speech than I can. Let lobbyists be providers of information on their areas of expertise to our representatives instead of providers of whiskey and football tickets. Let it be a government by the people and for the people instead of one by the people for the money.

1 Comment on “What’s the problem?

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