Capitol Idea: Tort Reform

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Gov. Ronnie Musgrove's decision to tie his once-failed prison bill to the fate of the upcoming special session on tort reform is one that is self-serving in the extreme.

Rather than have the Legislature deal with the tort reform issue in a straightforward manner, Musgrove has crafted the session such that lawmakers can't even consider tort reform until this pass his private prison funding bill. The Legislature rejected that bill in the last recent special session weeks ago.

The Legislature is not without fault in this mess. Musgrove negotiated a better contract with the private prisons than did the Legislature, which was trying to run the prisons from the Appropriations Committee rather than allowing the Department of Corrections to do their job. They should have passed the bill, but Musgrove is engaging in political blackmail over tort reform and may well end up on the short end of the stick in this showdown.

If so, Mississippians who want and need tort reform will see yet another roadblock in their path. It might be cynical to remind Mississippi voters that Musgrove received almost $400,000 in campaign contributions from the trial lawyers in 2001, but it's a fact.

Musgrove talks a good game on tort reform, but he's still placing barriers that keep your legislators from voting on it.