House Speaker Tours State

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To rev up Mississippians, House Speaker Philip Gunn is literally putting the wheels in motion with stops in nine cities, bringing lawmakers to the people.

Gunn is traveling the state in an RV, he says, to make sure voices are heard. The state tour will be in Meridian Tuesday 5 p.m. to 6:15 p.m. at city hall, third floor.

Gunn's ideas tour will cover the entire state by the end of the week with stops in Greenwood, Hernando, Tupelo, Columbus, Hattiesburg, Biloxi and Brookhaven, as well as Meridian.

"At least one of the cities is within an hour's drive of everybody," said Gunn.

It's part of his ideas tour known as Mississippi Solutions. Gunn and other lawmakers listened as folks lined up to speak their minds about what they want to see happen in Mississippi's future.

"I would like to see the retirement age increased," said Nancy Bramlett, attending the first stop Monday at the state capitol.

"Sadly, affordable housing is out of reach for too many Mississippians," said Cindy Griffin, executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Jackson.

"An overall majority of Mississippians want immigration reform on the state level," said Rodney Hunt of the Mississippi federation for immigration Reform and Enforcement.

Topics and ideas ranged from Medicaid expansion and charter schools to a statewide smoking ban and a wine tax to fund alcohol dependency programs.

"Here in the state of Mississippi we spend a lot of money on corrections, health, rehabilitation and mental health," said attendee Charlie Brenner.

From one idea and concern to the next, Gunn says it opens a dialog that too often gets lost when lawmakers are busy at the capitol.

"This is not political speaking. This is not for the politicians to tell them what they think or what they're trying to accomplish," Gunn said. "It's to hear from the people. What are your ideas on how to improve Mississippi?"

Once the tour wraps up Friday, Gunn says all the ideas will be taken into consideration and some just may become the foundation for new legislation.

"It's going to be interesting when we conclude the tour to find out what the common theme may be," said Gunn.