Look! Squirrel! Lawmakers tackle divisive social issues

It’s become something of a tradition for the Mississippi Legislature — which convenes Tuesday for its 2017 session — to have at least one humdinger of a bill that gets the collective knickers of lawmakers and the commonwealth all in a twist and draws national attention of the “What the heck?” variety….

…Most such legislation is probably a bit of all of the above. And, it appears to be part of the legislative condition. One person’s ridiculous or unneeded legislation is another’s top priority.

Mississippi’s Legislature isn’t alone in coming up with weird, divisive or socially or religiously charged proposals. We just seem to be better at it than most. And, given our history and the perception of us by others, we seem to get more national attention and criticism for it. “Saturday Night Live” once described Mississippi’s Legislature as “30 hissing possums in a barn” in response to some bizarre pending legislation. PR like that is, again, priceless. Possum dolls still occasionally show up on the House or Senate floors….

…A couple of well-placed sources have told me that legislative, religious and other leaders have met and vowed to avoid such a barn burner this year, or as one put it, “They said we’re not going to fight the culture wars this session.”

Clarion Ledger
1/1/17