BRIAN PERRY/Unanswered 42 questions

A majority of Mississippians are conservative, religious and pro-life. But four years ago, voters rejected the Personhood Amendment, in large part due to confusion over what it would do to the Mississippi Constitution. Voters feared it would have limited fertility treatment options or even birth control. A lot of pro-life voters rejected Personhood because of perceived unintended consequences.

Likewise, Mississippians support education. Many parents and educators were told Initiative 42 would improve schools by increasing funding without raising taxes. Who could oppose better schools? But now voters are growing concerned over perceived unintended consequences, or unanticipated consequences, of this proposed constitutional amendment that doesn’t even mention funding in its language.

Currently, Mississippi’s Constitution requires the legislature to, through the legislative process, “provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of free public schools upon such conditions and limitations as the Legislature may prescribe.”

Initiative 42 changes that language by creating a “fundamental right to educational opportunity” for each child; removing all language dealing with the legislature, legislative process or conditions prescribed by the legislature; and adds a provision giving chancery courts “the power to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief.” It doesn’t mention funding.

Madison County Journal
10/28/15