Voice of the people: Casey Mercier




State laws discourage women from running


Speaker Gunn and the legislature are wagering some bets against the women of Mississippi and the current and future retirees of the state of Mississippi. They are betting that they can continue to keep women out of the Capitol, knowing that women make up the majority of state educators who must give up their pension to serve in the legislature. They are betting that you don't know or care that Mississippi ranks last in the United States in women represented in the state houses at just 13 percent.


They are betting they can keep the over 100,000 state retirees from serving. A group that includes qualified engineers, law enforcement personnel, professors, coaches, teachers, accountants and the many other personnel who have spent their careers working for the state of Mississippi.



They are betting on keeping current state employees from serving once they retire. They are betting they can keep women and state retirees from serving by claiming that the law doesn't allow for it because you would be "double dipping" the system. They are betting you won't care that they themselves "double dip" with two retirement systems. You probably know that Mississippi's legislators are members of PERS. But did you know that they also are provided an additional retirement plan known as the Supplemental Legislative Retirement Plan (SLRP) giving them a retirement that is 1.5 times higher than the retirement of a state employee? SLRP was established in 1989 to provide supplemental benefits, in addition to PERS benefits, to all members of the Mississippi Legislature and the Lieutenant Governor. They are betting you will overlook the fact that the Attorney General has given an opinion that allows retirees to serve and collect their pension. They are betting you don't know or care that there were two bills, HB 601 and HB 604 that were killed, that would have fixed this situation and allowed more women and retirees to serve. They are betting they will continue to rule by exclusion and not by ideas.


The biggest bet they are wagering however is that you won't do anything about it. They are betting that you will make a little fuss now but will forget about it soon enough.


Let's put an end to the madness in the Capitol.


There is no reasonable excuse why an educator and state retiree, who is allowed by law to work at any other state agency part-time for part-pay, should not be allowed to serve in the Mississippi legislature and collect their hard-earned retirement income.


If we stick together and become proactive we can fix this together. The phone number to the Capitol is 601 359-3770.


Casey Mercier






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