Amendments Stir Questions

Proposed constitutional amendments are provoking unexpected, hard questions.

“Initiative #27 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to require voters to submit a government issued photo identification before being allowed to vote; provides that any voter lacking government issued photo identification may obtain photo identification without charge from the Mississippi Department of Public Safety; and exempts certain residents of state-licensed care facilities and religious objectors from being required to show photo identification in order to vote.”

One conservative, “tea party” questioner feels conflicted.

“I’m tired of Big Government intrusion in our lives,” he said. “I want less government and less intrusion.” He said he agrees with Ron Paul that a national government ID would be threat to our liberty, property, and privacy.

So, why should a state issued government ID be considered okay, he asked? Isn’t that still big, intrusive government?

David Waide and the Mississippi Farm Bureau want to close the door on eminent domain for economic development, a move Governor Haley Barbour said “would be a major impediment to Mississippi’s job creation efforts.” So, after failing to get legislation approved over the Governor’s veto, Waide and company are pushing for a constitutional amendment.

“Initiative #31 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to prohibit state and local government from taking private property by eminent domain and then conveying it to other persons or private businesses for a period of ten years after acquisition. Exceptions from the prohibition include drainage and levee facilities, roads, bridges, ports, airports, common carriers, and utilities. The prohibition would not apply in certain situations, including public nuisance, structures unfit for human habitation, or abandoned property.”

A former local official questions this approach. “I agree with the Governor that this would hurt economic development,” he said. At the same time, he thinks eminent domain can be abused by local officials who just want to increase tax revenues.

“Why can’t there be a reasonable compromise?” he asked.

Then there’s the “personhood” amendment.

“Initiative #26 would amend the Mississippi Constitution to define the word ‘person’ or ‘persons’, as those terms are used in Article III of the state constitution, to include every human being from the moment of fertilization, cloning, or the functional equivalent thereof.”

A reformed church Christian has real concerns about the cloning part. He understands that proponents seek to criminalize the disposal of cloned cells used in stem cell research. He opposes anything that might legalize cloning.

“I feel like I’m being asked to embrace Satan to fight sin,” he said.

He wants to know why a straight-forward constitutional amendment to outlaw the cloning of human cells won’t work.

Most intriguing answer I’ve heard so far: “In Mississippi, things only have to make political sense.”

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