Center for America

Speaker's Resource: 9. Mississippi, p4

 

 

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Key Reference Citations (KRC)

 

Chapter 9:

Legal Reform in Mississippi

 

 

Grassroots Activism and Organization

  • Yet another key to success was effective grassroots activism by business groups and the medical community.  During the most intense times of the 2004 legislative session, the business community and the medical community were very effective in reaching out to individual legislators, and in particular, those legislators in the House of Representatives who were from conservative districts but had voted against tort reform previously or who were sitting on the fence.  This outreach did not simply happen through the traditional method of sending a lobbyist to talk to the legislators.  The most effective lobbying actually occurred when business and medical organizations coordinated so that individual doctors business people, and other citizens in the legislator’s district called immediately prior to the vote.  This type of lobbying effort by both the business and medical community was expensive, time consuming, and difficult to coordinate, but it paid off.  (KRC: WTTW, Grassroots Activism and Organization, page 20)

  • A critical component was the creation of an umbrella organization in Mississippi to coordinate the efforts of the business and medical community.  (KRC: WTTW, Grassroots Activism and Organization, page 20)

A Willingness to Really Fight

  • An essential element that cannot be overlooked is the true political willingness to really fight.  (KRC: WTTW, Grassroots Activism and Organization, page 20)

  • Fighting for an issue can strain personal relationships and can cause a legislator to lose support for bills important to his district.  (KRC: WTTW, Grassroots Activism and Organization, page 21)

  • The House leadership strategy was to deny a vote on the merits through procedural moves because they were concerned that tort reform would pass if a vote on the merits were allowed.  Such procedural moves are a normal, but usually unnoticed, part of the legislative process.  By sending bill after bill to the House, this tactic was exposed to the public and the media.  (KRC: WTTW, Grassroots Activism and Organization, page 21)

Using the Doctors as the Tip of the Spear

  • Though hotly denied by the plaintiffs bar, doctors themselves said and felt lawsuit abuse was driving their insurance rates up so high they had no choice but to quit medicine or leave Mississippi.  (KRC: WTTW, Using the Doctors as the Tip of the Spear, page 17)

  • Because healthcare is so important in people’s lives, doctors became the “tip of the spear” in the tort reform fight.  If there was a press conference, we always tried to have a number of doctors in their “white coats” there.  (KRC: WTTW, Using the Doctors as the Tip of the Spear, page 17)

  • What is also true, however, is that the medical crisis provided an opportunity to use doctors as a catalyst to jumpstart the broader issue for all Mississippians.  (KRC: WTTW, Using the Doctors as the Tip of the Spear, page 17)

Conclusion

  • Just as important, “smart” work paid off.  In Mississippi, both were necessary for success.  (KRC: WTTW, Conclusion, page 22)

  • If victory is possible in a state like Mississippi, then it surely is possible in other states.  When it does occur, the people of those states will ultimately have a fairer, more sound legal system, and the public will be the beneficiary.  (KRC: WTTW, Conclusion, page 22)

 

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Please Note:  The material presented in this Speaker's Resource has been collected from a wide variety of sources.  You are welcome to use this material for quotations and factual material in your speeches, presentations and articles.  To the best of our ability, we have provided original citations so that you can document the comments you use.  If you become aware that any of the citations or facts presented in this collection are inaccurate or outdated by newer information, please send an email to Speakers@lawexec.com to tell us so that we can update this material.  The materials cited are generally copyrighted by the original author and when you quote from their material, you should include the original attribution to acknowledge their role as authors.  Original material © 2005 American Justice Partnership.