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Business group grades area legislators


Sarah Fowler



Three state legislators from the Golden Triangle have been an awarded "A" gradings by the Business and Industry Political Education Committee. 


Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, and Sen. Terry Brown, R-Columbus, received the rating from the BIPEC for the way they voted on bills in the 2014 legislative session. BIPEC's website said the organization's performance evaluation is a measuring stick used to determine each legislator's business philosophy, attitude and effectiveness in supporting growth of jobs in Mississippi. 


Rep. Esther Harrison, D-Columbus, and Rep. Tyrone Ellis, D-Starkville, received a "D" rating from the group. 


More than 50 business and professional leaders participate in the rating process, according to the BIPEC website. Factors include a legislator's votes on clearly identified economic principles and employer issues, leadership in committee and floor debates on job-related issues and encouragement of other legislators to support economic growth and build coalitions, according to the website. 


Chism feels his rating is due to his business background. Chism has been co-owner of Columbus Insurance Services since 1978. 


"Since I'm a businessman, since I'm in business, it's not hard for me to know what a pro-business vote is in Jackson," he said. "In other words, I know the issues that each small business owner faces so when bills come up that are pro-business, I vote yes." 


By voting pro-business, Chism said he feels he is helping the people of Mississippi. 


"Small business makes up 85 percent of the jobs in this state and we need to make Mississippi more business friendly to small business," he said. "Every pro-business vote does that."


Sarah Fowler covered crime, education and community related events for The Dispatch.



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