From the Continental Army’s Siege of Yorktown to the Freedom Riders’ arrival at the Greyhound bus station in Birmingham, Alabama, the South has been America’s proving ground. This is where competing visions of America’s destiny have met and been tested.
Today, the South is once again the battleground where the fight for a “more perfect union” is taking place.
Last week, we brought you an update from the American West, where conservative leaders are making important progress that is going unreported by the national media.
This week, we turn our attention to Texas, Mississippi, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, and North Carolina.
There, we find pro-jobs, pro-freedom, and pro-American governors and state legislators who are standing up to arbitrary regulations, cutting taxes, and lifting their people from dependence, unemployment, and poverty to independence, jobs, and prosperity.
From the Tidewater to the Mississippi River delta, it’s where pro-liberty newsmakers drive the agenda.
Here is the good news from the American South.
In Florida, the legislature is considering a bill that would increase unemployment benefits even further, from $275 per week to $375. But Governor Ron DeSantis has thrown cold water on the idea. In a press conference, DeSantis unambiguously affirmed his opposition to the bill. When asked, he said directly, “Look, no. I think we’re getting people back to work.”
It’s good to see a Governor who knows the solution to unemployment is not more handouts but more paychecks.
In Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed SB 153, which waives the initial filing fees, permit fees, and licensing fees for new businesses for low-income Arkansans. The bill explains that “families trying to break the cycle of government dependency should not have to pay the state to earn a living.”
Even left-leaning news outlets like the New York Times and left-leaning think tanks like the Brookings Institution have published work explaining how the decline in new business start-ups drags down America’s economy. The COVID-19 pandemic seems to have sparked a small but measurable comeback for new business formation across the world. But economists still worry that this represents an anomaly in an otherwise consistent decline in new businesses, which historically drive innovation and job creation.
Arkansas’ bill is designed to kill two birds with one stone—helping families escape poverty while boosting economic activity at the same time.
In Kentucky, the legislature has provided businesses with liability protection from COVID-related lawsuits. In the interest of fully reopening the economy as quickly as possible, SB 5 shields businesses from lawsuits in which it’s claimed that someone contracted the COVID virus while at the business.
Despite a few objections that cases deserve to be judged individually in court, the legislature passed the bill overwhelmingly, 70-27. As Representative Chad McCoy explained, the bill was an attempt to let small businesses feel that the legislature “had their back” and could reopen with confidence.
In Mississippi, Governor Tate Reeves signed a bill to allow home delivery of alcohol from in-state retailers, including beer, wine, and liquor deliveries. Residents and drivers will still need to present identification that proves their legal drinking age. Mississippi is one of many states that is clearing the books of old regulations to allow for new ways of doing business, including when it comes to getting residents the refreshments of their choice in a timely and convenient manner.
Finally, in North Carolina, the legislature is poised to eliminate taxes on the goods and services businesses paid for using federal money from the Paycheck Protection Program. Forty-seven states already do not collect taxes on these purchases, which sprang from a deliberate attempt to increase private-sector spending.
As one restaurant owner explained, “Two weeks into the shutdown, we were doing considerable takeout business and still losing $2,000 a day.” After PPP money arrived on Friday, his two restaurants “brought back 85 percent of our workers on Saturday.” According to business owners and legislators, leveling taxes on those expenses now would punish those who spent the money as they were supposed to.
Democrats may have undivided control of Congress and the White House in Washington–but they do not control the Governors and state houses of the American South. State-level leaders there are making common-sense conservative reforms–and more are surely on the way.