‘Person’ initiative falls flat Eminent domain limited

Published 11:39 am Wednesday, November 9, 2011

From staff and AP reports

Abortion opponents say they’re still pursuing life-at-fertilization ballot initiatives in six other states after Bible Belt voters in Mississippi defeated one Tuesday.

The so-called “personhood” Initiative 26 was rejected by about 58 percent of Mississippi voters.

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In Warren County, voters opposed the measure by more than two-to-one, 9,579, or 67 percent, votes against, to 4,643, or 33 percent, in favor. It was also defeated in Claiborne County, 77 to 23 percent, Sharkey County, 67 to 33 percent, and Issaquena County, 63 to 37 percent.

The proposal was intended to prompt a legal challenge aimed at overturning Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that established a legal right to abortion.

Keith Mason is co-founder of Personhood USA, which pushed the Mississippi measure. The Colorado-based group is trying to put initiatives on 2012 ballots in Florida, Montana, Ohio, Oregon, Nevada and California. Voters in Colorado rejected similar proposals in 2008 and 2010.

The measure divided the medical and religious communities and caused some of the most ardent abortion opponents, including Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, to waver with their support.

Voter ID coming

Mississippi voters have approved Initiative 27, the proposed constitutional amendment requiring that voters present government-issued identification at the polls.

Statewide, voters favored the so-called Voter ID measure by a 62 to 38 percent margin, and Warren County voters returned the same percentages. The local vote was 8,879 votes in favor with 5,467 voting no.

Results for neighboring counties — Claiborne, Sharkey and Issaquena — were unavailable this morning.

The issue has been debated at the Mississippi Legislature for 15 years. Republican Sen. Joey Fillingane of Sumrall, with the backing of the Mississippi GOP, launched a petition drive that got the initiative on the ballot.

The amendment seeks to require every person voting in Mississippi to show a driver’s license or other government-issued photo ID at the polls.

Voters limit eminent domain

Mississippi voters on Tuesday approved a constitutional amendment aimed at limiting governments’ ability to seize property and hand it over to private developers.

Ballot Initiative 31 on the power of eminent domain pitting landowner rights against economic development, passed 73 to 27 percent.

Warren County voters also approved the measure, with 9,724 votes or 67 percent in favor to 4,705 or 33 percent opposed.

Republican Gov. Haley Barbour, his economic development chief and many local officials opposed the amendment, which was pushed by the politically powerful Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation.

The amendment seeks to prevent the taking of private land for private development. It keeps in place the state’s authority to seize private land for public-use projects, such as streets or bridges.

Leland Speed, leader of the Mississippi Development Authority, unsuccessfully sought to derail the amendment through the courts. The Mississippi Supreme Court ultimately decided it would consider a legal challenge if one is filed after Tuesday’s election.