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Today is October 4, 2022

Editorial

Our grassroots begin with you

By Michael Callahan

Michael Callahan
Michael Callahan,
Executive Vice President/CEO
EPAs of Mississippi

For the next several months, Mississippi’s legislative body will be in session at our state Capitol and will be reviewing thousands of pieces of legislation. It’s not an easy task for these dedicated public servants. They must become informed on a diversified slate of issues to determine what is good for our state. They have to spend endless hours examining proposals and researching facts.
   Upcoming legislation will cover a wide range of issues, from education to health care, from formulating a state budget to electric utility issues. Yes, that’s right. Quite often legislation comes before the lawmakers that deals with electric power associations. Just this past year, we supported an important piece of legislation requiring motorists to slow down and move over one lane of traffic when approaching a utility vehicle on the roadside. Due to the tremendous support of our legislative and executive branches, this legislation became law last July. This is an example of the positive things that happen when people come together and support a common cause. And, on behalf of our more than 2,800 employees, we applaud our elected officials for listening and enacting this law, which provides another safety measure for our crews.
   Legislators understand the importance of grassroots efforts. They want to hear from us. And we do our part, working with lawmakers on legislation so it is fair to our electric cooperative members. What exactly does it mean to be part of a grassroots movement? It can be as simple as sending an email on an important issue to a state legislator, or even a phone call. It’s your involvement that lets them know how you, their constituents, feel about certain issues, and it plays an important role in how they cast their vote.
   Another strong voice serving on your behalf comes from the board of directors and management of your local electric power association. They are well versed in what’s happening and do everything they can to keep your electric costs affordable. In addition, they represent the voice of more than 1.8 million Mississippians who depend on us for affordable, reliable

electric service while being environmentally responsible. You are part of one of the largest grassroots bases in Mississippi.
   Another general term you hear around state and federal government is “lobbying.” In my conversations, I like to refer to it as “advocacy.” Simply put, it involves citizens talking with legislators through spokespeople.
   Our freedoms are important only if exercised. With a strong statement from our engaged membership and dedicated workforce, we can help drive our concerns home. And, when lawmakers hear from our folks—voters—back home, they listen.
   Electric power associations are looking out for you, making sure you have affordable, reliable and safe electricity. Sometimes state or federal laws and regulations threaten this, so we “advocate” hard on your behalf. But without your support, our ideas often don’t reach the right ears.
   No matter how loudly we speak out on how legislation or an agency rule may impact electric bills, our voice dims in comparison to one of the most untapped resources in our communities—you. We’re a statewide association—you are a voter. We’re working hard on your behalf, but your support helps ideas take root and survive.
   The 26 electric power associations across the state are committed to powering your community and empowering you to improve your quality of life. We work closely with political leaders and want to encourage you to use these tools to help us plant deeper grassroots.

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