By Savannah Smith
Mississippi Capitol Press Corps
What is your name, age, and where are you from?
Nick Bain, 38, Corinth
What is your title? Where did you attend college? What degrees do you hold?
“State Representative House District 2, Alcorn County. The University of Mississippi for a business degree and minor in English, and a law degree from Mississippi College.”
What are some of Mississippi’s best qualities?
“Unequivocally, Mississippi has the best people on Earth. The compassion, the innovation, the artistic element…we have some of the best people on Earth, bar none. Also, I believe that we have the ability to offer high quality life at a relatively, compared to the rest of the country, low cost. I think that is a testament to our people valuing things but also not, for lack of a better word, price-gauging people for those things. It all stems back to our people are the best thing in Mississippi.”
What does Mississippi do best?
“One of the things that we have done best that is probably underrated, I believe, is that we have learned from our mistakes better than anyone else in the country. We’ve offered, in terms of race reconciliation, in terms of mending fences between people, and that goes back to us being the best people because we could still have some of those tensions, and not that we don’t, but I think we’ve come further than anyone else in the country, and we don’t get credit for that. Not that we’re looking for it, [but] that’s one of the things we do best. We’ve have taken an opportunity to really try to heal ourselves.”
What are Mississippi’s biggest problems and challenges?
“Despite our people, we’ve got to make a priority to educate our citizens. I believe there are three places for government – we must educate our citizens, we must protect our citizens and we must provide them with an environment that is conducive for their success. So, education is number one, and I think that we have to start looking at providing high quality, free public education to every citizen in Mississippi, and that trickles up, if you will, to change the narrative.
“If we’re able to correct those, I think jobs will come here. I think people will stay. You talk about brain drain, I think that people would stay here because you have jobs, and you have equal opportunity. So, I think education is our biggest downfall right now, and that dovetails into your issues with poverty, poor healthcare, with the Medicaid issue, and with the people being on disabilities. We have to find a way to provide high quality, efficient education for all of our citizens.”
What legislation or policy are you currently working on? How will it impact the state?
“I’ve got a few things. A lot of the things that I have is more local stuff that the Corinth School District has asked me to file or that [Alcorn] County has asked me to file. Statewide, I have a couple of bills. One is to try and lesson the tax burden on people that own properties and letting them count that toward their state income tax deductions.
“The Speaker appointed me this last summer on the Lottery Study Committee. I have some amendments and bills that I think can move Mississippi, if we decide to get a lottery, [to] do more than just provide a lottery. I would also love to see us get serious about some type of infrastructure and transportation bill or law to put into place.
Tell me about an issue that you think is important that hasn’t received a lot of media coverage.
“It’s weird because of where we’re at. When you’re down [in Jackson], you think that all of the issues are really getting covered. But in Corinth, we’re so far away from here that it can be tough in terms of what the people know.
“I don’t think the people in Corinth are as aware of the issues of our roads and bridges. I don’t know that some of the issues that concern us with our mental health are [common knowledge] of people back in my district. We have a big issue with prescription drugs and opioids, and that’s starting to get some coverage.
“When you’re down here, you kind of get in a bubble. But back home, I don’t think people have a real understanding of some of these issues. I would like to see more shown on the mental health front, because when I was an Alcorn County Public Defender, we had to do all of the mental commitments, and that really opened my eyes.
“When we did these mental commitments, we’d go up and be with the patient and understand what was going on, and I realized that it’s an issue that doesn’t discriminate. It’s an issue that people struggle with, and it’s something that we have to grab the bull by the horns. People may be aware of [this issue], but I don’t think they have the sense of urgency that we need to have.
“I file a bill every year, and every year it never goes anywhere. A lot of counties don’t have what we have in Alcorn County called the fifth floor. When some other counties have somebody who’s being committed, they have to hold them in the county jail. When they do that, they book them in, and that is public record.
“I’ve filed a bill every year to do away with that and to make that exempt from that information because that’s almost a HIPAA violation. I believe it is, but those people haven’t done anything wrong. They don’t understand why they’re going to jail, and oftentimes, it makes them sicker. So, that’s an area that people are aware of that they need to be.”
What do you like most about your job?
“I enjoy the process. I enjoy being a part of it and seeing how things are done. I love Corinth. I love Alcorn County. I love Mississippi. The people are the best thing here, and I want to do something that shows the world how great Mississippi is, and I enjoy being a part of that and saying, ‘Look, we’re here, and we’re not some redneck out in the backwoods. We’re Mississippi, and we’re going to be proud about it.’
“I’m proud to have a seat at that table to make those decisions and those policies and to drive that narrative that Mississippi is not your grandparents’ Mississippi. So, I think that’s my favorite part is just being a part of something that’s bigger than [myself]. It’s a really cool thing to see all the old pictures [of former representatives upstairs in the Capitol] and know that my face is going to be up there for generations to come. To be a part of something that is greater than yourself, that is one of the best parts of my job.”
What’s the hardest thing about your job?
“Without question, driving four hours and leaving my wife and kids back home.”
What issue keeps you up at night?
“A bunch, but I don’t know if anything really keeps me up at night. Sometimes they do, but usually I try to do the right thing and I’m at peace with a lot of those decisions.”
What drives you to continue to serve the people in this role?
“There are still some issues that I want to see. I would like to see mental health continue. What drives me is that I know that we’ve come so far, and I know that Mississippi can do better. Whatever little role I may have in that, I guess will continue to keep me going.”