This year, the once-a-decade U.S. Census will try to count every person living in the country, and Mississippi’s leadership is now paying more attention to this fact.

As reported by the Daily Journal today, both chambers of the Mississippi legislature voted last week to approve legislation that will set aside $400,000 toward activities to promote the census effort in the state.

These activities could include advertising, marketing and other public relations activities.

Current Gov. Tate Reeves, must now sign the bill to make it law.

Here in Tupelo, local efforts are also ramping up to make sure the population count is as complete at possible. Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton’s administration has named Orenn Dunn Museum curator Leesha Faulkner as the city’s liaison for census initiatives.

As reported a week ago by the Daily Journal’s Caleb Bedillion, Faulkner plans to enlist a dozen community leaders and volunteers to assist her. These local efforts find their parallel in a statewide Complete Count Committee then-Gov. Phil Bryant convened last year.

While the nationwide count itself is administered and conducted by the Census Bureau, all this outreach is intended to make Mississippians understand the significance of the census and don’t hesitate to be counted.

The stakes are high.

Many federal dollars are tied to the census population numbers, including money for road and highway repair, healthcare, housing, education, research and emergency assistance.

The census number are also used by businesses making decisions about where their goods and services may most be needed.

Even more significantly, the size and demographics of state legislatures, city council and other local governments will change in response to population changes. The seats of the U.S. House of Representatives could also shift among the states, depending on population swings,

This year, census forms can be completed online, so it will be easier than ever to participate. There’s no reason to decline, especially in light of the significance for our state and local community. And while our elected leads have a responsibility to get the word out, we all should share in the responsibility. Talk to your neighbors about the census and why it matters.

caleb.bedillion@journalinc.com

Twitter: @CalebBedillion

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