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Is there better use of time for our legislators?

“Federal law, schmederal law,” she might say. “The federal government can’t make me do
anything.”

“If I want to shoot a bald eagle with an assault rifle, throw it in the back of my untaxed truck and
drive it back to my house, no one can stop me.”

Of course I’m being a bit facetious, but the baseless suggestion that a seemingly harmless state
government practice simply be chunked without providing a good reason just doesn’t fly well.
It seems like some of our legislators simply dream up bills without thinking through the potential
consequences.

I still contend the best thing Mississippi’s Legislature could do is simply approve budgets two years
at a time and not meet each year.

Perhaps then the silliness of some of these proposed laws would go away. Or, at the least, we’d
only be forced to hear about them — and realize we’re paying lawmakers good money to create
such nonsense — a little less often.

Natchez Democrat
1/26/15

Posted January 26, 2015 - 8:13 am


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Chris McDaniel unveils conservative PAC in Tupelo




TUPELO – Former U.S. Senate candidate and current state Sen. Chris McDaniel announced Friday night in Tupelo the creation of the United Conservatives Fund.

While he will be the chairman of the PAC, he said he will not receive payments from the grassroots political action committee.

“I plan on putting $25,000 in it to start and then $500 per month,” said McDaniel. “I will receive no salary, no reimbursements, not a dime.”...



...In addition to spreading the message through paid advertisements, the PAC funds will go to pay a paid full-time staff as well as supporting local candidates both financially and through endorsements...



...“We have a lack of unity. Our party is so divided, we have two enemies – on one side is the Republican establishment, on the other side the Democratic Party.”



Daily Journal
1/24/15



Posted January 26, 2015 - 6:29 am


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WTOK
1/25/15

Posted January 26, 2015 - 6:27 am


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MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS


WLBT
1/25/15

Posted January 26, 2015 - 6:20 am


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State Treasurer Lynn Fitch disappointed by Obama's plan to tax college savings



“I am extremely disappointed by this proposal,” stated the Treasurer. “In the State of the Union address, the President stated that our country has seen the highest amount of college graduates in recent years. This, in part, is attributable to college savings programs. Research shows children with a college savings account are seven times more likely to attend college, compared to children with no dedicated account. In Mississippi, we have one of the best 529 plans in the country with annual state tax deductions up to $10,000 for single filers and up to $20,000 for joint filers. Taking away 529 tax plans' advantages may discourage people from saving for college – exactly the opposite of what we should do. President Obama's 529 plan tax grab is just more of the same old failed attempts at redistribution of wealth. The government should not be penalizing families who have prepared and saved for their children's future.”


WDAM
1/24/15

Posted January 26, 2015 - 6:07 am


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Mississippi’s Wicker unabashed in denying global warming


The Mississippi senator was unabashed about taking what appeared to be the most extreme position in the Senate, at least that day, amid polls showing that a majority of Americans believe climate change is accelerating because of carbon emissions from power plants, vehicles and other human sources.

“My record is very clear on this issue, and I will not change my position based on a political show vote,” Wicker said in a statement to McClatchy. “Scientific research is advanced by asking questions and allowing for multiple viewpoints. With so much at stake – our economy, our livelihoods, and our environment – we should be tolerant of differences of opinion.”

Wicker is no country bumpkin. A lawyer and the son of a circuit judge, he speaks eloquently and makes his arguments in measured tones, not out of pique.

Still, Wicker’s vote on Wednesday seemed almost a show of defiance just a day after Obama stood in front of the Congress during his State of the Union Address Tuesday night emphasizing that government scientists had declared 2014 the warmest year on record and the 18th straight year in which average global temperatures had risen.



McClatchy DC
1/25/15

Posted January 26, 2015 - 5:59 am


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WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi


WLOX
1/24/15

Posted January 25, 2015 - 7:25 am


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PAUL HAMPTON: Just in the nick of time, Chris McDaniel rides in on a white horse


I know a lot of people who wish Chris McDaniel would just go away. I'm not among them.

Yes, McDaniel has given me another early birthday present: Another Chris McDaniel tour. And it's no farewell tour.

He's kicking off the United Conservatives Fund to -- you guessed it, save the Republic. Now, I'm willing to concede the Republic could use a tweak or two. We could rein in the NSA and keep the government's mitts off MY Internet, for example, but personally, I think the Republic is chugging along as the Founders intended, with rich white guys running the show.

McDaniel, though, still thinks he got mugged in the U.S. Senate election. And that's cause for alarm...



...Maybe he can rent the University of Central Florida mascot in its offseason. The Knights would be a perfect symbol for a gentleman prone to tilting at windmills.



Sunherald
1/24/15

Posted January 25, 2015 - 7:19 am


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Should childhood immunizations be required to attend Mississippi schools? Bill to broaden exemptions debated


JACKSON, Mississippi -- Mississippi has some of the worst rates of obesity, diabetes and heart disease in the U.S., but public health officials brag that it ranks best in the nation for childhood immunization.

Physicians are lobbying against a bill that would broaden the exemptions for vaccinations required to enter school or day care. The state health officer, Dr. Mary Currier, says loosening immunization requirements could put people at risk of contracting preventable diseases such as measles.

Members of a group called Mississippi Parents for Vaccine Rights say that they, and not the government, should decide whether and when to immunize their children. More than a dozen parents, some carrying babies or pushing strollers, have been at the Capitol the past two weeks talking to lawmakers and handing out fliers that call the childhood vaccination program "a massive, profit-churning government program."



Gulflive
1/24/15

Posted January 25, 2015 - 7:17 am


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Miss. Legislature: Top session issues (Jan. 24)



3. Chris McDaniel and the McGOP: Speaking of transparency, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, must have an invisibility cloak. Despite being noticeably absent from Senate proceedings most of the first three weeks of session, online articles have countered that he’s been hard at work in the Senate each day. McDaniel galvanized tea party conservatives in his unsuccessful U.S. Senate race last year. Many wondered if he would be a force to reckon with in the Legislature this year. So far, he has not been — apparently has bigger fish to fry. He has created a PAC to go after “establishment Republicans” in Mississippi and nationwide and plans a five-city fundraising tour this week.


Clarion Ledger
1/24/15

Posted January 25, 2015 - 7:10 am


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Palazzo to push moon mission



WASHINGTON – Rep. Steven Palazzo plans to use his chairmanship of a House panel on space this year to again promote a return-to-the-moon mission and lobby against President Barack Obama's plan to use an asteroid as a stepping-stone to Mars.

Palazzo, R-Miss., also chaired the House Science, Space and Technology Subcommittee on Space in the last Congress, but this year he sees a possible boost for his priorities in the GOP's takeover of the Senate.

"With the expanded majorities, we're going to continue to put an emphasis on America remaining the leader in space," Palazzo said in a recent interview. "America's leadership in space is no longer just a matter of national pride, it's become a matter of national security."

One pressing issue this year, he said, will be helping NASA craft a "road map."


Hattiesburg American
1/24/15

Posted January 25, 2015 - 7:04 am


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PENDER: Geoff Pender: Transparency, ‘ree-form’ pending



No sooner had the ink dried on federal indictments in the state prison contracts bribery scandal than calls went out from state leaders and lawmakers for transparency. Transparency and “ree-form.”

There’s a passel of legislation, pending and forthcoming, aimed at making government spending and records more open to the public and reforming state contracts and spending oversight. Many of these measures are not new, but in the past were smacked down so hard they bounced by the state government-industrial complex and special interests.

Reps. Jerry Turner and Tommy Taylor were pushing for prison and other contract reform before it was cool. Sen. Nancy Collins pushed for public hospitals to have open board meetings even before the Singing River Health Systems pension scandal. It took a historic beat-down from the hospital lobby. Sen. Will Longwitz, Rep. David Baria, State Auditor Stacey Pickering and others have pushed reforms in the past, usually with very limited success.


Clarion Ledger
1/24/15

Posted January 25, 2015 - 6:59 am


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From State Rep. Jeramy Anderson's Twitter:


Representative Anderson will receive the "Unsung Hero Award" at the 2015 BET Honors this Saturday in Washington, DC.


1/23/15

Posted January 24, 2015 - 6:18 am


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Pine Belt lawmaker files several roadway safety bills



HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Senator Billy Hudson (R- Dist. 45) has filed three bills in the 2015 session that he hopes would make roadways safer in Mississippi.

Senate Bill 2056, which has been referred to the Highways and Transportation Committee, would authorize sheriffs to use radar speed detection in their jurisdiction....


...Hudson cosponsored SB 2722, the "texting and driving bill," which also remains in the Highways and Transportation Committee....


...An additional bill authored by Hudson is SB 2058, which would require motorists to use headlights "whenever precipitation necessitates the use of windshield wipers." It would also prohibit only parking light being used when headlights would be required


WDAM
1/23/15

Posted January 24, 2015 - 6:07 am


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RELEASE:

Palazzo Presents Purple Heart to Lt. Lawrence Bean

Columbia, MS – Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) today presented Columbia resident and World War II Veteran, Lieutenant Lawrence Bean, with the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge during a ceremony held in his honor at the Marion County Courthouse.

“Lt. Bean is part of the ‘Greatest Generation’, sacrificing more than we can imagine. He enlisted in the Army during WWII, received basic training right here at Camp Shelby in Mississippi, and rose through the ranks with strength and determination.

He went on to fight in the Battle for Luzon, where the United States proved victorious, but at the devastating cost of more than 10,000 dead soldiers and 35,000 wounded. It was during this both triumphant and tragic battle that Lt. Bean was injured by an enemy grenade.

I couldn’t be more honored to present the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and Combat Infantry Badge to a soldier who has distinguished himself through his bravery and leadership. His commitment and sacrifice for our freedoms will never be forgotten.

I am proud that after all these years, Lt. Bean is finally receiving the recognition he earned.”

1/23/15

Posted January 24, 2015 - 5:59 am


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Legislator seeks to eliminate licensing fees



Melanie Sojourner, R-Natchez, introduced Senate Bill No. 2446 earlier this week which calls for a repeal of the state law that requires residents to pay for hunting and fishing licenses through the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.



Natchez Democrat
1/24/15

Posted January 24, 2015 - 5:53 am


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Old-School Appropriator Navigates New Spending Waters

Cochran practices a brand of politics that has gone out of style in recent years. Quiet and courteous, with a patrician air, he prefers to refrain from the fiery floor speeches demonizing his opponents that have become the norm with his junior and generally more populist colleagues.

“I try to let my real personality show. I don’t try to put on an act or perform a role just to be part of the process for the cameras and that kind of thing,” says Cochran. “I’m trying to get results that reflect good government.”

It’s a style that some of his critics refer to as detached and even checked-out. Media reports from his rocky re-election campaign last year paint the picture of a man whose lack of energy could make it difficult to further recharge the appropriations process.

But the people who know Cochran well say it’s critical not to confuse his reserved personality for disengagement.

“The weight of Thad’s words are directly proportional to how few he uses,” says Republican Sen. Johnny Isakson of Georgia. “He’s like E.F. Hutton and everybody listens.”

Former Cochran aides say he is a smart and staff-driven leader, more transactional than wonky policy type, but just as effective.


CQ
1/23/15

Posted January 23, 2015 - 2:55 pm


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Because America Needs Him: The Return of Chris McDaniel

"No one is above a challenge from conservatives," said Plunkett.

More would be known after McDaniel hit the trail; for now, Plunkett could only confirm that money given to the United Conservatives Fund would not be rolled into payments for legal bills for the runoff lawsuit. "It's a totally separate thing."

Rob Engstrom, the political director of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce who helped defeat McDaniel in 2014, has since taken a leave of absence to help organize Jeb Bush's presidential bid. Reached on Friday, he called McDaniel "a professor in search of a class."


Bloomberg
1/23/15

Posted January 23, 2015 - 1:58 pm


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We interrupt our regular coverage to bring you this special report.

After some much ballyhooed buildup of a “major announcement”, Chris McDaniel announced today his announcement from two months ago – it’s time to raise some money. United Conservatives Fund has been born, or born again, complete with the McDaniel logo flame (as only a subtle reminder). But it’s not about McDaniel. At least he said so in his press release. The fact that he’s sporting competitive normcore on the front page of the website should not detract your attention one bit.

The “membership” they’re seeking is $25/month (that’s $300/year) for the PAC would be led by its members to support candidates. No word yet on whether bitcoins will be accepted as payment.

And Matt Boyle at Breitbart, who apparently still has a big ole journalistic man crush on Chris McDaniel, got the “exclusive” of the two month old story (certainly Chuck Johnson can not be far behind as the band tries to get back together).

So if you’re near a truck stop, a Cracker Barrel or a Holiday Inn throughout Mississippi next week during the legislative session, look out . . . UCF is coming to get you to write a check (or twelve).

Most interestingly, in McDaniel’s (err Breitbart’s) article, it mentioned at least a couple of potential political paths rumored for McDaniel.

One path would be for him to challenge Jim Hood for Mississippi Attorney General. It’s true that they would likely spend most of the campaigns arguing about who has embarrassed themselves in front of the Mississippi Supreme Court the most. The slight edge goes to McDaniel, but it’s really too close to call. But generally speaking, in a straight head-to-head race, Hood would likely beat McDaniel handily. And that’s assuming McDaniel could get through a primary as rumors still swirl that Andy Taggart is considering a run on the Republican side.

The next path that was suggested would be that McDaniel would run against Lt. Governor Tate Reeves. Put simply, Reeves would politically skull-crush McDaniel in a primary, head-to-head. It’s been rumored that Reeves has already locked down the endorsement of just about every other Republican state senator for re-election (minus the McGop 4 or 5).

The final path that was suggested was that McDaniel would take on US Rep. Steven Palazzo in 2016. Now, that could actually happen. It was long rumored that McDaniel had the “McDaniel for US Representative” logo for his bus drawn up at the same time the “McDaniel for US Senate” logo was designed last time around. There was real thought about challenging Palazzo. Compounding that analysis was that McDaniel got more primary votes that Steven Palazzo did in his own district (though obviously the two weren’t running against each other).

Given that McDaniel seems to be absolutely hyperventilating to get to the big spotlight of the DC Beltway after already having measured the curtains once, it would seem that the UCF (flame and all) seems to be geared toward keeping name ID and prepping him for that potential run. Palazzo certainly has a while to get his ducks in a row and it would set up a big Coast vs. Pine Belt showdown. In 2010, it was the Pine Belt that really pushed Palazzo over the top, so that would be a fun race to watch, and you can bet that Palazzo will start taking the threat very seriously right now. Of course, Ingalls remains a huge thorny issue for McDaniel. His then comms guy and now communications guy for the UCF, Keith Plunkett, argued mid-campaign that the Navy didn’t really want the ships Ingalls was making and portrayed the LPD 28 Naval ship system as “unwanted and unneeded”. That’s the kind of stuff that would generally cause a problem in a US House campaign on the Coast.

The last option that the article didn’t mention is that McDaniel could just form a Presidential exploratory committee. Certainly there are liberty-lovers in Iowa, right?

Good day Mississippi - and good luck.


Posted January 23, 2015 - 1:43 pm


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Posted January 23, 2015 - 12:22 pm


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YP sought a comment from Mississippi Republican Party chairman Joe Nosef in light of state senator Chris McDaniel's announcement of a new PAC - United Conservatives Fund - aimed at funding future intra party challenges.

Nosef responded by saying;

"As I have been saying during my entire time as Chairman, the Republican Party is best served when our resources and energy are focused on defeating Democrats and not each other. The success of the 2014 elections is a recent example of what happens when the Party resists efforts to divide us and supports our Republican candidates. We will continue to focus on keeping our Party unified and as strong as ever."


1/23/15

Posted January 23, 2015 - 10:54 am


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EXCLUSIVE — MISSISSIPPI’S CHRIS MCDANIEL LAUNCHES NEW PAC DESIGNED TO CRACK GOP ESTABLISHMENT

On Friday, McDaniel will be announcing—he told Breitbart News exclusively—a new Political Action Committee (PAC) designed to help conservatives across Mississippi, and the nation, get elected to political office, replacing GOP establishment politicians.

The PAC, titled the United Conservatives Fund will focus on “electing conservatives and holding Republicans accountable while messaging conservatism in a way that secures conservatives get a chance to be elected even over some of those in the establishment,” McDaniel tells Breitbart.

What we’re focused on here is a couple of things: The first is we’re creating an organization that speaks directly to conservatism, not to party. Second, we want an organization that will focus on outreach. We do outreach based on logical and intricate messaging. And lastly, we’ve got to be able to hold our officials accountable because despite the grassroots complaining and despite our wishes, so far the Republican leadership in the establishment has ignored us. This fund will be used to make them listen to us once and for all.

McDaniel is the man for the job.

...

McDaniel himself may make another run for a higher office soon. He could run for state Attorney General against incumbent Democrat Jim Hood, or he could challenge incumbent Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves—a Republican closely aligned with the Barbours—in 2015. If he doesn’t run for either of those seats, McDaniel has also been talked about as a potential candidate against U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo—an establishment Republican who’s come under particular fire by voting for Rep. John Boehner (R-OH) for Speaker of the House rather than for a Republican alternative as many of his constituents wanted.

Breitbart
1/23/15


Posted January 23, 2015 - 10:01 am


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SENATOR CHRIS MCDANIEL LAUNCHES UNITED CONSERVATIVES FUND, WILL DISCUSS FUTURE POLITICAL PLANS ON FIVE-CITY TOUR.

Senator Chris McDaniel today announced a week-long series of events across Mississippi to discuss the official launch of a new political action committee. McDaniel said the United Conservatives Fund (UCF) was organized by conservative thought-leaders, grassroots volunteers and community leaders from across the state.

“Following what happened in the Republican Primary runoff for the U.S. Senate on June 24, 2014, Conservatives are more ready for mobilization and action than ever,” said McDaniel. “I have the enviable position of having the best of the best thought-leaders in the state and across the country ready to devote their time, money and effort to do what is needed to be sure the truth of conservatism is never again misrepresented by the politically powerful like it was here.”

McDaniel says the executive committee members and more details regarding the organizational structure and objectives of UCF will be announced in the next week at events across the state in a five-city tour.

“I said repeatedly over the past year that the campaign was not about me and I meant it. I know that can be a foreign concept for the politically and personally motivated,” said McDaniel. “My only political ambition today is what it has been all along; to make sure our conservative movement is strong and gaining ground, solving problems and communicating effectively. The working people of this state can and must unite for the survival of our republic. If we fight for one another then we will win together.”

McDaniel also commented on his personal political future.

“I understand that my name has been mentioned as a possible candidate for a number of different offices and I am considering those carefully with the counsel of my friends and family,” he added. “Whether

I run for higher office or not, it makes little difference unless other Conservatives are provided the resources and support to step up where they live.

“This task does not rest on any one man’s shoulders. Simply stated, if we are divided we will fail. My driving purpose right now is to make sure we are not divided, but united.”

Events will be held:

Friday: January 23, 6:00 PM
Tupelo City Hall: City Council Chambers
71 E Troy Street
Tupelo, MS.

Monday: January 26, 6:00 PM
Trustmark Park Holiday Inn
Pearl, MS

Tuesday: January 27, 6:00 PM
Fillin Station Grill
4840 Venture Drive
Southaven, MS

Thursday: January 29, 6:00 PM
Forrest County Chancery Building
641 North Main Street
Hattiesburg, MS

Friday: January 30, 6:00 PM
MS Gulf Coast
Location TBA


Posted January 23, 2015 - 9:52 am


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Southern Baptist Roger Wicker joins MIT scientist to say 'no' to senate climate vote

Southern Baptist Roger Wicker is getting mainstream media heat for being the lone "no" in a Senate vote about climate change, but he is in good company with an MIT scientist who criticized the Democratic-led effort to make an environmental statement as "ludicrous."

The Mississippi senator was the sole standout in a 98-1 roll call on a motion to declare "It is the sense of the Senate that climate change is real and not a hoax," without attributing a cause, man-made or natural, for the phenomenon.

Wicker, whose bio lists his membership with the First Baptist Church Tupelo, "where he sings in the choir," said he opposed the motion because it was a political show "to stop the construction of the Keystone pipeline using disputed facts," according to a written statement from his office.


Wicker said he agreed with "more than 31,000 American scientists who do not believe the science on this matter is settled," a reference to the "Global Warming Petition Project" critics assail for including signatures of individuals without climate expertise.

However, detractors cannot dispute the credentials of MIT climate scientist Richard Lindzen who weighed in on the debate earlier this week when Senator Bernie Sanders, an Independent from Vermont, first floated the idea of a climate change resolution. Sanders caucuses with Democrats.


Christian Examiner
1/23/15

Posted January 23, 2015 - 8:51 am


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Senate transportation chair seeks emergency money for roads, bridges

In a move he acknowledges is a long-shot, the chairman of the Senate Highways and Transportation Committee is asking legislators to approve $300 million for timely repairs on state highways and bridges and an additional $100 million for locally maintained roads and bridges.

Sen. Willie Simmons, a Cleveland Democrat, wants the money to be part of the state’s general obligation bonding.

His legislation, Senate Bill 2028, is in the Senate Finance Committee.

If allocated, around $40 million of the $300 million would go for replacing posted bridges on the Delta’s Highway 6 between Batesville and Clarksdale.

His bill limits draws on the $300 million for state roads and bridges to $150 million a year and to $50 million a year on the $100 million State Aid portion.


MBJ
1/23/15

Posted January 23, 2015 - 8:21 am


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Haley Barbour Zings Romney: 'You Don't Learn Much From the Second Kick of a Mule'


Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour has a bit of folksy wisdom to share with Republican voters when it comes to the possibility of Mitt Romney making another run for the White House.

"My grand-daddy used to say you don't learn much from the second kick of a mule," Barbour, who now heads up the BGR Group lobbying firm, told "With All Due Respect" hosts Mark Halperin and John Heilemann on Thursday.

Barbour's remark came at the end of a telling exchange that made clear that he, like many in the party, is less than enthusiastic about the prospect of a third Romney candidacy.


Bloomberg
1/22/15

Posted January 23, 2015 - 6:17 am


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NRSC Announces Three Vice Chairs


The National Republican Senatorial Committee will name Sens. Dean Heller, Joni Ernst and Tom Cotton as its vice chairmen for the 2016 cycle, according to a news release provided first to CQ Roll Call.

All three will work alongside NRSC Chairman Roger Wicker of Mississippi as Republicans seek to defend their new newly acquired majority.


Roll Call
1/23/15


Posted January 23, 2015 - 6:12 am


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Senator Roger Wicker explains his lone 'no' vote on climate amendment


According to Wicker's office, the senator opposed the amendment to the Keystone XL Pipeline bill, cosponsored by Sens. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) and Inhofe, among others, because he saw it as "a political show vote."

“The Whitehouse amendment is an attempt to stop the construction of the Keystone pipeline using disputed facts," the senator said in a written statement to Mashable.

"My record is very clear on this issue, and I will not change my position based on a political show vote.

I agree with the more than 31,000 American scientists who do not believe the science on this matter is settled. Scientific research is advanced by asking questions and allowing for multiple viewpoints. With so much at stake –- our economy, our livelihoods, and our environment –- we should be tolerant of differences of opinion.”


Mashable
1/22/15

Posted January 23, 2015 - 6:07 am


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Treasurer Fitch reports State credit on ‘positive trend’



A State of Mississippi bond issue set to close in mid February will raise the state’s bond debt to $4.17 billion, Treasurer Lynn Fitch told legislators last week.

Mississippi ended 2014 with bond debt of $3.9 billion.

Fitch said the State’s credit is on a “positive trend” she attributed to “disciplined spending on the part of the Legislature” and “conservative issuance on the part of the State Bond Commission over the past several years.”

State government, nonetheless, has yet to shake a “negative” credit outlook Fitch Ratings placed on the State’s bonds on Oct. 31 2013, even though the AA rating for the bonds denotes “solid” and “stable” credit.



MBJ
1/22/15

Posted January 23, 2015 - 6:04 am


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RELEASE:



Mississippi House of Representatives Weekly Summary

Week of January 19, 2015



Monday, January 19, marked the deadline for the “introduction of general bills and constitutional amendments.” To “introduce a bill,” a member submits the legislation to the Clerk’s Office, the drop box on the House floor or to the Speaker’s Office. Once bills have been introduced, they are referred to committees. Members and staff spent many hours drafting legislation and introducing bills.

This week and next week, members focus their attention on meeting the February 4 deadline to report bills out of committee. Committee members discuss the bills and decide to either pass them to the House floor or to oppose them, essentially “killing” them. If a bill does not make it out of a committee, it will not make it to the House calendar.

This week, Governor Phil Bryant delivered his fourth State of the State address during a joint session of the Legislature in the House Chamber Wednesday evening. In his speech, he outlined his priorities for the 2015 Legislative Session and covered his accomplishments over the last three years. Some of the highlights from his speech include his support for an income tax cut for working Mississippian, state contract reforms, a $50 million investment in workforce training, and an increased focus on tourism. He praised the Legislature for their continued success in crafting a responsible budget that uses recurring money for recurring expenses.

Members of the Appropriations Committee continued to hear from numerous state agencies that presented their funding needs for Fiscal Year (FY) 16.

The Mississippi State Personnel Board (MSPB) was among the agencies that prepared presentations for the committee. The group updated committee members on facts about state employees. As of June 30, 2014, the state has 90,985 full-time employees, which is a slight decrease from the 2013 number. State teachers comprise the largest percentage (38 percent) of the agency’s employees, while the Governor’s office and Legislative Branch the smallest (less than one percent). The director stated that recruitment efforts are going well and continue in an upward trend. In 2013, approximately 19,000 job applications were received each month. That number jumped to an average of 20,000 per month in 2014. The average annual salary of state employees has increased from 2013's $34,506 to $34,655. However, sixty-one percent of state employees earn less than that. The average annual salary for Mississippi’s four adjoining states is $43,339. The director believes that the loss of younger workers and high turnover rates are directly tied to salary. The MSPB is focused on efforts to retain employees to ensure a quality workforce for Mississippi and believes salary realignment may be necessary.

The Mississippi Department of Education presented its FY16 budget request, as well. The group outlined the agency’s goals and its legislative priorities, which include funding and/or support for: the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), teacher supply funds, public school building funds, the Literacy-Based Promotion Act of 2013 (Third Grade Reading Gate),expansion of early childhood education pilot programs, improvements to and increased technology systems, state special schools, College and Career Ready State Standards, test integrity, a Principal’s Academy, high school innovation programs and appointed superintendents.

The Transportation Committee met this week and passed several bills regulating texting and driving. Adoption of these bills would create a civil penalty of careless driving and a $25 fine for anyone convicted of texting or utilizing a social media site while driving.

Education bills focused on ensuring Mississippi’s control of teaching standards and curriculum passed out of the Education Committee and onto the House calendar.

• House Bill 395 (HB395) gives curriculum control to local school districts. Enactment of this measure would require the Mississippi Department of Education (DOE) to continue to hand down the Mississippi Curriculum Frameworks to local districts that would then have the autonomy over the development of curriculum. It passed by a vote of 92-25.
• House Bill 156 (HB156) uncouples Mississippi from the federal government regarding education standards. The language in the bill changes the name of the current standards from Common Core Standards to Mississippi College and Career Ready Standards, which the state board currently uses. Adoption of this measure would give the state ownership of the standards and control to change or amend them as deemed necessary. HB156 passed by a vote of 95-21.

Judiciary B committee members heard from Dr. Hannah Gay, the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) physician credited with the functional curing of an HIV-infected child, who spoke and answered questions at length on the subject of requiring DNA testing for violent crime arrests.

On the House floor, the Insurance Committee presented House Bill 346 (HB346). HB346 allows exclusions and limitations on liability insurance required under the Mississippi Motor Vehicle Safety-Responsibility Law. Supporters believe this bill provides an op-out choice for policy holders to remove someone from their policy, should they choose, or keep everyone in their household on the policy. Supporters believe this law removes the threat of risk being assumed by the entire household. Under current law, policies cover every licensed driver living in the household. Opponents of the bill argue that the bill serves no purpose. They believe Mississippi already has the highest rates of uninsured motorists, and passage of this measure will add to that number. The bill passed by a vote of 70-50.

House and Senate members from the MS Gulf Coast and members from both Insurance committees attended a press conference this week to discuss the effects of high property insurance rates on the MS Gulf Coast and the state economies. Some legislators support the passage of a bill that would require insurance companies to disclose how much they are charging to insure property in specific geographic areas.

Philadelphia native and Country Music Legend Marty Stuart visited with lawmakers at the MS State Capitol today. Stuart is in town to promote the future Marty Stuart Center and Congress of Country Music Hall in Philadelphia, which, as he phrased it, will be the “Smithsonian of Country Music Memorabilia.”

Visitors to the Capitol this week included Mississippi Firefighters/Fire Chief’s Association, Mississippi Nurses Association, Mississippi Affordable Wind Insurance Coalition, Mississippi Public Broadcasting and Mississippi Parents for Vaccine Rights.


1/23/15

Posted January 23, 2015 - 6:02 am


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MISSISSIPPI EDITION: THURSDAY, JAN. 22ND


SEGMENT 2: REACTION TO GOVERNOR'S ADDRESS (Click link above to hear full audio)

At yesterday's State of the State address, Governor Bryant gave his assessment of how Mississippi is doing. He also offered some ideas about what he would like to accomplish going forward. Today we hear Republican and Democratic responses. ON the Republican side is Austin Barbour - a founding partner at the Clearwater Group. Representing the Democratic point of view is Brandon Jones, Executive Director of the Democratic Trust and a partner at the Baria Williamson law firm.


MPB
1/22/15

Posted January 23, 2015 - 5:59 am


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MS House of Reps. Pass Education Bills Ensuring Mississippi Controlled Teaching Standards and Curriculum

Today, the Mississippi House of Representatives passed two education bills aimed at maintaining control with local school boards.

"Today, we took a big step clarifying that Mississippians are in control of our educational standards,” said Speaker of the House Philip Gunn. “Mississippi's education decisions must be made by Mississippians."

House Bill 156: prevents federal government control of testing, essentially uncoupling the state from any federal government overreach in Mississippi's education. HB156 passed by a vote of 95-21.
House Bill 395: HB 395 codifies the current practice of our educational system and guarantees that local districts have the final say in what curriculum they use day-to-day. HB395 passed by a vote of 92-25.

"As we move forward, we have complete control of the standards our schools use,” he said. “First of all, we need to ensure that we have high standards; then, just as important, we need to make sure that our standards are aligned with Mississippi values."

MS House of Representatives
1/22/15

Posted January 22, 2015 - 3:27 pm


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BILL TO DITCH INSPECTION STICKER PASSES SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE


A bill to eliminate the $5 inspection sticker passed the Senate Finance Committee today. The proposal is part of Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ legislative agenda.

Senate Bill 2519 heads to the full Senate for consideration.

“The vehicle inspection sticker is not an effective or efficient way to collect what is essentially a $5 tax,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “Many states are eliminating the inspection sticker as vehicles are manufactured with improved safety features, and I think we should join them.”

Currently, state troopers inspect the inspection stations; Lt. Gov. Reeves would like to see these troopers on the road protecting the public.

“These fine men and women were trained with taxpayer dollars to protect Mississippians’ safety on the road,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “Let’s allow them to put their skills to their highest and best use.”

Reeves also has called for a review of all agencies fees and fines Mississippians pay and determine whether that money is put to good use.

Lt. Gov Tate Reeves
1/22/15


Posted January 22, 2015 - 2:44 pm


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Chris McDaniel to speak in Memphis on Jan. 22

The Mid-South Tea Party is excited to announce that Chris McDaniel will be the featured guest for their January General Meeting at Jason’s Deli in Memphis, TN.

TN for Liberty
1/22/15

Posted January 22, 2015 - 2:01 pm


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Lawmaker proposes changes to Mississippi Open Meetings Act


State Sen. Lydia Chassaniol, R-Winona, is proposing two bills to limit the provisions of the Open Meetings Act to government meetings where a quorum is present.

Government transparency advocates say the proposed changes would undermine important provisions of the act and make it easier for government bodies to avoid public scrutiny.

Critics tell The Greenwood Commonwealth that the altered language would allow boards to hold a series of small meetings where all members of the board are included but during which a quorum is never present at any one time.


WJTV
1/21/15

Posted January 22, 2015 - 6:35 am


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PERRY/What's Jim Hood's move?



The chatter from a number of people around the state Capitol is that Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood won't run for re-election. Or, he is contemplating a run for governor against incumbent Phil Bryant. Or, he is most definitely running again. Or, he has decided against running, but wants to be convinced that he should run for the good of the Democratic Party and the state.

The intriguing part of the chatter is its creation, in part, by Hood himself. In 2013, he said if he had to decide then he would be running for re-election this year. In 2014, he said at that point he was planning on running for re-election this year. Now in 2015, he told The Associated Press he would be making his "decision about his political plans" this month.

Regarding any thoughts about running for governor, Hood told AP reporter Emily Wagster Pettus, "I don't know. I'm just going to have to wait and pray about it. I've got about another week or so before I have to do something."


Madison Co. Journal
1/21/15

Posted January 22, 2015 - 6:30 am


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1/21/15

Posted January 22, 2015 - 6:23 am


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Rep. Gregg Harper: Drop subsidies for politicians

Gregg Harper


Since 1976, more than $1.5 billion in taxpayer moneyhas been given to politicians to run for office. The underutilized Presidential Election Campaign Fund has subsidized presidential candidates and nominating conventions from its inception.

Four decades later, the presidential fund has fallen into obsolescence, so much that in the 2012 election cycle nobody chose to participate in the program, yet the parties did take funds for their respective conventions....



...Supporters argue for the need to modernize the public funding system, but we should examine whether valuable taxpayer dollars are better used on other programs. The fund does not create jobs or stir innovation of any kind, which begs the question: Why should Americans be providing taxpayer subsidies for politicians?

Last April, the Gabriella Miller Kids First Research Act became an example of Congress prioritizing a pediatric research initiative at the National Institutes of Health over taxpayer funding of political conventions. In a time of scarce resources and a need for smaller government, that was not a hard decision.



USAToday
1/21/15

Posted January 22, 2015 - 6:18 am


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Mississippi coast group pushes for passage of bill to disclose insurance costs (updated)


JACKSON, Mississippi -- A group of lawmakers and residents from the Mississippi Gulf Coast are again pushing a bill that would require insurance companies to disclose how much they're charging to insure property by geographic area.

The idea, which originated in Alabama, is meant to provide evidence to people who are fighting for lower insurance rates. The theory is that coastal residents are being overcharged and that public data will prove it. Whether rates are fair, though is still a subject of dispute in places where data has been published.

"What we want to see is some premium data on some geographic basis so we can compare it to loss data and see if we're toting a disproportionate share of the risk," said Charles Busby, R-Pascagoula.

Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, a Republican, has agreed to seek such data from companies on a one-time basis. But lawmakers say they want to ensure the data is gathered over multiple years. DeLano said it was important to legally mandate a simple and cost-effective data collection.


Gulflive
1/21/15

Posted January 22, 2015 - 6:14 am


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RELEASE:

Chairman Joe Nosef Comments on the Governor's State of the State Address



JACKSON—MSGOP Chairman Joe Nosef issued the following statement regarding Governor Phil Bryant's State of the State of Address:

"Governor Bryant’s continued leadership in developing Mississippi’s economy and helping create more and better jobs for our workers was on full display this evening. He has been a tireless and effective leader, and the results speak for themselves: strong and improving economic indicators and recognition of Mississippi by numerous national organizations and publications as a great place to work and do business.

Perhaps the clearest indicator of our success is the fact that Mississippi Democrats have resorted to highlighting and attempting to downplay the state’s economic achievements under Governor Bryant. If the worst Democrats can come up with to criticize the Governor is positive economic news and awards, then you know things must be going well.

Mississippi has made great strides under Governor Bryant, and the coming years will be no different."

1/21/15

Posted January 22, 2015 - 6:13 am


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RELEASE:

2015 DEMOCRATIC RESPONSE TO STATE OF THE STATE

Rebecca Ladner, Superintendent of Bay-Waveland School District –

Hello, I am Rebecca Ladner and honored to participate in the Democratic Response to Governor Bryant’s speech. Tonight, Mississippi Democrats will provide you with facts, rather than rhetoric. Republican leaders have taken us down a road of underfunded schools, underpaid workers, high unemployment rates, and crumbling infrastructure. Mississippi Democrats offer a better way forward. We know the truth is important to you and that tough decisions lie ahead us. When you see the facts you will agree the Republican leaders’ talking points simply aren’t true. What they are really up to in Jackson isn’t in the best interest of Mississippi’s working families.


Glenn White, Former District Attorney –

“The indictments on the Gulf Coast, in North Mississippi and within the Department of Corrections have opened our eyes to just how easy it is to rig the system and illegally steal taxpayer money. Those in charge in Jackson, both elected and appointed, are allowing this activity. Lucrative contracts are given to their friends without any oversight. There is currently no bidding process for contractors to get our taxpayer money. Democrats are fighting to stop these abuses at the State and local level. It is time for a full accounting from the Republican leaders of everyone who is getting taxpayer money. That’s why Democrats in the legislature have filed the Stop Corruption Act. Join us in holding Republican leaders accountable. Tell them to join us in quickly passing the SCA to stop these practices.”

Dr. Timothy Alford, MD –

“Mississippi Hospitals are cutting back employees and services, and some are even forcing patients, like Medicare recipients and veterans, to seek healthcare somewhere other than their local hospital. These cuts are a result of the refusal of our leaders to request the return of federal tax dollars that are now being sent back to Washington. The state-based insurance exchange favored by Governor Barbour and created by Insurance Commissioner Chaney has been shut down. This would all mean $3 million dollars a day of new money to our state.”

Robert Johnson, House of Representatives –

“The Republican political spin about job creation is just that, spin. Despite what you’ve heard Governor Bryant say, Mississippi has 41,000 fewer jobs than we did in 2007. This despite the fact that the population has grown by over 230,000 since 1997. Democrats have a plan to immediately create jobs without raising taxes or spending money out of the rainy day funds. Simply repay the Department of Transportation $30 Million Dollars borrowed from it in 2009 to balance the budget. Repaying this loan would provide the capital to create what would be the equivalent of nine jobs per mile of roads paved or repaired as we fix our roads and bridges. More than $200 Million in excess revenue has been collected this year and can be used to make badly needed repairs to our roads and bridges that our children and our families have to travel over. Mississippi Democrats believe any plan to create jobs should transcend party lines. All we ask our Republican colleagues to stop spinning false, inflated job numbers and join us in actually creating real jobs.”

Linda Whittington, House of Representatives –

“Over two hundred thousand Mississippi voters signed a petition to allow a vote on a constitutional amendment directing the Legislature to fund our public schools. We all know that when the legislature refuses to fund public education, the responsibility falls on us at the local level to fund our schools through higher taxes on cars, homes and businesses. We are tired of helping fund our classrooms through candy and bake sales. Republicans in the legislature have indicated by their votes that they don’t want to fully fund public education. Democrats will continue to support full funding of public schools at the state level to reduce the tax burden on homeowners and local businesses.”

Rebecca Ladner –

“You see – there is big difference between Republicans and Democrats in our outlook on issues that we believe should transcend party lines. On almost all issues facing Mississippians, it should not matter what party you identify with. We need grown-up discussions of issues instead of blindly following the party line. That is the attitude Mississippi Democrats have taken and will continue to take again this year on government accountability, jobs, education, and hospitals. There are other issues, however, where the governor just continues to be out-of-step with Mississippians.”

Brady Stevens, 11th Grader, Brandon High School -
“The governor didn’t think we could hear him when he said he didn’t like falling gas prices. My Mom and Dad think lower gas prices are good things because we are more concerned about our bills than big oil companies.”

Bo Eaton, House of Representatives –

“When the Governor took a trip to France in support of nuclear waste, I was amazed. I’m against it, Democrats are against it, and the Republicans and the Governor being for nuclear waste to create jobs? What is he thinking?

David Blount, Senate –

“For the past few years Republicans have introduced legislation to dramatically change the state retirement system and decrease benefits. They have even talked about ending annual cost-of-living adjustments, sometimes called the 13th check. Democrats oppose their changes. The recent problems uncovered at Singing River Hospital in Pascagoula show what can happen if Mississippians do not have a strong, secure retirement system. Democrats will protect the retirement system for our teachers and our public employees.”

Alyce Clarke, House of Representatives –

“Everybody who works for a living should be paid fairly, regardless of gender. That is why the Democrats support the Evelyn Gandy Family Forward Act to ensure that qualified women in the workplace will not be paid less because she is a woman. We ask our Republicans to join us in this effort.”

Rebecca Ladner –

“There are critical issues that should go beyond political parties. Mississippi Democrats believe that you want to see the parties find areas of agreement and work together to advance our state. For these issues to be successfully addressed and for positive action to be taken this year, Mississippi Democrats are asking our Republican colleagues to exhibit some independence and courage and join Democrats on the front lines in working toward solutions Mississippians deserve. God Bless you and God Bless the Great State of Mississippi.”


1/21/15

Posted January 22, 2015 - 6:10 am


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RELEASE:


Gov. Phil Bryant Delivers 2015 State of the State Address

Tax Cuts for Working Mississippians, Workforce Investment, Contract Reform among Highlights



JACKSON – In his fourth State of the State address, Gov. Phil Bryant presented his priorities to lawmakers for the 2015 legislative session. Major proposals include an income tax cut for working Mississippians and a $50 million investment in workforce training.



“In the three years that have passed, we have achieved remarkable things together,” Gov. Bryant said. “We have created one of the most job-friendly states in America…For the third year in a row, we have been awarded a Silver Shovel…and The American Economic Development Institute also ranks our Mississippi Development Authority as number nine in the nation among state economic development entities.”



Gov. Bryant highlighted the growing strength of Mississippi’s economy, as indicated by a decrease in the unemployment rate, an increase in job creation and a projected increase in personal income.



Workforce Development

“We realize that finding a job can and has changed lives for the better, so we must do all in our power to put people to work. Tonight, I am announcing the Keep Mississippi Working Fund—a program that will move nearly $50 million over the next two years without putting a demand on the General Fund.”



Due to reduced demand on Mississippi’s Unemployment Trust Fund, $50 million will instead be allocated for workforce training in high-demand industries. The Keep Mississippi Working Fund will not increase taxes.



The governor also called on the Legislature to fund a $3 million scholarship program for high school students in career tech programs to pursue skills certifications and academic degrees at Mississippi’s community and junior colleges.



“I believe with these two programs, we can focus on creating a world-class workforce. With that accomplished, our economic progress can be unlimited,” Gov. Bryant said of the workforce development initiative and scholarship program.



Economy

The governor highlighted Mississippi’s financial strength, as well, reporting that the state’s gross domestic product continues to exceed $100 billion, that revenue is projected to grow by almost $166 million for Fiscal Year 2016, that the state’s Rainy Day Fund is filled to its statutory limit and that the state’s credit rating remains a strong double A.



“In short, we pay our bills, save our money and invest wisely.”



Education

Governor Bryant reviewed the transformational public education reforms enacted under his administration and conveyed to lawmakers that his administration is working to put more money in Mississippi classrooms.



“To put more funding in the classroom, I signed into law a historic two-year $100 million teacher pay raise. Performance Based Pilot programs continue in 14 school districts and over $1 million has gone to teachers who are performing at the highest levels. We have also appropriated $65 million in the last three years for the National Board Certified Teacher Program.



“The Education Week Research Center ranks Mississippi as 19th in the nation for state expenditures on K-12 education as a percentage of state taxable resources. No less authority than the U.S. Department of Education lists our state as number twelve in the nation for school expenditures as a percentage of the state’s gross domestic product.



“My Executive Budget Recommendation increases MAEP funding by $53 million over the current year. Under my recommendation MAEP funding will reach nearly $2.2 billion or a 2.5 percent annual increase. Funding for K-12 overall will reach $2.5 billion. It includes $41 million for the second year of a $100 million teacher pay raise and $15 million for more reading coaches to assist in the literacy program within the Third Grade Gate.



“I believe most of us want to fund reforms in education that work and make certain the money goes to the classroom.”



The governor also called on the Legislature to send the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act to his desk for signature.



“Mississippi children with special needs, and their parents, deserve nothing less.”



Tax Cut for Working Mississippians

“Each year we have worked together to balance our budget and this year will certainly be no different, with one exception. This year I intend to take the bold and controversial position that when times are good, we shouldn’t spend all the money.



“In fact, I will ask you to give a raise to the people who need it most—the working people of Mississippi. I have proposed a Working Families Tax Cut that would provide an income tax credit to working Mississippians earning up to $52,000 annually.

“I realize the legislative process will generate additional ideas to provide tax relief to Mississippi families. The good news is I am open to any number of tax cuts that put money in the pockets of working Mississippians. In short, put a tax cut on my desk, and I will sign it.”



State Contract Reform

“Last year also brought us man made challenges such as those at the Department of Corrections—this even as we passed the most comprehensive corrections and criminal justice reform in this state’s history. But, as with all challenges, there exist opportunities. With a stellar independent task force to review all contracts within the department, we will make changes to add accountability to the Department of Corrections and beyond. With your help, we will bring long needed reform to laws governing state contracts, including an overhaul of our state’s contract review board.



“I will also ask for your help with several reforms to narrow the use of emergency and single source contracts across state government. We will ask to transfer control of all corrections farming land to the authority of the Secretary of State and place the corrections inmate welfare account at the Treasurer’s Office to separate controls of income and expenditures. With your support and the leadership of Marshall Fisher, we will reform the Department of Corrections and make it a system of efficiency, accountability and outcomes.”







“This is a new year for Mississippi and for all of us, filled with promise and challenges. Being an optimist, I always look for greater possibilities. I believe Mississippi can and will improve its public education system, build a stronger economy, become a healthier place to live and put our people to work…But if we are to do so, we must set aside our petty, political differences and seek real solutions in both our economic and social environments.



“Last year, I asked you to make a simple but profound change to our state seal. Some said it was a waste of time, but we knew better. You see by simply adding our national motto to the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi, we professed our understanding of a higher power over the affairs of men. We expressed a faith that this wonderful state will continue to be blessed. Let us now and forever boldly and without apology affirm, In God we trust.”





Full Text of Governor Bryant’s 2015 State of the State Address

Thank you Mr. Lt. Governor, Mr. Speaker and Mr. Speaker Pro-Tem. It is my high honor to be with all of you at this joint session. I welcome to the platform President Pro-Temp of the Mississippi Senate, Senator Giles Ward. I am mindful tonight of the absence of my friend, Terry Brown. Each time we have appeared here, Terry welcomed me with a strong handshake and Deborah with a prolonged and enthusiastic hug. We will miss our friend. But as it is often said, “He is with us tonight. He only has a better seat.”



Three years ago, I stood at this podium and delivered my Inaugural Address. The weather had forced us inside to gather in this historic chamber for the swearing-in ceremonies. I will always remember it was in this chamber I began my life in public service. Twenty years later, it was where Deborah and I began our journey as your governor and First Lady. I am fairly certain some in this chamber may not agree with all of my policies as governor. But I believe it is safe to say there is universal agreement that Deborah has been one of our state’s finest first ladies. From reading to children in classrooms in every county in the state to being a first responder after the Louisville tornado, she has served this state and its people with grace and commitment. I often think the good Lord allowed me to become governor just so Mississippians would have Deborah as their First Lady.



In the three years that have passed, we have achieved remarkable things together. So let us look at some of the positive facts about Mississippi: we have created one of the most job friendly states in America. According to Area Development magazine, Mississippi ranks in the top ten states in the nation for economic development. This is a ranking based on input from site selectors across the nation—men and women whose profession is to know each state’s economic environment and potential for productivity. For the third year in a row, we have been awarded a Silver Shovel, representative of breaking ground on a number of new businesses. Only 20 states each year receive this prestigious award. One of my personal favorites is the report that rates Mississippi number five in America for growth in women owned businesses—this according to American Express. The American Economic Development Institute also ranks our Mississippi Development Authority as number nine in the nation among state economic development entities. I want to personally thank Director Brent Christensen and his team at MDA for a job well done. It’s great to have nationally ranked football teams, but we need world-class economic developers as well. As I often say, economic development is a team sport.



Let us look at some other positive indicators. Three years ago, the unemployment rate in Mississippi was 9.8 percent. Today, it is around 7.3 percent. According to our State Economist, Mississippi added 8,800 more jobs in 2014 than in 2013. Projected real personal income growth in Mississippi during 2015 is expected to be 3.9 percent. We also know that personal income buys even more in Mississippi than it would in other states because of our low cost of living. The Tax Foundation has found income in Mississippi goes 16 percent further than the national average. So for every $100 in income, a Mississippian would make $116 compared to other states. So many new employees who move to Mississippi get a raise. If they move here from Washington, D.C., they could get around a 40 percent raise. Obviously, we would need to retrain most of them.



There are other reliable indicators of the health of our economy. If we look at the amount of individual income tax collected in Mississippi from Fiscal Year 2011 to Fiscal Year 2014, we see a nearly $300 million increase. It would appear working Mississippians are making more money and revenues are rising. We have also seen a decline in the number of people in our state who are receiving unemployment payments. From November 2013 to November 2014, there has been a reduction of 24 percent. These facts may not be printed in a magazine or included in a study, but they prove positive momentum exists.



While we are discussing economic development, let me take this time to assure you, the standards for investing in economic development projects under this administration have been demanding. We thoroughly examine each investment for financial stability, probability of success and the company’s history. Our qualifying standards are high and thorough. For your peace of mind, we intend to keep them that way.



Do not misunderstand my position. We are not yet where we need to be to move to a new level, but we are moving ahead and should not be timid about recognizing the good in Mississippi. Others will certainly revel in the bad. But as for me, I am proud of my Mississippi.





Now we know progress is never immediate, and it is often made during the most difficult of times. The key to eventually obtaining lasting success is to stay the course and to never abandon your core beliefs and historic principles. For example, we realize that finding a job can and has changed lives for the better. So we must do all in our power to put people to work.



Tonight, I am announcing the Keep Mississippi Working Fund, a program that will move nearly $50 million over the next two years into workforce training efforts without putting a demand on the General Fund. Mississippi has one of the healthiest Unemployment Trust Funds in the nation. Due to the decreased demand on the unemployment fund, we will be allocating those dollars for training purposes. These workforce-training dollars will be managed by the State Workforce Investment Board and committed to training programs at our community colleges. The Mississippi Economic Council's Blueprint Competitiveness Study identified the need for more skilled labor in Mississippi and a centralized agency to manage workforce development. Summed up, we will keep Mississippi working by investing more in skills training at our community colleges and having faith in Mississippi workers that they can help build the future.



I have also requested $3 million in my Executive Budget Recommendation to begin the Mississippi Works Scholarship Fund. This would offer a student in any high school involved in a career readiness curriculum who maintains a C average an opportunity to continue that course of study through a community college on a full scholarship. As a blue-collar kid, I worked my way through junior college, but today’s conditions are different and tuition is more challenging. Our working class kids need an even break to advance their skills. Let us give them a chance to be skilled craftsmen and women and find them a job.



I believe with these two programs, we can focus on creating a world-class workforce. With that accomplished, our economic success can be unlimited. We will keep breaking ground and cutting ribbons across the entire state and winning more Silver Shovels. I will admit to being an eternal optimist who believes Mississippi’s best days lie ahead and within our grasp.



Tonight I can report the State of Mississippi is in the best financial condition in recent history. Our hard work has begun to make measured progress. Mississippi’s Gross Domestic Product exceeded $100 billion in 2012 for the first time in history and has continued to do so each year since. In the last three years, our state’s revenue has cumulatively grown almost 10 percent. Revenue for Fiscal Year 2016 is projected to grow by $166 million. Our budget now uses little, if any, one time revenues for recurring expenses, and our Rainy Day Fund is filled to its statutory limit. Because of our state’s judicious borrowing and refinancing when interest rates are advantageous, our state’s credit rating remains a strong double A. In fact, we have retired as much debt as we have issued with the exception of economic development financing which has shown an $11 return for every $1 invested over the last three years. In short, we pay our bills, save our money and invest wisely.



Health care continues to be an issue of debate in Mississippi. Even without expansion, the Mississippi Division of Medicaid’s General Fund budget request this year is nearly $1 billion. The woodwork effect and other provisions of the Affordable Care Act have already resulted in an additional 71,000 Medicaid recipients, causing budget increases we can ill afford. To make matters more challenging, this number is projected to rise to 90,000 by July 1.



Realistically, the conditions surrounding health care are even more uncertain than before. I fully expect dramatic changes in the Affordable Care Act with Republicans in charge of both houses of Congress. A number of the new majority were sent to Washington promising to repeal the Affordable Care Act—an action Congress has attempted in whole or in part more than forty different times. I do believe we will see some positive changes proposed, such as portability, national tort reform and health care savings accounts. Another positive reform I am encouraging is the restoration of Medicare and Medicaid DSH payments. These payments were originally designed to defray the costs of uncompensated care.



In an effort to assist our hospitals, I have reached out to our Congressional delegation to suggest the portion of the Affordable Care Act that ends Medicaid and Medicare DSH payments be suspended. This would return revenue to hospitals, which continue to provide uncompensated care even in states where expansion has occurred. Congress passed similar provisions restoring the Medicaid DSH payments, and restoration of funding for DSH payments was even a part of the President’s budget. Obviously, elimination of Disproportionate Share Hospital payments is a portion of the law that should have been read before it was passed.



Most every state’s success is largely judged by its education system. Admittedly, our public education system has been a challenge for as long as any of us can remember. In fact, there is no recorded history of Mississippi’s public education system that shows statewide success. However, I believe the transformational changes brought about by the Mississippi Legislature in the past three years will finally begin to show progress. A brief review can begin with the Literacy Program that will end social promotion at the critical point of entering the fourth grade. Charter schools for the first time in Mississippi history will offer hope to those children trapped in failing school districts. Funding early childhood learning programs began in our first Legislative session together, and this year I will support doubling the funding for the Pre-K Collaborative Program with a total appropriation of $6 million. Because of our success, Education Week ranks Mississippi number nine in the nation in pre-school enrollments.



To put more funding in the classroom, I signed into law a historic two-year $100 million teacher pay raise. Performance Based Pilot programs continue in 14 school districts and over $1 million has gone to teachers who are performing at the highest levels. We have also appropriated $65 million in the last three years for the National Board Certified Teacher Program. Nationally certified teachers can receive a $6,000 annual salary increase. Your commitment to this program has resulted in Mississippi becoming number seven in the nation for Board Certified teachers. As I have said many times, we must find the best teachers possible and pay them well.



You and I together have offered complete scholarships to students achieving high marks on their ACT and who want to become teachers. We have, working with the Institutions of Higher Learning, increased the demands on students who major in education in our universities. And we have put into place a dyslexia training program for teachers and funded scholarships to help with this training.



I can assure you from personal experience, this response to dyslexia will result in direct benefits. This reading disorder is the number one reason children drop out of school. If we confront it aggressively, we can see a dramatic decrease in our state’s dropout rate and help turn around our reading scores for thousands of Mississippi children.



This year, we must also do all in our power to help children with special needs. The Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act will empower parents with educational choice to get their children the services they need. When only 22.5 percent of special needs children graduate from high school, something is terribly wrong. I call on you to send this bill to my desk. Mississippi children with special needs, and their parents, deserve nothing less.



Now let’s spend a moment on the reality of education funding. The Education Week Research Center ranks Mississippi as 19th in the nation for state expenditures on K-12 education as a percentage of state taxable resources. No less authority than the U.S. Department of Education lists our state as number twelve in the nation for school expenditures as a percentage of the state’s gross domestic product. My Executive Budget Recommendation increases MAEP funding by $53 million over the current year. Under my recommendation MAEP funding will reach nearly $2.2 billion or a 2.5 percent annual increase. Funding for K-12 overall will reach $2.5 billion. It includes $41 million for the second year of a $100 million teacher pay raise and $15 million for more reading coaches to assist in the literacy program within the Third Grade Gate. I believe most of us want to fund reforms in education that work and make certain the money goes to the classroom.



Each year we have worked together to balance our budget and this year will certainly be no different, with one exception. This year I intend to take the bold and controversial position that when times are good, we shouldn’t spend all the money. In fact, I will ask you to give a raise to the people who need it most—the working people of Mississippi. I have proposed a Working Families Tax Cut that would provide an income tax credit to working Mississippians earning up to $52,000 annually. It is non-refundable and would be a tax dividend subject to revenue growth and filling the Rainy Day Fund. I realize the legislative process will generate additional ideas to provide tax relief to Mississippi families. The good news is I am open to any number of tax cuts that put money in the pockets of working Mississippians. In short, put a tax cut on my desk, and I will sign it.



2014 had its challenges just as every year does. Nothing is ever perfect or controllable. On April 28, a record 23 tornadoes struck our state. Particularly hard hit were Louisville and Tupelo. Of the 14 people who lost their lives that tragic day, ten were in the Louisville area. President Pro-Tem Giles Ward’s home was totally destroyed, as were so many others. The hospital and an extended care facility were badly damaged. Some of the town’s biggest employers, including the Winston County Medical Center and Natron Wood Products, were closed. As always in times of disaster, Mississippians pulled together and got to work. The city, county and state responders set about saving lives and comforting victims. The officials joined the private sector, our Mississippi National Guard and faith-based organizations to begin rebuilding in all the affected areas. Within 21 days, a modular hospital was opened—FEMA’s first ever success with such a system. And I am proud to say that Natron Wood Products will reopen as Winston Plywood and Veneer and will become one of the largest plywood manufacturers in North America. Now that’s recovery Mississippi style. Joining us tonight is someone who is very important to that recovery—Kurt Liebich, CEO of Winston Plywood’s parent company, New Wood Resources. Please help me welcome Kurt.



On December 23, 2014, five tornadoes struck again with the hardest hit areas in Marion and Jones counties. These storms took the lives of five Mississippians, including the brother of Senator Billy Hudson. Homes were destroyed, and lives were forever changed. Once again we wept and prayed and thanked God more were not taken. Then we went to work. On Christmas Eve, I toured the damage and witnessed how the joys of the Christmas season were shattered for so many. But once again we became Mississippi strong. Since that time, more than 3,200 volunteers have worked more than 19,000 hours. Private donations have exceeded a quarter of a million dollars for tornado victims. The gift of hope continues across this great state in Winston, Leake, Lamar, Jones, Clarke, Rankin and other affected counties. We continue to be thankful while expressing man’s unending prayer for peace on earth and good will towards men.



Last year also brought us man made challenges such as those at the Department of Corrections. This even as we passed the most comprehensive corrections and criminal justice reform in this state’s history. But, as with all challenges, there exist opportunities. With a stellar independent task force to review all contracts within the department, we will make changes to add accountability to the Department of Corrections and beyond. With your help, we will bring long needed reform to laws governing state contracts, including an overhaul of our state’s contract review board. This reform also included the appointment of a new commissioner for the Mississippi Department of Corrections. I have selected a tough former federal and state law enforcement officer who will get control both outside and inside the walls. Most of you know Marshall Fisher from his years as Director of the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics. Please welcome him tonight as the Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections.



Based on recommendations from the Mississippi Department of Corrections Task Force, I will also ask for your help with several reforms to narrow the use of emergency and single source contracts across state government. We will ask to transfer control of all corrections farming land to the authority of the Secretary of State and place the corrections inmate welfare account at the Treasurer’s Office to separate controls of income and expenditures. With your support and the leadership of Marshall Fisher, we will reform the Department of Corrections and make it a system of efficiency, accountability and outcomes. Mississippi will not tolerate a 19th century correctional system. Rest assured change is on the way.



Last year was historic in so many ways—some challenging, others positively transformational. It was the year of the creative economy, and more than 22 million visitors came to our state. The potential to increase this number and the $390 million it brings with it is obvious. That’s why I’ll be asking you this year to invest an additional $5.1 million into tourism. Help us bring the world to Mississippi one visitor at a time, and I will return your investment six fold. Let us share Mississippi with everyone. To help us promote this and other tourism opportunities is Mississippi Ambassador for the Creative Economy, Mississippi’s own Marty Stuart.



Like many supporters of our children’s hospital, I am also working with the University of Mississippi Medical Center to bring a $150 million addition to Blair E. Batson, $120 million of which will be raised privately. The work of Children’s Hospital is a phenomenal success story that has saved the lives of so many. These efforts and many more would never become a reality without the man who has dedicated much of his life to the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Ladies and gentleman, please help me thank Vice Chancellor of the University of Mississippi Medical Center, Dr. Jimmy Keeton.



Work continues on a new medical school at UMMC. This will allow us to reach our goal of adding 1,000 new physicians by 2025. It is also notable that the William Carey University College of Osteopathic Medicine has graduated its first class of over 90 primary care physicians. Our rural physicians scholarship programs and our Office of Physician Workforce Development will help keep these doctors here in Mississippi where they are needed most. We also remind these students that Physician Practice magazine has named Mississippi as the best state in America to practice medicine for the second year in a row.



Mississippi has also achieved high acclaim for excellence in telemedicine. In fact, we are one of only 7 states to earn an A Rating from the American Telemedicine Association. I want to thank the Mississippi Telehealth Association for their hard work in bringing cutting edge health care to more Mississippians.





I also want to thank this Legislature for its commitment to defending Mississippians’ Second Amendment rights. Your work has been so successful, I have received the NRA Defender of Freedom award. Thank you very much.



Mississippi’s automotive industry remains strong. Nissan has expanded its Canton facility by 1,300 jobs and rolled off the new Murano—one of eight different vehicles made in Canton. In February, Toyota in Blue Springs will reach the half million mark for the Corolla. This has outpaced all other Toyota plans in the world.



Other important projects include a baseball stadium in Biloxi, a Mississippi History and Civil Rights Museum in Jackson and Yokohama’s tire factory in West Point. Nineteen movies were made in Mississippi last year while the Grammy Museum in Cleveland and the Arts and Entertainment Center in Meridian are being planned or constructed. As the football world watched the SEC, a few other things occurred in our state that demand recognition. Alcorn State University’s football team won the SWAC Championship and East Mississippi Community College became national champions for the third time in four years, making football history. Legendary University of Southern Mississippi punter Ray Guy was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2014, joining eight other Mississippians. Congratulations, Ray.



This is a new year for Mississippi and for all of us, filled with promise and challenges. Being an optimist, I always look for greater possibilities. I believe Mississippi can and will improve its public education system, build a stronger economy, become a healthier place to live and put our people to work. As National Chairman of Jobs for America’s Graduates, I believe we must offer every child a pathway to success. I am more determined than ever to see that happen. I believe Mississippi can rise to a new level. But if we are to do so, we must set aside our petty, political differences and seek real solutions in both our economic and social environments. Last year, I asked you to make a simple but profound change to our state seal. Some said it was a waste of time, but we knew better. You see by simply adding our national motto to the Great Seal of the State of Mississippi, we professed our understanding of a higher power over the affairs of men. We expressed a faith that this wonderful state will continue to be blessed. Let us now and forever boldly and without apology affirm, “In God we trust.”



Thank you all for your attendance and attention here tonight. Let us go to work.

1/21/15

Posted January 22, 2015 - 6:06 am


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Senate votes that climate change is real


The Senate on Wednesday voted 98-1 in favor of a an amendment stating that "climate change is real and is not a hoax."

The provision offered by Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) to put Republicans on record about climate change ahead of the 2016 election passed with near unanimous support, with only Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), the chairman of the campaign committee for Senate Republicans, voting "no."



The Hill
1/21/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 4:13 pm


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1/21/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 3:54 pm


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DA Tony Lawrence: SRHS under criminal investigation by his office, FBI, state auditor


PASCAGOULA, Mississippi -- Singing River Health System is under criminal investigation by District Attorney Tony Lawrence's office, the FBI and the state auditor's office, Lawrence confirmed today.

"An investigative plan has been formed, and it's in its early stages," Lawrence said this morning. "A lot of lawyers have assisted in giving me information that started the questioning process."

Details are few this early in the process.

"The rules and the law of the state of Mississippi limit what can be discussed when there is ongoing criminal investigation, and the reason for that is it's designed to protect the innocent and also to ensure that we get the guilty," Lawrence said.


Gulflive
1/21/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 12:14 pm


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SUN HERALD | Editorial: Tate Reeves' agenda would strengthen transparency


Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves' legislative agenda includes two important steps the Legislature should take to make government in the Magnolia State more transparent.

Reeves wants public hospital boards -- such as the one that oversees Singing River Health System -- to abide by the state's Open Meetings Act.

And his recommendations to reform state contracting laws would bring unprecedented disclosure to that process.

As the presiding officer of the state Senate, Reeves is in a powerful position to make such things happen. We hope to hear Gov. Phil Bryant champion the same reforms.



Sunherald
1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 12:06 pm


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RELEASE:

REPUBLICAN ROB GOUDY QUALIFIES FOR HOUSE 24

Pledges to fight for conservative policies with a servant’s heart for DeSoto



SOUTHAVEN (January 20, 2015) – Rob Goudy, Director of Operations at Getwell Road United Methodist Church in Southaven, today qualified to run as a Republican for the new House District 24 seat in DeSoto County.



“Throughout my life, I have strived to serve my community. I feel called to take that service to the House of Representatives and fight for conservative policies that will help DeSoto County families thrive through excellent schools, safe neighborhoods, and pro-job growth initiatives like lower taxes and less regulation,” Goudy said.



Goudy has served as Director of Operations at Getwell Road United Methodist Church since 2006. He and his wife started and operated The Cake Lady Bakery in Southaven for nine years and he has 15 years experience with FedEx where he served in a number of roles including Manager of Outbound Operations at the Memphis Hub. Goudy earned a Master of Business Administration degree for the University of Mississippi and a bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Christian Brothers University.



Goudy continued, “Small businesses are the largest employer in Mississippi. I understand the challenges they face and what government should do – and not do – to allow them to succeed. I also know the major impact minor regulation can have on a Fortune 100 Company, and the effect that has on a community like DeSoto County in which so many people are employed by or provide support services to a company like that.”



“I will fight for DeSoto: better schools, safer communities, lower taxes, roads and infrastructure to support job growth, a prudent state budget like our families must maintain, and our conservative values and freedoms,” said Goudy.



Goudy is married to Shelley Crawford Goudy and together they have three children: Britney Solomon Johnson, a radiology tech at Lebonheur Children’s Hospital in Memphis; Hunter Solomon, a police officer in Walls; and Hannah Goudy, a sophomore at Delta State University.



1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 10:31 am


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RELEASE from House Democratic Caucus chair Rep. Bobby Moak:


Jackson, MS - Democrats don't have to look into a crystal ball to guess what the Governor will cover in his State of the State Address this Wednesday night. It will be more empty promises to fund education, some tripe about silver shovel awards in hard-to-find magazines, a little hot air about inflated job numbers, and made up business rankings. All this while he whistles past the graveyard on a broken education system, record unemployment rates, and hospitals closing around the state.


In anticipation of that, the Democrats' response will be quite different this year. We’ll be addressing the truth, and we’ll be doing so in a fresh, innovative way. This will be a first for Mississippi, and airing on MPB TV this Wednesday at 5:00 pm.


1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 10:29 am


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U.S. Shipbuilders gird for McCain assault on protectionist law



Republican Rep. Steven Palazzo of Mississippi and Democratic Rep. Joe Courtney of Connecticut led a bipartisan group of 32 House members from shipyard states in opposing McCain’s move Tuesday in a letter to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and Senate Minority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

They noted that McCain’s amendment hasn’t been considered by a Senate committee and is unrelated to the Keystone pipeline.

The amendment, they wrote, “would gut the nation’s shipbuilding capacity and have far-reaching impacts across the nation.”

Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi said he will oppose McCain’s move. Shipbuilding, he said “plays a crucial role in our commerce and national defense.”



Sunherald
1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 7:28 am


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RELEASE:

Wicker: Obama’s ‘State of the Union’ Misses the Mark



WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s second-to-last State of the Union address:



“The State of the Union address tonight was disappointing. The President had an opportunity to outline ways in which he could join forces with the new Republican majority in Congress. The voters have given us this divided government and given us an opportunity to work together. Instead, the President delivered more of the same types of themes from years past – bigger government, higher taxes, and more spending. I think he is bound to realize that those are nonstarters with this new Republican majority.



“The President has only two years left in office. Rather than catering to the special interests of the far left, I was hoping the President would choose to use these next two years to work with Republicans to strengthen our economy, to create jobs for Americans.



“Americans made it clear in November that they are tired of business as usual in Washington. We have divided government; clearly it is going to take both political parties to produce results and to produce a lasting recovery. I would challenge anyone who says we are in a very real recovery, because I think it is weak. Job creation is weak, labor participation rate is very, very low, and job increases are barely keeping up with inflation. So, we need a real recovery.



“During times of divided government, we have been able to accomplish real things. Ronald Reagan did it after he lost the majority in the Senate in 1986, and Bill Clinton used divided government to do welfare reform after 1994. They chose to work with Congress to pass meaningful reforms in a bipartisan way.



“This newly elected Republican majority is listening to Americans. We are listening to the election results from November. Our focus is on solutions that increase economic activity, create good-paying jobs, boost wages for people who are already working, lower the cost of health care, and lower the cost of energy. I urge the President to work with us – not against us – so we can get this country moving in the right direction.”

1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 7:26 am


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RELEASE:

COCHRAN STATEMENT ON STATE OF THE UNION ADDRESS



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, today issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s State of the Union Address:



“The President has shared his priorities, but now it is time for him to work with the new Congress on solutions to the challenges facing our nation at home and abroad. An improving national economy is good news, but it is not the result of the executive orders, new regulations or government mandates dispensed by the Obama administration over the past six years of slow growth. I am ready to work with my colleagues and the administration to protect our national security interests and improve economic opportunities for families in Mississippi and around the country.”


1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 7:25 am


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Hancock/state election qualification update




The only contested local legislative seat so far is the District 122 Representative seat.

Incumbent Rep. David Baria (D) has qualified along with challenger Mickey Lagasse (R).

Baria, an attorney and construction company owner, has served two terms in Jackson.

From 2006 until 2010, Baria was the District 46 state senator.

For the past four years, he has served as the District 122 Rep.

Lagasse, the former head of Hancock County's Building Department, unsuccessfully ran for the District 46 senate seat in 2010.


SeaCoastEcho
1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 6:48 am


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Starkville Board of Aldermen override mayor's veto




It was just over a year ago that Starkville was the first in Mississippi to adopt a resolution against discrimination of anyone including the LGBT community. But, the board later repealed that resolution and also voted to remove wording in the city's insurance policy that allowed for the inclusion of domestic partnerships.

A few days ago, Mayor Parker Wiseman vetoed the board's decision to take away the resolution, making it clear the city doesn't tolerate discrimination against anyone in any form.

But at Tuesday's meeting, with a vote of 5-2, the mayor's veto was canceled.


WTVA
1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 6:36 am


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Wright Says Cheating Districts Should Have to Pay


Jackson, Miss.
State Superintendent of Education Carey Wright says that school districts guilty of cheating on state tests should have to pay the cost of investigations. She made the proposal Tuesday before a subcommittee of the House Appropriations Committee.


WTOK
1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 6:34 am


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WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi


WLOX
1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 6:29 am


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Cattle theft investigation by MDAC leads to arrests


JACKSON, MS (WDAM) -
This is a news release from the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce

Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde-Smith and the Mississippi Agricultural and Livestock Theft Bureau (MALTB), the law enforcement division of the Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, announced that three individuals were recently arrested for livestock theft and grand larceny for an incident that occurred on Pinehaven Drive in Hinds County.



WDAM
1/19/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 6:22 am


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From state senator Chris McDaniel's release:



History will record 2014 as a pivotal year for the conservative movement. The establishment has demonstrated their true colors, betraying our principles and the base of our party to win at any cost.

With a new year dawning, one thing is evident: Republicans may control the legislative branch, but they lack principled leadership.

Whether by race-baiting and party-raiding shenanigans in Mississippi, passing a bloated 1,600-page "CROmnibus" funding bill or punishing conservative leaders who dare to challenge the status-quo of ever-expanding government, liberty-based conservatives have faced hostility from "establishment" members of the GOP.

But there is hope.

Grassroots conservatives are organizing all across the country, particularly in Mississippi. "Remember Mississippi" has become a rallying cry, as thousands of our friends are working to make a real difference.

And we must prevail.

We will organize, strengthen our ranks, learn to message and win; or the DC establishment will ridicule us into silence, submission and surrender.

Either way, one thing's for sure: nothing will ever be the same.

Our battle is not simply one against the Democrats; we must defeat an ideology. The Republican party must become a party of principle, not simply a network of lobbyists, string-pullers and elitists.

In the coming days, we will be making a major announcement. We will be asking you to join us as we begin our march to heal our republic.

It's time to unify, friends.


1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 6:18 am


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RELEASE:


JACKSON—MSGOP Chairman Joe Nosef issued the following statement in response to President Obama's state of the union address:

"Unfortunately, the President tonight showed no signs of changing the course of his administration, even after his party was soundly defeated by voters in the 2014 midterm elections. Despite our national debt reaching $18.1 Trillion this month under his watch, the President is calling for billions of dollars in tax increases and higher government spending.

And while the President continues to praise bipartisanship in theory, he also continues to reject it in practice, the latest examples being his use of executive orders on immigration and his threat to veto bipartisan proposals such as the Keystone Pipeline.

It is no surprise that Democrats in Mississippi can't change parties fast enough."



1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 6:15 am


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RELEASE:

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) issued the following statement this evening in response to the president’s State of the Union Address:

“I am disappointed that President Obama’s vision for America appeared to be aimed at driving the debate in the 2016 election on income inequality and class-warfare, rather than setting a realistic agenda for Congress. This is President Obama’s same old top-down approach we've come to expect that hasn't worked. Raising taxes on people that are successful is not going to make people that are struggling more successful.”

“I believe every child should have an equal opportunity for a great education, which is why we must encourage high-tech educational opportunities and give parents the right to send their kids to schools of their choice. In Mississippi, our community college system is one of the best, if not the best in the country, and very affordable. Keeping it affordable, not free, should be our objective. President Obama’s proposal for two years of “free community college” only nationalizes our education system and tells students Washington, DC knows best while making community college more bureaucratic and costly.”

“Finally, our energy policy should encourage investment, lower fuel prices, and create jobs here at home. America has an abundance of natural resources, and through innovation we can continue to put people back to work, reduce energy costs, and make America energy independent while looking out for our environment at the same time. President Obama’s commitment to veto the construction of the Keystone XL Pipeline Project will prevent more than 40,000 American jobs from being created right here at home. I am disappointed that the President took credit for lower gas prices at the pump when it's been his policies that have caused lower and middle class American to suffer economically these past six years. American energy innovation in the private sector is responsible for the lower prices."


1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 6:14 am


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Cochran, Wicker not 'thrilled' with Obama's spending list




Sen. Thad Cochran said now that Obama has shared his priorities, "it is time for him to work with the new Congress on solutions to the challenges facing our nation at home and abroad.

"An improving national economy is good news," Cochran said in a statement, "but it is not the result of the executive orders, new regulations or government mandates dispensed by the Obama administration over the last six years of slow growth."

Sen. Roger Wicker told reporters he "wasn't thrilled with the president's laundry list of new spending … that we can't afford" in a time of soaring national debt.

Wicker he was disappointed with the speech and that it seemed at times Obama was "goading, almost taunting the House and Senate to stand for one applause line or another."


Sunherald
1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 6:10 am


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Gov. Bryant outlines priorities in State of the State


Job creation, schools, tax cuts and tourism are among the issues Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant will discuss Wednesday during his annual State of the State address as he outlines his election-year legislative agenda.

The speech is set for 5 p.m. before a joint session of the House and Senate at the state Capitol. It will be carried live on Mississippi Public Broadcasting radio and television.

"We'll be talking about economic development. We'll be talking about education. We'll be talking about proposals that I will have for this year's session — tax cuts, for example, increasing funding for tourism," Republican Bryant said last week when asked for a preview of the speech.

"As always, we will talk about the things that have happened in the past and the things that I will ask the Legislature to consider in the future," he said.



Clarion Ledger
1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 6:08 am


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RELEASE:


Palazzo Responds to State of the Union

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) released the following statement following President Obama’s State of the Union address tonight:

“We can always count on this president to deliver a well-executed speech full of rhetoric. What we can’t count on, is his ability to follow through and provide real solutions for the American people. What I heard tonight was more of the same. Six years in and the president still doesn’t get it.

It’s time for the political games to stop and our nation’s top priorities to be taken seriously. We need to lighten the load on hard-working Americans, not further burden them with MORE taxes. We need to enforce the laws on the books and secure our borders, not offer hand-outs to individuals who are in our country illegally. When is this president going to stand up for the American people for a change? His proposals are going nowhere in Congress until he starts putting Americans and America first.”


1/20/15

Posted January 21, 2015 - 6:05 am


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Singing River Hospital System v KPMG Complaint



Posted January 20, 2015 - 3:41 pm


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COCHRAN ANNOUNCES NEW CHIEF OF STAFF, PERSONNEL CHANGES

Current Chief of Staff Bruce Evans to be Staff Director for Appropriations Committee

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today announced personnel changes, including the naming of Keith Heard to be chief of staff of his personal office and promoting legislative director Adam Telle to a deputy chief of staff and legislative director position.

Cochran, the new chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, on Tuesday also confirmed that his current chief of staff Bruce Evans will be staff director on the appropriations panel.

“The new Congress will be an exciting time to serve in the Senate, and I look forward to working with my colleagues to advance policies that will expand economic opportunity and enhance our national security interests. I am naming a leadership team that will be able to capably advise me in carrying out my responsibilities to represent Mississippi in the Senate,” Cochran said.

Heard is a partner with the Washington-based TCH Group, and has worked previously for Cochran in legislative and political capacities. He worked on Cochran’s first Senate campaign and was among the Senator’s first Senate staff members, working on legislative and appropriations issues. In 1985, Heard joined the private sector where he held a number of positions before joining the TCH Group, including executive positions for the National Cotton Council and National Corn Growers Association. Heard has extensive political experience with the Republican Party in Mississippi. A native of Brooksville, Heard has a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Mississippi State University. Heard and his wife, Chrissy, have four children and reside in Columbus, Miss.

Telle, who has worked for Cochran since 2007, was named legislative director in 2013. Prior to that promotion, the Northport, Ala., native was a legislative aide whose responsibilities included national security, homeland security and transportation policies. He also served as deputy press secretary. Prior to working for Cochran, Telle served on the staff of Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.). Telle received a Bachelor of Science degree in computer science and a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism from Mississippi State University in 2005. He is a former MSU student body president.

Evans was named Cochran’s chief of staff in 2013 after serving as the Republican staff director for the Senate Appropriations Committee since 2006. Prior to that, Evans had been the clerk for the Interior Appropriations Subcommittee and also staff director of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee. Evans started his career on Capitol Hill in 1989 after working two years in the U.S. Department of Commerce. A native of Olympia, Wash., Evans earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in history from Yale University.


Sen. Thad Cochran Press Release
1/20/15


Posted January 20, 2015 - 3:28 pm


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SOS Election Study Group - Committee Report



Posted January 20, 2015 - 3:20 pm


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From email sent by Mississippi Democratic Party:


Subject: A little less conversation, a little more action




You'll want to tune in for this one.



Tomorrow, January 21st, Phil Bryant will give the 2015 State of the State and outline his legislative agenda. We all know what that means. More empty promises.



Well, we're tired of his meaningless rhetoric. Democrats will give a special response this year to the State of the State - and you don't want to miss it. Phil Bryant's remarks will begin at 5 p.m., and our response will begin immediately after his nonsense.



We'll also be hosting a watch party in Jackson, MS. Join us from 5-7:00 p.m. as we watch the State of the State and the response at Hal & Mal's (200 Commerce Street, Jackson, MS.) Can't make it? Host a watch party for you and your friends! Democrats all around the state will be tuning in to see this, and you don't want to miss it!



See you there -

Ouida



P.S. Make sure you play your favorite Elvis records during Bryant's remarks!



1/20/15

Posted January 20, 2015 - 3:05 pm


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Hundreds have already downloaded the YallPolitics app for iPhone. Download it today from the Apple Store.

It features

Latest News
Legislative Bill Search
Daily House and Senate Calendars
House/Senate Rosters
A Political Events Calendar
AND Live audio feeds via your iPhone to House and Senate proceedings!

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Posted January 20, 2015 - 8:55 am


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PATSY R. BRUMFIELD: Do legislators really know better?

Initiative 42 could never take away the Legislature's power to appropriate tax revenue.

But goodness, these know-all legislators who supported the trick alternative say, what's this wording about a chancery court enforcing the law? Apparently, it's needed because the Legislature has somehow evaded paying the bill they promised 18 years ago. Do you and I get to evade any laws when we feel like it?

And so, we look forward to the debate about Initiative 42 and in explaining how the Legislature managed to muck up the ballot for you in November with a phony alternative.

Patsy Brumfield Letter to the Editor
Sun Herald
1/19/15

Posted January 20, 2015 - 7:17 am


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Here's the latest MSGOP listing of candidates who have qualified to run for the state house.


Click here for the PDF.

1/20/15

Posted January 20, 2015 - 6:31 am


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Here's the latest MSGOP listing of candidates who have qualified to run for the state senate.

Click here for the PDF.


1/20/15

Posted January 20, 2015 - 6:26 am


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State lawmaker wants to restrict drones



Some Mississippi lawmakers are proposing to restrict the use of drones in the state.

Drones, which have been used by the U.S. in attacks abroad against terrorists, are sold by major retailers, including Walmart and Best Buy.

Nationally, concerns have been expressed about the unmanned aircrafts possibly being used to spy on people inside the U.S. and taking photos or other images without permission.

A House bill filed by state Rep. Ken Morgan, R-Morgantown, called the "Drone Prohibition Act," would make it unlawful for anyone to capture an image using a drone unless it's tied to a university, law enforcement, military, government emergency agencies, Federal Aviation Administration, satellite mapping, utility mapping or licensed real estate brokers.


Hattiesburg American
1/19/15

Posted January 20, 2015 - 6:22 am


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Raising Taxes on the Rich to Give the Middle Class a Tax Cut: Wicker Plans Response to State of the Union


WASHINGTON, D.C.–The State of the Union speech is tonight and Pres. Obama is expected to talk about his plan to raise taxes on wealthy people to raise about $320 billion over the next ten years to give the middle class a tax cut. Mississippi’s junior senator plans a response.

A news release from Sen. Roger Wicker (R) said he will have immediate reaction to the speech and will host a conference call for media with his thoughts.



NewsMS
1/20/15

Posted January 20, 2015 - 6:16 am


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Excerpt from SouthMS Tea Party email:

Fellow Patriots,

Tomorrow Monday January 19, 2015 we will have our January 3rd Monday meeting. As usual the meeting will be at the D'Iberville Rec. Center off Brodie Rd. in D'Iberville. We will hear from guest speaker Noel Fritsch of the National Gun Rights Association and in the second hour we'll have a special video presented by our Chaplain Warren Gaffney.


1/19/15

Posted January 20, 2015 - 6:08 am


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State Sen. Michael Watson of Pascagoula files bill to repeal Common Core, form advisory board


JACKSON, Mississippi -- Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, filed a bill tonight that he co-authored with Sen. Angela Burks Hill, R-Pearl River, aimed at a full repeal Common Core standards and form an advisory board to come up with new educational guidelines for the state.

Bills had to be filed by a Monday midnight deadline to be considered this legislative session.

Watson's bill will be assigned a number and a committee - likely the education committee - on Tuesday, and it must be out of committee by Feb. 3 to stay alive on the legislative calendar.

Watson said there is a bill filed in the House that essentially "just changes the name," of Common Core.


Gulflive
1/19/15

Posted January 20, 2015 - 6:04 am


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CHRIS MCDANIEL DOUBLING DOWN ON HARD WORK DESPITE ATTACKS


Pender goes on in his opinion piece about how McDaniel is supposedly “Present, but unaccounted for” during session.

Chris McDaniel, the popular State Senator who took on a 42-year, statewide elected incumbent in Thad Cochran in last year’s heated Republican US Senate Primary continues to live rent-free in the heads of those who wish to keep government as is.

McDaniel has been questioned on his presence in the legislative session by Pender before in questioning whether McDaniel’s heart is still in his state senate job. According to McDaniel spokesman Keith Plunkett the Jones County Senator is very focused.

“Sen. McDaniel has not only been at the Capitol every day working for the voters,” says Plunkett. “He has also been there in the past week when the body was not even in session, meeting constituents, writing legislation and attending to upcoming committee duties. I’ve met with him there on several different occasions. I don’t know if I’ve ever seen him more rested and ready.”...


...“You would think the media would have more to write about at the state Capitol than who saw whom and who was seen by whom,” Plunkett wrote in an emailed statement to ANM News. “The Capitol press corps in Jackson should be taking coverage a bit more serious than the writers of a VIP section in a lifestyle magazine.”



ANMNews
1/19/15

Posted January 19, 2015 - 8:09 pm


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Empower Mississippi President, Grant Callen, issued the following statement on the filing of the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act by Representative Carolyn Crawford and Senator Nancy Collins.

This legislation (HB 394) would create a pilot program providing parents of students with special needs the option of withdrawing their child from a public school and receiving an Education Scholarship Account (ESA) with funds to help pay for educational expenses outside the traditional public school. Funds would be distributed through a debit card and used for private school tuition, educational therapy, and tutoring.

“I applaud Representative Carolyn Crawford and Senator Nancy Collins for introducing this important legislation and recognizing that students with special needs deserve the opportunity to choose an education that will meet their unique educational needs.”

“Across Mississippi, too many of the 63,000 children with special needs are falling behind because the public schools they are in are not meeting their needs and few parents can afford to purchase privately what the school system isn’t able to provide. Only 23 percent of children with special needs in Mississippi ever graduate! Mississippi is failing our most vulnerable citizens and that has to change!”

“This bill has bipartisan support in both chambers of the legislature, enthusiastic support from parents and special needs advocates across the state, and I urge the legislature to pass this bill quickly. Please don’t make the families who are counting on this bill wait one more day.”

Facts about The Special Needs Act:
• This is a pilot program open to 500 students in year one and 500 new students each year after.
• Students with an active Individualized Education Program (IEP) within the past 18 months will be eligible to apply for an Education Scholarship Account (ESA).
• Each account will be funded at approximately $6,500 per child per year and could be spent on approved educational expenses like private school tuition, educational therapy, and tutoring.
• Parents will sign a compliance agreement for proper use of funds and each account will be audited.
• Participating private schools must be accredited, tutors and therapists must be licensed or certified.

Empower Mississippi
1/19/15



Posted January 19, 2015 - 5:35 pm


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LT. GOV. REEVES RELEASES 2015 AGENDA
Plan includes contracting reform, increasing doctor access, effective education spending


Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves today released a legislative plan to reform state contracting laws, increase government transparency, effectively spend classroom dollars and improve medical care.

“We’ve gotten our fiscal house in order by balancing the budget, saving for a rainy day and ending the long-time shell game of spending one-time money on recurring expenses over the past three years,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “However, I believe we’re not finished weeding out wasteful spending and streamlining government programs.”

Lt. Gov. Reeves agenda includes reforms to the state’s contracting laws to make it harder for individuals to defraud taxpayers and easier for Mississippians to see who has state contracts.

The full agenda is attached. Highlights include:

• Eliminating the vehicle inspection sticker.
• Placing public hospital boards under the Open Meetings Act.
• Reforming state contracting laws.
• Expanding physician residency access.
• Improving care for the mentally ill.
• Ensuring high academic standards for Mississippi students.
• Spending more on education based on effective district management.
• Providing school choice for special needs children.
• Reducing concealed carry permit fees.
• Recognizing military training for firearm permits.




Responsible Budgets

Three years ago, Mississippi’s budget relied on $460 million in non-recurring revenues. Relying on one-time money created a shortfall that had to be covered each year through patchwork appropriations, jeopardizing funding stability for critical agencies and programs.

Since then, the Legislature made it a priority to stop this irresponsible budget gimmick in order to get Mississippi’s fiscal house in order. Today, Mississippi has a balanced budget, spending only recurring revenues for recurring expenses.

Conservative budgeting practices also enabled the Legislature to close funding gaps; significantly increase funding for priorities like education, public safety, and healthcare; and fill the state’s Rainy Day Fund to its statutory limit.
But sound financial stewardship isn’t limited to spending; we must also keep a watchful eye on the state’s debt. When I was elected Lieutenant Governor, I made a commitment to voters to stop the state from swiping its credit card at every turn.

I have successfully fought to block excessive bonds and reduce the overall debt burden on Mississippians. In three years, we’ve paid more than $1 billion in debt payments. By trimming debt and lowering those payments, we can redirect those funds to classrooms.

Mississippi’s economy has gradually recovered from the effects of the Great Recession, and priority budgets reflect these improvements.

The Legislature has been able to invest $250 million in education at all levels over the past three years while keeping other services funded at steady levels – an accomplishment made possible by reining in unnecessary spending and ending our reliance on one-time money.

These policies have put Mississippi on solid financial footing, paving the way for legislators to invest in outcome-based programs and provide much-needed taxpayer relief. For the first six months of the fiscal year, revenue was nearly $100 million above expectations, which means we have an opportunity to return tax dollars back to the people.

In the last three years, two out of every three state employees received a pay increase. This includes judges, attorneys, sheriffs, teachers and most state workers. Now is the time for taxpayers to get a pay raise, too. In the coming weeks, I look forward to announcing plans to provide broad-based tax relief for working Mississippians.

As a conservative, I believe government shouldn’t be in the business of picking winners and losers, and I intend to announce a tax plan that reaches all Mississippians.

As a conservative, I believe the tax code should be simple. My plan will be one that encourages capital investment in our state and promotes long-term economic growth.

In addition to taxes, policymakers must take a good look at the fees and fines Mississippians pay and determine whether that money is put to good use.

For example, the $5 fee for a vehicle inspection sticker is not effective for our state anymore. Many states are eliminating the inspection sticker as vehicles are manufactured with improved safety features. Now is the time to ditch the sticker and deploy those troopers inspecting the inspecting stations to the road to protect the public.

Transparent Government

Recent events have highlighted the need for the Legislature to redesign the methods by which the state executes contracts. While changes in law cannot completely prevent bad actors from defrauding taxpayers, changes can be made to tighten controls and bring more transparency to the process.

I believe there is a fundamental problem in the statutory makeup of the Personal Services Contract Review Board. This board is made up of the executive directors of state agencies but does not reflect non-government, private sector membership.

Unfortunately, this practice can lead to the proverbial fox watching the henhouse, since only agencies of government stand to benefit from contract approvals. While I have great respect for agency directors, we must avoid conflicts of interest by appointing private sector members to this board.

In addition to revising the PSCRB membership, we must also ensure greater legislative oversight in the procurement process. I recommend the PSCRB provide copies of the minutes of their meetings to the chairmen of the Accountability, Efficiency, and Transparency Committees; provide copies of any proposals related to personal and professional services contract policies to these committees at least 15 days before voting on such proposals; and provide quarterly reports on all sole source contracts executed by state agencies.

Most importantly, I believe government contracts should be easy to find and searchable on the Transparency Mississippi website. Taxpayers should be able to see vendors and subcontractors who are performing work for the public benefit.

That is why I was proud to support legislation in the 2014 session to implement the disclosure and transparency recommendations of the PEER committee report “Contracting with State Agencies.” However, we will continue identifying ways in which to further strengthen the transparency website.

We must remember that procurement reform is only effective if it includes shining a light on agency appropriations. Fiscal transparency can provide greater oversight into how agencies collect and spend money. I believe we should implement three simple yet transformative appropriations reforms.

First, let’s discontinue the archaic practice of giving agencies a blank check to spend money outside their normal appropriations. While this “escalation authority” provides flexibility to agencies, which manage large amounts of federal funds, it is not necessary to include in most agency appropriations and leads to mischief.

Secondly, we can no longer turn a blind eye to the fact agencies, boards, commissions, and other entities of government collect myriad fees, fines, and assessments. I believe we should require all agencies to disclose their funding sources by providing a list of all fees, fines, and taxes they assess or collect, explain the basis for those collections and the statutes that allow them to levy such fines and fees. Recent events have shown that agencies have kept funding sources outside state coffers, and we must identify and eliminate such practices.

Finally, I believe we should get a handle on the practice of state employees “retiring” from government work yet keeping their job under the guise of a “contract worker.” In this scenario, workers are receiving both a paycheck from the state and monthly retirement benefits. This year, I will join Appropriations Chairman Senator Buck Clarke in pushing for greater oversight of these types of workers. We will propose prohibiting agencies from paying contract workers unless those workers meet the federal definitions for independent contractor set forth by the Internal Revenue Service.

I also believe recent events on the Gulf Coast show more transparency is needed at public hospitals. The boards of public hospitals, which are supported by taxpayer dollars, should operate in the sunlight so employees, patients and taxpayers know the level of medical care and fiscal management are operating effectively. That is why I support open meetings for public hospital boards.

Increase Physician Workforce

The State of Mississippi has made a significant investment into the construction of a new medical school building on the campus of the University of Mississippi Medical Center’s campus.

This new school will allow UMMC to train future generations of Mississippians in one of the most advanced settings, as well as increase the number of physicians that graduate each year from both of the state’s medical schools.

The next step in that investment is creating more residency programs across the state to allow these graduates to train while serving the health needs of all Mississippians.

I am proposing the allocation of $4 million to create new residency slots at UMMC, as well as seed funding for residency programs in rural areas of the state. This allocation will allow more medical training to take place in Mississippi, therefore putting more practitioners in the state.

Furthermore, research has shown that physicians are more apt to practice in the geographic area they conduct their residency in upon completion.

This will put more doctors in Mississippi, which is one solution to the challenge of providing good health care in every county.


Reform Mental Health Care

Mississippi spends almost $600 million in state and federal funds caring for mentally ill patients. According to the Mississippi Medical Association, our state spends more on mental health care than any other state per capita.

In addition, the overburdened mental health system is plagued by legal disputes and settlements, costing taxpayers $26 million in the past two years alone.

That number does not include the millions spent by counties when mentally ill individuals end up in local jails.

I am calling for a Blue-Ribbon Commission to fund meaningful solutions to transform care for the mentally ill in Mississippi.

Talking to physicians, counselors, law enforcement and many others, the delivery of mental health care is a challenge in all parts of Mississippi.

I will call for the Board of Mental Health, Community Mental Health Centers, physician and nurses groups, judiciary, law enforcement, and other interested parties to come together to provide a blueprint for an effective and efficient delivery system.

This is about serving some of the most vulnerable Mississippians while ensuring we have the most advanced and efficient system to serve them with.


Strengthen Education

As policymakers, the Legislature is ultimately responsible for ensuring Mississippi schoolchildren are learning at the highest level possible.

For too long, the system has placed low expectations on students. I believe if we set the bar high enough, Mississippi schoolchildren will sail over it.

However, it is imperative that Mississippi retain control of its academic standards and implementation not administrators in Washington D.C.

That is why I support ending Common Core and establishing a task force comprised of educators, parents and subject matter experts to evaluate and create the highest level of standards in the nation for Mississippi.

Funding for education at all levels has grown $250 million over the past three years. The Legislature has focused on increasing education budgets while other agencies saw either reductions or no changes in funding.

This year, I anticipate schools receiving even more state tax dollars as the budget is finalized in March. However, we have a duty to ensure those dollars are spent effectively.

The current school funding formula has been in place for almost 20 years and – like any government program – should be not be immune from review.

The goal of any education funding formula should be to ensure funding equity while simultaneously (and more importantly) making targeted investments in what makes the most difference for students.

Currently, school funding is based on the spending habits of C-level, or average, districts. If we want our students to complete nationally and internationally, we must admit that C-rated school districts are not a strong benchmark. Instead, base-student cost must be calculated using A- and B-rated district per-pupil expenditures.

Also, the formula is flawed in the way we calculate district funding using student attendance. I support using quarterly enrollment to accurately measure how many students each district is serving.

After years of talking about school district consolidation, the Legislature is finally acting on it. In three years, the number of school districts has been reduced to 145 from 152. There are far too many school districts spending too much on central office support staff that does not positively affect the classroom or student achievement. This year, I support consolidating districts in Durant and Holmes County and continue to look at other areas where savings can be found to place more money into the classroom.

I have a fundamental belief that every child deserves an opportunity at success no matter what their parents do for a living or their zip code.

That is why I am a strong proponent of school choice and have successfully fought for public charter schools in Mississippi and clarity in the school ratings system.

This year, I will again support the rights of parents to find the best academic environment for their special needs children.

Mississippi graduates slightly more than 20 percent of special needs students. That statistic is shameful and I support parents of special needs children in their efforts to customize education to the needs of their child.


Protect Second Amendment Rights

In the 2014 Legislative Session, the Senate passed a measure that would make concealed carry permits more affordable for all Second Amendment supporters in Mississippi.

I propose similar legislation during the 2015 Legislative session to help enable all Mississippians to express their rights to bear arms.

Due to the profitability of the program, it is clear we can reduce the fiscal burden of taxpayers who want to legally carry firearms in this state without impacting the Department of Public Safety’s bottom line. There is a surplus of $2.5 million in this fund. No government agency should profit off of Mississippi gun owners. I propose reducing this fee by 20 percent.


Recognize Military Service

Mississippi has a proud military tradition. Members of the Mississippi National Guard, current soldiers and veterans went through grueling training to learn how to defend our nation. This training included extensive lessons on the proper use of firearms.

That is why I believe that training should earn active-duty soldiers and honorably discharged veterans the right to hold enhanced concealed carry permits without paying almost $200 to a private firearms instructor.


Lt. Governor Tate Reeves Press Release
1/19/15

Posted January 19, 2015 - 10:55 am


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Blackwell announces for State Senate


Small business owner, a visible community leader, and DeSoto County Republican Party Chairman Kevin Blackwell has filed the necessary paperwork to run for the state Senate District 19 post.

"Mississippi faces unique financial, economic and educational challenges that necessitate common sense, business-minded solutions," Blackwell said. "With over 30 years as a healthcare executive and owner of three small businesses, I possess a diverse set of business skills coupled with conservative values that will enable me to serve the citizens and advance the interests of DeSoto and Marshall counties."

Blackwell said as a state legislator, there is pro-business legislation that he will help champion.

"I think one of the biggest things that we need to look at are the taxes that small business owners face and help remove some of the barriers to them even getting into business," Blackwell said.



Desoto Times
1/17/15

Posted January 19, 2015 - 7:05 am


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MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS


WLBT
1/18/15

Posted January 19, 2015 - 7:02 am


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WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi


WLOX

Posted January 19, 2015 - 6:58 am


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WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi


WLOX
1/18/15

Posted January 19, 2015 - 6:56 am


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HENRY BARBOUR: PRIEBUS, NOT HALEY, ‘BEST RNC CHAIRMAN WE EVER HAD’


Despite his influential Haley’s leading the Republican National Committee from 1993 to 1997, Henry Barbour, known infamously to the GOP’s Tea Party-aligned base as the guy behind the smearing of Tea Party Senate candidate Chris McDaniel, Mississippi committeeman Henry Barbour thinks current Chair Reince Priebus, not his uncle Haley, may be the “best RNC Chairman” the GOP’s ever had.

“There’s a good argument that he’s the best RNC chairman we ever had,” said Barbour the younger to Politico.



Breitbart
1/17/15

Posted January 19, 2015 - 6:50 am


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Mississippi AG Jim Hood asks court to dismiss Google's lawsuit (updated)



JACKSON, Mississippi -- Mississippi's attorney general says a suit against him by Google should be dismissed.

In court papers filed Jan. 12, Democrat Jim Hood argues the Internet search giant's assertion that it is protected by federal law fails to invalidate state laws under which he's investigating, and that Google has jumped the gun because Hood doesn't know what information his inquiry will yield.

"This lawsuit is nothing more than a brazen strategic maneuver on Google's part to hinder the attorney general's investigation into its possible violations of Mississippi law," a lawyer for Hood wrote. "And for this, Google does not enjoy constitutional immunity from compliance with Mississippi's consumer protection laws."



Gulflive
1/17/15

Posted January 19, 2015 - 6:47 am


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PENDER: Present, but unaccounted for



State Sen. Chris McDaniel received a warm greeting from a colleague on the Senate floor: “Chris! Welcome back! Where have you been? I’m glad to finally see you!”

Trouble was, this was near the end of the second week of the current legislative session....



...McDaniel was on the Senate floor Jan. 6, the first day of the session, but has since been missing from the chamber most days of the session. On Wednesday, when he was greeted by his colleague, he came in about 45 minutes into heated debate on an education bill. But McDaniel has been marked present, if unaccounted for, each day. He’ll receive his “per diem” of about $100 a day....



...Maybe McDaniel is just temporarily lying low to let election fear and loathing die down. It’s widely thought McDaniel will again seek a higher office, statewide or federal.

At this point, one has to wonder whether his heart is truly in his state Senate post.



Clarion Ledger
1/18/15



Posted January 19, 2015 - 6:43 am


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No 'lame duck' term for Martinson


State Rep. Rita Martinson said 2015 won't be a lame duck year for her as she hopes to push through a few pieces of legislation before ending a 24-year career as state representative.

The second week of the 90-day session began this week and Martinson said she's been too busy to have any bittersweet moments.

"I feel like I'm working harder than ever," she said. "There's so many things I'd like to see happen."


Madison County Journal
1/14/15

Posted January 17, 2015 - 7:25 am


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State withdraws from testing consortium


Mississippi withdrew on Friday from a multiple state consortium formed to create tests that measure how well students master the Common Core State Standards.

The state now begins its search for a new test unencumbered by its association with the Partnership for Assessment of Readiness for College and Careers, after the State Board of Education voted to leave PARCC. That move had appeared inevitable since September, when Mississippi’s Personal Service Contract Review Board denied a contract to allow Mississippi to provide PARCC’s test for multiple years.


Daily Journal
1/17/15

Posted January 17, 2015 - 7:20 am


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Bryant accused of improper role in community college search



The president of a regional accrediting group sent a Jan. 9 letter saying Bryant's attempts to change requirements for the director were undue political influence.

"I have been told that the governor is pressuring members of the state board to change the requirements for the leader of the system by not requiring that person to have a doctoral degree or any postsecondary educational experience, but to make an appointment based on politics and not on qualifications," Belle Wheelan, president of the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, wrote to Clark...



...Bryant spokesman Knox Graham described Wheelan's letter as "baseless and condescending."

The governor asked the board to drop requirements for an academic doctorate or experience in educational administration.

"I would hope you would reassess the existing job description and broaden the focus to include experience related to workforce training and development," Bryant wrote in a Nov. 14 letter.





Sunherald
1/16/15

Posted January 17, 2015 - 7:13 am


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Latest news links on the Singing River Health System saga:


SRHS files motion asking Judge Neil Harris to recuse himself from pension litigation


SRHS files federal lawsuit against KPMG for 'botched' audits, breach of contract, malpractice


1/16/15

Posted January 17, 2015 - 7:06 am


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Sen. Wicker tours Columbia tornado damage



On Friday, Senator Roger Wicker toured storm damage in Columbia.

It's his first trip since the December 23 tornado. The senator traveled the path of the storm starting on Highway 13 South to Hwy 98 and ending on Hwy 198.



WDAM
1/16/15

Posted January 17, 2015 - 6:58 am


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STATEMENT ON MISSISSIPPI’S WITHDRAWAL FROM PARCC

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves praised the state Board of Education for voting to withdraw from PARCC assessments today.

In a December speech, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves called for the state to end Common Core and create its own set of high academic standards for students. He proposed this session creating a task force of administrators, teachers, parents and subject matter experts to craft Mississippi standards for college and career preparation, and he supports more rigorous assessments aligned to these standards.

“I appreciate the state Board of Education withdrawing the state from PARCC,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “Mississippi needs to develop the highest set of standards for our kids while ensuring rigorous student testing at the best price for taxpayers.”


Posted January 16, 2015 - 10:54 am


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The Better Schools Better Jobs deception and who’s really behind it
Things are not always what they seem
by Alan Lange
To hear former Daily Journal columnist turned Democratic operative Patsy Brumfield tell it, she’s sitting at the sharp edge of hundreds of thousands of grass roots organized Mississippi parents ready to overthrow the way that education is funded in Mississippi. But the front group, innocuously called “Better Schools and Better Jobs” (BSBJ) appears to be nothing more that a Democratic front and slush fund run by and for largely out of state Democratic party and educational activists. Of course, this effort involves a lot of "friends of the media" so there's been almost no background into BSBJ from Mississippi media whatsoever.

A look at their campaign finance shows money going large from and to major out of state Democratic party power players.

A big source of money is the Southern Education Foundation, on which former Secretary of State Dick Molpus serves. They’ve donated well in excess of $250,000.

The Markham Group has been paid over $100,000 in funds by BSBJ for Initiative 42 and they feature work on campaigns/events for Michelle Obama and Bill/Hillary Clinton on their site.

The Feldman Group are beltway-based Democratic Research consultants that feature a who’s who of Democrats on their client list including Bennie Thompson and Obama 2012. The Feldman Group has received thousands from BSBJ.

Here are links to just a couple of the BSBJ finance reports.

BSBJ - March 2014
BSBJ Oct 2014

Make no mistake. Better Schools Better Jobs is nothing more than an awkward and slightly better funded front for Democratic politics and their Initiative 42 should be looked at by voters under that exact lens.

If this were only about kids and parents and grass roots, the effort would be bi-partisan and it would try to be reaching some common ground versus seeking to get usurp legislative spending precedent to put billions in the hands of a local judge to allocate if they don’t like what happens under the Dome. This is about money and power and they’re trying to exert both from out of state folks who don’t give a rip about Mississippi kids attaining success (as long as they can get theirs on the way).


Posted January 16, 2015 - 9:32 am


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RELEASE:

SENATOR TONY SMITH ANNOUNCES CANDIDACY FOR SOUTHERN DISTRICT PSC

JACKSON- Senator Tony Smith, of Picayune, announced his candidacy today for the office of Public Service Commissioner for the Southern District. Smith has served in the Mississippi Senate since 2012 as Local and Private Vice-Chair, Education, Finance, Highways and Transportation, Insurance, Public Health and Welfare, and Public Property committee member. He has a proven, conservative voting record and intends to continue his commitment of transparency and accountability as Commissioner.

“As a local, small business owner and lawmaker, I understand the importance of fair regulations and holding those accountable for transparent and just pricing. My service as Public Service Commissioner will enable me to work with all regulated companies to ensure Mississippi residents receive the best service at the lowest possible rate. It is my commitment to encourage smart business practices and to preserve the highest environmental quality for generations to come.” –Tony Smith

The Southern District includes the following 27 counties: Adams, Amite, Clarke, Covington, Forrest, Franklin, George, Greene, Hancock, Harrison, Jackson, Jasper, Jefferson Davis, Jones, Lamar, Lawrence, Lincoln, Marion, Pearl River, Perry, Pike, Simpson, Smith, Stone, Walthall, Wayne, and Wilkinson.



1/15/15

Posted January 16, 2015 - 7:58 am


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Latest news links on the Singing River Health System saga from Gulflive:


SRHS attorney Roy Williams retires, effective immediately


Federal judge kicks SRHS case to Chancery Court, attorney 'ecstatic' to be back on 'home turf'


Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascaogula introduces bill to make hospital dealings more transparent


Jackson County hires CPA firm for SRHS productivity, profitability study and pension analysis

Posted January 16, 2015 - 6:35 am


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Thompson announced $499K grant for Alcorn State


LORMAN, MISS. — The U.S. Department of Agriculture is providing $499,794 in food and farm research funds to Alcorn State University.

The grant announcement came Wednesday from U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss.




Sunherald
1/15/15

Posted January 16, 2015 - 6:31 am


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Ted Cruz and GOP Senate campaign arm part ways



WASHINGTON – Sen. Ted Cruz’s turbulent stint at the Republican Senate campaign arm is over.

The Hill reports today that Cruz isn’t being asked back by the new chairman of the National Republican Senatorial Committee, Sen. Roger Wicker.

The fact that Cruz is gearing up to run for president in 2016 made this parting of the ways inevitable and entirely predictable. But there was plenty of friction and ill will, too.

Just after the Texans’ election in November 2012, GOP leader Mitch McConnell – now the Senate majority leader—asked Cruz to serve as NRSC vice chairman in charge of grassroots outreach. In effect, he sought to bring the tea partier into the tent by making him the liaison to tea partiers.

But it quickly became obvious that Cruz wasn’t so much of a team player.



Dallas Morning News
1/15/15

Posted January 16, 2015 - 6:26 am


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RELEASE:


Mississippi House of Representatives Weekly Summary

Week of January 12, 2015


Members did not hesitate to address big issues early on this week. After adjournment on Monday, members of the Constitution committee met and adopted House Concurrent Resolution (HCR) 9 . It was debated Tuesday morning for more than two hours on the House floor before being adopted by a vote of 65-56.

HCR9 is a legislative alternative to ballot Initiative 42. The initiative received more than the required number of signatures necessary to be placed on the ballot in November. Supporters of each measure believe their effort will focus on educating children.

Supporters of HCR9 say this legislative alternative focuses on three factors: keeping the decision about school operations and funding in the hands of the voters, not a judge for whom the voters cannot vote; preserving the integrity of the Constitution by maintaining the separation of powers between the legislature and the judiciary; and focusing on educational outputs and accomplishments, instead upon funding as the yardstick by which it is measured. They believe Initiative 42 violates those factors and removes the voice of the people.

Opponents of HCR9 believe this alternative will confuse the public. They support Initiative 42 and believe its passage will allow a court to enforce full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP), which was last fully funded in 2008. They argue that the people who signed a petition supporting the initiative deserve the opportunity to vote on it alone, without a competing alternative.

The Senate adopted the resolution Wednesday afternoon by a vote of 30-20. HCR9 will appear on the ballot alongside Initiative 42 on November 3. Voters will have the choice to vote for Initiative 42, for the alternative measure presented by HCR9 or against any constitutional change at all.

This week sub-committee members of the Appropriations Committee heard from numerous state agencies that came forward to submit their funding requests for Fiscal Year (FY) 16. As mentioned last week, efforts to instill performance based budgeting methods are in place as agencies make their presentations.

The Mississippi Division of Medicaid was among the agencies that prepared presentations for the committee. The group employees more than 900 people and is charged with providing access to quality health coverage to vulnerable Mississippians. The director estimated that despite increased growth into the program (possibly 800,000 beneficiaries by June 30, 2015), he expects cost savings due to the federal government paying for the remaining children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) program. However, he is expecting a nearly $100 million deficit request which will bring total state support of Medicaid close to $1 billion. The director also outlined the top four expenditures to the Medicaid program: hospital payments, nursing facility payments, pharmacy payments and physician payments.

The Public Employees’ Retirement System (PERS) of Mississippi briefed members about the status of the retirement system. PERS was established by the Mississippi Legislature in 1952 to provide the state’s public workforce with basic retirement coverage for life. Members pay mandatory contributions to help fund their retirement. Employers contribute about 15 percent, while nine percent is taken from members’ salaries. PERS has approximately 894 employers, 162,044 members and 100,000 retirees involved in the program. The director stated that funding is continuing to improve. This year, funding is at 61 percent. PERS’ funded status is expected to surpass 100 percent by 2042, which tops the goal set by the Board of Trustees of 80 percent funded by 2042.

State Economist Darrin Webb and Treasurer Lynn Fitch presented their annual economic briefing this week. Webb again confirmed that the US economy is growing gradually, with the Mississippi economy following a similar pattern. Lower gas prices are assisting in this increased momentum and encouraging stronger consumer spending. Income growth is beginning to improve and consumers and businesses are relatively upbeat. The highest job increase is in manufacturing area, with the largest decline being in the construction sector. He expects Mississippi to make both the FY15 and FY16 estimates.

The Transportation Committee met and passed House Bill 44 (HB44), which designates a certain bridge on Highway 82 in Lowndes County as “Senator Terry W. Brown Memorial Bridge.”

The Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women held a press conference to discuss their support of House Bill 10 (HB10), which supports equal pay for women.

The deadline to request general bills and constitutional amendments came and went quickly on January 14. Monday, January 19, marks the deadline to introduce those measures. This continues to be a very busy time for Legislative Services staff members and lawmakers as they prepare the bills that will be introduced in the House this session.

Visitors to the Capitol this week included supervisors from all around the state, who were in town for their annual Mississippi Association of Supervisors meeting and reception. Throughout the Session, many different groups hold Capitol Days each week to share information on their organizations with members and staff. This week, Emergency Management officials and members from the ALS Association were among the groups on hand. Nurse anesthetists from around the state gathered to offer free health screenings, as well.


1/16/15

Posted January 16, 2015 - 6:23 am


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Mississippi economy growing, but slower than region and nation


JACKSON — Mississippi's economy is growing but still lags behind regional and national recovery from the Great Recession, an expert said Thursday.

"Everything's not just perfect. But it is, I would say, better than it has been in a long time," state economist Darrin Webb told legislators during a briefing at the Capitol.

Lawmakers are considering the state's economic outlook as they work on a roughly $6.2 billion state budget for fiscal 2016, which begins July 1. The budget-writing deadline is in late March.



Sunherald
1/15/15

Posted January 16, 2015 - 6:20 am


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CRAWDADDY: Coast senators get leadership posts in Jackson


Coast Sens. Philip Moran and Sean Tindell have been named to leadership posts in the state Senate, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said Wednesday.

According to a release from Reeves' office, Moran, R-Kiln, will be chairman of the Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee, replacing Sen. Giles Ward, who was recently chosen as Senate President Pro Tempore....



...Tindell, R-Gulfport, will be vice chairman of the Energy Committee, another position held by Ward.




Sunherald
1/15/15

Posted January 16, 2015 - 6:15 am


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Attorney General Jim Hood: Decision soon on 4th-term run



JACKSON, MISS. — Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood said Thursday that he will decide soon whether to seek a fourth term this year.

Hood, 52, is the only Democrat in statewide office.

Responding Thursday to questions from The Associated Press, Hood said he will make a decision about his political plans in the next week or so.

Asked if he is considering a run for governor, Hood said: "I don't know. I'm just going to have to wait and pray about it. I've got about another week or so before I have to do something."



Sunherald
1/15/15

Posted January 16, 2015 - 6:10 am


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Longwitz bill would curb school district spending



Local legislators were putting the finishing touches on bills this week ahead of the Monday filing deadline.

State Sen. Will Longwitz (R-Madison) has a handful he's introducing this session, with a couple focused on education.

One bill would place a cap on administrative spending by school districts in the state.

"Madison County does a great job and that's the example we should use," he said, noting the district spends the least percentage-wise on administration in the state. "We should be spending on public education, but we should be spending it wisely."

He added, "The first priority is spending it on educating children and not on paying bloated administrative tasks."



Madison County Journal
1/14/15

Posted January 15, 2015 - 6:34 am


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