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Facebook
2/20/17

Posted February 21, 2017 - 8:37 am

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State Treasurer Fitch advocates for equal pay, financial literacy


State Treasurer Lynn Fitch said requiring the teaching of financial literacy in the public schools and requiring equal pay for women can help break the long cycle of poverty in Mississippi.

“It is not a Republican issue or a Democratic issue. It is a right thing to do issue,” said Fitch, who spoke Monday at the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute of Government/capitol press corps luncheon.

Both issues are dead for the 2017 session, but Fitch said she will continue to advocate for pay equality and financial literacy classes in the public schools.




Daily Journal
2/21/17

Posted February 21, 2017 - 8:31 am

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Shelton hopes for Republican support



With Jason Shelton now seeking re-election to a second term as mayor, no Republicans have yet entered the race.

That could change any day, of course. The qualifying period remains open for about two more weeks. Four years ago, Shelton himself only qualified days before the final deadline.

But Shelton, who has two Democraticprimary opponents, hopes his appeal to GOP voters remains intact.

“I’m proud to have bipartisan support. That is something I’ve worked hard to maintain,” said Shelton. “I’ve tried my absolute best to have an open door for anyone. I’ve tried to reach out to people that I know were not for me last time.”



Daily Journal
2/21/17

Posted February 21, 2017 - 8:27 am

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State suspends pilot child care inspection program



A pilot program that would have increased the number of inspections of child care centers in nine Mississippi counties, comprising one health district, has been suspended indefinitely as the state Department of Health reviews alternate options, according to an email sent to child care providers last week.

The increase in visits was meant to “ensure licensing rules and regulations were being met and that our children were safe in their childcare environments,” according to the email from Jim Craig, director of the Office of Health Protection. After reviewing the plan for the pilot program, Craig wrote that he had “some questions and concerns” and indicated the state wanted to look at a “different approach” to the increased visits.




Clarion Ledger
2/20/17

Posted February 21, 2017 - 8:02 am

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Bill would help first-time home buyers


A House bill would allow first-time home buyers in Mississippi to create savings accounts of up to $5,000 for a couple exempt from state taxes.

"This is a one-time exemption," said House Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, who authored the bill. "... You're only a first-time homebuyer once."

House Bill 1601 passed the Ways and Means Committee unanimously on Monday and heads to the full House. Starting in 2018, it would allow a single first-time homebuyer to have a savings account of up to $2,500 exempt from state taxes. A married couple filing taxes jointly could have up to $5,000. The money would have to be kept in a separate account and could not be used for other purposes. If it is used otherwise, it would become taxable income and subject to a 10 percent penalty. The money could be used for a down payment or any allowable closing costs on a single-family residence in Mississippi.



Clarion Ledger
2/20/17

Posted February 21, 2017 - 7:58 am

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MDOT releases five-year plan to fix bridges & roads




MDOT released a map with the current projects needed in the state. The roads and bridges in blue are funded in the five-year the plan. The areas in red are unfunded bridges and/or pavement and capacity type projects.

"These roads that are in that plan and these bridges are in really bad shape," said MDOT Executive Director Melinda McGrath. "Bridges are structurally deficient, they can't carry loads. So it's important we repair to make sure our taxpayers, our citizens are safe."

Earlier this month, MDOT help a press conference on the need of funding in the state. At that time, officials said MDOT needs $400M to fund the necessary improvements.

"The bridges need to be repaired and replaced," said Southern District Transportation Commissioner Tom King, at the meeting. "I keep saying crisis, but that's what we're in."



WDAM
2/19/17

Posted February 21, 2017 - 7:29 am

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WDAM: Consider This: Lawmakers should review our state alcohol bills



It’s past time for state leaders to review the structure of the state’s Alcohol Beverage Control division and the antiquated laws regarding alcohol sales. These bills would lead to more jobs, increased tourism, improved convenience, lower wine prices and more choices for consumers. The legislature should consider approving these bills.




WDAM
2/20/17

Posted February 21, 2017 - 7:23 am

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Treasurer Lynn Fitch details state debt issues



"Then the question is, so how much do we owe?" explained State Treasurer Lynn Fitch. "How much do we owe? If we owe $4.3 billion on our credit card, basically, we all owe $1,707 for state debt. We're responsible for that. That's every man, woman and child."

State Treasurer Lynn Fitch gave a rundown of where the state stands at the Stennis Press Luncheon Monday. She explained that Mississippi needs to get the debt under control.

The bond indebtedness has gone up by $1.3 billion in the last ten years.

"We need to be at each project before we ask the taxpayer to be responsible," noted Fitch. "We need to look at those projects in the sustainability and the links of the asset and determine if it's a project should go to another funding mechanism."



WLOX
2/20/17

Posted February 21, 2017 - 7:20 am

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Rules could change for schools in Mississippi



Among proposals being considered are limiting the number of statewide and district wide testing days, requiring 17-year-olds to stay in school, and requiring a district taken over by the state to achieve a C rating for five years in a row before it could be returned to local control.

Lawmakers rejected a number of proposals, though, including requiring school board members to be elected at the same time, cutting the number of school days from 180 to 170, and requiring students to pass the U.S. citizenship test.



WLOX
2/20/17

Posted February 21, 2017 - 7:17 am

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Mississippi casino revenues tumble in January




JACKSON, MS (AP) - Mississippi casinos stumbled in 2017's first month, winning almost seven percent less from gamblers. State Revenue Department figures show gamblers statewide lost $166 million in January, compared to $178 million in the same month in 2016.

The 12 coastal casinos posted revenue of $99 million, down from $101 million in January 2016. Revenue on the Gulf Coast has been generally rising since mid-2014.



WLOX
2/20/17

Posted February 21, 2017 - 7:15 am

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Coast cities continue to push for Amtrak service




BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - One year after Amtrak made a big splash with a proposal to bring passenger service back to the coast, supporters are working to make the plan more attractive.

In 2016, a special Amtrak train made stops on the coast in an effort to get people excited about a proposal to bring passenger service back to our area for the first time since Hurricane Katrina. The concept is to create service from Orlando to New Orleans.

Earlier this year, the federal railroad administration awarded grants to 11 communities in Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi for projects to enhance the plan. Four cities on the coast have received grants. Pascagoula received $652,000, Bay St. Louis $55,000, Gulfport $190,000 and Biloxi $252,000.



WLOX
2/20/17

Posted February 21, 2017 - 7:13 am

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2/16/17

Posted February 20, 2017 - 8:31 am

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2/17/17

Posted February 20, 2017 - 8:30 am

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Where’s Steven Palazzo? Congressmen elusive for some Coast constituents



“Senators Patrick Leahy, D-Vt., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., vice chairman and chairman, respectively, of the Senate Appropriations Committee, will lead a five-member congressional delegation to Cuba and Colombia, Feb. 19-24,” Cochran’s office said in joint statement from the senators.

“In part, the purpose of the working trip to Cuba is to discuss progress in, and future opportunities for, U.S.-Cuban cooperation on a wide range of topics, including foreign trade, migration, human rights, and property claims. In Colombia, the delegation expects to gain information on the peace agreement between the Government of Colombia and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia and its significance for U.S.-Colombian relations.”



SunHerald
2/19/17

Posted February 20, 2017 - 8:27 am

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PAUL HAMPTON: Where’s Steven Palazzo? Congressmen elusive for some Coast constituents



Some South Mississippi women aren’t having much luck tracking down their congressman, Rep. Steven Palazzo, even though he is supposed to be back this week for a district work week.

The enterprising women are trying to smoke the 4th District Republican congressman out by putting his face on posters of the sort normally emblazoned with a photo of a missing cat or dog and stapled to a utility pole. One advises that, if found, Palazzo should be returned to the constituents of the district. You won’t see these posters on poles, though; they’re plastered on social media....



...“(This) week Congressman Palazzo is hosting Congressman Rob Wittman, chairman of the Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, who will be visiting South Mississippi and touring Ingalls,” she wrote in an email. “He will also be attending and is the keynote speaker at the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation Young Farmers & Ranchers Leadership Conference. Those are the two major events on our calendar for next week outside of constituent meetings. He will also be fulfilling his drill requirements for the National Guard at Camp Shelby for two days next week.”

For the record, Palazzo is a member of the Army National Guard but Duckworth didn’t provide any further details about the speech, his one quasi-public appearance, which is in Natchez....



...“I’d ask him not to repeal Obamacare until he has a replacement to protect people with pre-existing conditions,” she said. Palazzo has rarely passed up an opportunity to rail against the former president’s signature health-care plan....


...“I’m sure California could protect their environment if the EPA went away,” she said. “But in Mississippi, we can’t even pay to fully fund education so I don’t know how we’d fully fund a department to handle our environmental issues, especially living here on the Coast when we’re just recovering from the BP oil spill.”




SunHerald
2/19/17

Posted February 20, 2017 - 8:19 am

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BILL CRAWFORD: Of shortfalls, cuts, contrasting oversight, reverse repealers



Shortfalls and cuts this fiscal year bode ill for next year. Legislators will start with less and can expect less from next year’s collections.

Legislators’ efforts to up revenue are meeting opposition. A bill to tax fantasy sports gambling, eh, gaming, failed. A bill to push out-of-state companies to collect sales taxes (called use taxes), similar to one adopted in Alabama, is under attack by the Mississippi Tea Party. They also attacked Commissioner of Revenue Herb Frierson for getting Amazon to voluntarily collect taxes on its sales. Proposals to raise revenue to fix deteriorating roads and bridges continue to be attacked by the Mississippi branch of Americans for Prosperity.

Another hit to next year’s finances come as cuts to business taxes and personal income taxes, passed last year, begin phasing in.

In the face of these financial troubles, it only makes sense for state agencies to right size staffing. The House narrowly passed and sent to the Senate a bill allowing agency heads to ignore civil service rules to streamline operations.



Daily Journal
2/19/17

Posted February 20, 2017 - 8:15 am

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Clarion Ledger
2/18/17

Posted February 20, 2017 - 8:13 am

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IGEOFF PENDER: Realpolitik: Partial road funding is now up to Reeves



Put all the talk of an “impartial study” and “two policy lanes running in the same direction” aside.

Here’s the bottom-line, realpolitik on funding to fix Mississippi’s crumbling roads and bridges: If lawmakers don’t pass the internet sales tax bill with money earmarked for roadwork this year, they’re not going to do anything significant about roads and bridges before 2020.

And another bit of political pragmatism: If Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves doesn’t warm up to the internet sales tax bill — and he’s got a lot of 2019 politics to weigh on the issue — nothing will happen.

Lawmakers are not going to pass a gasoline tax increase before 2020. They’re not going to pass any sort of “indexed” tax for roads. They’re not going to magically find hundreds of millions of dollars in fat they can trim and redirect at MDOT or elsewhere.



Clarion Ledger
2/18/17

Posted February 20, 2017 - 8:06 am

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Sid Salter: Ignore the online sales tax special interests



The fight in Mississippi over a very straightforward decision regarding whether it’s in the state’s best interests to collect the same 7 percent sales tax on online sales that we have forced bricks-and-mortar retailers to collect since 1932 is getting heated.

Opponents of online sales tax collections want you to forget many substantive facts....



...Forget that there is no logical, rational argument that justifies forcing traditional retailers to collect sales taxes while giving online retailers a pass. Forget that Amazon and other online sellers already see the handwriting on the judicial wall — hence their negotiated settlements with a growing number of states because they know the old Quill decision is on the ropes.

Forget that President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch wrote in a recent Colorado case involving the online sales tax question in a concurring opinion in Direct Marketing Association Inc. v. Brohl: “If anything, by asking us to strike down Colorado’s law, out-of-state mail order and internet retailers don’t seek comparable treatment to their in-state brick-and-mortar rivals, they seek more favorable treatment, a competitive advantage, a sort of judicially sponsored arbitrage opportunity or ‘tax shelter.’”



Clarion Ledger
2/19/17

Posted February 20, 2017 - 8:02 am

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Former Miss. governor talks to Millsaps College students


The former Secretary of the Navy says he wants to know about Russia's involvement in the presidential election.





Ray Mabus, who served under President Barack Obama, spoke Friday at Millsaps College in Jackson, Mississippi.

He says he wants to know "what the Russian intelligence services had to do with our democracy." He also says that he's worried about the state of American democracy.




WAPT
2/18/17


Posted February 20, 2017 - 6:23 am

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Mississippi internet sales tax would challenge legal precedent



Some tax experts and conservative groups are questioning a proposed Mississippi regulation that would require large sellers to collect taxes on internet sales. Revenue Commissioner Herb Frierson agrees that the rule, not yet enacted, would directly challenge decades of U.S. Supreme Court precedent. He says challenging the court to reconsider past rulings is the point. Though Mississippi lawmakers are considering a bill to tax internet sales, Frierson is moving forward with his own plan.



WTVA
2/18/17

Posted February 20, 2017 - 6:18 am

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Bryant: Special session only after consensus on education



JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant says he will call a special legislative session on education funding only after lawmakers reach broad agreement on the main points of a proposal.

Top Republicans in the House and Senate say they want to rewrite the school funding formula, but they haven't revealed a plan.

House Speaker Philip Gunn says legislators won't stick to regular-session budget deadlines to deal with education spending.



WTVA
2/19/17

Posted February 20, 2017 - 6:15 am

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RELEASE



Wicker Votes to Confirm New EPA Chief

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today voted to confirm Scott Pruitt as the next Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Administrator.

In a speech delivered to the Senate in support of Mr. Pruitt’s nomination, Wicker said: “The Scott Pruitt that I have had the chance to learn about took on polluters in his state of Oklahoma, and finalized multi-state agreements to limit pollution, and he did so working across the political spectrum. When EPA overstepped its bounds and its mission and ceased to follow the law, he challenged the agency. That is exactly the sort of balance we need.”

“The American people are ready for a change at EPA,” Wicker continued. “We need an EPA Administrator who will listen to the environmentalists, but also listen to the job creators. This means listening to the election, but moving past the election, and getting on to filling the positions that are important to Americans.”

Throughout the confirmation process, Pruitt has answered over 1,200 questions – more than any EPA administrator of an incoming administration. His confirmation hearing was the most thorough confirmation hearing on record. Nominees for EPA Administrator during the incoming Clinton, Bush, and Obama administrations received a confirmation hearing prior to Inauguration Day and were confirmed by the full Senate before the end of January.


2/17/17

Posted February 20, 2017 - 6:10 am

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Posted February 17, 2017 - 2:43 pm

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State GOP chair visits Starkville to talk municipal elections



Donald Trump may have won the White House for the Republican Party, but that victory isn’t stopping state party leaders from taking a proactive approach as municipal election season approaches.

Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef visited Starkville on Thursday and spoke with the SDN about the party’s efforts to retain and expand its foothold across the state.

Nosef led a party event Thursday night at the Golden Triangle Planning and Development Center.

“It’s a meeting to … remind people about municipal elections, thank them for their help, telling them and assuring them that we are coming back and when the time comes, we want to help not just recruit but help people get elected,” he said.





Starkville Daily News
2/16/17

Posted February 17, 2017 - 9:23 am

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RELEASE



Update: 2017 Legislative Agenda of the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office

Election Code Update – Technical updates to the Election Code as well as substantive revisions, such as the implementation of a certified poll manager training program; staggering of election commissioners’ terms; reduction in the number of paper ballots required to be printed and machines to be used; shortening of the timeline for political committees to file statements of organization to forty-eight hours (48) after receiving or spending funds; increasing transparency by requiring filers to itemize payments made to credit card issuers, banks, or online payment portals; and placing sanctions on political committees failing to make required filings with the Secretary of State’s Office.

HB 467, sponsored by Rep. Bill Denny, has passed the House and has been transmitted to the Senate.
Vulnerable Adult Amendments to the Mississippi Securities Act – Under the Mississippi Vulnerable Persons Act, investment advisers and broker-dealers must notify the Department of Human Services if they know or suspect a vulnerable person has been or is being abused, neglected, or exploited. This proposed amendment to the Mississippi Securities Act will require investment advisers and broker-dealers to also notify the Secretary of State’s Office, and allow them to notify a designated third party or delay disbursements if they reasonably believe financial exploitation has been attempted or has occurred. This amendment, along with its immunity provisions, will create incentives to encourage firms to report potential financial exploitation as early as possible.

SB 2911, sponsored by Sen. Sally Doty, passed the Senate and has been transmitted to the House.
Increasing Security Violation Penalties – Under the Mississippi Securities Act, securities firms are required to reasonably supervise their employees and failure to do so is a violation of the Act. This bill amends the Act to clarify if a firm fails to supervise an employee for more than twelve (12) months or fails to supervise multiple employees these failures result in multiple violations of the Act rather than a single violation.

HB 1002, sponsored by Rep. Hank Zuber, passed the House and has been transmitted to the Senate.

SB 2423, sponsored by Sen. Joey Fillingane, passed the Senate and has been transmitted to the House.
Public Improvement Districts (PID) Amendments – Amends the Public Improvement District statutes by reducing PID board member terms; removing board members who fail to attend meetings or fail to pay required PID assessment fees; limiting contribution agreements made by counties or municipalities; determining voting interest by the number of tax parcels or acres owned; allowing the county or municipality to dissolve the district, appoint a new board, or take other action; and providing for property to be stricken to the PID if assessments are unpaid and unredeemed at the county tax sale.

HB 1308, sponsored by Rep. Jason White, passed the House and has been transmitted to the Senate.
Davis Bayou Land Transfer – Allows the Secretary of State to transfer to the National Park Service the water bottom (approximately 1.08 acres) beneath its pier and boat launch in the Davis Bayou Area of the Gulf Islands National Seashore in Ocean Springs.

HB 1225, sponsored by Rep. Casey Eure, passed the House and has been transmitted to the Senate.
Business Law Clean-Up – Amends the Mississippi Business Corporate Act to allow for winding up after a corporation is administratively dissolved and removes the ten (10) year limitation on voting agreements.

SB 2350, sponsored by Sen. Sean Tindell, passed the Senate and has been transmitted to the House.
Mississippi Entity Conversion and Domestication Act Clean-Up – Makes technical amendments clarifying documents to be filed with the Secretary of State and removes charitable non-profit corporations from the list of entities eligible to convert.

SB 2327, sponsored by Sen. Sean Tindell, passed the Senate and has been transmitted to the House.


2/17/17

Posted February 17, 2017 - 8:11 am

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Continental hires Miss. companies for 30 percent of work



A Jackson engineering firm will receive a portion of the engineering design and program management contract for the new Continental Tire plant in Hinds County.

SOL Engineering Services, LLC, owned by principals Willie O'Neal Jr. and Derek Starling Sr., is certified with the city of Jackson as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE).

Construction on the 900-acre site west of Clinton is expected to begin in 2018.

Thirty percent of a design contract to build the training center will also go to companies from Jackson, Clinton and Tupelo.



Clarion Ledger
2/16/17

Posted February 17, 2017 - 7:58 am

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13 things you need to know about the state economy



Mississippi lawmakers, as they get down to brass tacks on a roughly $6 billion state budget, on Thursday received their "Legislative Economic Briefing" from State Economist Darrin Webb and Deputy Treasurer Jesse Graham.

The news, mostly, wasn't good.

Webb, trying to look on the bright side at the end of his presentation, noted, "Despite all this negative news, we are not in recession."

Graham, filling in for Treasurer Lynn Fitch who was in Washington, D.C., drew fire from Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and some lawmakers on the Joint Legislative Budget Committee. They grilled him on several points and said they didn't trust some of the numbers or math provided on state debt or thought they were presented in a way skewed to make debt look worse than it is.



Clarion Ledger
2/16/17

Posted February 17, 2017 - 7:53 am

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Lee County criminal justice bills advance



Two bills advanced Wednesday in the Mississippi Legislature designed to ease overcrowding in the Lee County criminal justice system.

The House approved what is known as local and private legislation that would allow Lee County supervisors to construct a new jail outside of Tupelo’s borders.

A state law was cited during discussions of a new jail that required jails jointly built by a county and municipality to be within one mile of the municipal borders. Supervisors said they might want the option to build beyond that area where land costs might be cheaper....


...Also Wednesday, the 52-member state Senate passed without a dissenting vote a bill to allow Lee County to hire a youth court referee. The referee would hear youth court cases under the supervision of County Judge Charles Brett who hears youth court cases in Lee County.



Daily Journal
2/16/17

Posted February 17, 2017 - 7:51 am

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Tupelo - Columbus


WTVA
2/16/17

Posted February 17, 2017 - 7:49 am

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WTOK
2/16/17

Posted February 17, 2017 - 7:31 am

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Secretary of State hosts election certification training in Hattiesburg



The Mississippi Secretary of State's Office was at the Lake Terrace Convention Center in Hattiesburg Thursday, hosting certification training for municipal election officials. 

The training has been held at various locations across the state.

It covered election day activities and poll closing procedures.




WDAM
2/16/17

Posted February 17, 2017 - 7:26 am

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Diamondhead casino project reapplies for approval



A Diamondhead casino project, first pitched in 2008 and rejected by the Mississippi Gaming Commission in 2014, has resurfaced.

Jacobs Entertainment went before the commission at a hearing in D'Iberville to reapply for approval.

Executives from the Colorado based company want to rekindle interest their casino resort proposal in Diamondhead. The $150 million project targets 70 acres on the south side of the interstate west of the old yacht club.



WLOX
2/16/17

Posted February 17, 2017 - 7:22 am

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Mississippi House of Representatives Weekly Summary - Week of February 13, 2017

###

With general House Bills out of the way, representatives began working on House Appropriations Bills,

which will determine how much money is given to various state organizations.

The House was responsible for looking at the preliminary budgets of 54 state agencies, including the

departments of transportation, public health, Medicaid, education and public safety.

Budgets included reverse repealers, a clause which ensures that a bill cannot become law before going

to a conference committee for further revisions. With reverse repealers in place, most appropriations

bills were voted on in a block to help speed up the process.

Bills discussed individually addressed budgets for the Department of Health and the Department of

Education.

House Bill 1511, which appropriates money to the Department of Health, would give the department

approximately $4.2 million less than the agency receives currently. A few representatives expressed

concern that this would not be able to meet the needs of the public. Representatives responsible for

putting together the budget said this reflects the changing role of the health department and the budget

cuts facing many state agencies this year.

The Department of Education’s budget, proposed in the form of House Bill 1502, received an extra $20

million in general funds for the School Recognition Program. This incentive program provides financial

rewards for teachers and staff in high performing school districts. The school funding formula, a source

of much conversation this session, was not included in the bill. It is possible that the Governor will call a

special session to discuss revamping the education funding formula and whether or not to incorporate

the suggestions made by the consulting group EdBuild earlier this year.

Next week is the deadline for action on appropriations and revenue bills. After that, House committees

will begin considering bills which passed through the Senate.

Several groups visited the Capitol this week, including the Coalition for Citizens with Disabilities, the

Mississippi Egg Marketing Board, the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards, the Mississippi

Water Resources Association, the Mississippi Council on Economic Education, March of Dimes, the

Mississippi Center for Nonprofits and the Mississippi Sustainable Agriculture network.



2/16/17

Posted February 17, 2017 - 7:17 am

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RELEASE




Miss. Senators Vote to Overturn Obama-era Rule Infringing on Second Amendment

Cochran, Wicker Cosponsored Senate Resolution of Disapproval Now Heading to President Trump

WASHINGTON — U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., today voted for legislation to overturn a federal rule that infringes on the Second Amendment rights of Social Security recipients.

The Senate on Wednesday voted 57-43 to approve H.J.Res.40, a joint resolution of disapproval aimed at former President Obama’s executive action requiring the Social Security Administration (SSA) place beneficiaries on the National Instant Criminal Background Check System “mental defective” list. The measure now goes to President Trump, who has indicated his support of overturning the rule.

“I voted to overturn this rule because it goes far beyond any arguably reasonable regulations on gun ownership,” Wicker said. “In effect, it allows a federal agency to deny an individual’s right to due process and potentially his or her Second Amendment rights. I believe we can keep firearms out of the hands of criminals, terrorists, and those deemed to be a harm to themselves or others and, at the same time, protect Americans’ constitutional rights.”

“This misguided rule amounts to an attempt to force more federal gun control on law-abiding citizens. The rule should be overturned to stop it from infringing on their Second Amendment and due process rights,” Cochran said.

Both Wicker and Cochran cosponsored S.J.Res.14, the Senate companion to H.J.Res.40.

The House and Senate are using the Congressional Review Act to upend previously-promulgated Obama administration regulations. This SSA rule would affect benefit recipients who require assistance in managing their own affairs and have certain disorders by classifying them as “mental defective.” The rule does not include any hearing or due process protections for those affected to appeal the rule.

The joint resolutions are supported by a variety of organizations, including the National Rifle Association, American Association of People with Disabilities, Arc of the United States, National Council on Disability, American Civil Liberties Union, and others.


2/15/17

Posted February 16, 2017 - 8:01 am

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SID SALTER: Barbour explains leadership, gridlock: Salter




“Good leaders understand if you expect somebody to be responsible for something, you have to give them the authority to get done what it takes to achieve the responsibility,” said Barbour. “You’ve got to accept responsibility when things go wrong, even if it’s not your fault. If you are the leader, you’ve got to step up to the plate.”

Then Barbour talked about the nation’s current political climate.

“About 350 of the seats in the U.S. House aren’t contested from a partisan standpoint,” said Barbour. “So candidates aren't concerned about appealing to the middle. They aren't concerned about getting beat in the primaries. So, Republicans now run to keep anyone from getting to the right of them and Democrats run to keep anyone from getting to the left of them — and we’ve kind of hollowed out the middle.”



Clarion Ledger
2/15/17

Posted February 16, 2017 - 7:56 am

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On the chopping block: Mental health, universities




Several state agencies, including the Department of Mental Health, along with financial aid for the state’s universities and junior colleges, sustained cuts in the first round of appropriations bills passed out of the Senate Wednesday.

Senate Bill 2976 reduces the Department of Mental Health’s general fund budget by $4.8 million. The 7-percent cut is likely to cause consternation amid ongoing litigation by the U.S. Department of Justice alleging that the state is violating the Americans with Disabilities Act and Civil Rights of Institutionalized Persons Act by providing inadequate services for the mentally ill.

Senate Appropriations Chairman Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale, said the cuts would mostly come from vacant positions, travel expenses and equipment.



Clarion Ledger
2/15/17

Posted February 16, 2017 - 7:53 am

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BOBBY HARRISON: Legislation would have blocked tobacco lawsuit





But a proposal is under consideration this session of the Mississippi Legislature that most assuredly would have prevented Moore from suing the tobacco companies if it had been law in the 1990s. The bill has passed the House by a narrow margin and is pending in the Senate.

The bill would require the attorney general to garner permission of a majority of a panel consisting of the governor, lieutenant governor and secretary of state before pursuing such lawsuits.

Now there is a strong case to be made that the bill, should it become law, is unconstitutional. But, if such a law existed in the 1990s and was not ruled unconstitutional by the courts, there would have been no tobacco lawsuit filed by Mississippi.



Daily Journal
2/15/17

Posted February 16, 2017 - 7:49 am

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Gunn touts internet tax for road funding




JACKSON – House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said recently the only revenue available during the 2017 session to address the state’s road and bridge needs comes from a bill that tries to force internet companies to collect for the state the 7 percent tax on retail items.

The bill, which has passed the House, diverts 70 percent of the projected revenue to the state for infrastructure maintenance and 15 percent each to the cities and counties for the same purpose.

Gunn said it has been estimated if the legislation becomes law, it will generate between $75 million and $125 million in new revenue – far short of the $400 million cited by the Department of Transportation as needed yearly to address the state’s infrastructure needs.



Daily Journal
2/16/17

Posted February 16, 2017 - 7:47 am

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Jury will decide Madison County Supervisor's race



MADISON COUNTY, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Special Judge Henry Lackey has ruled that a jury should decide the winner in last year's Madison County District Four Supervisor's Race.

Republican David Bishop was declared the winner by two votes over incumbent Democrat Karl Banks. In question is the validity and inclusion of 31 Ballots raised by Banks and 14 ballots raised by Bishop. Banks took his case to court.

In his order, Lackey said the matter should be tried immediately.



WLBT
2/15/17

Posted February 16, 2017 - 6:14 am

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Mississippi companies going on trade mission to Middle East




JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - At least 15 Mississippi companies are heading to the Middle East next month in the hopes of establishing new partnerships.

The Clarion-Ledger reports that the businesses will be visiting Dubai and Jordan in late March as part of a Mississippi Development Authority trade mission.

Citing Dubai's expansive and continual growth, MDA Executive Director Glenn McCullough Jr. said the region was ripe with opportunity for partnerships with Mississippi companies.




WTOK
2/15/17

Posted February 16, 2017 - 6:11 am

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Lawmakers work on FY 2018 budget



JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi lawmakers are pushing forward early drafts of budget bills that are likely to change before a final deadline.

Proposals show it's likely that the overall budget will shrink because tax collections continue to lag.

The budget-writing deadline is in late March, and the new year begins July 1.




WTOK
2/15/17

Posted February 16, 2017 - 6:08 am

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Scott Walker's B&B plans in jeopardy



OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - A well-known Ocean Springs homeowner now knows where his permit to operate a bed and breakfast stands.The planning commission turned down Scott and Trinity Walker's application to operate a B&B from their home. But their attorney, Billy Guice, said the planning commission is only there to make recommendations. The final decision is in the hands of the board of aldermen.

The Walkers first filed an application for the permit back in spring of 2016. Their attorney said each time it's come up for discussion, it's been tabled. Scott Walker said he was permitted to proceed with renting out the house, while their application was pending.



WLOX
2/15/17

Posted February 16, 2017 - 6:01 am

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RELEASE



Senators Highlight Need for Quality Health Care in Rural America

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Jon Tester, D-Mont., Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, and Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D., were joined by 37 Senators in sending a letter today to Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price regarding health care in rural America.

The letter emphasizes the importance of rural health-care providers and their critical role in rural communities. The letter reads, in part, “As you take on this new leadership role at HHS, we request that you work with us to ensure that the federal government does not act as an impediment to providing health care in rural communities. Overreaching and onerous regulations from Washington disproportionately harm rural America. We believe that together we can enact and implement effective policies that help providers innovate in care delivery and enable them to make efficient use of available resources.”

“Nearly 90 percent of our nation is rural, including many parts of Mississippi,” Wicker said. “Technology and innovation have allowed for better access to health care, but there are still vulnerable areas where quality, affordable care is lacking. I look forward to working with Secretary Price and the new Administration to ensure that rural America has a seat at the table as we move forward with improving the nation’s health-care system.”

“I’ve been traveling across Montana to hear from folks about the challenges facing health care in rural America,” said Tester. “One thing is abundantly clear: families want certainty about their future, and they want Congress and the new administration to make responsible decisions to ensure access to quality, affordable health care—especially in rural states like Montana.”

“Residents of rural Iowa and the doctors and nurses who serve them deserve fair treatment as health care policy is made,” Grassley said. “Rural hospitals and doctors have different challenges than those in urban areas. Small, rural hospitals are a lifeline in many small towns in Iowa. Health care policy ought to recognize rural needs just as it recognizes urban needs.”

“Every North Dakotan – no matter how rural or remote their hometown – deserves access to quality health services,” said Heitkamp. “Now that Mr. Price is secretary, I’m committed to working with him to make sure he fully understands the health care needs and challenges in rural communities and that he makes them a priority. Every day I come to the U.S. Senate fighting for rural America, and that includes making sure rural communities get access to care.”

More than 80 rural hospitals have closed in recent years. Some estimates show another 700 rural hospitals are at risk of closure.

In addition to Wicker, Tester, Grassley, and Heitkamp, the letter was signed by Sens. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisc.; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Bob Casey, D-Penn.; Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Steve Daines, R-Mont.; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Deb Fischer, R-Neb.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; Cory Gardner, R-Colo.; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; Dean Heller, R-Nev.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; Ron Johnson, R-Wisc.; Angus King, I-Maine; Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; Joe Manchin, D-W.Va.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; David Perdue, R-Ga.; James Risch, R-Idaho; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Mike Rounds, R-S.D.; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; John Thune, R-S.D.; and Tom Udall, D-N.M.

The letter reads in full:

Dear Secretary Price,

As senators representing rural states, we look forward to working with you this Congress to ensure access to quality care and to protect the viability of facilities in rural America. Almost ninety percent of our nation is geographically rural, with 20 percent of the population living outside urban areas, often miles away from a health care practitioner.

We appreciate your focus on rural America and look forward to working with you and President Trump to strengthen access to health care services in vulnerable rural communities across the country. Health care is constantly evolving in our country, and rural providers, patients, and facilities need reliable partners at all levels in order to be successful.

Rural hospitals play a critical role in communities across this country. In addition to providing health care services to surrounding communities, hospitals are often one of the main employers. It is critical we work together as Republicans and Democrats to ensure these hospitals are able to continue to provide care.

We recognize that providers need to adapt to changes in the delivery of health care. We are encouraged by innovations we have seen in our states as providers test new care models and technologies like telehealth and remote patient monitoring. We know you will find bipartisan interest in supporting these types of innovations, and we look forward to working with you to improve our health-care system. We recognize the importance of tackling this issue in a fiscally responsible way but believe investments in rural America yield substantial returns on investment.

As you take on this new leadership role at HHS, we request that you work with us to ensure that the federal government does not act as an impediment to providing health care in rural communities. Overreaching and onerous regulations from Washington disproportionately harm rural America. We believe that together we can enact and implement effective policies that help providers innovate in care delivery and enable them to make efficient use of available resources.

We hope you remain dedicated to ensuring all Americans—no matter where they live—have access to quality, affordable care. We look forward to continuing to work with you as we move forward to improve health care in rural America.


2/15/17

Posted February 15, 2017 - 12:17 pm

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Posted February 15, 2017 - 11:57 am

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Will Mississippi ban state agencies from hiring lobbyists?



A bill passed by the Mississippi Senate could end the practice of state agencies hiring outside lobbyists.

The measure passed last week would prohibit state agencies — which includes the state’s universities and community colleges — from using taxpayer funds to hire contract lobbyists.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves told Mississippi Watchdog that getting rid of the practice is a “no-brainer.” He said his staff found that agencies have spent more than $500,000 on lobbyists in the current fiscal year.  



MS Watchdog
2/14/17

Posted February 15, 2017 - 11:18 am

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You know the old axiom. If it ain't broke, don't fix it.

Well, Mississippi's deer and turkey population isn't broke. Not even a little bit. However, HB1028 passed the House with a mandate to report harvested game animals like deer and turkey. Sound like something that no one could be opposed to, right? What's the harm? Well, the truth is that Mississippi has such a good thing going that no one even ought to think about messing it up.

Mississippi is consistently ranked with the best deer herd in the country. And that's not by accident. We have developed over the last 30 years a culture of conservation with regards to hunting and wildlife in the state. Our deer herd is estimated at 2,000,000, and we harvest between 250,000-300,000 deer a year. We have a extremely liberal framework where a licensed hunter in Mississippi can kill 8 deer per year (3 antlered and 5 antlerless). I know few people who hunt who actually do that. There is also an allotment of 3 turkeys per licensed hunter per year, and that's really hard to accomplish. We have densities approaching 45 deer per square mile in many areas of the state. Our average buck harvested is one of the oldest in the country (and it big time used to not be that way). Mississippi hunters don't blast the first deer they see. Again, the culture has evolved where hunters individually and collectively make good herd decisions by (1) managing the antlerless herd and (3) not taking bucks till maturity. That's not to mention the fact that tens of thousands of landowners beneficially manipulate habitat specifically for wildlife and spend tens of millions of dollars in the bargain.

People from other states are shocked at (1) the number of deer we have (2) how our harvests are set ups (no check ins or tagging) and (3) how well it all works. If you go to Kansas, Oklahoma, Iowa or Illinois, you have to acquire tags in advance of being able to hunt, and often times even residents can't acquire a tag to kill a deer. Then there are strict regulations in some states where you actually have to drive the deer into a check in station after you kill it. None of those states have more deer. None of those states have higher density. None of those states are more hunter friendly.

And here's what the MS Department of Wildlife Fisheries and Parks thinks about our deer herd.

The opportunity for hunters to fill all eight “tags” is readily available throughout the Magnolia State. According to the Quality Deer Management Association’s Deer Density Map, Mississippi has more deer per square mile than any other state in the nation. Most of the Magnolia State (especially the lower Delta, much of southwest Mississippi, the Black Prairie and several areas in northwest Mississippi) has a deer density greater than 45 deer per square mile. Only southeast Mississippi, along with a few other pockets around the state, fall into the deer density category of having less than 15 deer per square mile. The majority of Mississippi falls somewhere between the two. However, the state’s extremely high deer population, estimated at nearly 2 million animals, is both a curse and a blessing. While the increased odds of seeing deer is favored by hunters, severe overpopulation in many areas is of great concern to biologists and managers statewide.


Additionally, if it's data that MDWFP wants, there is the DMAP program where landowners voluntarily submit harvest data and deer jawbones representing 2.5 million acres. Additionally, hunters on public land have deer data gathered from wildlife harvested via our WMAs.

Why we would institute any framework to discourage hunters when everything is working so well is just beyond me. Hunters are not out there wishing that their Legislature would cook up a reporting framework. Couple that with the fact that the MDWFP Wildlife Officers are severely understaffed statewide with one or two officers usually per county responsible for enforcement for hundreds of square miles each. Do we have people who break the law? Yes. It is so widespread that it alters the landscape and affects the opportunities for other hunters? No.

If the MDWFP wanted to institute a voluntary tagging program, my sense is that there would actually be a decent compliance with it. Again, I've hunted all over, and Mississippi hunters are some of the most knowledgeable and conservation-minded anywhere. But to make not tagging a deer or turkey a crime . . . to make it mandatory . . . speaks to the fact that HB 1028 is a poorly crafted solution in the desperate search of a problem. The Mississippi Senate should kill this bill. Regardless, the Deer and Turkey Tagging Bill is our #msleg . . . . #billoftheday.





Posted February 15, 2017 - 9:47 am

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2/14/17

Posted February 15, 2017 - 7:39 am

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HB 1523 federal appeals hearing set for April



JACKSON – The fight over last year’s House Bill 1523 could kick into gear again as early as April.

The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans has tentatively scheduled oral arguments on the controversial “religious freedom” law for the week of April 3.

Gov. Phil Bryant is appealing a June federal court ruling that declared HB 1523 unconstitutional minutes before it would have become Mississippi law. The law singles out three “sincerely held” religious beliefs as worthy of protection: that marriage is between one man and one woman; that people should not have sex outside such marriages; and that a person’s gender is set at birth.



Daily Journal
2/14/17

Posted February 15, 2017 - 6:03 am

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Senate recommends $45 million mental health budget cut



The Senate Appropriations Committee recommended a budget cut of more than $45 million for the Department of Mental Health one day after a bill died in the Senate to give the governor supervising authority over the agency.



Clarion Ledger
2/14/17

Posted February 15, 2017 - 5:59 am

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Gunn: MAEP rewrite is on



House Speaker Philip Gunn said Tuesday that a bill to change the state’s school funding formula will come before legislators this year, possibly in a special session.

The announcement comes after two bills to rewrite Mississippi’s school funding formula died with a deadline Thursday.
Right now, appropriations committees in the Senate and House are writing budget bills for state agencies. Initial action on budget bills in the House and Senate must be done by Feb. 22.
But Gunn said a bill for education, which at more than $2 billion represents the state’s largest expenditure, will not be brought out by the deadline. Instead, he told reporters Wednesday that it's his plan to bring out one bill changing the current school funding formula, and another allocating funds for it in the near future. Gunn said the process could happen through a special session within the regular session, meaning discussion could happen within the next few weeks.




Clarion Ledger
2/14/17

Posted February 15, 2017 - 5:56 am

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Tagging law could be coming for next year's hunting season



JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - If House Bill 1028 passes, deer and turkey hunters will be required to report their harvest 72 hours after killing it. It's a system the state says will help them keep tabs on hunter's to make sure they are following the hunting limits and to track animal's population size from year to year.

Mississippi is just one of two states without a Tagging Law on its books.

"That's going to be hard to enforce," said Jaymey Ray with Van's Sporting Goods. "Whether or not the youth have to claim their animal the same way as an adult does, there will be people trying to put it off on their kids. I mean it's going to be hard to enforce."



WLBT
2/14/17

Posted February 15, 2017 - 5:52 am

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AG Hood speaks out about OCH Regional Medical Center's future



STARKVILLE, Miss. (WTVA) – Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood is speaking out about the matter concerning the possible sale of the OCH Regional Medical Center.

A petition calling for a vote is being circulated about the future of the hospital.

According to the Starkville Daily News, Hood says the petition is invalid because the Oktibbeha County Board of Supervisors have not made a decision about whether to lease or sell the hospital.

Hood also says supervisors have no authority to order an election to get resident feedback once they make a decision.




WTVA
2/14/17

Posted February 15, 2017 - 5:46 am

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RELEASE



Wicker Asks Administration to Relieve Americans of Obamacare Burdens

Miss. Senator & 22 Senate Colleagues Send Letter to HHS Sec. Price

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today was joined by 22 of his Republican Senate colleagues in sending a letter to recently confirmed Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tom Price asking for relief from Obamacare for individuals living in Mississippi and 34 other states.

The letter congratulates the new head of the federal health agency and reads, in part, “We eagerly anticipate working with you to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with sensible solutions that give states more flexibility and Americans more options. However, we recognize that this process will take time, and we implore you to do everything in your power to ensure that these millions of Americans who have been protected from Obamacare do not lose their insurance now.”

President Trump signed an Executive Order on January 20 instructing federal agencies to help ease the burdens of Obamacare as Congress works to repeal the harmful law. Wicker and his colleagues are committed to working with Secretary Price and the President to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, shielding Americans from unbearable costs.

In Mississippi and 34 other states, a transitional period has protected some individuals and small groups from Obamacare and allowed them to keep their health-care plans. However, this protection expires at the end of 2017. If the transitional relief policy is not extended, millions of plan holders – including over 200,000 Mississippians – will either lose health insurance or see premiums skyrocket.

There is estimated to be over 200,000 individual and small group policyholders facing the loss of a “Grandmothered” health-care plan in Mississippi – the majority of whom could see a significant rate increase.

In addition to Wicker, the letter was signed by Sens. Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; John Barrasso, R-Wyo.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Mike Enzi, R-Wyo.; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Jeff Flake, R-Ariz.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; James Lankford, R-Okla.; Jerry Moran, R-Kan.; Rob Portman, R-Ohio; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Pat Roberts, R-Kan.; Jim Risch, R-Idaho; Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska; Tim Scott, R-S.C.; and John Thune, R-S.D.

The letter reads in full:

Dear Secretary Price,

Congratulations on your confirmation as Secretary of Health and Human Services. We look forward to working with you to ensure access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans. We commend your commitment to repealing the Affordable Care Act (ACA) and working with Congress to enact market-driven approaches that put Americans back in control of their health care.

We appreciate President Trump’s determination to ease the burden of the ACA through his Administration. The President’s January 20, 2017, Executive Order instructing agencies to minimize the harmful impacts of the law and provide states additional flexibility is an admirable first step. As Secretary of HHS, we know that much of this responsibility will fall on your shoulders. One way HHS can protect Americans from the crippling effects of the law is to extend the transitional relief policy for individual and group plans in 35 states. HHS Guidance is needed by mid-February to give states and health plans time to act.

Since the enactment of the ACA, millions of Americans have either lost their health insurance or have seen their premiums skyrocket. We are committed to working with you to ensure this does not continue to happen. In 2013, HHS created a transitional relief policy that would allow individuals and small groups to maintain certain “Grandmothered” insurance plans. In states that opted for transitional relief, Grandmothered plans are individual and small group plans purchased after enactment of the ACA and before October 1, 2013, that were not required to comply with certain ACA reforms. President Obama’s Administration permitted transitional relief for these plans to protect millions of Americans from feeling the worst pains of the law.

The transitional relief policy was extended in March 2014 and again in February 2016. The current extension is set to expire at the end of 2017, causing millions of Americans to lose their Grandmothered plans in 2018. HHS should extend the current transitional relief policy indefinitely, which would give states the opportunity to allow individuals and small groups to maintain plans. This would provide stability, especially as plans to repeal and replace the ACA evolve.

We eagerly anticipate working with you to repeal the Affordable Care Act and replace it with sensible solutions that give states more flexibility and Americans more options. However, we recognize that this process will take time, and we implore you to do everything in your power to ensure that these millions of Americans who have been protected from Obamacare do not lose their insurance now. We respectfully request that HHS issue guidance by February 21, 2017, to extend indefinitely the transitional relief policy until Congress and the President are able to repeal and replace the ACA completely.



2/14/17

Posted February 15, 2017 - 5:40 am

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It’s not often that Governor Phil Bryant and Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves get their interests directly in line with each other on a somewhat controversial bill. But such was the case with SB 2567, which sought to consolidate control of the Department of Mental Health under the Governor’s office and away from an unelected board.

You’ve got to hand it to the folks who have built the Department of Mental Health fiefdom that rules its corner of state government. Just under 9,000 employees. Large per capita budget outlays (a hair under 2% of state budget). Outposts strategically placed throughout the state. An ultra-sympathetic media contingency it wields regardless of the state of disarray and lack of performance relative to other states.

There’s no other way to put it. This was a straight up defeat for the Governor and Lt. Governor, and it came at the hands of those that say they’re conservative.

Sen. Chad McMahon (R) was at least honest about why he voted no. He’s got a big constituency in the facility in his district. Others like (erstwhile movement conservative) Sen. Chris McDaniel (R), whose district in Ellisville houses a facility that employs over 1,000, voted no on the bill. I’m sure the folks at Ingalls Shipbuilding love to see his newfound pragmatism when it comes to protecting jobs at the expense of good policy. In fact, a quote on his facebook page yesterday reads “Today we face a dependency on government largesse for almost every need. Our liberties are restricted and government operates outside the rule of law, protecting and rewarding those who buy or coerce government into satisfying their demands.” I guess that’s only if the largesse isn’t located in your district.

The bill passed earlier in the week 25-24 with 3 abstaining. On the motion to table the motion to reconsider, Republican Jennifer Branning (who took Giles Ward spot) switched from yes on the bill to voting against. Democrat Sampson Jackson switched from yes on the bill to no on the motion, and two of the folks who abstained, Juan Barnett (D) and Angela Turner-Ford (D) went from abstaining to no votes. Republican Chris Caughman switched his no to a yes and left the vote 24-27. Sen. Briggs Hobson (R) abstained, out of his deference to leadership, on both votes .

On the merits, this bill may not have been perfect, but the clearly conservative approach would be to put Department of Mental Health under elected supervision. Subject to federal lawsuits, the agency clearly underperforms. Tennessee, a state with twice as many people, serves over 50% more people in their state with 1/3rd the employees and spending about 20% less as a percentage of their state budget than does Mississippi. The stats are similarly alarming in comparison to other similarly situated southern states.

Whether or not there will be another bite at the legislative apple at this point is unclear. There’s certainly the ability either through the confines of a revenue bill or through the appropriations process to cut the Mental Health budget to try and coerce corrective behavior. The other option, which is somewhat nuclear and also somewhat unlikely, is to include this bill on a special session call. It’s conceivable that there will be one for MAEP and figuring out how to rework the school funding formula. It wouldn't be a bridge too far to try and tackle this behemoth again on something that isn't a deadline day where everyone's attention is squarely focused on the issue at hand.

Regardless, this is the sort of vote that get noted when 2019 rolls around. Phil Bryant and Tate Reeves both have millions in their PAC/campaign accounts. And there are outside groups that have fundraising as well that have had a real impact (see 2015 legislative races and the Charter School issue as an example). For those who like inside baseball, these votes are the ones that put a target on incumbents’ backs.

So even though it's no longer a bill (at this point in time), SB 2567 is our #msleg . . . #billoftheday.


Posted February 14, 2017 - 11:52 am

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Charlie Mitchell: The bills you never heard about

But there were 2,528 distinct pieces of legislation proposed in the House and the Senate this year, not counting assorted resolutions and commendations. There are nuggets in this treasure trove that should not pass without mention.

Equal rights for motorcycles.

Yes, motorcycles.

You know when a rider pulls up to a traffic light operated by pavement-embedded sensors, the motorcycle isn’t always heavy enough to trip the switch.

Unfair!

But alas, the proposal of Rep. Deborah Butler Dixon, D-Raymond, proposal to exempt motorcyclists from citations for running red lights (after stopping) “died in committee,” as about 95 percent of all bills do.

Clarion Ledger
2/14/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 10:28 am

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RELEASE


Thompson Statement on the Resignation of National Security Advisor Flynn

February 14, 2017 (WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on the resignation of National Security Advisor Michael Flynn:

“The resignation of Michael Flynn is welcome news but provides no answers as to the Trump Administration's apparent ties to Russia. It's clear from reporting that President Trump knew of Flynn's potential conflicts and ties to Russia in January and failed to act. Flynn should have never served a day in the White House.”

“Even though Republicans in Congress want to turn a blind eye and move on from this disaster so they can jam through their unpopular domestic agenda, we will do no such thing. Now more than ever, we need an independent commission to fully investigate Russia's interference with the election and any potential Trump campaign ties to the Kremlin.”

“President Trump campaigned on hiring the best people and on being the best manager - but the unnecessary chaos and drama he has brought to the America people in just three weeks is bordering on sadistic – and is without doubt a clear threat to national security. As a President without a mandate, President Trump must start doing what's best for the American people.”


2/14/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 9:55 am

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Governor loses, wins Monday

Gov. Phil Bryant won one and lost one Monday in the Mississippi Legislature in efforts to expand his power.

The House reversed course again and sent on to the Senate by a 63-55 margin legislation that essentially would give Bryant authority of more than 60 boards that oversee and regulate various occupations, ranging from accountants, to barbers, to veterinarians.

But a short while after the House approved that measure, the Senate refused to table a motion to reconsider a bill that would have given him the authority over the Department of Mental Health. That measure originally passed last week, but on Monday, only 24 members voted to send the bill to the House, while 27 voted against it.

Daily Journal
2/14/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 8:37 am

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Posted February 14, 2017 - 8:07 am

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Pirates at the Parchment Gates

With the benefit of 20 years of scholarship and ensuing appellate case law, it has become inescapable to conclude that contingency fee contracting by state attorneys general violates the structure of the Constitution and its guarantees of due process, as well as state fiscal laws and professional codes of ethics. Further, these arrangements result in the privatization of law enforcement, and thus transfer power into the hands of influential private counsel who have cashed in for billions of dollars in fees—in open defiance of constitutional and legal prohibitions put into place by our nation’s Founders to prevent such corruption.

At least three core constitutional principles are laid waste by attorneys general who retain private counsel to regulate industries by litigation.

1. Contingency fee financing is an attempt to do an end run around the appropriations process, and is constitutionally prohibited. That means that even statutes permitting such arrangements violate constitutional controls over the flow of money expressly put into place to prevent government corruption.

2. No private party or law firm should ever finance any government operation. Both state and federal constitutions require that all receipts of money or services must be legislatively authorized and subject to legislative control and accountability.

3. No private party or law firm should ever play any role in a government investigation or prosecution, especially when that party has a direct financial stake in the outcome. State and federal due process clauses prohibit such compromised prosecutions, as recognized by the United States Supreme Court, along with state and federal appellate courts and governmental Codes of Ethics.

CEI
2/14/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 7:49 am

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Economic Impact of Immigration by State


In light of recent developments in U.S. immigration policy, WalletHub’s analysts compared the economic impact of foreign-born populations on the 50 states and the District of Columbia. Wallethub determined which states benefit the most — and least — from immigration using 18 key indicators, ranging from “median household income of foreign-born population” to “jobs generated by immigrant-owned businesses as a share of total jobs.” Read on for our findings, expert commentary and a full description of our methodology.

WalletHub
2/14/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 7:47 am

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2/14/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 7:29 am

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SENATE DEMOCRATS TARGET LYNN FITCH’S TICKET TO WASHINGTON



The Hill newspaper in Washington and other media are reporting the fight over President Trump’s Cabinet has moved from new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos to Andrew Puzder, Trump’s nominee to be Secretary of Labor. Democrats, teacher unions and other liberals targeted DeVos in an attempt to block a Cabinet selection. The Senate confirmation of DeVos ended in a tie until Vice President Pence broke the tie by voting for DeVos. Now, Senate Democrats view Puzder as their best chance to block a Trump Cabinet member from confirmation. Puzder, the CEO of a fast food chain, is thought to be vulnerable on several points. More important from a Mississippi angle is State Treasurer Lynn Fitch is expected to be named to a subcabinet position in the Labor Department if Puzder is confirmed. Puzder’s path to confirmation starts with hearings this week. From what I have read, most of the allegations against Puzder are bogus.



Weidie Report
2/13/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 6:54 am

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Revenue outlook not getting any better for state budget writers




JACKSON – Legislative budget writers, looking for positive revenue trends, as they work during the 2017 session to develop a budget for the next fiscal year, starting July 1, are not getting much encouragement.

Revenue collections for the current fiscal year remain disappointing – as they have been for more than a year.

The revenue report for the month of January compiled by the staff of the Legislative Budget Committee reveals tax collections and other revenue generated on a monthly basis, such as from interest on earnings, are $18.5 million below the projection.

For the fiscal year, revenue is $116 million or 4 percent below projections. The projection is important because it represents the amount of money appropriated by the 2016 Legislature for the current budget year.



Daily Journal
2/13/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 6:18 am

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Bill would rename highway Rockabilly Way




TUPELO – A state highway that stretches into Tennessee has moved closer to receiving a new name that would pay tribute to a historic style of music.

Mississippi House legislators unanimously passed a bill (HB0907) on Thursday that would designate a section of Old Highway 45 in Lee, Prentiss and Alcorn counties as“Rockabilly Way.” The bill is now headed to the Senate.

Rockabilly, a style of music that blended country music and rhythm and blues, first started in the early 1950s and has roots in Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi.



Daily Journal
2/13/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 6:15 am

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Senate blocks bill to put governor over mental health dept.




JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Senate has reconsidered and killed a bill that would let the governor appoint the Department of Mental Health director.

Senate Bill 2567 passed the Senate last week but was put on hold. Senators voted not to release the bill to the House before a Monday deadline, and that killed it.



WLBT
2/13/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 6:09 am

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State GOP chairman meets with local municipal candidates



TUPELO, Miss (WTVA) -- Mississippi GOP Chairman Joe Nosef stopped in Tupelo on Monday night.

Nosef is making several stops across the Magnolia State to meet with Republican municipal candidates ahead of the June elections.

He along with Mississippi GOP staff provided tips on running effective municipal campaigns.



WTVA
2/13/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 6:00 am

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Chicken processor plans to hire 150 in Carthage



CARTHAGE, Miss. (AP) - A new wholesale company that includes some Georgia partners will invest more than $2 million and hire 150 people to process chicken in Leake County, Miss.

Pearl River Foods will buy chicken, process it into breasts and tenders, and sell it to other companies.

The Mississippi Development Authority will contribute $1.5 million in federal community development money to improve a building that Pearl River Foods will lease from Leake County. The county will provide $170,000 for infrastructure improvements.



WTOK
2/13/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 5:56 am

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Proposal for oil-spill fund moves to Mississippi House




JACKSON, MS (AP) - The Mississippi House will get to debate a bill setting aside $750 million in oil spill economic-damage payments for projects on the Gulf Coast.

The Senate passed Senate Bill 2634 last week but put it on hold. That hold was released Monday, sending the bill to the House for consideration in coming weeks.

The bill would create an account to hold part of the money that BP agreed to give Mississippi for the 2010 Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico. The payments will be made over 17 years.




WLOX
2/13/17

Posted February 14, 2017 - 5:52 am

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Wicker Meets Supreme Court Nominee Judge Neil Gorsuch

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today met with President Trump’s nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Neil Gorsuch. Wicker issued this statement following the meeting:

“Judge Gorsuch has issued a number of decisions and publications that suggest that he is a very talented jurist. These are instructive as to how he would rule on any number of issues. I found him to be as advertised – intelligent, well-versed, independent, and principled. Judge Gorsuch is one of the great legal minds in America. The country would benefit from his being confirmed to the Supreme Court.”





2/10/17

Posted February 13, 2017 - 8:57 am

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JEFF AMY: Analysis: Lack of info not helping school funding




Last week’s derailment of what had once looked like a legislative freight train might provide the opportunity. Unable to decide on what proposals to bring forward, leaders in the House and Senate both abandoned placeholder bills to die at Thursday’s deadline. The issue could still come back this year, but lawmakers will probably need Gov. Phil Bryant to call a special session.

The process crashed in part because far too many people don’t understand what consulting group EdBuild proposed, or how the scenario put forward by the nonprofit group could be modified.

Republican leaders should blame themselves for the widespread ignorance, never unveiling an official set of numbers and discussing options only in closed-door talks between Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn. When supporters of changes have been willing to talk, backers of the current Mississippi Adequate Education Program have plugged up their ears — even the ones whose home districts could end up with more state money than the current formula would provide at full funding.



Clarion Ledger
2/12/17

Posted February 13, 2017 - 7:21 am

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Revenge porn bill passes in Senate



A bill passed in the Senate would create the crimes of sextortion and sexploitation, or what some refer to as revenge porn legislation.

Senate Bill 2907 would prohibit a person from disclosing a photo or other visual image without permission of a person’s intimate parts exposed or of the individual engaged in sexual conduct.

Sen. Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven, the bill's author; said it carries civil liability and criminal penalties.



Clarion Ledger
2/11/17

Posted February 13, 2017 - 7:19 am

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GEOFF PENDER: Bryant tackles bureaucracy, but it fights back



Gov. Phil Bryant is trying to tackle state bureaucracy, but he’s seeing firsthand the wisdom of Ronald Reagan’s adage: “A government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we’ll ever see on this earth.”

House Bill 1425 would put most of the state’s many occupational licensure boards under the governor’s “active supervision.” But after passing the House earlier last week, it’s now in limbo, with a vote Friday to table a holding motion and send it on to the Senate failing 31-85.

The bureaucracy fights back. And it has the Legislature’s ear.

Calling it a gubernatorial power grab and even a “venomous snake,” lawmakers vowed to keep the state’s bureaucracy answerable to … apparently no one.




Clarion Ledger
2/11/17

Posted February 13, 2017 - 7:15 am

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BILL CRAWFORD: Move remediation to community colleges, hybrid universities




Universities should raise admission standards and, for the most part, exit the remediation business. Community colleges are best suited for this role with lower costs for both state and student, plus they provide more pathways to completion for academically challenged and disinterested students.

Two things – sports and historically black universities – would seem to make this politically impossible. Many talented athletes require remediation and our historically black universities enroll high proportions of under-prepared students.



Daily Journal
2/12/17

Posted February 13, 2017 - 7:01 am

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SID SALTER: Alternate execution method bill ignores larger death penalty debate



House Bill 638 is the reaction to litigation filed challenging the “cruel and unusual punishment” aspects of lethal injection. Most of those legal challenges were filed as a delaying tactic to thwart the imposition of the death penalty.

For good or ill, state legislatures are pushing back hard against those challenges with this type of legislation. The propriety of maintaining the death penalty at all is by no means part of the current discussion.




Daily Journal
2/12/17

Posted February 13, 2017 - 6:58 am

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U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson calls for new investigation in Emmett Till case



TALLAHATCHIE COUNTY, Miss. —
U.S. Congressman Bennie Thompson is calling for a new investigation into the Emmett Till murder case.

Thompson specifically said he wants the government to look into the woman at the center of the case, Carolyn Bryant.

Byrant admitted to an author that she lied during Till's murder trial.

Bryant claimed that the then 14-year-old Till grabbed her and verbally threatened her.



WAPT
2/11/17

Posted February 13, 2017 - 6:54 am

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Former Gov. Haley Barbour to speak at Mississippi State



STARKVILLE, Miss. (AP) - Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour is going back to school.

Barbour will speak Monday at Mississippi State as part of the university's Lamar Conerly Governance Lecture Series.

WTVA-TV reports the lecture series is organized by the Office of the Provost and Executive Vice President, the Department of Political Science and Public Administration and the Pre-Law Society. Barbour's presentation on leadership will be held at 1 p.m. in the Colvard Student Union. It's free and open to the public.



WTOK
2/11/17

Posted February 13, 2017 - 6:43 am

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Lawmakers working to pass "How to act in a Traffic Stop" Bill



JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - State representatives are working on a new law that could prepare you for the next time you get pulled over. House Bill 509, developed by the Department of Public Safety, is something lawmakers say should have been passed a long time ago.

"I think it's important anytime you have a tense situation such as a young kid who is being pulled over for the first time, that they have a script to go through to know what they are suppose to do," said Representative Charles Busby. "To relieve the tension on both them and on the officer."

With recent officer-involved shootings or other crimes happening at traffic stops within the last few years, it's become a bill that everyone seems to be getting behind.



WDAM
2/10/17

Posted February 13, 2017 - 6:41 am

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Lawmakers look to change compulsory school age from 6 to 5



BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - State lawmakers are looking to change the compulsory school age from 6 to 5.

Rep. Sonya Williams-Barnes authored an amendment to House Bill 567 that would make it requirement. Teachers at Jeff Davis Elementary in Biloxi think the change would benefit students.

"I think it would allow parents to push them to know, 'Hey my child is getting ready for school. These are the necessary steps I need to take to make sure my child is successful,'" said kindergarten teacher Stephanie Stokes.



WLOX
2/10/17

Posted February 13, 2017 - 6:37 am

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Mississippi House says kids can have water on school bus



JACKSON, MS (AP) - JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - It's a policy that could be set by local school boards, but Mississippi lawmakers are taking matters into their own hands.

A bill that passed the state House last week says students must be allowed to drink water on school buses.

Republican Rep. Becky Currie of Brookhaven says she filed the bill at the request of a constituent.

Currie says it's not right for people to put children "on a tin can in 110-degree weather" and tell them they can't have water.



WLOX
2/12/17

Posted February 13, 2017 - 6:34 am

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Mississippi House of Representatives Weekly Summary

The House met as a whole throughout the week to discuss bills that made it out of committees and onto the calendar. Thursday, Feb. 9, was the deadline for representatives to discuss House Bills. Any bills that were not discussed by Thursday died on the calendar.

Legislation regarding internet sales tax, House Bill 480, officially passed the House this week and will be sent to the Senate for consideration.

The House approved House Bill 974, which would exempt certain state agencies from the rules, regulations and procedures of the state Personnel Board. The bill, originally discussed last week, will allow agency heads to run their departments how they see fit and remove employees’ civil service protections.

Also discussed last week, House Bill 1226, which details plans for a Capitol Complex District, passed the House with an amendment that will give the city of Jackson more power in addressing the repairs and enhancements that need to be made in the area surrounding the Capitol. The bill will be sent to the Senate for consideration.

The Rivers McGraw Act passed the House this week in the form of House Bill 1089. This bill states that within eight hours of the arrest of someone under the age of 21, law enforcement officers must make reasonable efforts to notify parents before releasing the minor. This bill was requested by the parents of Rivers McGraw, a college student who took his own life after being released from an arrest for substance abuse. The measure passed unanimously.

House Bill 645, known as the Back the Badge Act, sparked a lengthy discussion among House members. The act increases penalties for violent crimes committed against law enforcement officers, first responders and emergency medical technicians. Many representatives expressed that, while they support protecting officers, they also want to see more done in regards to holding officers accountable for the fair treatment of all citizens. The bill passed by a vote of 85-31.

The death penalty became a topic of discussion at the introduction of House Bill 638. The bill revises the methods by which the death penalty can be carried out. In the event that lethal injection is deemed unusable, death penalty could be carried out by use of a gas chamber, a firing squad or electrocution. Supporters say this is necessary to ensure that the death penalty can be carried out by giving alternatives in case one or more methods is blocked or appealed. Those opposed to the bill say the alternatives offered are too extreme and inhumane. The bill passed by a vote of 74-44.


The introduction of House Bill 926 proposed the Health Care Collaboration Act. This act would authorize the board of trustees of the state Institution of Higher Learning (IHL) and the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC) to enter into a health care collaborative with other health organizations in the state. Supporters say this act will save rural hospitals and consumers money, while helping to modernize health care in rural areas. Those opposed say this could give UMMC an unfair advantage over other hospitals that have power to enter into a collaborative, but are not backed by the state. The bill passed by a vote of 89-24.

The House Transportation Committee presented House Bill 509 to the floor. This bill would require driver’s education curriculum to include information about how to respond to an officer in the event of being stopped or pulled over. An amendment was adopted which would also require the curriculum to teach driver’s education students their constitutional rights in regards to being pulled over by a police officer. The bill passed unanimously.

Another transportation bill would expand requirements on seat belt usage. House Bill 539 would require passengers in the back seat of the car to wear a seat belt. The bill passed by a vote of 76-40.

The House Education Committee presented two bills regarding compulsory school age. House Bill 567 increased the compulsory school age of a child to the age of 18. House Bill 565, originally intended to allow students to miss school for preapproved activities, was amended twice during debate. The first amendment offered would allow a student who turns the minimum compulsory school age at any time during the calendar year to be enrolled in school at the discretion of the parents or legal guardian. The second amendment would lower the minimum compulsory school age to five. Both House Bill 567 and House Bill 565 passed and will be sent to the Senate for consideration.

A number of other bills passed the House this week including a bill that will make it easier for victims to receive a Criminal Sexual Assault Protection Order and a bill that lays out a plan to provide the Mississippi Highway Patrol with a new headquarters.

Each of these bills will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.

As always, many visiting groups joined us at the Capitol this week, including members of the Mississippi Community Education Center, the Mississippi School Boards Association, Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., Natchez Inc., the Mississippi Association of Health, AARP Mississippi and the Mississippi Dental Association.

2/10/17

Posted February 13, 2017 - 6:32 am

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RELEASE



Palazzo Visits NASA Michoud Facility

New Orleans, LA – Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) today visited NASA's Michoud Assembly Facility in New Orleans that was impacted by the tornado that struck the area Tuesday, and released a statement following his visit:

“When I heard that Michoud’s facilities were damaged during the tornado, I immediately made plans to visit. As a member of the Commerce, Justice and Science Appropriations Subcommittee that has jurisdiction over NASA’s annual budget, I think it is important to view the damage firsthand and have an opportunity to speak with the director and employees that will be impacted by this as we begin the recovery process.”

NASA’s Michoud is the leading facility for manufacturing and assembling large-scale space structures and systems. It has been involved with the space program for more than 50 years and currently supports NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) heavy-lift rocket program and Orion spacecraft program.

Congressman Palazzo serves on the House Appropriations Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee, with jurisdiction over NASA funding, as well as the Homeland Security subcommittee which is ultimately responsible for funding disaster recovery through FEMA.



2/10/17

Posted February 10, 2017 - 3:09 pm

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Update on the story Jerry Mitchell won't cover

Ms. Brune at times claimed her Fifth Amendment rights against self-incrimination but then would waive those rights only to claim them again. She complained about the presence of JJ's video camera in the courtroom but the court informed her that a proper camera coverage request was filed and honored under the law (19:24). Ms. Brune filed a motion to dismiss but the court ruled that it would not be heard yesterday since the plaintiffs had not yet a chance to file a response. Judge O'Neal said she would set a trial date after she heard the motion to dismiss on March 8 at 1:00 PM. No media was present at the hearing nor has this case been mentioned in the media.

Kingfish note: One must ask why the media is not covering this lawsuit. One can think Mr. Allen is indeed guilty of the ten counts mentioned in his indictment but the story of DJP suing a former secretary for embezzling a large sum of money is still worthy of coverage. The two stories are not mutually exclusive. Ms. Brune may be innocent or she may be guilty. That question should be resolved by the judicial process. However, it is rather interesting to watch the media pursue one story while ignoring the other. One can only ask why this is so.

Jackson Jambalaya
2/10/17

Posted February 10, 2017 - 1:35 pm

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Posted February 10, 2017 - 1:29 pm

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Palazzo supports bill to shutter EPA

“The EPA is a prime example of federal agency overreach, and they have far surpassed their original intent," Palazzo said in a statement. “Ultimately, I believe state regulatory organizations can develop and implement environmental regulations better than bureaucrats in Washington, DC.”

The measure, which experts and environmentalists say is unlikely to pass even the Republican-controlled Congress, has still attracted national attention. It has also drawn the ire of some Mississippians, including some in Palazzo’s district.

“Anybody with a lick of sense knows that this is just a showboating gesture and a really nihilistic gesture," said Robert Wiygul, an environmental lawyer in Ocean Springs. “If Mr. Palazzo is serious about this, then he has absolutely no understanding about what the EPA does or what the issues are that are associated with that."

Clarion Ledger
2/10/17

Posted February 10, 2017 - 1:12 pm

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Mental health bill barely passes in Senate



A bill squeaked by in the Senate 25-24 that would give the governor the authority to appoint the executive director of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health.

The bill was held on a motion to reconsider, which means it could come back for another vote by Monday's deadline to dispose of reconsideration motions.

A mental health board now oversees the agency and appoints the executive director.



Clarion Ledger
2/9/17

Posted February 10, 2017 - 8:46 am

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Kelly hears concerns over ACA repeal


U.S. Rep. Trent Kelly met Thursday with a small group of constituents to hear concerns over efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Kelly, a Republican congressman, privately met at his Tupelo field office with approximately 15 residents of Columbus, Oxford and Tupelo.

The Daily Journal was not allowed to observe this meeting.

Alex Pieschel, of Columbus, had requested the hearing with Kelly so that local supporters of the ACA, often called Obamacare, could voice their opinions.



Daily Journal
2/10/17

Posted February 10, 2017 - 8:41 am

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BOBBY HARRISON: Revenue shortfall forcing differing thinking from Mississippi leaders



Is it any surprise the governor has changed his mind on the lottery and the internet sales tax considering he has been forced to cut budgets four times within a 12-month period and dip into the rainy day fund twice? The total of the four cuts, spanning one calendar year and over two fiscal years, is more than $170 million. Plus, the governor has transferred more than $100 million from the rainy day fund to prevent the need for additional cuts.

And there is speculation he will have to make another round of cuts before the fiscal year ends. In addition, the Legislature has cut the budgets for multiple agencies during the same time period and some agencies, including Medicaid and Corrections, are saying they need a deficit appropriation from the Legislature to make it through the current fiscal year.

Many Democrats cite the multiple tax cuts, totaling more than $300 million in recent years, for the sluggish revenue collections. And larger tax cuts, passed during the 2016 session totaling more than $400 million (the largest in the state’s history), will be phased in during the coming years.

To further complicate issues, there is a growing demand, led by the Mississippi Economic Council, that the Legislature and governor make a significant investment in infrastructure improvement.



Daily Journal
2/9/17

Posted February 10, 2017 - 8:37 am

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Mississippi bill: Let police ask about immigration status



JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The Mississippi Senate has approved a bill saying local governments and public colleges can't stop their employees from asking whether a person has entered the United States illegally, and can't try to grant people who have entered illegally any special status.

Thursday's vote of 32-16 in favor of Senate Bill 2710 adds Mississippi's voice to a debate over so-called sanctuary cities as President Donald Trump also attacks them from the federal level.




WTVA
2/9/17

Posted February 10, 2017 - 6:16 am

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RELEASE


Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves on Status of Education Funding Bill

JACKSON – “We are dedicated to revamping the current formula, which is seriously flawed and needs to be replaced with a plan that focuses on student needs in the classroom,” said Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and Lt. Governor Tate Reeves in a joint statement. “Superintendents and school business officers complain about the significant variability in dollars from year-to-year; therefore, we agree that any change should limit any appreciable impact on school districts for the 2017-2018 school year. We agree that passing something by today's deadline has no bearing on accomplishing our ultimate goal.”


2/9/17

Posted February 10, 2017 - 6:14 am

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No move on school money, raising questions about what's next



JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -
The future of rewriting Mississippi's school funding formula is in doubt after legislators failed to act on bills that could have made changes.

Both the House and the Senate skipped bills that could have allowed overhauls of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Republican leaders proclaimed that revising the formula is a top priority for the year, but proposals died when the House and Senate didn't act on bills before a Thursday deadline.



WTOK
2/9/17

Posted February 10, 2017 - 6:12 am

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Mississippi lottery bill fails, but another could pop up




JACKSON, Miss. (AP) -
The odds of Mississippi getting a state lottery this year are slim.

A lottery bill died because the House did not consider it before a Thursday deadline.

But its sponsor, Republican Rep. Mark Baker of Brandon, says there's still a possibility that a senator could insert a lottery into a revenue bill in the next few weeks. Budget and revenue bills can wait until a later deadline.



WTOK
2/9/17

Posted February 10, 2017 - 6:08 am

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MS Senate votes to prohibit sanctuary cities



MISSISSIPPI (WLOX) - On Thursday, the Mississippi Senate voted to prohibit sanctuary cities in the state.

Senate Bill 2710 will prohibit towns, counties, or universities from "purposefully defying federal immigration laws." Sponsored by Sen. Sean Tindell, R-Gulfport, the bill passed in a 32-16 vote.



WLOX
2/9/17

Posted February 10, 2017 - 6:06 am

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MS House Speaker wins "demon chipmunk" legal battle




The Mississippi Supreme Court says it has no power to settle a dispute over a machine that some state legislators called the '"demon chipmunk."




WLOX
2/10/17

Posted February 10, 2017 - 6:03 am

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A high-powered Republican joins the army of casino lobbyists in Georgia

Barbour is among a half-dozen lobbyists boosting Wynn, a group that also includes former state Rep. Ed Lindsey. They are but a small fraction of the larger legion of pro-gambling lobbyists in the halls of the statehouse.

In all, about 40 lobbyists working for gambling firms are registered under the Gold Dome this year. Nearly two dozen work for MGM Resorts International – which has already pitched a $2 billion casino for downtown Atlanta.

The rest work for Las Vegas Sands, Penn National Gaming, Elite Casino Resorts, Boyd Gaming Corp. and a handful of other gambling firms.

Barbour also isn’t the only high-powered advocate pushing the casino industry in person. Sheldon Adelson, the Republican mega-donor who runs Sands, also quietly met with Deal in 2015 to push a $2 billion resort his one-time deputy pledged would be an “architectural wonder.”

AJC
2/8/17

Posted February 9, 2017 - 8:36 am

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2/8/17

Posted February 9, 2017 - 7:48 am

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2/8/17

Posted February 9, 2017 - 7:46 am

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Bay St. Louis must pay back nearly $300K to DOJ



After a nearly 16-month investigation, the City of Bay St. Louis learned Tuesday night that it will have to pay around $300,000 back to the U.S. Department of Justice for misspending drug forfeiture money.

The city council voted 6-0 to accept the findings in the DOJ report, and that $299,968.54 must be paid back to the federal agency. The investigation began in 2015 after auditors looked into the city's drug forfeiture fund and found the shortage. 



WLOX
2/8/17


Posted February 9, 2017 - 7:43 am

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2/8/17

Posted February 9, 2017 - 7:40 am

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