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Husband of Ocean Springs mayor arrested on public drunk charge



Arnold Walter "Jack" Rosen, husband of Ocean Springs Mayor Connie Moran, was arrested Friday night and charged with public intoxication after an incident in downtown Ocean Springs.

According to a booking report obtained by The Mississippi Press, the 56-year-old Rosen was arrested at 11:04 p.m. at 522 Washington Ave. -- the address of Mohler's Texaco station at the corner of Washington and Porter Avenue.

Rosen was held overnight -- standard procedure in public drunk or DUI cases -- and then released on his own recognizance Saturday morning.



Gulflive
7/25/16

Posted July 26, 2016 - 6:53 am

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SID SALTER: Trump Jr.’s Neshoba visit faces instant media scrutiny



Donald Trump Jr. will speak at the Neshoba County Fair grandstand at 4:15 p.m. on Tuesday, July 26.

Trump Jr. will not be the first son of a presidential candidate to make an appearance at Neshoba, either. Neil Bush, the son of President George H.W. Bush and the brother of President George W. Bush, also campaigned for his father at Neshoba in 1988 in a surrogate role....



...Presidential politics have been relatively quiet at Neshoba since the Dukakis speech in 1988. While the visit of Don Trump is unlikely to impact the outcome of the race, it does reinforce the reputation of the Neshoba County Fair as center stage in the Mississippi political arena.


Daily Journal
7/25/16

Posted July 26, 2016 - 6:43 am

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MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

WLBT
7/25/16

Posted July 26, 2016 - 6:34 am

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RELEASE:



Miss. Senators Ask Interior Dept. to Drop Proposed Offshore Rule

Interior Dept. Fails to Show Offshore Activities Negatively Affect Onshore Air Quality, 17 Senators Assert


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Thad Cochran, R-Miss., today said the lack of evidence that offshore energy production adversely affects onshore air quality should prompt the withdrawal of a proposed new federal rule on offshore activities.

Wicker and Cochran are among 17 Senators who have signed a letter asking Interior Secretary Sally Jewel to withdraw the “Air Quality Control, Reporting, and Compliance” rule proposed by Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM).

“This proposed rule is unnecessary,” Wicker said. “The agency has already proved that this regulation would not make a significant impact on making inland air cleaner. This is a solution in search of a problem. It is clear that regulatory action is not scientifically justified.”

“This rulemaking amounts to creating a solution for a problem that doesn’t exist. The administration’s eagerness to impose new regulations before the end of the year should not undermine facts and basic fairness to states that produce offshore energy,” said Cochran, who serves on the Senate appropriations subcommittee with jurisdiction over the Interior Department.

The letter highlights the fact that BOEM has failed to determine that offshore activities violate National Ambient Air Quality Standards in coastal areas. The letter points out that the agency’s own National Environmental Policy Act review, as well as required Clean Air Act State Implementation Plans, have found that offshore emission sources do not contribute significantly to onshore air quality.

The Senators also criticized BOEM for advancing the proposed rule before two ongoing studies, costing $4.0 million, have been concluded. These studies could be completed in 2017.

“Unless and until such studies are completed, peer reviewed, and assessed, it is impossible for BOEM to put forth a credible cost benefit analysis. Moreover, the affected entities cannot be reasonably expected to take adequate stock of or fully inform BOEM regarding the regulation,” the letter said. “Therefore, we ask the Department to withdraw this rule or at a minimum table this proposed rulemaking until the results of its own studies are completed to determine whether or not any regulatory action is scientifically justified.”

The letter, authored by Senator Bill Cassidy, R-La., was also signed by Senators John Cornyn, R-Texas, Ted Cruz, R-Texas, Steve Daines, R-Mont., Jeff Flake, R-Ariz., John Hoeven, R-N.D., James Inhofe, R-Okla., Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska, Michael Rounds, R-S.D., Jeff Session, R-Ala., Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, John Thune, R-S.D., Thom Tillis, R-N.C., and David Vitter, R-La.


7/25/16

Posted July 26, 2016 - 6:31 am

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Shoppers gear up for tax-free holiday weekend



The Mississippi Sales Tax holidays begins Friday at 12:01 a.m. and ends Saturday at midnight.

The items exempt from sales tax during the holiday are the same as in years past..

Clothing and footwear items, meant to be worn next to the body and cost less than $100 per item, are exempt from sales tax this weekend.



WLOX / WDAM
7/25/16

Posted July 26, 2016 - 6:27 am

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WTOK
7/25/16

Posted July 26, 2016 - 6:24 am

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Board of Education sets score levels on new Mississippi test



Mississippi will remain a hard grader of its students, as state officials adopt test-score standards that mirror those used on a multi-state test students took in 2015.

The State Board of Education voted unanimously Monday to adopt the scoring standards, clearing officials to release scores for schools and districts and calculate school and district ratings.

Students in grades 3-8 and high school took the Mississippi Assessment of Progress for the first time this spring.



WTOK
7/25/16


Posted July 26, 2016 - 6:19 am

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MS GOP Chair Nosef recaps the RNC: It was a good week



Oddly, Nosef said, Sen. Ted Cruz' much-panned speech, lacking an endorsement of his party's presidential ticket, was "the most unifying event of the whole convention."

"I wish both (Cruz and Ohio Gov. John Kasich) would have spoken and both spoken in a positive way about Trump," Nosef said. "I haven't ever been in a presidential primary, so I don't know the type of emotions you go through ... But their supporters were there. The voters were there ... When Ted Cruz came out and did that, it sealed the deal with the whole unity aspect."...



...Nosef said he's seen media coverage describing Trump's speechas "bleak and dark" but that "I don't buy into that whole narrative."

Nosef said Trump isn't being negative and dark, but realistic and populist.



Clarion Ledger
7/25/16

Posted July 26, 2016 - 6:13 am

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Bernie Sanders supporters hound Miss. Democratic delegates



“She fell on her sword, and she took the hit," Jacobs said. “That shouldn’t derail the party. We’re here to talk about saving our planet, clean air, clean water, equal pay for equal work – the issues that we’re here for are not about some triviality like who wrote what email."

Mississippi delegates said they’re less concerned about Schultz and more concerned about the disruptive behavior of Sanders' supporters. Some Mississippi delegates said Sanders’ supporters have verbally attacked them.

Sykes said several supporters cursed at her earlier in the day.

"They kept saying Bernie is the only one who can beat (Donald) Trump,'' she said.

Jacobs said a swarm of them followed her down a city street. “It was scary," she said. “I was hounded by 40 of them."



Clarion Ledger
7/25/16

Posted July 26, 2016 - 6:08 am

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MS flag removed from Avenue of the States at DNC



The Mississippi state flag will no longer be featured as a part of the Avenue of the States on Philadelphia’s Broad Street erected for the Democratic National Convention.

The flag was taken down Monday afternoon by the city’s police department after a group of roughly 50 protesters sat in a roadway shouting for its removal, the Associated Press reported.

In video of the removal, cheers can be heard as the flag is taken off the lamp post.



Clarion Ledger
7/25/16

Posted July 26, 2016 - 6:05 am

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Lynn Fitch on 7/25 Gallo show.

During the interview she talks about RNC, the Equal Pay Act, the 2016 Legislative Session.

She addresses 2019 plans at 53:00.

Posted July 25, 2016 - 3:39 pm

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Monsour honored by law enforcement group

State Rep. Alex Monsour, R-Vicksburg, has been named Legislator of the Year for the state House by the Mississippi Law Enforcement Officers Association.

Monsour was selected by the association for his efforts in supporting public safety initiatives in the Legislature. It was presented during the association’s annual conference in D’Iberville.

Vicksburg Post
7/25/16

Posted July 25, 2016 - 3:30 pm

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Former state Rep. Bennett Malone's wife charged in Epps' case

Teresa Malone, 54, of Carthage is charged with one count of conspiracy and one of bribery. She allegedly paid Epps bribes and kickbacks for AdminPros, LLC, a company that had multiple contacts with the Mississippi Department of Corrections. Malone was paid about $5,000 a month from October 2010 to July 2014 as a consultant. The indictment alleges Malone paid Epps at least $1,750 in cash kickbacks. The indictment claims she was paid at least $170,000 by the company.

Teresa Malone, who underwent a double lung transplant in 2015, faces up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine for the conspiracy charge and a maximum of 10 years and $250,000 fine for the bribery charge. She is scheduled to be arraigned in federal court on Wednesday.

Bennett Malone served nearly 36 years in the Legislature in the District 45 seat serving parts of Leake, Neshoba, Rankin and Scott counties. For many years Teresa Malone served as his assistant in the Legislature, often sitting on the House floor with him and even speaking on his behalf to media. Bennett Malone was longtime chairman of the House Corrections Committee under former Democratic Speaker Billy McCoy and was involved in passage of laws and policies for private and public prisons.

Clarion Ledger
7/25/16

Posted July 25, 2016 - 3:24 pm

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Grand Old Party: RIP


The Republican Party died Thursday, July 21, 2016, at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio, following a hard-fought battle for its soul. It was 162.

It was preceded in death by its principles.

Survivors include its loyal companions — political columnist George Will, Sen. Lindsey Graham and others who attempted to keep it on life support.

Gary Pettus
Clarion Ledger
7/25/16

Posted July 25, 2016 - 11:36 am

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There is no Democratic divide in Mississippi over Clinton



While not all Republicans in Mississippi — and the U.S. for that matter — are enamored of Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton is the obvious choice of Democrats. Even Bernie Sanders, the Democratic socialist who fought a hard and sometimes bitter battle with Clinton, has endorsed the party’s presumptive nominee for president.

The newly minted head of the state Democratic Party is solidly behind Clinton as well.

“She’s got that experience. Now more than ever, folks want to see that experience,” said Chairman Bobby Moak, who took over from Rickey Cole, another Clinton supporter.

That experience, Moak said, can be seen in her resume. Clinton is a graduate of Yale University Law School. She served as the first lady from 1993 to 2001 when her husband, Bill, was president. She then served as a U.S. senator during the George W. Bush presidency and was the secretary of state in the Obama administration’s first term.



SunHerald
7/24/16



Posted July 25, 2016 - 9:12 am

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Teachers, public education touted at conference



Teachers were told Friday they must not only teach, but also be involved in making policy if education is going to improve in Mississippi...



...Hughes paid for the conference, which concludes today, and said about 1,500 people signed up to attend. He said the largest attendance at any one time Friday was about 800.

Coinciding with the conference and its theme was the announcement of the Mississippi Public Education Political Action Committee to support what it described as pro education candidates to the Legislature.

“Considering that 90 percent of Mississippi students attend public schools, it’s important for public education stakeholders to have a clear, united voice in the political process,” Kate Farabaugh of Tupelo, a founding board member of the PAC, said in a news release. “Last year’s disappointing legislative session was full of controversial bills designed to threaten our schools and silence educators. We expect these kinds of harmful attacks to continue if unchallenged. That’s why we collaborated to establish this PAC.”



Daily Journal
7/23/16

Posted July 25, 2016 - 7:45 am

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Emails show Christian group drafted much of HB 1523



A Christian non-profit drafted much of the language in Mississippi’s controversial Protecting Freedom of Conscience from Government Discrimination Act and even helped write Gov. Phil Bryant’s signing speech, emails obtained by the attorney suing the governor show.

Alliance Defending Freedom, which supported Mississippi’s Religious Freedom Restoration Act enacted in 2014, brought the idea of the “religious conscience” bill, which would eventually become HB 1523, to Mississippi more than a year ago.

"We appreciate the Alliance Defending Freedom working with the Legislature to draft House Bill 1523," Bryant said in a statement Friday. "It is perfectly normal for our office to work with individuals and organizations, who have had a role in requesting and/or opposing legislation, during the bill review process to gather additional information."

While it may be normal, attorney Robbie Kaplan says it is a crucial distinction to the legal case she is making against the governor.



Clarion Ledger
7/22/16

Posted July 25, 2016 - 7:39 am

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WTVA
7/24/16

Posted July 25, 2016 - 7:34 am

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BILL CRAWFORD: Legislative groups should target disaffected youth



Another long-term phenomenon of great impact is the escalation of violence and gang activity among at-risk youth. Too many are becoming disconnected from traditional pathways that lead to success as adults. They become easy prey for gangs and fall into behaviors that leave them even more disconnected. Community leaders tend to look to the juvenile part of our criminal justice system to rectify the problem. But often, the problem is too widespread and deep rooted for the juvenile system to handle, much less resolve.

Research shows that communities wanting to interrupt gang recruitment and cycles of violence for youth must institute a range of complementary programs. Early childhood education is one key component, but not the end all. After-school programs, summer youth programs, youth employment programs, and safe places and counseling for abused children are examples of other programs that together with early childhood education can have impact. But, the programs must reach most at-risk children, not just a small percentage, and must be sustained over time.

State leaders tend to look at early childhood education, juvenile justice, mental health, law enforcement, and youth programs as stand-alone programs. They need to be considered as complementary components of a vital system if we are to effectively deal with our growing disconnected youth problem.



Daily Journal
7/24/16

Posted July 25, 2016 - 7:29 am

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Public education PAC aims to change the face of the state Legislature



"I think it’s important that, not just from one session to the next, but year over year, that public education get fully funded," said Becky Guidry, a volunteer with the PAC. "It’s probably one of the more critical aspects of the budget."

The state legislature has funded the Mississippi Adequate Education Program only two times since it was established in 1997. The last time was in 2008. It failed again this year, despite organizations like Fed Up with 50th. Now parents around the state are finding a bigger weapon: A political action committee designed to financially support pro-education candidates. Their targeted date: 2019.

Guidry is one of two working group members on the coast helping to get the word out. The other is one of the PAC founders, Julia Weaver of Ocean Springs.


WLOX
7/24/16

Posted July 25, 2016 - 7:17 am

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Legislators want tougher laws on violence against the police



Two Gulf Coast state senators want to see stronger penalties for criminals who assault police officers.

District 46 State Sen. Philip Moran (R) and District 49 (R) State Sen. Sean Tindell said this week that they will be co-authoring a bill in advance of next year's legislative session to enhance penalties for assaults on police officers, and making targeted attacks on officers a hate crimes.

"Enough is enough," Moran said Thursday. "It has been heartbreaking the past few weeks seeing what has happened in Dallas and Baton Rouge. We need to send a message that if you assault an officer in Mississippi, you are going to pay a steep price."



Sea Coast Echo
7/22/16

Posted July 25, 2016 - 7:14 am

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Analysis: MS Dems' odds remain long



Looking at predictions of seven forecasting groups, Mississippi is rated less of a lock for Republicans than Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee or Alabama. The Magnolia State looks a little more Republican than Georgia, which is hailed as the next target after Virginia and North Carolina for Democrats in the South.

The flip side of that coin, though, is Mississippi may have the most racially polarized electorate in the nation. The same exit poll showed that nearly nine in 10 white voters went for Republican nominee Mitt Romney in 2012. Racial solidarity could be Trump’s biggest plus in the state.

“There will be a lot of people in Mississippi who will like the elements of white supremacy, or white nationalism, that creeps into his message, or his supporters’ messages,” Bositis said.



Clarion Ledger
7/24/16

Posted July 25, 2016 - 7:10 am

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Critics: Mississippi's state bureaucracy out of control



“With our state government, we have created what you wouldn’t create if you were running a lemonade stand,” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said recently of the state’s 204 agencies, boards and commissions. Until Hosemann compiled a list a couple of years ago at the behest of Gov. Phil Bryant, state leaders were unsure exactly how many of the little state government entities there were. Hosemann said his study also showed, “about 60 cents of every dollar the state spends is controlled by a non-elected agency, board or commission.”

Much of the growth in bureaucracy happened over the last 30 years, after a lawsuit filed by then Attorney General (and later Gov.) Bill Allain put a halt to lawmakers serving in the various roles boards and committees have now. Instead of handing off such regulatory power to the governor or other statewide elected leaders or not doing it, lawmakers have created a bureau, board, agency or commission — and fees to fund it — whenever an issue came up, then left them largely unmonitored.

Many politicians have vowed to evaluate, streamline, consolidate, relocate to downtown Jackson or shutter some of the many small agencies that comprise a huge regulatory bureaucracy. Bryant vowed to do this in his first state-of-the-state address in 2012.

But the little government fiefdoms have been something of a political third rail — best left untouched.



Clarion Ledger
7/23/16

Posted July 25, 2016 - 7:05 am

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Posted July 22, 2016 - 2:36 pm

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RELEASE:


Cochran, Wicker Announce $20.3 Million for Mississippi Airport Upgrades

19 Grants Approved by FAA to Support Statewide Airport Infrastructure



WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today reported that 19 Mississippi airport facilities will benefit from $20.3 million in Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grants awarded by the U.S. Department of Transportation.



The Airport Improvement Program grants include significant awards for the Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport and the Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, with $13.8 million approved for runway work in Jackson and nearly $4.6 million for noise abatement and other work in Gulfport.



“These grants are important investments in the safety, security and efficiency of local airports in Mississippi,” Cochran said. “This funding will support projects that should help the development of Mississippi businesses and communities.”



“Airport infrastructure directly impacts Mississippians’ quality of life, passenger safety, and the economic competitiveness of our communities,” Wicker said. “These grants – benefiting airports across the state – will support critical projects that promise to bring about long-term rewards for residents and local businesses.”



Last spring, a new FAA reform bill was approved by the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, of which Wicker serves as a senior member. The House-Senate conference agreement, passed by the full Senate on July 13, includes provisions to expand the Airport Improvement Program. The legislation was signed into law by President Obama on July 15.



Cochran chairs the Senate Appropriations Committee, which in May approved the FY2017 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Appropriations Bill. This measure continues a level obligation limit of $3.35 billion from the Airport and Airway Trust Fund to continue support for the Airport Improvement Program. Mississippi airports benefit from this program, which helps these facilities meet FAA operations and safety standards.



The 19 FAA grants, totaling $20,382,115, for Mississippi will support the following airport projects:


•Jackson-Medgar Wiley Evers International Airport, Jackson Municipal Airport Authority and City of Jackson – $13,832,641 for runway and taxiway rehabilitation and wildlife hazard assessments
•Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, Gulfport Biloxi Regional Airport Authority – $3,420,000 for noise mitigation measures for nearby residences
•Gulfport-Biloxi International Airport, Gulfport Biloxi Regional Airport Authority – $1,178,238 for airport drainage improvements, terminal building rehabilitation, security enhancements, and widening of taxiway
•Philadelphia Municipal Airport, City of Philadelphia – $269,264 for terminal building construction
•Houston Municipal Airport, City of Houston – $240,269 for construction of a building and taxiway
•McCharen Field Airport, City of West Point – $234,900 for runway, apron, and taxiway rehabilitation, obstruction removal, and existing airport master plan study update
•G.V. Montgomery Airport, City of Forest – $180,819 for runway and taxiway rehabilitation
•Ackerman Choctaw County Airport, City of Ackerman and County of Choctaw – $150,000 for building, taxiway, and access road construction
•Hattiesburg Bobby L. Chain Municipal Airport, City of Hattiesburg – $130,455 for taxiway extension and obstruction removal
•Brookhaven-Lincoln County Airport, City of Brookhaven – $118,755 for runway rehabilitation and airport master plan study update
•Louisville Winston County Airport, City of Louisville – $114,925 for apron rehabilitation
•Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport, Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport Authority – $100,817 for the taxiway, parking lot, and access road rehabilitation
•Winona-Montgomery County Airport, City of Winona and County of Montgomery – $78,010 for apron, runway, and taxiway rehabilitation
•University-Oxford Airport, University of Mississippi – $76,816 for airport master plan study update
•George M. Bryan Airport, City of Starkville – $73,675 for installation of perimeter fencing
•Kosciusko-Attala County Airport, City of Kosciusko – $73,675 for acquisition of land and easements to enhance protection for runway approaches
•Key Field Airport, Meridian Airport Authority – $50,000 for runway safety area improvements
•Columbia-Marion County Airport, County of Columbia and Marion – $45,000 for conduction of environmental study
•Grenada Municipal Airport, City of Grenada – $13,856 for apron rehabilitation


7/22/16

Posted July 22, 2016 - 9:35 am

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Mississippi State Superintendent Dr. Carey Wright made a long awaited appearance on the Paul Show Gallo on SuperTalk Radio on Friday morning.

Wright told Gallo, "We've set the bar too low for too long," in education in Mississippi, and went on to discuss the steps being taken by the Department of Education and the Mississippi Legislature to raise that bar, from Achievement School Districts to Third Grade Reading Gate, noting that she has worked with the legislature to increase standards and move toward being proficient, not just passing.

One area of concern for Wright was in the lack of early education, saying our neighboring state of Alabama was far ahead of Mississippi in this area.

Wright also expressed the need for the state to focus on ensuring all school districts have access to Wi-Fi and new technologies for students.

When Gallo noted that the Legislature is pro-education, Wright said, "Absolutely." She also noted that she was a supporter of charter schools.

As to the recent controversy over John Porter's outside contract and his being an employee at MDE, she told Gallo she was unaware of the state statute on this matter and that Porter was paying back the difference.

Wright also noted that she was not on a contract, a common misconception, but rather serves at the will and pleasure of the Board of Education.

The State Superintendent said she was happy in Mississippi and that "we should expect more from children because they can do more."

7/22/16

Posted July 22, 2016 - 8:19 am

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Congressman Gregg Harper, not initially a Donald Trump supporter, now says he thinks the New York businessman and political newcomer will win November.

Harper appeared on the Paul Gallo Show on SuperTalk Radio on Friday morning where he told Gallo, "I wouldn't have said it a year ago, or even six months ago, but I think [Donald Trump] will win in November."

Ohio Governor John Kasich was Harper's original choice during the spirited primary.

The Congressman who represents the 3rd District in Central Mississippi said he was blown away by former presidential candidate and Texas Senator Ted Cruz speaking at the Republican National Convention and not endorsing the party's nominee, something Cruz had pledged to do early on.

"I think he damaged himself on a national level greatly," Harper said, adding that Cruz was turned away from entering GOP mega-donor Sheldon Adelson's skybox following the speech.

Harper also noted that it was obvious Cruz's lack of an endorsement was less about principle as the Senator had indicated in his Wednesday evening speech, but rather personal given his comments to the Texas delegation on Thursday morning.

"If he wasn't ready to endorse," Harper said, "he should have declined the invitation to speak."

As to Trump, Harper told Gallo that the list of potential U.S. Supreme Court nominees The Donald has rolled out as well as his pick of Indiana Governor Mike Pence as his Vice Presidential running mate makes Trump worth voting for over Democrat nominee Hillary Clinton.

"There's no doubt Donald Trump established himself as a legitimate candidate this week."



Posted July 22, 2016 - 8:01 am

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MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS


WLBT
7/21/16

Posted July 22, 2016 - 7:57 am

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MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS


WLBT
7/21/16

Posted July 22, 2016 - 7:44 am

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MS Senator Michael Watson of Pascagoula Reacts to Cruz’ RNC Speech Last Night


Watson: "You could feel the tension building... You almost got this sense of being deflated a little. I felt like that was an opportunity for him to, if nothing else, to say, you know what, he's not Hillary Clinton, he's better than Hillary Clinton, but he didn't even get there... I believe Donald Trump is the best choice, the best chance we have, the last chance we have to beat [Hillary Clinton]."


7/21/16



Posted July 22, 2016 - 7:31 am

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New discrimination charges against DCS



New charges have been levied against the DeSoto County School District (DCS) by the group that claims discrimination exists against black students and black students with disabilities in discipline matters.

DeSoto County Parents and Students for Justice (DCPSJ), through the advocacy organization Advancement Project, has filed a new letter with the U.S. Department of Education. The letter states a pattern of discrimination has continued in the district.

Both the school district and DCPSJ are awaiting the results of the Education Department’s initial investigation into claims that more black students are disciplined, and done so more harshly, than their white counterparts for similar infractions.



Desoto County Times
7/20/16

Posted July 22, 2016 - 7:28 am

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Mississippi awarded $2.5 million to fight Zika virus




The State of Mississippi will receive nearly $2.5 million to help combat the Zika virus.

More than $1 million of the funding will come from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and $1.2 million will come through the CDC’s Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity for Infectious Diseases Cooperative Agreement.

There have been nine travel-related Zika virus cases reported in Mississippi in 2016.



WLOX
7/21/16

Posted July 22, 2016 - 7:25 am

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Hosemann: State voter ID law will survive



Mississippi Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann says Mississippi’s voter ID law was crafted with input from the U.S. Department of Justice, which was completely different than Texas’ voter ID law that was struck down this week by the 5th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals.

“We took a completely different tactic than Texas,” Hosemann said Thursday. “We did it right.”

He said the voter ID law struck down in Texas had a charge to verify birth certificate and no funds were provided for a public awareness program.
Hosemann said Mississippi will provide free rides to and from circuit clerk's offices for individuals to obtain free voter photo ID cards that can be presented at the time of voting. If individuals need it, circuit clerks can search for a person's birth certificate at the clerk's office that can be used to verify that person's identity so a voter ID card can be issued.



Clarion Ledger
7/21/16

Posted July 22, 2016 - 7:20 am

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WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS


WDAM
7/20/16

Posted July 21, 2016 - 9:52 am

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7/21/16

Posted July 21, 2016 - 9:46 am

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BOBBY HARRISON: Taxing, spending studies promise an interesting time of reflection



Perhaps, the biggest advantage of the working group concept proposed by Gunn, Reeves and Bryant is that House and Senate members will be meeting jointly in the working groups. But it has not been uncommon in past years for standing legislative committees from the two chambers to meet jointly.

Gunn, Reeves and Bryant, all Republicans, made a point of bragging that the newly formed working groups would be bipartisan.

The already-named members of the tax structure working group consist of nine members from each chamber (three Democrats in the House and two in the Senate.)

Based on the fact that the House has more than twice as many members as the Senate (122 vs. 52), it appears that Reeves is more bipartisan than Gunn in making his appointments.



Daily Journal
7/21/16

Posted July 21, 2016 - 9:40 am

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BILL MINOR: Out-of-state Koch money steers state’s direction



Little to nothing has been said lately about the legislative influence of the right-wing Koch brothers-controlled lobby group known as ALEC.

But with Republicans firmly in charge at the Capitol, you can bet ALEC is making itself felt on what comes out of Mississippi’s lawmaking body.



Daily Journal
7/21/16

Posted July 21, 2016 - 9:38 am

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PSC votes for app to report telemarketing cell calls



Mississippi's Public Service Commission wants to create a cellphone application for consumers to report unwanted telemarketing calls.

Commissioners voted 3-0 Wednesday to ask the state's Information Technology Services Department to hire a company to create the application.

People could report unwanted calls on phones, without filling out formal complaint forms



WLBT
7/20/16

Posted July 21, 2016 - 9:26 am

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BRIAN PERRY/Governor and 1897 Fair



I recently reviewed newspaper reports of the Neshoba Fair – mostly from Louisiana papers – from 1897 through 1917. The Daily Picayune wrote in 1900, the Neshoba Fair is “an event not to be missed and long to be remembered” with “accommodations ample, with a bold stream of reed break spring water flowing through the delightful grounds.” The Times-Democrat noted in 1908, “It would be difficult in any other State than Mississippi to get six candidates, all busy men of affairs, to gather at a country fair, eight miles from any railroad, in order to discuss politics; and it is doubtful if anywhere except in Mississippi could a rural audience be found willing to listen all day to a political discussion of this kind.” The Times-Picayune reported in 1897 that while everyone was wondering who Governor Anselm McLaurin would appoint to fill the U.S. Senate seat of the late James Z. George, no one would know because McLaurin had left for the Neshoba Fair. After his return, a follow-up article described the governor as “greatly fatigued from loss of sleep” but he expressed “much pleasure and satisfaction from the trip.” (I’ll be sharing those articles and others each day of the Fair from @CapstonePerry on Twitter.)

The Fair has always been and continues to be much more than a political event. Many in attendance have little-to-no interest in the annual political speeches at the Pavilion on Founder’s Square. But it continues as the unofficial start of the general election in Mississippi.

Looking at the schedule for Wednesday’s and Thursday’s speeches, I’m struck most by who will not be speaking. Of national interest – and of those wanting a smooth and orderly Fair – Republican Presidential nominee Donald J. Trump will not be speaking. Trump had been invited by the Neshoba County Fair Association and the campaign considered a visit with U.S. Secret Service conducting a routine initial review of security protocols for a visit. But on July 5, the Fair Association released a statement that Trump would not be speaking. Certainly thousands of people would have flocked to hear him s (likely on Tuesday afternoon) but the logistical and security measures would have disturbed what will otherwise (politically speaking) be a subdued year.



Madison County Journal
7/20/16

Posted July 21, 2016 - 8:52 am

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Posted July 21, 2016 - 8:29 am

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Governor Phil Bryant told Paul Gallo on SuperTalk Thursday morning that it was embarrassing for John Kasich, the Governor of Ohio and former presidential candidate, to not even step foot in the Republican National Convention currently going on in Cleveland.

Kasich has not endorsed the nominee Donald Trump and has thus far refused to attend the Convention.


7/21/16

Posted July 21, 2016 - 8:26 am

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Sid Salter: Wild hogs outmatch Big Government



Despite the high-decibel discussions at the national party conventions in either opposition to Big Government among Republicans in Cleveland, Ohio, or the coming embrace of it by Democrats in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, people welcome big government when it comes to fighting the wild hog wars in rural America.

One might observe that folks go “hog wild” for big government solutions to the feral hog problem — and with good reason.



Clarion Ledger
7/20/16

Posted July 21, 2016 - 8:24 am

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Paul Ryan urges Miss. delegates to support Donald Trump



House Speaker Paul Ryan urged Mississippi delegates at the Republican National Convention on Wednesday to get behind the party’s conservative agenda and said a Donald Trump-Mike Pence ticket could help boost its chances.

“If you want to get this country back on track, we have to make Donald Trump our president,’’ said Ryan, R-Wis. “You measure people by the big decisions they make. He made a big decision by putting (Indiana Gov.) Mike Pence on his ticket.’’

Ryan was a keynote speaker at the Mississippi delegation’s breakfast. Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry, who dropped out of the presidential race last September, also addressed the delegates.



Clarion Ledger
7/20/16

Posted July 21, 2016 - 8:21 am

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Casino revenue rises in Mississippi



Figures released this week by the state Revenue Department show casinos won $175 million in June, up 1.4 percent from $173 million in June 2015.


WTOK
7/20/16

Posted July 20, 2016 - 11:04 am

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Jackson doctor indicted in Epps' case



Dr. Carl Reddix of Jackson, was charged today with paying bribes and kickbacks to former Mississippi Department of Corrections (MDOC) Commissioner Christopher B. Epps in exchange for receiving contracts involving the MDOC and its operations.

Reddix, 57, was charged in a seven count indictment returned by a federal grand jury with conspiracy to commit honest services wire fraud and with six counts of bribery.



Clarion Ledger
7/20/16

Posted July 20, 2016 - 10:57 am

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RELEASE:



Wicker: Senate Supermajority Backs EUREKA

Miss. Senator’s Proposal to Fight Alzheimer’s Disease Has 61 Cosponsors


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., authored the “Ensuring Useful Research Expenditures is Key for Alzheimer’s (EUREKA) Act,” S. 2067, last September to create prize-based incentives to encourage more public-private collaboration in the fight against Alzheimer’s disease and related dementia. As of July 14, the bipartisan bill has reached a total of 61 Senate cosponsors.

“My EUREKA bill is an answer to a devastating disease that impacts more than five million Americans today,” Wicker said. “It would not take money away from taxpayers or current research initiatives. It would require funding only when pioneering advancements are made toward a cure for Alzheimer’s, truly making a difference in people’s lives. I am grateful that three-fifths of my Senate colleagues are ready to put the best minds together to achieve breakthroughs in treatments, prevention, and ultimately a cure. This is our charge for the 21st century, and we cannot rest until we achieve success.”

The legislation would not replace other funding and research initiatives for Alzheimer’s but add another route for breakthroughs. Further, the bill would authorize the Director of the NIH to work with other federal agencies to establish prize challenges informed by the research milestones contained in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. Challenges could focus on a number of areas:
•Identification and validation of Alzheimer’s biomarkers;
•Development of non-invasive and cost-effective early detection and diagnostic tools;
•Repurposing of existing drugs to address Alzheimer’s disease; and
•Development of new tools and approaches to care for persons with Alzheimer’s disease and improve their quality of life.

Prize challenges enable government sponsors to pay only when a prize team achieves specified goals or milestones. Although funds will be authorized and reserved for awards, prizes will only be granted when teams achieve clearly defined objectives, making the EUREKA Act a cost-effective tool to spur leading-edge research. Additionally, EUREKA would permit the receipt of donations from the private and philanthropic sectors to fund the competition and build the award fund.

The National Institute of Health (NIH) has set a goal of curing Alzheimer’s by 2025. Today, Alzheimer’s is the most expensive disease in America and has a 100 percent fatality rate. According to a report released earlier this year, caring for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias is estimated to cost the United States $226 billion in 2015, with one in five Medicare dollars spent on an Alzheimer’s victim. Unless a cure is found, treatment costs are expected to grow to an estimated $1.1 trillion by 2050. In Mississippi, 12 percent of senior citizens have Alzheimer’s. The number of victims is expected to rise 27.5 percent by 2025, increasing from 51,000 to 65,000.

Original cosponsors include: Sens. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va.; Angus King, I-Maine; Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii; Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H.; Susan Collins, R-Maine; and John Barrasso, R-Wyo. In addition to the original cosponsors, the following senators have backed the bill: Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.; Thom Tillis, R-S.C.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; John Boozman, R-Ark.; Pat Toomey, R-Penn.; Thad Cochran, R-Miss.; Bill Cassidy, R-La.; John Hoeven, R-N.D.; Jim Risch, R-Idaho, Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn.; Lisa Murkowski, R-Alaska; Richard Burr, R-N.C.; Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Ben Cardin, D-Md.; Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y.; Tom Carper, D-Del.; Tom Udall, D-N.M.; Ed Markey, D-Mass.; Jeff Merkley, D-Ore.; Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska; Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii; Mike Rounds, S.D.; Orrin Hatch, R-Utah; Ted Cruz, R-Texas; Mike Leahy, D-Vt.; Chris Coons, D-Del.; Tim Kaine, D-Va.; Al Franken, D-Minn.; Bill Nelson, D-Fla.; Mark Kirk, R-Ill.; Debbie Stabenow, D-Mich.; Cory Gardner, R-Colo.; Marco Rubio, R-Fla.; Dan Coats, R-Ind.; Joe Donnelly, D-Ind.; Bob Menendez, D-N.J.; Jeanne Shaheen, D-N.H.; Tom Cotton, R-Ark.; Cory Booker, D-N.J.; Gary Peters, D-Mich.; Roy Blunt, R-Mo.; Tim Scott, R-S.C.; Mike Crapo, R-Idaho; Jim Inhofe, R-Okla.; Ron Johnson, R-Kan.; Chris Murphy, D-Conn.; Heidi Heitkamp, D-N.D.; John McCain, R-Ariz.; Jack Reed, D-R.I.; Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y.; Jon Tester, R-Mont.; Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa; Joni Ernst, R-Iowa; Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.; and David Vitter, R-La.

Wicker’s legislation is supported by more than 70 organizations, including the XPRIZE Foundation, Alzheimer’s Foundation of America, UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, Alzheimer's Association, Eli Lilly and Company, BrightFocus Foundation, and the MIND Center at the University of Mississippi Medical Center.


7/19/16

Posted July 20, 2016 - 7:10 am

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Conviction of ex-Southaven Mayor Greg Davis reversed



Former Southaven Mayor Greg Davis will get a new trial on fraud and embezzlement charges after Mississippi's Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday that prosecutors failed to prove Davis could get a fair trial in DeSoto County.

John Champion, DeSoto County's district attorney, said he intends to retry Davis, who was mayor of the Memphis suburb from 1997 to 2013...



...Defense lawyer Steve Farese Sr. said he'd like to try the case on Mississippi's Gulf Coast, saying jurors there would be less likely to hold Davis' sexual orientation against him. Davis said he was gay after an audit showed a $67 city credit card purchase at an adult store in Canada catering to gay men. He later divorced his wife.



Clarion Ledger
7/19/16

Posted July 20, 2016 - 7:05 am

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WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

WLOX / WLBT
7/19/16

Posted July 20, 2016 - 6:40 am

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Pascagoula approves to-go cup zone; Food tax vote set for August



Tuesday night, the Pascagoula city council approved a entertainment district where to-go cups are allowed...


...Also at Tuesday night's meeting, the city council unanimously adopted a resolution calling for a referendum on a Prepared Food Tax. That vote will take place August 30, 2016.



WLOX
7/19/16

Posted July 20, 2016 - 6:34 am

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Mississippi high court hears legislative speed-reading fight



The Mississippi Supreme Court isn't saying how it might rule in a legislative dispute over bill readings done by a "demon chipmunk."

An attorney for Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn asked justices Tuesday to dismiss a case filed by a freshman Democrat...



...Hughes' attorney Tuesday asked justices to send the case to a lower court for a full hearing on the dispute. And, he asked them to order Gunn to have bills read at a comprehensible pace.



WTOK
7/19/16

Posted July 20, 2016 - 6:30 am

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Central PSC Cecil Brown: Mississippi state budget is a mess



The Mississippi state budget is a mess. For the state budget year that began on July 1, the Legislature authorized spending millions more dollars than the state can expect to collect. The leadership admits that nearly $57 million of the projected 2017 revenue does not exist. In addition, Attorney General Jim Hood has said that some $70 million more of their estimated revenue will not be available as a matter of law. And, if current revenue shortfalls continue, the budget hole will be deeper by many millions more.

If that’s not enough, tens of millions of federal dollars will be lost because of changes the Legislature made to the budget system. Those legislators who wrote the budget are well aware of the problem. They were repeatedly warned by state agency heads and budget experts, but to no avail.



Clarion Ledger
7/19/16

Posted July 20, 2016 - 6:28 am

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Clarion Ledger
7/19/16

Posted July 20, 2016 - 6:25 am

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Hughes seeks teacher input to guide education improvements



Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, said he got the idea for the two-day education conference he will host Friday and Saturday in Jackson while observing the work of the House Education Committee this past session.

“It came about while in the Education Committee watching six or seven bills be passed in five minutes,” said Hughes, who is not on the House Education Committee, but attended nearly every one of its meetings. “I asked why not get input from teachers?

“I thought it would be nice to get their input on what could be done to improve the classroom experience without spending money.”

Hughes suggested a meeting on social media to garner input from teachers and others in the education community and found the interest overwhelming.



Daily Journal
7/19/16

Posted July 19, 2016 - 7:08 am

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Congressman TRENT KELLY: Expanded water law threatens farms



Farming is hard enough without federal bureaucrats making it harder. If people are going to be incentivized to either continue to farm or go into farming, we must get the government out of the way. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is attempting to expand federal jurisdiction of our nation’s waters under the Clean Water Act. Farmers in Mississippi and across the country have registered their concerns against the rule because they fear their farming practices will be delayed or completely altered to meet the EPA’s new requirements. Farmers should not have to get a federal permit to conduct basic farming operations on their own land. I will continue to fight against this and other unnecessary and overly burdensome rules handed down from federal agencies like the EPA.

In discussing agriculture policy in the context of national security, the House Agriculture Committee has invited veterans-turned-farmers to share their unique perspective. Along with a small farming population, less than one percent of the American population is active military personnel. These veterans-turned-farmers make up a small group of citizens and their insight is invaluable as we discuss how to protect U.S. interests and assist other nations seeking to become more food secure. Their testimony reflected the need to view national security and food security as mutually linked. In their lives as both military personnel and in the agriculture industry, they have visited countries that have failed to invest in infrastructure, research, and rural development. The United States has made smart investments in agriculture and defense, which is part of the reason we are the most independent and powerful country in the world. Mississippians know the importance of both, and I look forward to continuing the discussion at home and on the Agriculture Committee.



Daily Journal
7/18/16

Posted July 19, 2016 - 7:05 am

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Donald Trump Jr. to make appearance at the Neshoba County Fair



Governor Phil Bryant, who has met with Donald Trump in New York to discuss campaigning in the Magnolia state, said Monday on The JT Show that having Trump Jr. at the fair would be a show of support.

“He’s never been to the fair.. it’ll be a bit of a culture shock,” said the Governor. “But we’ll put on a welcome for him.. show him this is Trump territory.”



NewsMS
7/18/16

Posted July 19, 2016 - 7:02 am

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WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi


WLOX / WLBT
7/18/16

Posted July 19, 2016 - 6:58 am

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7/19/16

Posted July 19, 2016 - 6:51 am

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Democrats promote voting rights blocks from GOP convention



Just blocks from the arena where Republicans kicked off their presidential nominating convention here Monday, Democrats held an event of their own — on voting rights.

"A lot of us are fiercely protective of voting rights,'' Rep. Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., told a packed room, reminding attendees that "a lot of blood was spilled,'' in the battle to win voting rights for blacks.

He and other speakers at the two-hour town hall urged pastors, community leaders and others to rally voters to go to the polls this fall.

“We have to be clear — it’s about who you’re for, but it’s also who your against,’’ he said. “And somewhere in the middle ought to be the energy for you to go vote. For whatever reason, you need to go.’’



Clarion Ledger
7/18/16

Posted July 19, 2016 - 6:48 am

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7/17/16

Posted July 19, 2016 - 6:35 am

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7/18/16

Posted July 19, 2016 - 6:30 am

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Hinds DA asks high court to throw out disqualification



In his motion asking the Mississippi Supreme Court not to enforce his disqualification by Judge Jeff Weill, Hinds County District Attorney Robert Shuler Smith suggests proof of his innocence is hidden in sealed court records.

Smith was arrested and charged by the state attorney general's office in a six-count affidavit alleging he provided information to assist criminal defendants. Following his arrest, Hinds County Circuit Judge Weill issued an administrative order temporarily removing Smith from participating in cases on his court docket.

Smith's supreme court motion contends that this order infringes on his right to liberty, considering he has not been indicted or convicted of the crimes, thus violating the Fourteenth Amendment.



Clarion Ledger
7/18/16

Posted July 19, 2016 - 6:25 am

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Ex-Hinds County ADA Ivon Johnson accused of conspiracy



Former Hinds County Assistant District Attorney Ivon Johnson has been charged in federal court with conspiracy for allegedly accepting money to provide favorable treatment for defendants in criminal cases.

The one-count bill of information, often referred to as an affidavit, was filed in U.S. District Court in Mississippi by the U.S. Attorney's office in Shreveport, La.

Southern District of Mississippi U.S. Attorney Greg Davis recused his office from handling the case, but spokeswoman Sheila Wilbanks would not provide specifics for the decision.



Clarion Ledger
7/18/16

Posted July 19, 2016 - 6:23 am

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New indictments in Chris Epps' case to come July 25



Former Mississippi Department of Corrections Commissioner Chris Epps' sentencing has been delayed once again.

Also, Assistant U.S. Attorney Darren LaMarca told U.S. District Judge Henry Wingate on Monday that the names of up to 10 additional people expected to be indicted in the federal case will be made public July 25. LaMarca had said the indictments would be made public by July 18.



Clarion Ledger
7/18/16

Posted July 19, 2016 - 6:20 am

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DeSoto GOP members file complaint over state alternates



Two DeSoto County Republican Party members have filed a complaint on behalf of others with the state GOP over the seating of state convention delegates, claiming someone weeded out “anti-establishment” Republicans on the alternates list.

State convention delegates Tom Minyard and Don Abernathy, two delegates to the May 14 state convention from DeSoto County, filed the complaint on behalf of eight delegates and eight alternates, all members of the DeSoto County Conservative Coalition. They say someone rejiggered the list of alternates to the state convention, resulting in “anti-establishment” alternates who received the most votes being moved down the list in favor of establishment Republicans. This resulted in the top voted anti-establishment Republican from DeSoto being skipped over when an alternate had to replace a delegate, the complaint says.

State Party Chairman Joe Nosef said the complaint appears to be “disingenuous and without merit, and the state party will deal with it accordingly.” He said state convention rules were passed by an overwhelming majority of state convention delegates and provide for the credentials committee to determine the order of alternate delegates for each county – identical to the rule in past year. He said the issue over alternates would have had “zero impact” on the outcome of the state convention.



Clarion Ledger
7/17/16


Posted July 18, 2016 - 7:52 am

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Posted July 18, 2016 - 7:48 am

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7/15/16

Posted July 18, 2016 - 6:29 am

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GEOFF PENDER: How we gonna run ree-form when we're the d--n incumbent?



There hasn’t been a Democratic-led spending or taxing measure passed in the Mississippi Legislature in a long time. There have been 44 Republican-led tax cuts passed in the last five years that now apparently will be studied for their efficacy and effect on the budget after the fact.

An old political head I talk with frequently at the Capitol has said numerous times, “Somebody needs to tell the Republicans they won.” Holding a press conference to announce the need for comprehensive taxing and spending reform when “we’re the damn incumbent” does seem to bolster that, or point to a bit of political tone-deafness in presentation.

Democratic leaders also didn’t appear to accept as an olive branch the plan for 14 special bipartisan legislative committees to study spending and taxing and recommend overhauls. One noted that the Legislature already has dozens of committees that are supposed to be doing that as per usual.

But irony and partisan politics and Pappy O’Daniel aside, the idea for a comprehensive look at, and reform of, state budgeting is a fine idea — one probably long overdue. As Ronald Reagan said, “At the end of the day, good policy is good politics.”



Clarion Ledger
7/16/16

Posted July 18, 2016 - 6:23 am

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Charter schools debate furious as ever



Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit July 11 seeking to close the existing charter schools and prevent any more from opening. On behalf of seven JPS parents, the suit argues that charter schools violate the state constitution by making school districts share property tax collections with schools they don’t supervise or control.

It says that as a result of a charter school law signed by Republican Gov. Phil Bryant in 2013, “traditional public schools will have fewer teachers, books and educational resources. These schools will no longer be able to provide Mississippi schoolchildren the education that they are constitutionally entitled to receive.”

The Mississippi NAACP issued a statement supporting the suit, and several groups countered by calling the litigation harmful.

“The landscape of public education has room for new ideas,” state NAACP President Derrick Johnson said. “However, innovation must not come at the expense of our state’s traditional public school system. We must endeavor to improve our public education system, not destroy it.”



Clarion Ledger
7/17/16

Posted July 18, 2016 - 6:21 am

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$158M spent planning unbuilt road to link I-10, port



The state of Mississippi has spent $158.5 million on a road that does not exist.

State and county leaders began planning 22 years ago for a road to connect I-10 and the state Port of Gulfport. The Mississippi Department of Transportation started spending money on the project 20 years ago after the Legislature charged the agency with the task of building the road...



...Plans for the road wound up in federal and state courts. MDOT lost. The agency is now back at square one with environmental permitting that could take years.

State budget woes also have left MDOT and other agencies with less money. The port connector will be competing with projects statewide for funding.




Clarion Ledger / Sun Herald
7/16/16

Posted July 18, 2016 - 6:17 am

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From Facebook:




7/17/16

Posted July 18, 2016 - 6:14 am

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Navy Secretary Ray Mabus Knows a Thing or 30 About First Pitches



Ray Mabus, the secretary of the Navy since 2009, began throwing out first pitches to bring attention to the Navy and the Marine Corps. Now he is believed to be the only person to have thrown one at all 30 major league ballparks.

Mr. Mabus has long had an interest in baseball. The governor of Mississippi from 1988 to 1992 and later the United States ambassador to Saudi Arabia, he grew up rooting for the St. Louis Cardinals and played first base in high school.



New York Times
7/17/16



Posted July 18, 2016 - 5:26 am

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RELEASE:


STATEMENT FROM MISSISSIPPI DEMOCRATIC PARTY CHAIRMAN BOBBY MOAK ON THE ISSUE OF THE STATE’S TAX STRUCTURE AND BUDGET REFORM COMMITTEE PROPOSAL

Yesterday, the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, and Speaker of the House held a press conference during which they announced that they were launching a comprehensive look at the state’s tax structure and budget issues in hopes of meaningful “reform.”

I applaud them. The first thing you have to do is to admit that you have a problem.

The citizens of Mississippi have been aware of the problem for quite some time, though. The Special Session, cuts to agencies, taking $110 Million Dollars from the Rainy Day Fund, and the continuing shortfalls to the current budget tipped us off.

Future tax cut legislation has not gone into effect, so its pending implementation only compounds the current budget problems this leadership has crafted.

The real issue here is that the “tax break legislation” favoring big corporations, which leaders said would create jobs, needs to be rescinded. It would be difficult to point to one company that has located here or said they expanded due to these corporate giveaway pieces of legislation pushed by our leaders.

It is time to join the rest of logical and reasonable Mississippians who believe their tax dollars should be spent on services for which they were originally taxed and not given away as campaign donation prizes to elected officials’ political backers.



7/15/16

Posted July 18, 2016 - 5:00 am

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RELEASE:


Wicker Statement on Trump’s VP Pick



TUPELO – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today issued the following statement regarding presumptive Republican nominee Donald Trump’s selection of Indiana Gov. Mike Pence to serve as his vice-presidential running mate:



“Gov. Pence and I served together for seven years in the House of Representatives. He is a natural leader who rose to leadership quickly in the House. No one can question his conservative bona fides. He is an optimistic, cheerful, and pragmatic leader from America's heartland. It's hard not to like Mike Pence. He could absolutely step into the presidency if needed.”


7/15/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 3:24 pm

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RELEASE:


Wicker to Deliver Speech at GOP Convention



TUPELO – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., is scheduled to deliver remarks at the upcoming Republican National Convention next week in Cleveland. Details of his remarks are as follows:



WHAT: Sen. Wicker Speech at GOP National Convention



WHEN: Monday, July 18 at approx. 2:10pm CT


WHERE: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio



Please check local listings to watch Sen. Wicker’s speech live.


7/15/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 3:22 pm

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RELEASE:



COCHRAN: FILIBUSTER OBSTRUCTS SENATE RESPONSIBILITY TO PROVIDE FOR THE NATION’S DEFENSE

Appropriations Chairman Critical of Partisan Blockade of Bipartisan Defense Bill


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss) today encouraged Senate Democrats to end their filibuster of the FY2017 Defense Appropriations Bill.

“The Senate has a responsibility to give our men and women in uniform the resources they need to defend our nation. We do so in this bipartisan bill. Filibustering its consideration causes uncertainties that endanger our national security, said Cochran, who also chairs the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee.

“This bill is the product of bipartisan work to provide the resources the President and our military leaders say is necessary to defend our country and its national security interests. Its passage would provide the stability and security our men and women in the Armed Forces need,” he said.

The Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously approved the FY2017 Defense Appropriations Bill in May, but Senate Democrats are now blocking the measure from being considered by the Senate.

The Senate FY2017 Defense Appropriations Bill provides $515.9 billion in base Department of Defense funding and $58.6 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding. The bill is consistent with the amounts approved in the Bipartisan Budget Act of 2015 and redirects $15.1 billion in targeted cuts to unfunded requirements identified by the Services.

Thursday’s 55-42 vote marks the fifth consecutive time that Senate Democrats have blocked consideration of the defense appropriations measure. The FY2017 bill was first blocked by Democrats on July 7, mirroring repeated delaying tactics by Democrats on the FY2016 defense bill after three failed votes last year.


7/14/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 6:43 am

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RELEASE:



APPROPRIATORS TO OBAMA: ACT AGGRESSIVELY TO USE EXISTING FUNDS TO COMBAT ZIKA

In Response to Continued Democrat Obstruction, House & Senate Appropriators Encourage President to Use Existing Funds to Fight Zika


WASHINGTON, D.C. – In response to continued Democrat obstruction, the chairmen of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees today encouraged President Obama to act aggressively to use available funding to combat the Zika virus.

The congressional leaders issued the request in a letter sent to the President after Senate Democrats on Thursday again blocked Senate consideration of legislation to make $1.1 billion in emergency supplemental appropriations available immediately to address the public health threat posed by the Zika virus.

“If Senate Democrats continue to block consideration of Zika legislation, we urge you to aggressively use funds already available to mount a strong defense against the virus,” the letter states. “The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services has transfer authority that can be used as an additional source for Zika preparedness. The previous Secretary did not hesitate to use this authority to support the failing Affordable Care Act Exchanges. The Secretary of State also has authority to reprogram funding to provide additional foreign assistance to address the Zika virus outside the United States.”

The letter was authored by Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and House Appropriations Committee Chairman Harold Rogers (R-Ky.) and signed by: Senator Roy Blunt (R-Mo.) and Representative Tom Cole (R-Okla.), chairmen of the Senate and House appropriations subcommittees on Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education; and Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and Representative Kay Granger (R-Texas), chairs of the Senate and House appropriations subcommittees on State and Foreign Operations.

Text of the letter follows:

Dear Mr. President:

Your Administration has asked Congress to provide additional resources to prepare for, and prevent, the spread of the Zika virus. We have responded by both supporting the reprioritization of existing resources and passing through our respective chambers legislation that would provide additional Zika response funding.

On February 18, 2016, we called upon your Administration to repurpose available funds to be spent immediately to fight the disease. On April 6, 2016, you did so through the use of existing authorities, repurposing $589 million for Zika response activities. Given the urgency of your request, we were surprised last week when Politico reported the following based on information shared by Administration officials: “The Obama administration has so far distributed only about one-sixth of the unspent Ebola funding that it diverted to combat the Zika virus.” This money is available immediately to prepare for and combat Zika, yet is seemingly not being spent.

The House passed a conference report that would provide an additional $1.1 billion in emergency supplemental funding to continue to prepare for, and prevent, Zika both domestically and internationally. It is unfortunate that Democrats have blocked action on this legislation in the Senate. The conference report provides the same amount of funding that every Senate Democrat previously supported. It fully funds vaccine research, and increases funding for mosquito spraying and eradication, Zika surveillance, and advanced development of treatments and diagnostics. The conference agreement provides the same access to health services as your supplemental request, contains no new prohibition on any health service, and expands access to health services in Puerto Rico beyond your initial request.

If Senate Democrats continue to block consideration of Zika legislation, we urge you to aggressively use funds already available to mount a strong defense against the virus. We also note that the fiscal year 2016 appropriations bills allow the Administration access to additional funds. The Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services has transfer authority that can be used as an additional source for Zika preparedness. The previous Secretary did not hesitate to use this authority to support the failing Affordable Care Act Exchanges. The Secretary of State also has authority to reprogram funding to provide additional foreign assistance to address the Zika virus outside the United States.

We urge you to use available funding now to ensure that our nation is prepared.

Sincerely,

Harold Rogers, Chairman
House Committee on Appropriations

Thad Cochran, Chairman
Senate Committee on Appropriations

Tom Cole, Chairman
House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

Roy Blunt, Chairman,
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies

Kay Granger, Chairwoman
House Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations, and Related Programs

Lindsey Graham, Chairman
Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on State, Foreign Operations and Related Programs



7/14/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 6:42 am

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RELEASE:



Funding for Veterans, Zika Blocked Again by Senate Democrats


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today voted to advance a House-Senate conference agreement that would address the Zika health crisis and support America’s veterans and vital military construction projects. For the second time in three weeks, Senate Democrats obstructed the critical funding.

“For the second time this summer, Senate Democrats have let politics get in the way of taking care of our veterans and protecting Americans from a public health threat,” Wicker said. “It is our responsibility to guarantee the safety and well-being of all Americans threatened by the Zika virus. It is also our job to take care of our nation’s veterans. We had the opportunity to do that today and to leave here with a victory for health care and a victory for the American people. It is disappointing that Democrats have delayed this important funding for another two months.”

In May, Republicans were joined by every Senate Democrat in supporting a bipartisan amendment authored by Senators Roy Blunt, R-Mo., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., authorizing $1.1 billion to combat the Zika virus. The bill blocked today authorizes that same amount of funding. CDC Director Tom Frieden has stated that $1.1 billion would fund immediate Zika-related needs.

Military construction and programs for veterans would also be funded in the conference report, which was included in appropriations legislation that passed the Senate in May by a vote of 89-8. This consists of funding for the continued support and care of 9.8 million eligible beneficiaries, including wounded troops abroad, in addition to support for the Guard and Reserve’s construction needs.

In Mississippi, eight cases of the Zika virus have been confirmed – each one travel-related. Health officials have reported that the virus can be transmitted through the Aedes albopictus mosquito, which can be found in many parts of the state.


7/14/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 6:40 am

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RELEASE:



Wicker, Schatz Unveil New Rural Telehealth Proposal

Bipartisan Measure Would Expand Provider Access to Healthcare Connect Fund


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, have introduced a new bipartisan measure to expand access to rural telehealth services by allowing non-rural hospitals and health-care providers that service rural areas to make better use of the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Healthcare Connect Fund (HCF).

Specifically, the “Reaching Underserved Rural Areas to Lead (RURAL) on Telehealth Act,” S. 3218, would allow these non-rural providers to qualify for the 65 percent health-care provider discount under the HCF so long as the majority of the locations serving patients are in rural areas.

“Mississippians are among the first to know that telehealth works,” Sen. Wicker said. “This legislation would increase access to prime services, which improves our quality of life and drives down the costs of health care. It would achieve this goal by expanding the types of providers who can tap into existing federal funds, helping offset the costs of delivering life-saving care.”

“Telehealth is expanding access to health care in Hawai‘i and across the country, and we should be doing everything we can to support it,” said Sen. Schatz. “Our bill updates current laws to expand access to federal telehealth funding and help more people get the health care they need.”

Large organizations designated as non-rural are often the lead center for telehealth, providing services to rural health-care providers throughout a given state. Because the administrative responsibility and expertise required for these efforts is often challenging, larger organizations typically serve as the consortium lead.

In 1996, Congress mandated that the FCC use the Universal Service Fund (USF) to provide support for telecommunications, advanced telecommunications, and information services for eligible healthcare providers. Providers use these services to deliver telemedicine, transmit health records, and conduct other telehealth activities for improving patient care and reducing health-care costs.


7/14/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 6:39 am

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RELEASE:



Wicker: Senate Democrats Block Funding for Military

Harry Reid & Co. Filibuster Defense Spending Bill for Fifth Time in Two Years


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today called out Senate Democrats for blocking a $515.9 billion spending bill for America’s military. The legislation also includes $58.6 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations funding. These spending levels adhere to last year’s bipartisan, bicameral budget agreement, as well as this year’s Senate-passed “National Defense Authorization Act.”

“In May, Senate Democrats on the Appropriations Committee joined every Republican in unanimously approving this bipartisan spending bill,” Wicker said. “This is not an abstract piece of legislation to be used for political games. The men and women of our armed services rely on this funding to do their jobs, keep our nation safe, and provide for their families. It is troubling that Democrats have had a change of heart and are now standing in the way of allowing the Senate to do its job on behalf of our military.”


7/14/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 6:39 am

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BILL MINOR: Some (bad) things haven’t changed in Mississippi



One hundred and fifty years ago Jones County’s Newt Knight and his frontiersmen battled to get the state to leave the Confederacy. Now, Gov. Phil Bryant is trying to rejoin it....


...Certainly Mississippi’s governance in the past several years – at least since Republicans took over running the show – has not proved it is capable of self government. Instead of modeling itself like the best run and progressive states that know the necessity of raising tax rates on the wealthiest or corporations when necessary to launch or bolster vital state services, we’ve gone the route of the worst run states (Kansas quickly comes to mind) which cut taxes on the most able to pay, and then cut spending on public education and health care.



Daily Journal
7/14/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 6:34 am

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Court date delayed for Mississippi lawmaker



A court date has been delayed for a Mississippi state senator, his father and two other men charged after a fight in a subdivision last week.

Olive Branch City Court records show Sen. Chris Massey of Nesbit and the others are set to appear Aug. 4. They originally were scheduled to appear Thursday.



WTOK
7/14/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 6:30 am

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Lt. Gov. Reeves and Speaker Gunn Announce Effort to Move Toward Comprehensive Budget and Tax Reform



“Mississippi always has, and really has for a long time, played an outsized role for the size of our state,” Nosef said. “This year, I think we just have a lot of Mississippians who are very involved on the Republican National Committee. We have a very good lineup of Republicans elected across the board in Mississippi.”

Of course, at the end of the convention, all Republican delegates will select a presidential nominee for the party, and that nominee is expected to be Donald Trump. Trump is expected to take 25 of the 40 available Mississippi delegates at the convention, something which Nosef attributes to his historic outsider stance.

“The fact that he got 48 percent of the vote is pretty phenomenal. Obviously, I believe it was a surprise to a lot of people, probably including Donald Trump, that he was able to win like he did,” Nosef said. “In Mississippi, people are just so disenchanted to a large degree with what goes on in Washington. The ability to vote for an outsider is what helped Donald Trump.”



Daily Mississippian Online
7/14/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 6:26 am

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RELEASE:


Lt. Gov. Reeves and Speaker Gunn Announce Effort to Move Toward Comprehensive Budget and Tax Reform

JACKSON – Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and Gov. Phil Bryant today outlined their shared goal of taking a critical examination of state tax policy and agency expenditures.

Speaker Gunn and Lt. Gov. Reeves will serve as co-chairmen of a legislative panel to review tax policy and provide recommendations to the Legislature. The first meeting of the legislative tax review panel will be Aug. 1, with recommendations anticipated to be considered in the 2017 session.

Members include Representative Shane Aguirre, R-Tupelo; Judiciary A/En Banc Chairman Mark Baker, R-Brandon; Energy Chairwoman Angela Cockerham, D-Magnolia; Revenue and Expenditure General Bills Chairman Mark Formby, R-Picayune; Representative Chris Johnson, R-Hattiesburg; Representative Robert Johnson, D-Natchez; Representative Trey Lamar, R-Senatobia; Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith, R-Columbus; Representative Sonya Williams-Barnes, D-Gulfport; and Senate Finance Chairman Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall; Senate Appropriations Chairman Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale; Highways and Transportation Chairman Willie Simmons, D-Cleveland; Accountability, Efficiency, and Transparency Chairman John Polk, R-Hattiesburg; Senate Pro Tempore Terry C. Burton, R-Newton; Senate Public Health and Welfare Chairman Dean Kirby, R-Pearl; Senate Elections Chairman Sally Doty, R-Brookhaven; Senator Kevin Blackwell, R-Southaven; and Senator Juan Barnett, D-Heidelberg.

A designee appointed by the Governor will also serve on this working group.

“On the budget side, our goal is to examine how our tax dollars are spent and if those expenditures line up with our priorities,” said Speaker Philip Gunn. “On the tax side, we want to examine the entire tax structure and develop a comprehensive plan that is both fair and provides a more solid stream of revenue.”

The process will complement newly created working groups where lawmakers will examine spending for the state’s largest agencies, including the departments of Transportation, Health, Mental Health, Human Services, Corrections, Public Safety and Education; the Division of Medicaid, Institutions of Higher Learning, community colleges, boards and commissions, state facilities, and information technology consolidation.

“Taxpayers want to know their hard-earned dollars are being spent efficiently on state services, and they expect their elected leaders to ensure priority needs are being met,” said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves. “These groups will provide valuable ongoing information that will help the Legislature when finalizing budgets and looking for opportunities to allow Mississippians to keep more money in their pockets.”

Under Republican leadership, the Legislature has eliminated many taxes to improve Mississippi’s competitive advantage with other states. In the past five years, lawmakers have passed bills to reduce personal income taxes and unemployment taxes, and eliminate the inventory and franchise taxes on Mississippi businesses.

“With the Legislature’s help, we’ve been able to focus on growing our state’s economy through meaningful tax relief, but we know there is more to do,” said Gov. Phil Bryant. “I look forward to seeing recommendations to streamline government and direct more funds to programs that work.”



7/14/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 6:23 am

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Clarion Ledger
7/14/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 6:21 am

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RELEASE from Empower MS:


The Mississippi Department of Education has released the latest school accountability ratings for the 2014-2015 school year. This is the final year that schools and school districts can receive a waiver, which keeps official grades from declining even if student performance would otherwise result in a lower grade. Overall, 19 school districts were “A” rated, 43 were “B” rated, 54 were “C” rated, 30 were “D” rated, and zero were “F” rated. The full ratings for every school and school district can be found here.

Number Of School Districts In Each Rating:



Here are three takeaways to keep in mind when reviewing the latest grades:

1) School and school district grades continue to be artificially inflated due to waivers they received as the state was transitioning to new tests and higher standards. For three straight years, no school or district has experienced a dip in their grade, even schools that have seen a drop in performance. When the new A-F accountability rating system was initially passed, the intent was to make it easier for parents to truly understand how their local school is performing. These waivers create a false sense of success that can mislead parents by creating an inaccurate picture. And by “giving everyone a trophy,” it makes it harder to recognize and celebrate schools that are making strides in increasing student performance.

2) Our schools are improving. Without the waivers, the accountability grades would create a fairly discouraging picture of public education in Mississippi. However, it is important to remember that our schools are improving as evidenced by the state’s 2015 NAEP assessment scores. The National Assessment of Educational Progress is known as the “Nation’s Report Card” and is considered the best gauge on how students in every state in the country are performing. Here is a look at the growth from 2013 to 2015:



Mississippi was the only state to show a significant increase in 4th grade math, was one of 13 states to have a significant increase in 4th grade reading, and the only state to have increases in both. While Mississippi is not at the national average yet, the state is certainly moving in the right direction.

3) It is also important to remember that setting a high bar for performance is critical for lifting our state off the bottom of national education rankings. Studies have shown that student performance improves faster in states with strong accountability systems than states without them. And a 2007 study by the Urban Institute found a failing grade led to subsequent and significant academic gains for students. “Specifically, when faced with increased accountability pressure, schools appear to focus on low-performing students, lengthen the amount of time devoted to instruction, adopt different ways of organizing the day and learning environment of the students and teachers, increase resources available to teachers, and decrease principal control,” the study said.

Creating a world class education system for Mississippi starts with creating an accurate picture of where student performance really is today. We applaud the legislature for enacting our A-F accountability system in 2012. Now we have to make sure those grades are accurate and then use those grades to stimulate improvements. Low grades should not demoralize us, instead they should push us to innovate and search for new answers to Mississippi's education woes.

And schools and districts that are truly showing improvement in student performance deserve recognition and much celebration.


7/14/16

Posted July 15, 2016 - 6:15 am

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RELEASE:


Former City Clerk of Itta Bena Sentenced

Jackson, Miss –State Auditor Stacey Pickering announces LaCheronda Spivey, former City Clerk of Itta Bena, pled guilty to one count of embezzlement and was sentenced to serve 1 year of house arrest, followed by 5 years of post-release supervision.

Spivey was also ordered to pay restitution in the amount of $47,318.98 to the City of Itta Bena.

The former city clerk took funds from the light, water, and sewer accounts from 2010-2014.

Special Agents from the State Auditor’s Office served Spivey with a civil demand last November in the amount of $149,088.22.

“My office has already returned $50,000 to the City of Itta Bena from Ms. Spivey’s bond,” State Auditor Stacey Pickering said. “I’m pleased the Citizens of Itta Bena will recoup the money that was embezzled, and we will continue to hold those in public office accountable for their actions.”

Spivey was the Deputy City Clerk of Itta Bena from 1999-2011. She became the City Clerk in 2011 until her resignation in 2014.



7/14/16

Posted July 14, 2016 - 10:29 am

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RELEASE:



2016 REPUBLICAN NATIONAL CONVENTION SPEAKERS LIST ANNOUNCED


July 14, 2016



Veterans, Political Outsiders, Faith Leaders, Trump Family Members Lead Non-Conventional Speakers Line-Up Emphasizing Real World Experience


(Cleveland, OH) – July 14, 2016 - Jeff Larson, CEO of the 2016 Republican National Convention, today released a partial list of the speakers who will participate in the week-long, all-star event starting July 18th. The convention’s theme, “Make America Great Again,” will focus on the core themes of Republican Presidential Nominee Donald J. Trump’s campaign: national security, immigration, trade and jobs. A final list of speakers and information on convention themes will follow.

If you would like to request interviews with speakers, please fill out this form.

Pastor Mark Burns

Phil Ruffin

Congressman Ryan Zinke

Pat Smith

Mark Geist

John Tiegen

Congressman Michael McCaul

Sheriff David Clarke

Congressman Sean Duffy

Darryl Glenn

Senator Tom Cotton

Karen Vaughn

Governor Mike Huckabee

Mayor Rudy Giuliani

Melania Trump

Senator Joni Ernst

Kathryn Gates-Skipper

Marcus Luttrell

Dana White

Governor Asa Hutchinson

Attorney General Leslie Rutledge

Michael Mukasey

Andy Wist

Senator Jeff Sessions

Retired Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn

Alex Smith

Speaker Paul Ryan

Congressman Kevin McCarthy

Kerry Woolard

Senator Shelley Moore Capito

Dr. Ben Carson

Co-Chair Sharon Day

Natalie Gulbis

Kimberlin Brown

Antonio Sabato, Jr.

Peter Thiel

Eileen Collins

Senator Ted Cruz

Newt Gingrich

Michelle Van Etten

Lynne Patton

Eric Trump

Harold Hamm

Congressman Chris Collins

Brock Mealer

Congresswoman Marsha Blackburn

Governor Mary Fallin

Darrell Scott

Lisa Shin

Governor Rick Scott

Chairman Reince Priebus

Tom Barrack

Ivanka Trump

Attorney General Pam Bondi

Jerry Falwell Jr.

Rabbi Haskel Lookstein

Chris Cox

Senator Mitch McConnell

Tiffany Trump

Governor Chris Christie

Donald J. Trump Jr.

Governor Scott Walker



7/14/16

Posted July 14, 2016 - 8:42 am

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Continental Tire Reacts to Minority inclusion Demonstration



Continental Tire is coming to Clinton, but a group Wednesday is protesting, saying developments like that one often exclude minorities in the planning process.
That group met outside of Clinton City Hall. They say their issue isn’t directly with Continental Tire. They are basing their concerns on past projects....


...In response to the demonstration, the tire plant sent us over a statement reading:

Continental is committed to supplier diversity. For 17 years we have had a program in place to increase our supplier diversity. For more than 10 years, Continental has been a corporate member of the National Minority Supplier Development Council. We plan to continue our efforts to grow our minority supplier base during the construction and operation of our commercial vehicle tire (CVT) plant in Clinton, Mississippi.



WJTV
7/13/16

Posted July 14, 2016 - 8:32 am

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7/13/16

Posted July 14, 2016 - 8:28 am

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7/14/16

Posted July 14, 2016 - 8:25 am

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7/13/16

Posted July 14, 2016 - 8:23 am

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Officials look for lottery to fill voucher program



The Mississippi Department of Education, as mandated by state law, is turning to a lottery to fill the final slots in a program that provides scholarships or vouchers to special needs children.

There are 175 scholarships remaining, but according to a state Department of Education news release more than that many parents have applied for the program, hence the need for the lottery.

The program, created during the 2015 session, provides vouchers to allow parents to pursue private school or other non-public school options for their special needs children.




Daily Journal
7/14/16

Posted July 14, 2016 - 8:19 am

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BRIAN PERRY/Libertarians hope



Some Mississippians are excited about their presidential nominee and they aren’t supporting Democrat Hillary Clinton or Republican Donald Trump. The Mississippi Libertarian Party’s eight delegates to the Libertarian National Convention supported former New Mexico Governor Gary Johnson as their nominee (although two of the delegates supported other candidates on the first ballot: software entrepreneur John McAfee and The Libertarian Republic publisher Austin Petersen).

Aaron Barksdale, Chairman of the Mississippi Libertarian Party, told me, “Most Mississippians are libertarians but they don’t know it. They want to be left alone and not have the government forcing itself on their lives.” He said Republicans and Democrats are so afraid of the other side winning, voters are fearful of making a third choice. “If you vote your conscience you will not waste your vote, and that’s true even if your choice is not to vote. It’s like the band Rush says, ‘If you choose not to decide, you still have made a choice.’”

Libertarians see Johnson’s campaign as an effort at party building for the future, and to shake up the “status quo” of the two-party system.



Madison County Journal
7/13/16

Posted July 14, 2016 - 8:13 am

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RELEASE:


Wicker: Senate Confirms New Librarian of Congress




WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today announced that the Senate has confirmed a new Librarian of Congress. Dr. Carla D. Hayden is the 14th Librarian of Congress. She was previously the CEO of the Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore and the president of the American Library Association.



“The mission of the Library of Congress is much more than just books and data; it is a forum for open dialogue and democratic values,” Wicker said. “As such, I urge Dr. Hayden to support the Library’s Open World Leadership program, which advances freedom and progress in the former Soviet Union. Cultivating this open dialogue is especially important given today’s challenges and threats to freedom of speech around the world.”



7/13/16

Posted July 14, 2016 - 8:06 am

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After careful review of the law, and the social and fiscal impacts of HB 1523, I have decided not to appeal the Federal Court's injunction in this case against me. I am convinced that continuing this divisive and expensive litigation is not in the best interests of the state of Mississippi or its taxpayers.

First, both HB 1523's critics and supporters acknowledge that the bill did not change state or federal law. For example, there is no state law requiring pastors to marry same-sex couples, and I doubt that the Legislature would ever pass one. Moreover, the Mississippi Legislature has already passed the Religious Freedom Restoration Act which protects a person’s right to exercise his or her religious beliefs. HB 1523's critics and supporters also recognize that HB 1523 cannot overturn or preempt federal law. As acknowledged by our Governor, HB 1523 is not a defense to a federal lawsuit.

Simply stated, all HB 1523 has done is tarnish Mississippi’s image while distracting us from the more pressing issues of decaying roads and bridges, underfunding of public education, the plight of the mentally ill and the need to solve our state's financial mess.

Instead of focusing on these critical issues, our state leaders have given away the store by handing tax breaks to big corporations that neither need nor deserve them. Due to the leadership's corporate handouts, corporations have paid $117.8 million less in taxes in FY2016 than FY2015, according to the Legislative Budget Office. That is a 16 percent tax cut for big corporations in one year. These corporate tax cuts will conservatively increase to at least $181 million during this fiscal year, according to LBO. In addition to the $56 million legislative "mistake", at least another $79 million will not be available next year, for a bare minimum of a $135 million budget hole. The numbers do not lie that we have a budget crisis that will cause a danger to our families from the mentally ill problem alone.

Second, to appeal HB 1523 and fight for an empty bill that dupes one segment of our population into believing it has merit while discriminating against another is just plain wrong. I don't believe that's the way to carry out Jesus' primary directives to protect the least among us and to love thy neighbor.

But make no mistake, the Office of Attorney General is prepared to protect religious freedoms and defend our First Amendment rights if and when the facts so justify in future cases.

Public employees, including elected officials, have an unspoken contract with the state to follow the law. Misinformation that, without HB 1523, pastors, churches, bakers, wedding planners or other private service providers will be forced to violate their religious beliefs has been used repeatedly to frighten our citizens into supporting the dogmatic politicians who use religion for political gain.
In the event that the Federal Court’s injunction was overturned on appeal, this litigation would not end. These cases would be set for a full evidentiary trial. Other challenges would likely be filed. The state would face years of additional and expensive litigation over HB 1523's implementation. My office is already spending its limited resources defending numerous lawsuits challenging recent bills enacted by the Legislature regarding abortion restrictions, MAEP funding, Planned Parenthood funding, the Jackson-Evers International Airport and charter schools. In addition, my office will continue to try to serve the families of homicide victims as well as surviving victims of domestic violence, human trafficking and other violent crimes, including our injured law enforcement officers, firefighters and first responders. We will attempt to do all of this as the Legislature hands out ill-advised tax cuts to corporations, runs a budget deficit, slashes funding for this office and other state agencies, and cuts critical services to citizens.

I will, however, continue to monitor the lawsuits regarding HB 1523 and may appeal the federal court’s June 27 decision to reopen the closed same-sex marriage case depending on the wording of the Court’s final order. I don't believe a federal court had jurisdiction to extend the previous injunction to all circuit clerks who were not parties.

Jim Hood Press Release
7/13/16


Posted July 13, 2016 - 3:16 pm

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From the award-winning Mathematics Division of Y'allPolitics

Bobby Harrison wrote an article yesterday trumpeting Mississippi Attorney General's assertion that his office has spent the equivalent of over $154,875 on the appeal/defense of House Bill 1523. His office claims that the figure is the equivalent amount of the 442.5 hours his office personnel has spent on the issue. Regardless of what you think of HB 1523, that math doesn't pencil. That's $350/hour. Government employees in Mississippi are not paid nor are worth $350/hour. That price is rarified air in Mississippi for the best private lawyers.

Hood lamented the frequency of what he called “political” legislation being passed in the state in recent years, citing House Bill 1523 as an example of that.

“It has affected our ability to properly defend other cases,” Hood said.

Rachael Ring, a spokeswoman for Hood, said the 442.5 hours spent defending the case does not include “the hours spent by Attorney General Hood himself or other attorneys consulted in the office.”

She said using “the prevailing market rate” for attorneys for similar lawsuits would equate to $154,875 spent by the office of the Attorney General on the case.


First of all, the "prevailing market rate" is baloney. That's just a fabricated construct. The state doesn't pay its own employees, let alone qualified outside counsel those sorts of hourly rates. If Hood's employees think they're worth that kind of coin, they need to go try private practice for a while and figure out what the real world looks like.

Let's get realistic and assume for a moment that he had $100,000/year employees working on the case (very generous assumption). At 1800 billable hours/year, that's $55/hour.

But the article said Hood has time in it too. He makes $108,960. That's less than $61/hour.

So, let's be super generous and say that the average value of the state personnel working on this was $60/hour. Multiply that by 442.5 and you get $26,550 of actual time value put into the issue (a far cry from $154,875).

Math. It's undefeated.

Posted July 13, 2016 - 2:32 pm

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Who: Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Speaker Philip Gunn

What: Press conference to announce effort to move toward comprehensive budget and tax reform

When: Thursday, July 14, 2016 at 1:30 p.m.

Where: Second floor rotunda, Mississippi Capitol

Posted July 13, 2016 - 12:44 pm

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Bobby Harrison: Insurance premium tax only bright spot in state’s revenue stream



Surging revenue from Mississippi’s tax on insurance premiums has prevented what has been a dismal year for state revenue collections from being even worse.

While state revenue collections for the fiscal year that ended June 30 are down year over year for only the fourth time since at least 1970, revenue from the 3 percent tax on insurance premiums sold within the state skyrocketed by $50.1 million or nearly 23 percent.

While the insurance premium revenue composes only a small portion (under 5 percent) of the state’s $6.3 billion budget, the revenue still was an unexpected boon for legislators dealing with budget woes.



Daily Journal
7/12/16

Posted July 13, 2016 - 11:42 am

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BOBBY HARRISON: Taxes make possible the best of government work



A reader emailed to point out that while reporting that the 3 percent tax on insurance premiums was a growing source of revenue for a beleaguered state budget, I did not explain that the levy most likely was resulting in people having to pay more for insurance.

Granted, taxes do not occur in a vacuum. They cost somebody extra money – whether it’s the shopper paying the sales tax in the mall, grocery store or restaurant; the worker paying the personal income tax; the business (large or small) paying the corporate income tax and a few other levies, or the motorist buying gasoline.

The cold, hard fact is that government cannot run without tax revenue. Try having schools, law enforcement or highways without taxes....



...But with all due respect to the previously mentioned reader who was kind enough to write, it seems that the insurance premium tax is an example of the kind of tax we all want. It is growing, not because its rate has been raised, but because more people have insurance, meaning insurance companies have more profits to tax.



Daily Journal
7/13/16

Posted July 13, 2016 - 11:39 am

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State asks judge to dismiss Jackson airport board lawsuit



Mississippi officials are asking a federal judge to dismiss a lawsuit that seeks to maintain the city of Jackson's control over the state's largest airport....


...A Jackson resident, the Rev. Jeffrey Stallworth, sued to try to block the change, and the suit is backed by the mayor, the city council and the airport board targeted for replacement...


...In papers filed Tuesday, state attorneys argue Stallworth lacks the legal standing to sue. They also say the legislature and the governor can't be sued for their official actions.



WTOK
7/13/16

Posted July 13, 2016 - 11:34 am

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