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PRESS RELEASE FROM MISSISSIPPI ATTORNEY GENERAL JIM HOOD:


Over the past several years attorneys general worked with Google to get them to make significant changes in areas like child porn and illegal drug sales. Several years ago Google stopped any search results to a query on child porn and their autocomplete feature does not give suggestions on similar queries. In response to a letter I wrote Google CEO Larry Page on May 21, 2013, Google agreed to stop their autocomplete feature from suggesting "buy oxycodone online no prescription cod" when someone simply typed in the letters "buy oxycod.” Google also took down YouTube videos that were in the search results on how to buy prescription drugs without a prescription.

We have accomplished much, but more needs to be done. For example, although search results vary based on time and location, today if a child types in the query "buy drugs," the first site populated is silkroad.org, which suggests alternatives for buying drugs. The second is canadadrugs.com, which is the same website from which my undercover agents purchased controlled amphetamines without a prescription in June of 2012. Our investigators used Google's autocomplete suggestion to find this website not requiring a prescription. Not only was this website listed in the search results, but it was also shown in the results margin as an advertiser. In other words, Google is raking in advertising dollars off of drug dealers, the same crime that the company was on probation for under a plea agreement with the federal government and the Rhode Island Attorney General. In the seven-page Non-Prosecution Agreement Google entered with the U. S. Department of Justice, Google agreed to pay half a billion dollars in a fine to avoid a possible felony.

On December 10, 2013, twenty-three attorneys general and I signed a letter to Google requesting yet another meeting. Google refused to delist or remove from its search results even known websites that were doing nothing but selling illegal substances, products or intellectual property.

In hopes of continuing to work with Google, without any fanfare or press release, my Consumer Protection Division issued an administrative subpoena asking for documents. Google sent more than 99,000 jumbled, unsearchable documents in a data dump. I agreed to give Google additional time to comply with our request and hoped we could reach an agreement. Instead, after the Sony hack, Google's General Counsel Kent Walker began blogging and feeding the media a salacious Hollywood tale. Now, feeling emboldened with its billions of dollars, media prowess and political power, some of its more excitable people have sued trying to stop the State of Mississippi for daring to ask some questions. We expect more from one of the wealthiest corporations in the world.

In an attempt to resolve some of the problems the states' chief law enforcement officers have raised, I am calling a time out, so that cooler heads may prevail. I will reach out to legal counsel Google's board of directors to negotiate a peaceful resolution to the issues affecting consumers that we attorneys general have pointed out in a series of eight letters to Google.

I strongly encourage everyone interested in this issue to read these eight letters and the Google plea agreement and reach their own conclusions about Google's conduct. The Sony emails themselves document that long before the hack many attorneys general were working to make our states safer for our children. It would be a discredit to the public interest not to question Google's actions and consider the consequences.



12/19/14

Posted December 20, 2014 - 7:35 am


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Trial for Epps and McCrory delayed until April



JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A federal judge has delayed the corruption trial of a former Mississippi corrections commissioner and a businessman whose clients had contracts with the state prison system.

U.S. District Judge Henry T. Wingate set a new trial date of April 6 for former Commissioner Chris Epps and businessman Cecil McCrory.


WLOX
12/19/14

Posted December 20, 2014 - 7:28 am


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Former narcotics chief will run Mississippi prisons



JACKSON -- The former Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics director is set to head the state Department of Corrections, taking over a prison system that has been rocked by bribery charges brought against its former commissioner.

Gov. Phil Bryant on Friday named Marshall Fisher as the new corrections commissioner, saying he will begin work in January. He must be confirmed by the state Senate.

"Marshall's integrity and his decades of experience overseeing complex public safety issues at the state and federal levels will be instrumental in his role as MDOC Commissioner," Bryant said in a news release. "He has met operational and budgetary goals in previous positions, and his time serving in the U.S. Navy lends itself to establishing the type of departmental discipline expected in Mississippi's correctional system."




Sunherald
12/19/14

Posted December 20, 2014 - 7:25 am


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FROM MISSISSIPPI CENTER FOR PUBLIC POLICY:


Initiative 42: Proposed Constitutional Amendment Regarding Public Schools



Proponents of a state Constitutional amendment related to public schools have obtained enough signatures to place the amendment, known as Initiative 42, on the November 2015 election ballot in Mississippi. In the upcoming legislative session, which begins January 6, the legislature will have an opportunity to express its agreement or disagreement with the amendment but cannot keep it from appearing on the ballot in November. The legislature also has the option of passing an alternative that would appear on the same November ballot.

Mississippi Center for Public Policy is not taking a position in favor of or in opposition to the amendment. However, we will provide analysis so that voters know what they are being asked to vote on. After we posted our initial analysis on our website, a group known as Better Schools Better Jobs (BSBJ), which is the primary organization supporting the Initiative, posted our analysis on their website, along with their response. We welcome the discussion and have included their response - and our analysis of their response - below.

Initiative 42 would make the following changes to the Mississippi Constitution (proposed additions are underlined, and deletions are shown as strike-through text):

SECTION 201. To protect each child's fundamental right to educational opportunity, The Legislature the State shall, by general law, provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools upon such conditions and limitations as the Legislature may provide. The chancery courts of this State shall have the power to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief.

The actual Constitutional amendment, shown above, will not appear on the ballot. Only the following question will appear:

"Should the state be required to provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools?"

1. Does the Amendment Address School Funding?

MCPP Original Analysis. This amendment says nothing about funding. While the phrase, "establishment, maintenance and support" could be construed to be related to funding, that phrase is already in the Constitution. This amendment does not propose to change that phrase.

BSBJ Response: The amendment says that the State of Mississippi is responsible for the "...maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools." Clearly, the words "maintenance and support" mean funding. The more important word, however, is "adequate." Contrary to every other state in the U.S., Mississippi's Constitution currently does not require that children be provided an adequate education, only a free one. The amendment states that our children should be provided at least an adequate education. The amendment leaves it up to the legislature to determine how it will establish, maintain and support an adequate and efficient system of public education, but it requires the legislature to provide support (funding) for an adequate education.

MCPP Analysis of BSBJ Response: Point well taken with regard to whether the amendment relates to funding. We appreciate BSBJ's pointing this out, since our goal is not to tell people whether they should support or oppose the Initiative; our goal is to ensure that the public has an accurate description of what they will be asked to vote on. We said the maintenance and support phrase "could be construed" as being related to funding, which is true, but as a practical matter, it is more accurate to say this phrase is generally construed by courts to be related to funding.

However, BSBJ's statement that the Constitutions of "every other state in the U.S." require "adequate" funding is simply not accurate. A number of states do not have such a requirement in their Constitution.

Most importantly, it is difficult to understand BSBJ's contention that the legislature would retain any authority over the amount or use of school funding. In three places, the proposed Constitutional amendment deletes references to the legislature and/or its authority over the educational system. It then adds a provision giving power of enforcement to courts. Here is the relevant wording (proposed deletions are struck through, and additions are underlined): "The Legislature State shall, by general law, provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools upon such conditions and limitations as the Legislature may provide. The chancery courts of this State shall have the power to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief." For more on this point, see questions 3 and 5 below.

2. What Court Would Have Jurisdiction, and Why Does That Matter?

MCPP Original Analysis. The last sentence in the amendment gives the power to "the chancery courts of this state." Because the State of Mississippi would be the defendant in any lawsuit filed to enforce this section of the Constitution, the lawsuit would have to be filed in Hinds County Chancery Court. There are four Hinds County Chancery Judges, each of whom is elected only by the citizens of a district of the county. One of these judges would be assigned to hear the case, meaning a judge from the Jackson area, who is elected by a small number of people in Hinds County, would have full authority to decide not only how much money is sufficient but how the money is to be spent. The legislature would have no ability to limit the impact of the judge's rulings (see #3).

BSBJ Response: Chancery courts are specified in order to prevent lawsuits for damages. Chancery courts would have the power to enforce the law to adequately fund public schools. A court ruling would simply require the legislature to follow the law and the Constitution.

Under current law, venue for a lawsuit against the State of Mississippi is in Jackson, the state capital, which is in Hinds County. The legislature could pass legislation establishing chancery court venue where the school district is located. In other words, if the legislature does not want to be sued in a Hinds County Chancery Court, it could change that by statute.

MCPP Analysis of BSBJ Response: BSBJ's statement about whether a lawsuit in chancery court can include damages is not accurate. For example, the state's lawsuit against the tobacco industry was filed in chancery court and most certainly included damages. The current Musgrove lawsuit regarding MAEP, which asks for damages, was filed in chancery court. The amendment is not worded in a way that would "prevent lawsuits for damages," as BSBJ asserts.

It is true that a change of venue could be accomplished by a change in law, but our point is not that the venue is Hinds County per se; venue could be changed to any county, and our point would be the same: one judge, elected by the people in one district, would have the power to set education policy and funding for the entire state.

3. Would There Be Limits on the Judge's Decisions?

MCPP Original Analysis. The amendment places no limits on the Hinds County judge who hears such a lawsuit. The judge could, as the initiative's proponents seem to anticipate, require the legislature to "fully fund" the MAEP formula and to phase-in the increased funding over seven years. However, the judge could also choose to require the legislature to double, or even triple, the MAEP funding. The judge could also decide that high-performing districts are getting enough from the state and order the state to give any "new" money to low-performing districts until they catch up. Furthermore, because the amendment does not limit the judge's reach, and because it gives the judge jurisdiction over a "system" of schools, he or she would have full authority to dictate to the state department of education and local school districts exactly how the money should be spent at the state and local level.

BSBJ Response: Clearly, opponents of the amendment seem to believe that their best option for defeating it is fear-mongering about chancery judges in Hinds County. The powers of these judges are limited and checked by the Constitution itself. Either party in a suit can request that the case be heard by a jury. The bottom line is that a lawsuit would be necessary only if the legislature ignores the law and the Constitution, thwarting the will of Mississippi voters regarding public school funding.

The court's decision would have to be based on the facts presented by each side. The chancery court ruling can be appealed to the Mississippi Supreme Court for a final ruling. This procedure is current law. A chancery court makes the final decision only if there is no appeal, which is highly unlikely, and as stated in #2 above, the legislature can change the lawsuit location to a county other than Hinds.

MCPP Analysis of BSBJ Response: There's no fear-mongering. It's simply the truth. BSBJ offers no dispute as to the potential outcomes we listed. We aren't predicting a judge would rule in these ways, but he or she certainly could do so, since there are no limitations on the judge in this amendment. Furthermore, current Hinds County judges might not rule in these ways, but there is nothing to prevent a judge 10 or 20 years from now ruling in a way BSBJ doesn't anticipate right now.

Jury trials can only be requested in chancery court for contested wills, not for cases such as those that would seek to enforce this Constitutional amendment. Furthermore, the Supreme Court is somewhat limited in its power to overrule decisions from a Chancery Court.

4. Would Taxes Increases, or Budget Cuts to Other Agencies, be Necessary?

MCPP Original Analysis. The amendment makes no mention of a phase-in or any other timing. A lawsuit could be filed immediately after the amendment is adopted, and a ruling could come in the first year following its passage, requiring the legislature to adopt whatever budget is dictated by the judge. This would require drastic cuts to all other government agencies, or it would require a tax increase. Our state Constitution prohibits judges from ordering a tax increase at any level of government, but a mandated spending increase could, in effect, require a tax increase if cutting all other programs proved to be politically impossible. It is estimated that all agencies other than the Department of Education would have to be cut about 17 percent, and that's only if the judge orders "full funding" of the current MAEP formula. Those cuts would include IHL, Community Colleges, Medicaid, Corrections, and virtually everything else. If any of those were excluded from the cuts, then other agencies would be cut more deeply.

BSBJ Response: This claim is meant to mislead people about the amendment process. The petition that has been signed by more than 188,000 Mississippians includes a full description of the process. The legislature will continue to have 100% discretion on how it will fully fund our K-12 schools. Under the ballot's financial proposal, any increases in school funding would be wholly dependent upon state revenue increases. In any year when revenue increases, not less than 25 percent of that increase would be devoted to public education. This process would continue, every year the state has revenue increases, until school funding reaches an adequate level. At the current trend of 3 percent annual revenue growth, adequate school funding would be reached in seven years. NO tax increases, NO automatic cuts for other agencies.

MCPP Analysis of BSBJ Response: Our claim is not misleading; it simply recognizes that the Constitutional amendment itself - not what was written on a petition - is the only thing that matters. The "full description" in the petition was simply an idea of the proponents for how the process could work, but this description has no force of law. Even the BSBJ response above refers to it as a "financial proposal," and in the petition filed by the proponents, they called this proposal a "recommendation." The people of Mississippi will not be voting to approve this proposal/recommendation. They will only be voting on the amendment itself.

Actually, voters will not even see the amendment they will be voting on. On the ballot will be a question that is supposed to describe the amendment, but it basically asks the equivalent of, "Do you love your mother?" What voters will actually see is the question, "Should the state be required to provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools?" Regardless of the merits of the amendment, this question does not adequately describe its effects.

BSBJ's contention that the legislature would retain "100 percent discretion" is addressed in items 1 & 5.

5. What Would Be Left of the Legislature's Role?

MCPP Original Analysis. The proposed amendment - in three places - deletes the authority of the legislature to determine any aspect of education policy or funding. This is critically important, because state and federal courts generally determine the will of the voters by noticing the words that were deleted by a Constitutional amendment as well as the words that were added. Education would no longer be ruled "by general law" passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, and the legislature would no longer be allowed to place "conditions and limitations" on the funding or performance of public schools. In other words, a Hinds County judge, elected by a few, would have more power than the legislature, elected by all the people of the state, to set education policy for Mississippi.

BSBJ Response: This amendment does not delete the authority of the legislature to determine any aspect of education policy or funding. It says nothing about education policy. Similar to what is already in place in many other states, the amendment says only that the state must have an adequate and efficient system of public education for our children. The legislature has the power and authority to determine what is adequate and efficient. Under our checks and balances system of government, if the legislature does not meet its Constitutional mandate, then the citizens of this state have the opportunity to ask a court whether or not the legislature has met its Constitutional mandate.

MCPP Analysis of BSBJ Response: [See our "Analysis of BSBJ Response" on question 1, where we show the words that would be deleted from the Constitution.] Attorney General Jim Hood, in a memorandum supporting his motion to dismiss the Musgrove MAEP lawsuit, noted that Section 201 of the Constitution (which Initiative 42 proposes to amend) "empowers the legislature to establish the 'conditions and limitations' under which public schools operate." If the legislature, as shown in question 1 above, is deleted from that section of the Constitution, where does it derive any authority over school funding? As we pointed out originally, when words are deleted from the Constitution, courts consider such an action as the intentional will of the voters. In this case, courts are highly likely to determine that the voters sought to remove the legislature's power to set conditions and limitations on how the education bureaucracy spends money.

BSBJ asserts that the amendment "says nothing about education policy." But when the legislature is prohibited from setting "conditions and limitations" on the "system of free public schools" or its funding, the amendment does say something about education policy by dictating who has authority over it.


Posted December 20, 2014 - 7:07 am


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RELEASE from Secretary of State office:


MAEP Petition makes the 2015 Ballot



Jackson— The MAEP Petition, or Initiative #42, obtained the sufficient number of signatures required to be placed on the 2015 General Election ballot. Initiative #42 seeks to amend the State Constitution to require the full funding of education and grant the Chancery Court of Hinds County the power to enforce the full funding of education with appropriate injunctive relief.



For the full language of Initiative #42, please click the following link:

http://www.sos.ms.gov/elections/initiatives/InitiativeInfo.aspx?IId=42



Petitioners were required to gather a minimum of 107,216 certified signatures, with at least 21,444 certified signatures from each of the five congressional districts as they existed in the year 2000. The required number of signatures represents 12% of the total number of votes cast for Governor in the last gubernatorial election.



The official count of signature certifications by the State of Mississippi for Initiative #42 is as follows:


District # Signatures

Congressional District 1 24,264

Congressional District 2 24,673

Congressional District 3 22,824

Congressional District 4 22,281

Congressional District 5 22,528

Total 116,570



12/19/14


Posted December 20, 2014 - 7:03 am


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Google v. Hood complaint 121914




Google v. Jim Hood Motion for Temporary Restraining Order




Google v. Jim Hood Memorandum of Support 121914



Posted December 19, 2014 - 11:18 am


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Jindal raises money for Mississippi lt. governor




Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal is helping raise campaign cash for Mississippi's Republican lieutenant governor, Tate Reeves, who's seeking a second term in 2015.

A Reeves campaign email says Jindal was appearing at Reeves' fundraiser Thursday evening at a home in Gulfport, with ticket prices ranging from $250 to $2,500.



KATC
12/18/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 11:16 am


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REBEKAH STAPLES: Mississippi’s fiscal prudency brought to you by the voters of 2011



Last week, the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) adopted a budget recommendation for the upcoming fiscal year which begins on July 1, 2015. The legislative budget recommendation (LBR) provides a starting point for lawmakers to use when contemplating budget priorities in the 2015 regular session.

As is typical this time of year, I’ve seen some left-leaning types complain about the recommendation. It shortchanges (fill in the blank with your favorite state agency); it saves too much money; it doesn’t spend enough money; etc.

If you look closely, those are the same dangerous arguments which voters handily repudiated in 2011.

Prior to the last statewide election cycle in which Republicans won majorities in the House of Representatives, Senate, and Governor’s Office, the budget writing committee included mostly Democrats. As a result, the budget recommendation reflected irresponsible fiscal practices, such as including one-time money to pay for recurring expenses.

The problem (well, one of…) with this approach is that it automatically creates a funding shortfall the next year, which in turn creates one the next year, and so on. Imagine a cascading funding gap. That’s not a phrase associated with sound budgeting principles.



Rebekah Staples
12/19/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 11:12 am


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Google sues to block state AG Jim Hood’s probe

oogle filed suit in federal court in Jackson, Mississippi, this morning to block a probe being led by state attorney general Jim Hood, alleging that he’s treading in areas controlled and preempted by federal law.

“Congress broadly immunized interactive computer service providers from state regulation for displaying information created by others,” write the search giant’s lawyers.

Yet for the last 18 months, they allege, Hood “has threatened to prosecute, sue, or investigate Google GOOG -0.07% unless it agrees to block from its search engine, YouTube video-sharing site, and advertising systems, third-party content (i.e., websites, videos, or ads not created by Google) that the Attorney General deems objectionable.”

Hood was not immediately available for comment—we will append his comments when received. But he has asserted that his office has probable cause to believe that Google is violating the Mississippi Consumer Protection Act, and served Google with a broad 79-page document subpoena last October. The responses will be due in January, unless Google wins the temporary restraining order it is seeking in today’s suit.

Roger Parloff
Fortune
12/19/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 10:51 am


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Giving Google the (show) business - UPDATED
Sony hack emails show Hollywood coordinating with Jim Hood to chase Google
by Alan Lange
Due to the hack of Sony, it doesn’t look like the public will get to see the move “The Interview” anytime soon. However, the hack has yielded thousands of documents and some of them strike at the very heart of the Mississippi political and legal establishment.

Revelations first documented by the Verge about a week ago and as of yesterday by the New York Times outline a process whereby the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) has been coordinating a legal assault (using the threat of criminal and civil prosecution) using Attorneys General nationwide against Google. Google, who owns YouTube, has been a major target for the entertainment industry over intellectual property/copyright issues. They even have a kitschy name for them internal to the Sony hack documents . . . Project Goliath.

Project Goliath started out of the Stop Online Piracy Act (SOPA). As reported by the verge, the Sony hacked emails show efforts around 6 major film studios Universal, Sony, Fox, Paramount, Warner Bros., and Disney banding together to press efforts to failed efforts to enforce SOPA on a federal level through state Attorneys General.

In other emails, Google comes up as a specific target. After a dispute over Google’s most recent anti-piracy measures in October, Fabrizio suggested further action may be yet to come. "We believe Google is overreacting — and dramatically so. Their reaction seems tactical (or childish)," the email reads. "Following the issuance of the CID [civil investigative demand] by [Mississippi attorney general Jim] Hood (which may create yet another uproar by Google), we may be in a position for more serious discussions with Google." A report from the previous February suggests that the Goliath group drafted civil investigative demands (similar to a subpoena) to be issued by the attorneys general. "Some subset of AGs (3-5, but Hood alone if necessary) should move toward issuing CIDs before mid-May," the email says.


How coordinated was it? The Times dug out this letter that was 99% crafted by MPAA counsel but sent by Attorney General Jim Hood to Google to essentially promote MPAA’s interest (who backs the Democratic Attorney General’s Association to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars). The New York Times is just starting to catch on to what YallPolitics has been documenting for over a decade. Here are some examples they dug up of coordination between outside counsel and the Attorney General’s office essentially conducting government mandated discovery for claims that will benefit private attorneys.

Hood has been after Google for a while. In fact, here is a Google search of Attorney General Jim Hood’s own website (I crack myself up) outlining the actions where Hood has prosecuted Google on everything from Google software on smartphones to Google Map privacy to not policing links involving counterfeit pharmaceuticals. The financial rewards of these prosecutions has been minimal. But when held up against the context of those prosecutions being used as leverage in a war between corporations, it certainly brings the veracity of Hood’s efforts against Google into question.

Of course, the New York Times outs Jim Hood’s bestest buddy and beneficiary of largesse, Mike Moore, as never far behind the scenes as documented by the New York Times.

From the YallPolitics Memory Division, this is straight out of the playbook and nowhere was that better on display than in the Scruggs Scandal. Those of you who remember know that Hood was locked in a battle threatening criminal charges against State Farm concurrently with the civil prosecution against State Farm by Dickie Scruggs. Mike Moore played a role in Grand Jury proceedings on dealing on behalf of Hood). There came a point at which the civil case was being impeded by the criminal prosecution. Scruggs paid Tim Balducci and Steve Patterson $500,000 to convince Jim Hood to “call off the dogs” on the State Farm prosecution to ease the way to a civil settlement. Meanwhile, Scruggs partner and plaintiff lawyer Don Barrett was pushing the buttons on State Farm attorneys saying

If Hood lacks the wisdom to go through with this deal, it would be in State Farm’s best interest to proceed just with us, and we offer to do that.” He notes a settlement without Hood “vastly reduces the chance Hood will go forward with an indictment.” “It may well be that Hood has become wary of ethics issues and has decided he has to put some distance between the civil litigation and the criminal investigation. Going forward with us now solves that problem.” “That Hood may fail his state is not our fault or ours.”


Translation? Pay up and your criminal issues will go away.

There are two things we know from that saga. Tim Balducci and Steve Patterson got paid by Scruggs to influence Jim Hood and Hood ultimately relented even though he ultimately admitted after the fact in light of the payment from Scruggs to Patterson/Balducci “it didn’t smell right” .

Just so you can do your own research, here are the articles that have been published in the last week about this scandal.

Leaked Emails Reveal MPAA Plans To Pay Elected Officials To Attack Google

MPAA Hits “Shameful” Google Over Sony Hacking Revelations – Update

An Alliance That Enriches All Sides: Plaintiffs’ Lawyers and Attorneys General

Lawyers Create Big Paydays by Coaxing Attorneys General to Sue


Former Attorneys Generals at Work

Now, I’ve been doing this for 10 years. Let me tell you what’s about to happen in the Mississippi media. Nothing. For the most part, the media establishment here both likes Jim Hood and feels sorry for him. In a million years they’re not going to investigate this or put any resources toward connecting the dots or even reporting it. Put simply, they won't touch it.

Just like in the Dickie Scruggs case, there is at least the appearance of impropriety and that is something lawyers usually like to avoid. We’ll see what happens here, but for now, Jim Hood should hope that North Korea doesn’t get pissed off at Sony any further.




UPDATED - 11:15 a.m. 12/19/14
Google has filed suit against Attorney General Jim Hood to block his efforts of prosecution.

Docs can be found here.

Posted December 19, 2014 - 8:48 am


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Documents in Sony leak show how state attorney general was cozy with Hollywood

Other emails show specific requests from Hood circulating among MPAA lawyers. In an email sent on January 16th, a few days before a scheduled meeting between Google and a group of attorneys general, MPAA counsel Vans Stevenson discusses which supporting documents they can provide to Hood and the other AGs in advance.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


[Attorney] General Hood called me last night and asked that we provide fresh examples for his planned live "search" demonstration of illegal site activity, including the availability of motion pictures only in theatrical release, which we are working on with our [outside counsel] Tom Perrelli’s team.

A few days later, on the 21st, an email from Perrelli talks about coaching Hood before the meeting:


I spent more time with Hood after the meeting and, I hope, got him focused on the key issues and the asks. He really does care a great deal about piracy – and he doesn’t get sidetracked by some of the things that Microsoft prefers. He wants Google to delist pirate sites and he is going to ask them to do that tomorrow.

Taken together with other documents, it makes a strong case that Hood was being directed by both the MPAA and Microsoft in his investigations into Google, and casts many of those investigations in a new light.



The Verge
12/19/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 8:43 am


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Former Attorneys Generals at Work

At least nine former attorneys general, in recent years, have worked with law firms seeking to serve attorneys general on a contingency basis. Some serve as lawyers at these firms, actually litigating cases, and others are simply hired to make introductions. Either way, it can be lucrative work.

http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2014/12/19/us/politics/1-Former-Attorneys-Generals-at-Work.html?_r=2#document/p7/a193986

New York Times
12/19/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 8:39 am


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Lawyers Create Big Paydays by Coaxing Attorneys General to Sue

In no place has the contingency-fee practice flourished more than in Mississippi, where lawyers hired by Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, have collected $57.5 million in fees during the last two years — three times as much as Mr. Hood has spent on running his state office during the same period.

Mr. Hood has taken in $395,000 in campaign contributions from trial law firms over the last decade, more than any other attorney general.

In one case, a senior partner at the Houston-based firm Bailey Peavy Bailey donated $125,000 to Mr. Hood after the firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state against Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical company, litigation that in 2010 generated a $3.7 million payment to the outside lawyers. Mr. Hood has now signed a second contract with the firm, to sue the drug company Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Mr. Hood’s office rejected any suggestion that the contracts are given out in exchange for donations. “Whether or not an individual makes a campaign contribution during an election cycle has no bearing on any decisions made by the office of attorney general or its career attorneys who adhere to the highest standards of professionalism,” the office said in a statement.

Over all, plaintiffs’ firms have donated at least $9.8 million directly to state attorneys general and political groups related to attorneys general over the last decade, according to an analysis of campaign finance data by The Times, with more than 76 percent of that money going to Democrats.


New York Times
12/19/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 8:38 am


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Lawyers Create Big Paydays by Coaxing Attorneys General to Sue

In no place has the contingency-fee practice flourished more than in Mississippi, where lawyers hired by Attorney General Jim Hood, a Democrat, have collected $57.5 million in fees during the last two years — three times as much as Mr. Hood has spent on running his state office during the same period.

Mr. Hood has taken in $395,000 in campaign contributions from trial law firms over the last decade, more than any other attorney general.

In one case, a senior partner at the Houston-based firm Bailey Peavy Bailey donated $125,000 to Mr. Hood after the firm filed a lawsuit on behalf of the state against Eli Lilly, the pharmaceutical company, litigation that in 2010 generated a $3.7 million payment to the outside lawyers. Mr. Hood has now signed a second contract with the firm, to sue the drug company Bristol-Myers Squibb.

Mr. Hood’s office rejected any suggestion that the contracts are given out in exchange for donations. “Whether or not an individual makes a campaign contribution during an election cycle has no bearing on any decisions made by the office of attorney general or its career attorneys who adhere to the highest standards of professionalism,” the office said in a statement.

Over all, plaintiffs’ firms have donated at least $9.8 million directly to state attorneys general and political groups related to attorneys general over the last decade, according to an analysis of campaign finance data by The Times, with more than 76 percent of that money going to Democrats.


New York Times
12/19/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 8:38 am


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Tweet from Cory Wilson, announced candidate for HD 73 in 2015...


"@CoryWilsonMS: Numbers are in for campaign kickoff Nov 18. Raised $47,000 from the event! Strong start for #WilsonHD73 campaign. Honored by solid support."


12/19/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 8:20 am


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Miss. Attorney General Wants to Hold Google Accountable for Aiding Illegal Activity



Hood said Thursday he was unware of the emails between the media giants in January, but he is working with them to eventually file a lawsuit.

“I actually began before 2008,” Hood said, referencing his fight to get search engines to filter images of child pornography. “There is nothing inappropriate about a prosecutor working with a victim. That’s what we are talking about. It is that simple. These are companies that have had their properties stolen.”

Hood says although media piracy is a concern, he is more concerned about search engines providing easy access to websites that sell illegal drugs, counterfeit goods, and information about other illegal activities like human trafficking.



NewsMS
12/19/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 7:47 am


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Tuition increase at Mississippi universities



The State College Board has approved plans to increase tuition and fees at six of Mississippi's public universities in Fall 2015. Average tuition for two semesters will go up by an average of 3.2 percent. But rates for certain professional programs will go up by different amounts.

There is no change for Delta State and Mississippi Valley State University.




WLBT
12/18/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 6:39 am


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Oh, the irony… Patsy Brumfield calls alternative MAEP ballot language a “dirty, political trick”
Comical that Brumfield uses that phrase to describe an alternative when the actual wording of their initiative is exactly that
MAEP supporter calls potential legislative alternative "dirty, political trick"



WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports


WDAM
12/18/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 6:33 am


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Mississippi Board of Education Unveils 5-Year Strategic Plan



The plans five goals include:

All students are proficient and show growth in all assessed areas. Every student graduates high school and is ready for college and career. Every child has access to a high-quality early childhood education program. Every school has effective teachers, leaders. Every community effectively uses a world-class data system to improve student outcomes. The 5-year plan builds upon the Board's existing priorities of improving literacy, particularly among K-3 students, reducing the dropout rate and improving overall student proficiency. Embedded in the plan is the Board's full commitment to maintaining Mississippi's College- and Career-Ready Standards.



WDAM
12/18/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 6:29 am


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RELEASE:


RLGA Issues Support for Tate Reeves for Lieutenant Governor

Washington, D.C. (December 18, 2014) – Today on behalf of the Republican Lieutenant Governors Association (RLGA) Republican State Leadership Committee President Matt Walter issued the following statement of support for Tate Reeves’ re-election and applauded his national leadership.

“Following a record-breaking tenure as RLGA Chairman, we are proud to stand with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and his open, innovative, conservative vision for the state of Mississippi. Under Lt. Gov. Reeves’ leadership, Mississippi is implementing creative reforms in education and providing a blueprint for other states on how to grow jobs and bring economic prosperity to hard working families. He has been a strong, vocal leader on passing a balanced budget amendment and keeping Washington in check. We thank Lt. Gov. Reeves for his commitment, national leadership and service to the RLGA as chairman, overseeing an astounding growth for the organization and helping us elect 31 lieutenant governors.”

Today the RLGA made an initial $100,000 investment in support of Lt. Gov. Reeves’ candidacy.



12/18/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 6:22 am


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Rickey L. Cole: What Democrats stand for





I would respectfully submit that political parties have important roles to play in American society. Our partisan identity says a great deal about us as individuals, and now perhaps more than ever in living memory our partisan loyalty says a great deal about our world view. I think partisanship is an indicator of our disposition toward humanity and of our hopes and fears for the future. In a cultural climate with so many failures in communication, our partisan identities communicate for us, and the decision to affiliate with a political party has an impact upon the world around us.

I cannot speak for the Republicans among us, except to say that I believe that by and large they want what is best for our country according to their views. I will not assign nefarious motives to such a large group of my fellow Americans, even if some of them show no similar restraint toward Democrats. I figure Republicans are mostly good people who just happen to be wrong most of the time....



...And finally, Democrats are at our best when we extol the great and historic American “can-do” spirit of optimism. Whether it was Franklin Roosevelt challenging fear at the height of the Great Depression and the Second World War, John Kennedy reaching for the moon, or Barack Obama daring to make healthcare universal, Democrats are at our best when we look around us to all our fellow Americans with Hope in our hearts and regardless of the challenge before us say: “Yes, We Can.”

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, Mississippi. We’ll see you next year on the campaign trail.

Rickey L. Cole, Chairman, Mississippi Democratic Party




The Mississippi Link
12/18/14

Posted December 19, 2014 - 6:16 am


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State Rep. Charles Busby (HD 111) announced on WGUD "Political Arena hosted by Frank Corder" that he will seek reelection in 2015.

12/17/14

Posted December 18, 2014 - 7:33 am


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State Rep. Bobby Howell (HD 46) told Paul Gallo on SuperTalk Thursday morning that he will not seek reelection in 2015.


12/18/14

Posted December 18, 2014 - 7:31 am


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BRIAN PERRY/2016's SEC Primary



Mississippi got a taste of the political experience Iowa and New Hampshire enjoy every presidential election cycle when in 2012, with the Republican nomination still in contention, Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich all campaigned in state, making multiple stops and events seeking to win a portion of the Magnolia State delegates.

There is an effort to make that a more common affair by creating a regional Southern primary on March 1. The "SEC" regional primary, as proponents are calling it, would include Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama, Louisiana, Arkansas and Mississippi in an attempt to give the area a greater say in the selection of Republican and Democratic presidential nominees.

March 1 is the earliest any state - other than the four traditional early states (Iowa caucuses, New Hampshire primary, Nevada caucuses, South Carolina primary) - is allowed to hold a primary, at least under Republican National Committee rules which penalize states for seeking an earlier date by reducing its delegate size, as was done to Florida in 2012.


Madison County Journal
12/17/14

Posted December 18, 2014 - 6:33 am


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Harrison County supervisors will appoint Savant's replacement



The Harrison County Board of Supervisors will appoint a replacement to fill the seat vacated by Kim Savant, who resigned Tuesday shortly before being indicted on federal bribery charges, the board's attorney said.

The board will take up the issue at its next meeting Jan. 5 and may appoint someone that day or choose to wait.

Savant has represented District 2 since 2008. His resignation was effective immediately.


Sunherald
12/17/14

Posted December 18, 2014 - 6:27 am


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Mississippi governor says oceangoing drone just one spinoff technology from BP spill money



GULFPORT -- Gov. Phil Bryant brought a singular oceangoing drone to the Coast on Wednesday for a demonstration of the research and development sparked by the state in the wake of the BP oil spill.

"This is a unique, one-of-a-kind, first-in-this-country, autonomous maritime vessel," said David Brannon, general manager of the National Oceans and Applications Research Center, a nonprofit research and development firm at Stennis Space Center. "It is a collaboration by C&C Technologies and ASV Ltd. of Great Britain and I would like to introduce the chief executive officer of C&C Technologies, Mr. Thomas Chance. He won't tell you this but I will. He's the innovator and the technical genius behind this particular design we'll see today."

That design was the C-Worker 6, which ASV describes as an unmanned oil and gas workboat.


Sunherald
12/17/14

Posted December 18, 2014 - 6:24 am


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Musgrove: Having an agreeable disagreement



Back when I was in politics, I used to say, "We can disagree without being disagreeable." I thought of this when I saw Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves say, "Gov. Bryant is exactly right when he says Mississippi is in the best financial health in its history." In agreeing with the governor, Reeves is disagreeing with a lot of economic experts.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics, for example. They found that, at 7.6 percent Mississippi had the second highest unemployment rate in the nation. The U.S. Department of Commerce also found that not only is Mississippi's gross domestic product 50th, it has actually gone down since 2008. They also found that the state's per capita income is 51st when you include Washington, D.C.

Lt. Gov. Reeves also finds himself in disagreement with Forbes Magazine. That generally conservative publication released their 2014 list of the best and worst states for business last month. For the first time in history Mississippi was ranked 50th. That is, Forbes magazine has declared Mississippi, under the leadership of Bryant and Reeves, the worst place in the U.S. for doing business – and getting worse.



Clarion Ledger
12/17/14

Posted December 18, 2014 - 6:15 am


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From Congressman Bennie Thompson's Twitter release:

"I applaud President Obama’s decision to begin to normalize relations with the Republic of Cuba. I have traveled to Cuba several times with Mississippi farmers and other business leaders. During each visit, our delegation saw the potential economic gain that could be derived from Mississippi goods being exported to Cuba. From an economic perspective, normalizing relations with Cuba is a no-brainer.

The United States has diplomatic and economic relationships with many communist governments and foreign governments with poor human rights records, including our second largest trading partner, China. After diplomatic ties are fully restored, the United States should begin to press for greater human rights for Cuban citizens.

I look forward to working with my colleagues in Congress to fully restore a normal relationship with Cuba, including lifting the embargo on trade and financial transactions."


12/17/14

Posted December 17, 2014 - 4:35 pm


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Governor’s comments dismay district officials


During a recent Lamar County School Board meeting, a school district curriculum specialist put the board members through a Common Core math lesson.

Superintendent Tess Smith said the aim was to take the mystery out of Common Core...


...Smith said she was disheartened to hear Gov. Phil Bryant’s recent remarks about doing away with Common Core in this state.

“We haven’t seen how this works yet,” she said. “The Legislature will make the decision about whether we continue on this, but we want to see — are we growing? Did this school do what it’s supposed to be doing?

“It is disappointing for me, and it’s disappointing for our teachers.”...



...Petal School District Superintendent Matthew Dillon said the governor’s comments were interesting to him, especially because they came when schools and districts had already spent so much effort to implement the standards.

“We have embraced Common Core and the entire set of standards,” he said. “We have been planning and preparing for Common Core, and we have put a lot of time and money into that. It’s important that we stay the course and do the things that are in the best interests of our students.”

Dillon said he had an issue with the testing component of the standards....



Hattiesburg American
12/16/14

Posted December 17, 2014 - 6:46 am


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RELEASE::


Wicker, Markey Statement on Seafood Fraud Task Force Recommendations


WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Edward J. Markey, D-Mass., today welcomed the release of the recommendations of the Presidential Task Force on Combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud. The task force’s recommendations include several strategies to monitor and enforce illegal fishing practices, and work with companies to better protect consumers.

“Seafood fraud and illegal fishing cheat fishermen and consumers and put at risk the ocean’s bounty. Working together, we can protect U.S. fishermen from being torpedoed by fraudulent fish and give consumers confidence while navigating their seafood options,” said Senators Wicker and Markey. “We are happy to see that the Task Force is taking action to improve interagency coordination, enforcement, and traceability and is engaging stakeholders, including fishermen and other participants of the seafood industry in this process. We look forward to continuing our work with the seafood industry, the administration, and our colleagues to put in place the necessary tools to fight fraud and illegal fishing.”

In October, Wicker and Markey wrote Secretary of State John Kerry and Secretary of Commerce Penny Pritzker, urging them and their Task Force to create a comprehensive framework that encourages interagency coordination and use of existing authority for enforcement, addresses catch documentation and traceability requirements, and provides consumers with important information about their seafood. The Senators also requested that the Task Force provide additional opportunities for stakeholders to comment on the Task Force’s recommendations.

Wicker and Markey wrote President Obama in January 2014 requesting that he direct federal agencies to better coordinate their efforts to fight seafood fraud. In June 2014, the White House announced the formation of the Presidential Task Force on Combatting Illegal, Unreported and Unregulated Fishing and Seafood Fraud.

In 2012, then-Rep. Markey introduced his “SAFE Seafood Act” to crack down on foreign fish fraudsters, increase inspection regimes, and provide agencies with the resources to enforce laws that would protect American fishermen from fraud. Senator Wicker is a cosponsor of the Senate version of the “SAFE Seafood Act.”



12/16/14

Posted December 17, 2014 - 6:30 am


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Sen. Wicker Electronic Duck Stamp Bill Clears Senate




WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a member of the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, today announced that the Senate has passed legislation he authored to create a nationwide electronic duck stamp.

“Utilizing technology makes attaining a duck stamp more efficient and cost-effective for everyone,” Wicker said. “In addition to the convenience it provides to sportsmen, this proposal is important to conservation efforts, helping preserve both our country's natural beauty and outdoors traditions.”



WJTV
12/15/14

Posted December 17, 2014 - 5:09 am


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WDAM reporter Margaret Ann Morgan tweeted Tuesday:

"@Margaret_AnnM: Just spoke with Rep. Joe Warren (D- Dist. 90) who says he will not seek re-election in 2015. Will run for Covington Co Chancery Clerk #msleg"


12/16/14

Posted December 17, 2014 - 5:07 am


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Kenneth Stokes running for old Jackson City Council seat


Hinds County Supervisor Kenny Stokes says he's about 90% sure he will run for his old Ward 3 Jackson City Council seat. The seat was vacated by his wife, Larita Cooper Stokes, last week after she was elected a Hinds County Judge.


WLBT
12/16/14

Posted December 17, 2014 - 5:06 am


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Dozens attend funeral for Senator's wife




JACKSON, Miss. -
Funeral services were held Tuesday for Rose Cochran, the wife of U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran...



...Sen. Cochran was comforted Tuesday by friends and family members outside St. Andrew's Cathedral in Jackson, where his wife's funeral was held.

Rose Cochran will be buried in New Albany, where she grew up.


WAPT
12/16/14

Posted December 17, 2014 - 5:06 am


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Wicker receives committee assignments


JACKSON, MISS. — Mississippi Republican Sen. Roger Wicker has retained his seniority positions on the Senate Armed Service and Commerce Committee.

Wicker's office says in a news release that the senator will also serve on the Budget Committee; the Environment and Public Works Committee; and the Rules Committee.


Sunherald
1216/14

Posted December 17, 2014 - 5:05 am


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RELEASE:


Wicker Opposes Confirmation of Pro-Gun Control Surgeon General



WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., yesterday voted against the confirmation of Vivek Murthy for Surgeon General. The Senate approved Dr. Murthy’s nomination by a vote of 51-43.



“The Surgeon General’s job is to help inform the public on health and wellness issues, not to lead political crusades against the Second Amendment or to promote Obamacare,” Wicker said. “Dr. Murthy lacks the experience necessary to carry out the duties of this office.”



Former Surgeon General Richard Carmona, who ran for the Senate as a Democrat in 2012, also expressed concerns about Dr. Murthy’s absence of qualifications saying that he has “…no significant related leadership experience and no formal public health training or experience.”



Dr. Murthy has described curbing gun ownership as “the defining health issue of our time” and advocates strict gun control laws. He also testified at his confirmation hearing that it would be within his responsibilities as Surgeon General to promote the Affordable Care Act.



12/16/14

Posted December 17, 2014 - 5:04 am


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Unofficial Jackson City Council special election results have Foote (2023) over Carson (1917).


12/16/14

Posted December 16, 2014 - 7:31 pm


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Kim Savant Corruption Charges



Kamran Pahlavan Indictment




Posted December 16, 2014 - 4:26 pm


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Attorney: Savant to plead guilty to felony charge of conspiring to commit bribery

The charges say that for two years, from Jan. 2011-13, Savant conspired while serving on the Utility Authority to award contracts and payments for the benefit of others. He received monthly cash payments from an unidentified "Company A" in exchange for his vote, the charges say.

"Company A" was awarded an operation and maintenance contract with the Utility Authority on April 5, 2012, the charges say, which is when S.H. Anthony was awarded a contract.

Savant also has agreed to forfeit any property that can be traced to his ill-gotten gains.

Savant, who has represented District 2, which includes parts of Gulfport and a chunk of Harrison County north of the city, since 2008, submitted a letter of resignation, effective immediately, this afternoon.


Sun Herald
12/16/14


Posted December 16, 2014 - 3:08 pm


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Will Mississippi Republicans make a real play for the AG’s office in 2015?
Who might run is anyone's guess, but Andy Taggart may be interested

by Frank Corder
Other than protecting their majority in the state Legislature and blunting possible intra party challenges that would give Democrats hope they otherwise would not enjoy at the ballot box, Mississippi Republicans want to crack the code that would lead them to electoral success in the Attorney General's office.

Fresh off a flood of tobacco and trial lawyer money, and riding the coattails of former AG Mike Moore, Jim Hood was elected in 2003. Since Hood's initial win, Republicans have run two pretty poor candidates (Al Hopkins in 2007 and Steve Simpson in 2011) against him with predictably poor results.

While Democrats and Republicans alike point to Hood’s relatively high favorability ratings in name ID polls, Hood has not really been held up against a strong retail candidate in head-to-head polling matchups. In other words, he polls highly . . . against nobody.

Could 2015 be the year that the tide turns, allowing the GOP to finally get over their Everest of AG?

There are now more voters identifying themselves as conservative and Republicans than at any time in state history (just ask Ronnie Musgrove and Travis Childers). The national narrative is on the GOP's side going into 2015 and the energy from traditional Republican and Tea Party voters would seem to give Mississippi Republicans the best chance to date of mounting a real run to capture the Attorney General seat.

Various Republican names have been floated to challenge Hood in 2015, most recently state Rep. Mark Baker and Jackson County District Attorney Tony Lawrence. Both have all but ended that speculation.

I've said that if Jones County state Senator Chris McDaniel (R) believes himself to be too big for the Mississippi Senate after his 2014 US Senate campaign running for AG would be his best bet to rebrand himself and unify the party around defeating a Democrat. But given the intellectual and legal bankruptcy of his election challenge, AG wouldn’t be the place for him to go.

Who, then, does that leave to give Jim Hood a real challenge that could actually result in a Republican win in November 2015?

How about Andy Taggart?

Taggart, a well known Mississippi author, political commentator and attorney, has the unique ability to raise money, debate issues with a true constitutional conservative mindset, and carry the Republican banner in most any setting he's placed.

Taggart has served as a Madison County Supervisor and as former Governor Kirk Fordice's chief of staff. Most recently he’s been tapped by Governor Phil Bryant to help lead a commission that will attempt to untangle the mess left in the wake of the Chris Epps indictments at MDOC.

He's perhaps best known for his work with Jere Nash, a Democrat, on two books on Mississippi's political history and his weekly television commentaries on WLBT's Red Blue Review.

It is on that TV segment this week where Taggart hinted at his interest in possibly running for Attorney General. Taggart, when discussing potential statewide office challenges, noted on AG, "...that's the one statewide office that I personally would have any interest..."

MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

If Taggart decides to run for AG and Hood stays on for one more term, which from all indications he will, that would instantly be the hottest race in 2015. The dynamics could be interesting.

If both Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves avoid primary challenges, you could expect both to expend significant political and financial capital (for different reasons) to help someone who has a real chance to beat Hood.

As far as the roadmap for how to beat Hood, it’s safe to say that Hood will retreat to being a “tough on crime” and “tough on business” AG.

But as Y’allPolitics has been documenting for a decade, Jim Hood has been an absolute absentee landlord on public corruption. From the Dickie Scruggs scandal to DMR to the Chris Epps scandal, which were all multi-year multi-faceted major corruption scandals, Hood has just essentially been out to lunch on minding the matters of state government operating with integrity. State Auditor Stacey Pickering has been the only one out there fighting corruption at the statewide level.

While Hood is good at the populist “God, gays and guns” issues that he defines as “conservatism," Mississippians can and should expect more from an AG. With the recent revelations from the Sony hacking scandal that Hood has essentially been used as a government sanctioned attack dog for trial lawyer friends/contributors and anti-business interests, a Taggart candidacy could give Mississippians a glimpse of how it’s supposed to be.

With qualifying for statewide offices starting in just weeks and ending in March, we will know soon.

Posted December 16, 2014 - 12:17 pm


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Revealed: Little-Known Mississippi Attorney General Go-To Man for Hollywood



It’s easy to see how Mississippi attorney general Jim Hood—a Bible-reading, pro-gun, pro-life, Democrat—has survived in statewide office even as his already conservative state has turned a deeper shade of red. Quite simply, he’s a likeable, quotable guy who doesn’t seem to have forgotten his roots in New Houlka, Mississippi (population 626).

Since taking office in 2003, Hood has done meritorious work bringing civil rights era murderers to justice and has proven himself willing to tussle with insurance companies (over hurricane claims) and drug companies (about prices). Even his ties to once-wealthier-than-Croesus trial lawyer Dickie Scruggs (who finished up his prison sentence in September) seemed only to add to his populist charm.

That’s why it’s very interesting to learn, via the recently leaked trove of Sony emails, that Hood is the go-to-guy for Hollywood movie studios seeking to gain the upper-hand in a complex but high-stakes battle with internet companies over copyright law. In a nutshell, the studios, through their trade association the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), are seeking to revive the principles of the controversial SOPA (Stop Online Piracy)/PIPA (Protect IP Act) that would give them and anyone else who owns intellectual property a huge amount of power over the way websites and search engines operate.



Weekly Standard
12/15/14

Posted December 16, 2014 - 6:20 am


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Thad Cochran to chair Appropriations Committee



WASHINGTON – Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran will once again chair the powerful Appropriations Committee when Republicans take control of the Senate next month, GOP leaders announced Monday.

"We're just getting started,'' Cochran said last week about Republicans regaining the majority in the Senate.

Cochran said everyone will be looking to see how the appropriations process works under GOP control.



Clarion Ledger
12/15/14

Posted December 16, 2014 - 6:17 am


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Lawsuit over Hinds County election headed to State Supreme Court



Supervisors granted the Hinds County Election Commission money to pay for an attorney after Judge Ali ShamsidDeen filed a lawsuit about the November election.

Watch this report on mobile

"I've heard there are as many as 7000 voters (who) didn't get a chance to vote," ShamsidDeen said. "Certainly that would impact any of the races that were in this last election. But if the investigation proves that out then we should have a totally new election."



WAPT
12/15/14

Posted December 16, 2014 - 6:14 am


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MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS


WLBT
12/14/14

Posted December 16, 2014 - 6:07 am


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U.S. Supreme Court Justices Scalia, Kagan highlight common ground in Ole Miss appearance



Kagan and Scalia have built a relationship in part around hunting, with Scalia introducing her to guns. Kagan said during a talk at Princeton University in November that she and Scalia would come to Mississippi in December, in part, to hunt ducks.

Though Scalia, who has spoken frequently in Mississippi, sometimes talks about cases, Monday's event, moderated by law school Associate Dean Jack Nowlin, steered away from questions about particular issues. Both Scalia and Kagan declined to answer a question about what they considered the court's biggest mistake in recent years.



Gulflive
12/15/14

Posted December 16, 2014 - 5:56 am


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Taxpayer Flight to Political Event?

Last Monday evening the DeSoto County Republican Women held their annual Christmas dinner. Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann was the guest speaker for the event. Shortly before 2 p.m. on Monday, the state-owned (i.e., taxpayers) Super King Air 300 left Jackson and flew to Olive Branch in DeSoto County. After the GOP women’s dinner the state plane (“Air Mississippi”) left Olive Branch about 9 p.m. and returned to Jackson. Others on the flight included State Treasurer Lynn Fitch, two Hosemann staffers, Cory Wilson, who is running for the legislature next year and works for Fitch, and even more interesting, State Sen. Michael Watson of Pascagoula. State Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney, who had driven to North Mississippi with two staffers earlier in the day for insurance department business, flew back to Jackson on the plane for the return trip only.

Hosemann has two offices in North Mississippi in Hernando and Tupelo. There is no question that the party line will be that Hosemann was in Desoto County on official state business after the flight landed in Olive Branch that afternoon until the GOP dinner that evening. At this point I have not received a response from Hosemann’s chief of staff for a comment on the flight on the state plane. However, anyone who thinks that flying to the Republican dinner where Hosemann was the guest speaker was not the main reason for the flight is very naïve. Even if official state business was conducted during the trip, it is clear that the main purpose of the flight was because Hosemann was the guest speaker at the Republican women’s dinner.


Weidie Report
12/15/14

Posted December 15, 2014 - 3:08 pm


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Lt. Governor Tate Reeves involved in Collins car crash

According to John Pope, Collins Fire Department Chief, Reeves and his security detail were driving a Ford F150 pickup when a gold car pulled out in front of them near Woolwine Ford traveling south.

The two people in the gold car were transported to a local hospital by ambulance for minor, non-life threatening injuries.

One person had to be extricated from the car using the jaws of life.



MSNewsNow
12/15/14

Posted December 15, 2014 - 2:46 pm


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Chris McDaniel has filed what appears to be his last substantive FEC filing.

In the filing, McDaniel repaid his $75,000 of his $100,000 campaign loan. His cash on hand balance was $25,100 which was the precise amount of the balance on his two personally backed campaign loans outstanding.

Chris McDaniel FEC Campaign Finance Report 120414



Posted December 15, 2014 - 12:37 pm


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Sowing Mayhem, One Click at a Time

Mr. Johnson, a 26-year-old blogger based in California, has worked his way to the white-hot center of the controversy over a Rolling Stone article about rape accusations made by a student at the University of Virginia. His instinct that the report was deeply flawed was correct, but he proceeded to threaten on Twitter to expose the student and then later named her. And he serially printed her photo while going after her in personal and public ways.

In the frenzy to discredit her, he published a Facebook photo of someone he said was the same woman at a rally protesting an earlier rape. Oops. Different person. He did correct himself, but the damage, now to two different women, was done.

Before that, his targets were two reporters for The New York Times who, he said, revealed the address of the police officer in the Ferguson, Mo., shooting. (They didn’t. They published the name of a street he once lived on, which had already been published in The Washington Post and other media outlets.) Before that, he attacked the victim of the shooting, Michael Brown.

Before that, he attacked Senator Cory Booker, saying the lawmaker did not live in Newark when he was the city’s mayor; BuzzFeed wrote that Mr. Johnson not only was wrong, but had worked for a political action committee that opposed Mr. Booker. He also wrote a series of Twitter messages that suggested President Obama was gay. He offered money for photos of Senator Thad Cochran’s wife in her nursing home bed. Before that, well, it doesn’t really matter; you get the pattern.

NYT
12/15/14

Posted December 15, 2014 - 12:25 pm


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Justices Scalia and Kagan to speak at Ole Miss



OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - Two U.S. Supreme Court justices are scheduled to speak at the University of Mississippi.

Justices Antonin Scalia and Elena Kagan will speak Monday at a session hosted by the Ole Miss law school. The session will be moderated by law school Associate Dean Jack Nowlin, a constitutional law professor.


WLOX
12/15/14

Posted December 15, 2014 - 6:18 am


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WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi


WLOX
12/14/14

Posted December 15, 2014 - 6:16 am


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High court denies Aldridge’s appeal



JACKSON – The Mississippi Supreme Court on Thursday denied state Rep. Brian Aldridge’s attempt to overturn a chancery court decision that he must pay more than $200,000 to the estate of his deceased aunt.

The state’s highest court, in a 7-1 decision, refused to reverse the ruling of Chancellor Michael Malski, who found in a 2011 civil trial that Aldridge’s father, Louis, had “plundered” more than $520,000 from Florence Aldridge while she was sick and Louis Aldridge held power of attorney over her estate.


Daily Journal
12/12/14

Posted December 15, 2014 - 6:12 am


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FRANK CORDER: Medicaid expansion has nothing to do with mismanagement of SRHS pension plan (Your Word)



Once again, a Mississippi Democrat wants to throw more of your money at a public entity in crisis without any mention of the administrative mishandling and systemic mismanagement that led us to where we are today, offering instead a porous argument to gain public attention and pander to his base.

Democratic Trust executive director Brandon Jones, a former one-term state representative from Jackson County who moved to central Mississippi soon after his defeat in 2011, in a letter to the editor over the weekend attempts to hang Governor Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Speaker Philip Gunn and the Republican majority in the state Legislature out to dry for the gross mismanagement of the employee retirement plan of Singing River Health System.

Jones brazenly uses the plight of many of my friends and neighbors as nothing more than an opportunity to promote his liberal rhetoric of expanding Medicaid, choosing to ignore the institutional failings which caused the situation at SRHS and instead shifting blame away from those directly responsible for the debacle. He does so for no other reason than to use the hardship of these workers as a platform to promote his liberal ideology.


Gulflive
12/14/14

Posted December 15, 2014 - 6:07 am


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A Haley Barbour pardon doesn't guarantee a clean criminal record, Mississippi Supreme Court rules



JACKSON, Mississippi -- A pardon by the governor is not grounds to wipe clean a criminal record, the Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled.

The case centered on the claim of Rebecca Hentz, who was among dozens of people pardoned by Gov. Haley Barbour in 2012.



Gulflive
12/14/14

Posted December 15, 2014 - 6:04 am


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Leaked Emails Reveal MPAA Plans To Pay Elected Officials To Attack Google



Okay, it's no secret that the MPAA hates Google. It doesn't take a psychology expert to figure that out. But in the last few days, some of the leaks from the Sony Pictures hack have revealed the depths of that hatred, raising serious questions about how the MPAA abuses the legal process in corrupt and dangerous ways. The most serious charge -- unfortunately completely buried by this report at The Verge -- is that it appears the MPAA and the major Hollywood studios directly funded various state Attorneys General in their efforts to attack and shame Google. Think about that for a second....



...Not surprisingly, Google has been a popular target for some state AGs. In the past, we've written about state Attorneys General from Nebraska and Oklahoma blaming Google for videos made by users, and about Texas' Attorney General going after Google for supposed antitrust violations (based on the same claims that the FTC later dropped entirely). But the state Attorney General with the biggest chip on his shoulder for Google has absolutely been Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, who seemed to think that it was Google's fault that he could find counterfeit goods via search. A few months later, he was back blaming Google for infringement online as well.

This was no accident. What's come out of the Sony Pictures Leak is not just that the MPAA was buddying up to state Attorneys General, but that the MPAA was funding some of this activity and actively supporting the investigation. The leaked emails reveal that rather than seeing that NY Times article about corporate/AG corruption as a warning sign, the MPAA viewed it as a playbook. But not for preventing investigations but for encouraging and funding them. This appears to go way beyond that NY Times article. This isn't campaign donations or inviting AGs to speak at lavish events and paying for the travel. This is flat out paying AGs to investigate Google (even on issues unrelated to copyright infringement) and then promising to get extra press attention to those articles.


TechDirt
12/12/14

Posted December 15, 2014 - 4:48 am


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SUN HERALD | Editorial: Grandstanding politicians are hurting Mississippians



Even as Gov. Phil Bryant implores the state's business community to accentuate the positive, the governor's own policies are hampering much of what's wrong with Mississippi from being made right.

Bryant's misguided approach to governing would be detrimental enough without a chorus of consent from fellow Republicans in the Legislature. But in combination with Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the state Senate, and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, Bryant is riding high on a wave of support that may yet swamp the state.

Take just two of the state's top priorities: education and health care.





Sunherald
12/13/14

Posted December 15, 2014 - 4:42 am


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BRANDON JONES: Bryant, Reeves, Gunn and legislators betrayed hospitals


How much is this refusal costing us? Conservative estimates put the amount at $3 million per day across all Mississippi hospitals. In the past two years, our Legislature has had ample opportunity to vote to accept our tax money back. Each time the Legislature had an opportunity to accept the return of our federal tax dollars to plug these hospital budget holes, Gov. Bryant, Lt. Gov. Reeves, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and Republican legislators refused to do so. Now we can see the direct results of these votes.

Legislators had the opportunity to support our hospitals, but decided against doing so, even when no alternative was in place. And these aren't nameless and faceless votes, conducted in secret. These legislators stood up and cast their votes against our hospitals. Votes that would have allowed Singing River Health System to continue getting refunds of our federal tax dollars to secure their financial position and to help in the current retirement issues.



Sunherald
12/13/14

Posted December 15, 2014 - 4:37 am


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RELEASE:

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Rose Cochran, the wife of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), passed away peacefully Friday morning in Ridgeland, Miss. Services for Mrs. Cochran are pending.

Senator Cochran and his family extend their gratitude to those who cared for Mrs. Cochran during her extended illness.


12/12/14

Posted December 12, 2014 - 10:49 am


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Y'all Politics has confirmed that the wife of US Senator Thad Cochran, Rose Cochran, has passed away.

We offer our sincere condolences to Sen. Cochran and his family during this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with Sen. Cochran, his family and friends.


12/12/14

Posted December 12, 2014 - 9:21 am


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Yellow Creek Port Transfer Bill to Become Law



WASHINGTON, D.C. (WDAM) -
This is a news release from the Office of U.S. Senator Thad Cochran

The U.S. Senate gave final congressional approval to legislation sponsored by the Mississippi congressional delegation to make property in Tishomingo County available to Mississippi for economic development.

The Senate approved HR.3044 by unanimous consent on Thursday, clearing an important hurdle for this legislation authorizing the transfer of Yellow Creek Port properties in Iuka from the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA), on behalf of the United States, to the State of Mississippi.

HR.3044 is a companion bill to Yellow Creek legislation (S.212) authored by U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and cosponsored by U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.). HR.3044, introduced by Representative Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.), was passed by the House of Representatives in September. HR.3044 will now be sent to the White House to be signed into law.



WDAM
12/12/14

Posted December 12, 2014 - 9:06 am


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State school board member calls lieutenant governor's ideas "foolish" for recreating standards


WDAM - TV 7 - News, Weather and Sports


WDAM
12/11/14

Posted December 12, 2014 - 6:21 am


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RELEASE:


NUNNELEE: MAKING THESE DECISIONS TODAY ALLOWS

US TO FOCUS ON JOBS AND THE ECONOMY



Washington, D.C. – The House of Representatives passed the House Amendment to the Senate Amendment to H.R. 83, the Consolidated and Further Continuing Appropriations Act of 2015 (Omnibus). H.R. 83 abides by the Ryan-Murray budget agreement and funds 11 of the 12 regular Appropriations bills through September 30, 2015. The bill funds the Department of Homeland Security under a Continuing Resolution (CR) until February 27, 2015. Congressman Alan Nunnelee (R-Miss.), who serves on the House Appropriations Committee, released a statement following passage:



“I have been committed to changing the conversation in Washington from ‘how much can we spend and expand government’ to ‘how much can we cut and reduce government.’ My vote today is a reflection of that commitment. By spending taxpayer dollars wisely, while also cutting funding, Congress is completing the most basic function of government by providing funding for the current fiscal year.



“In addition to spending reforms, the legislation provides for the common defense of our nation. If we are not able to defend ourselves, then anything else that we do is inconsequential. From Dodd-Frank regulations to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), and the Clean Water Act to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the Omnibus Appropriations bill stops harmful government regulations and policy. Today, I voted to put decision-making back in the hands of the legislative branch, not bureaucrats.



“I understand the frustration that this bill is not perfect. However, making funding decisions on 11 of the 12 appropriations bills today allows Congress to focus solely on holding the president accountable for his illegal actions on immigration. More importantly, making these decisions now allows the current Congress to complete their legislative business, paving the way for continued focus on what is most important: improving our economy and allowing job creation at home in North Mississippi.”



Highlights of the FY 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill:

Mississippi Highway 78

· Allows vehicles traveling with a harvest permit on Mississippi Highway 78 to continue to do so once it becomes Interstate 22.

ObamaCare

No new funding for ObamaCare
Prohibits funds for ObamaCare risk corridors
Cuts funding for the Independent Payment Advisory Board by $10 million
National Security and Veterans Affairs (VA)

Prioritizes funding to maintain military readiness both at home and abroad
Provides funding for needed resources for ongoing military operations
Fully funds the 1% pay raise for the troops
Increases funding above the president’s request for military health activities
Provides funding for processing VA disability claims to end the backlogs
Rescinds $41 million in performance bonuses at the VA
Pro-life Provisions

Maintains all existing pro-life provisions, including the Hyde amendment banning federal dollars from paying for abortions
Bans public funding for abortions in the District of Columbia, within the Federal Employee Health Benefits Plan, and federal prisons
Three new pro-life provisions:
Requires ObamaCare plans to inform customers if they provide abortion-related services
Requires the Office of Civil Rights to respond to claims of violations of conscience protections
Provides states increased access to abstinence education funding
Policy Changes, Savings, and Oversight

Slashes Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) funding for the fifth consecutive year
Reduces EPA staffing levels to the lowest since 1989
· Cuts Internal Revenue Service (IRS) funding to below FY 2008 levels

· Prohibits the IRS targeting of organizations based on their ideological beliefs or for exercising their First Amendment rights

· Protects Second Amendment rights, including prohibitions related to the import and export of certain firearms

· Prohibits regulation of farm ponds and irrigation ditches under the Clean Water Act (CWA).

Prohibits the transfer or release of Guantanamo Bay detainees into the U.S; prohibits construction or acquisition of a prison in the U.S. to house such detainees
· No funding for the UN Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) or the International Monetary Fund (IMF)

· No funding for the UN Arms Trade Treaty



12/11/14

Posted December 12, 2014 - 6:19 am


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RELEASE:


This evening, the House of Representatives passed the FY 2015 Omnibus Appropriations bill. This spending bill contains a number of important measures that fulfill the people’s priorities, including protecting jobs, stopping wasteful spending, reining in government overreach, and funding our national security.

This bill also sets up a showdown with President Obama in just a few weeks on immigration and his illegal amnesty action. In January, with the help of a Republican-led Senate, Congress will have the ability to move legislation through the legislative process and work to place a check on the President's power. While this bill is not perfect, it does move us in the right direction on conservative principles.
Highlights:

Fully funds our troops’ pay raise that was authorized in the NDAA
Includes $94 billion for new equipment and upgrades of attack submarines, EA-18G Growlers, KC-46 Tankers, F-35 JSF, and 3 Littoral Combat Ships
$5.4 billion to Fight Ebola in the US and abroad (below the president’s request)
Provides $64 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funding for our troops, to combat ISIL, Train and Equip Iraqi allies, and support for Ukraine
Prohibits the transfer or release of Guantanamo detainees into the US
No new funding for ObamaCare
Prohibits funds for ObamaCare Risk Corridors
Requires HHS and Treasury to report to Congress on improper payments of ObamaCare tax subsidies
Cuts the Independent Payment Advisory Board (IPAB) by $10 million
Maintains all existing pro-life policy and funding provisions
Hyde, Tiahart, Helms, and Kemp-Kasten Amendments, bans public funding for abortions in the DC, within FEHBP, and federal prisoners
Three new pro-life provisions:
Obamacare transparency - requires ObamaCare healthcare plans to tell customers if they provide abortion services
Conscience protection - requires HHS Office of Civil Rights to address complaints of violations
Provides $12 million in unused abstinence education funds
Cuts EPA $60 million (fifth consecutive year of cuts, totaling a 21% reduction since FY10, and a decrease in 2,000 positions – 1989 levels)
Prohibits regulation of farm ponds and irrigation ditches
Prohibits listing the sage grouse on the Endangered Species List
Protects Second Amendment rights and prohibits EPA to regulations of lead content in ammunition or fishing tackle
Amends Dodd-Frank swaps pushout requirements to protect farmers and other commodity producers
Cuts IRS funding $345.6 million ($1.5 billion below the president’s request and below FY08 levels)
Prohibits IRS targeting organizations based on their ideological beliefs or for exercising their First Amendment rights
Prohibits the White House ordering review of tax-exempt status
Prohibits IRS funds for inappropriate videos and conferences
Prohibits local and federal funds to implement legalization of recreational marijuana use in DC
Prohibits requiring businesses to disclose political contributions
Fully funds the US-Israel Memorandum of Understanding at $3.1 billion
Prohibits funds for the Palestinian Authority if it unilaterally seeks membership at the UN and does not counter incitement of violence
Requires the Administration to keep Congress informed on Iran nuclear negotiations
No funds for the IMF
Prohibits funds for Green Climate Fund
Provides flexibility for the Administration’s school lunch regulations
Fully funds PILT at $442 million (including funds authorized in FY14 NDAA)
Prevents new fees on onshore oil and gas producers
Stops NLRB’s regulations related to e-Card Check
No funds for high-speed rail
Cuts AMTRAK by $90 million
Protects small business from over regulation related to commercial trucking, weight limits, driver hours, and hazmat permitting
Provides $2.5 billion for processing VA disability claims to end the backlog and rescinds $41 million in performance bonuses at the VA

God Bless,

Gregg Harper
Member of Congress



12/11/14

Posted December 12, 2014 - 6:17 am


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RELEASE:


Palazzo Statement on Consolidated Appropriations Act


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) released the following statement after passage of the 2015 omnibus appropriations bill:

“The omnibus passed by the House today is a huge victory for South Mississippi. It provides $1 billion for the LPD-28 amphibious assault ship, built by Ingalls Shipbuilding right here in Pascagoula. Not only is this ship required by the Marine Corps, its construction will directly protect more than 3,000 shipbuilding jobs along the Mississippi coast.

"This was a team effort, and without the hard work of Senator Cochran and Senator Wicker, as well as our House delegation, this outcome would not have been possible.”

The 2015 Consolidated Appropriations Act funds the federal government through the fiscal year, with the exception of the Department of Homeland Security, which is funded through February. Congressman Palazzo successfully secured authorization for the LPD-28 in the 2015 Defense Authorization bill, which was appropriated through today’s legislation. The LPD was not originally included in the President’s budget. The ship will maintain more than 3,000 jobs at Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Miss. It’s economic impact to the region could be as much as 2 billion dollars.

The omnibus contains several provisions favorable to Mississippi, including a prohibition on the Army transfer of Apache helicopters from MS National Guard units, funding for the payments-in-lieu-of-taxes program utilized by counties and school districts, and language proposed by Rep. Palazzo and Rep. Cassidy that prevents the administration from implementing new Flood Risk Management Standards.

###


12/11/14

Posted December 12, 2014 - 6:13 am


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RELEASE:


Speaker Philip Gunn, Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves Respond to Democratic Budget Recommendation



Jackson, MS—Today, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves released a joint statement in response to the Democratic Budget recommendation.

“Republicans led the charge on the teacher pay raise,” they said. “We will fund that pay raise. The Legislative Budget Office reported the cost of the pay raise as $32 million to the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, and that is the number we used.



“If they tell us the actual cost is different, we will pay whatever the actual cost is,” they continued. “There should be no doubt that the Legislature will honor its commitment to teachers.”



12/11/14

Posted December 12, 2014 - 6:10 am


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Dems offer alternative plan for Miss. 2016 budget



JACKSON, MISS. — Democrats in the Mississippi Legislature are offering their own budget proposal that they say would pump more money into education.

Sen. Hob Bryan of Amory and Rep. Cecil Brown of Jackson released the plan Thursday, two days after the Republican-led Joint Legislative Budget Committee released its spending proposal. Republican Gov. Phil Bryant last month unveiled his spending recommendations for fiscal 2016, which begins July 1...



...Bryan said the Democrats propose fully funding $40 million for the second year of a teacher pay raise, while the $32 million proposed by the Budget Committee would fall short. Brown said Democrats were surprised by "the lack of focus on education" in the Budget Committee's blueprint.

"The statement from the leaders of that committee was that education was a priority," Brown said during a news conference at the Capitol. "Well, you certainly couldn't tell that from looking at their budget recommendation."



Sunherald
12/11/14

Posted December 12, 2014 - 6:07 am


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Club for Growth President Steps Down


Club for Growth President Chris Chocola, a former Indiana congressman, announced his retirement Thursday from the conservative outside group that often serves as a thorn in the side of Republican leadership.

Former Rep. David M. McIntosh, also a Hoosier State Republican, will take over for Chocola, who led the group for six years....



...McIntosh will take the helm of the group — which supports many fiscally conservative Republicans often aligned with the tea party faction — after a lackluster 2014 cycle. Many of the club’s endorsed candidates lost primary and general election challenges. Most notably, state Sen. Chris McDaniel failed to unseat Sen. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., in an expensive primary and runoff earlier this year.



Roll Call
12/11/14

Posted December 12, 2014 - 5:59 am


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Phil Bryant touts Mississippi's economic growth during Mississippi Works tour



SOUTHAVEN, Mississippi -- Gov. Phil Bryant brought his statewide pep talk on jobs and growth to Southaven, offering a group of local business and elected leaders statistics that show the state is making steady and verifiable progress in growing its economy and its image.

The Commercial Appeal reports the governor's Wednesday visit was one of the final stops on his Mississippi Works tour, a seven-city road show highlighting business accomplishments.



Gulflive
12/11/14

Posted December 11, 2014 - 11:00 am


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Billingsley announces State Senate run

"I believe that the more people participate at all levels of government, from voting to serving, the better our government will be."

Billingsley said, "I believe it's especially important for people with a business background to seek elective office. Government needs to run like a business, and I think I can help that happen in the Senate."

Billingsley is the former owner and COO of Gilbert's Home Health and Hospice and is a member of the Madison County Republican Party Executive Committee.


MCJ
12/11/14

Posted December 11, 2014 - 10:26 am


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DAILY JOURNAL: OUR OPINION: Budget proposal falls short for education



The Joint Legislative Budget Committee, as many supporters of public education anticipated, again failed in its recommendations for 2016 to make significant progress in fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula, the bedrock minimum needed for school districts to provide an adequate education.

The committee recommended increasing MAEP funding by a mere $32 million, and that won’t even cover the teacher pay raise passed in 2014, which requires an additional $40 million in the 2016 budget cycle, the cycle legislators will vote on in the 2015 session.

The committee’s executive summary cover page lists as FY2016 Budget Goals, “Provide adequate funding of critical state operations.”

The proposed budget fails to adequately fund public education, inarguably a critical function. The shortfall for MAEP under the committee’s terms would be $280 million, which would bring to nearly $1.8 billion the amount underfunded in the formula since the 2008 legislative session.



Daily Journal
12/10/14


Posted December 11, 2014 - 6:36 am


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Mitt Romney to speak at Mississippi State


STARKVILLE – Mississippi State University will welcome former Massachusetts governor and former presidential candidate Mitt Romney to campus on Jan. 28 to take part in its Global Lecture Series.

Romney will be the featured speaker during the 6 p.m. free public lecture in Lee Hall’s Bettersworth Auditorium. A moderated question-and-answer session will follow his address.


Daily Journal
12/10/14

Posted December 11, 2014 - 6:34 am


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RELEASE:


Subject: MEDIA ALERT: House and Senate Democratic Leadership Press Conference, Response to Budget Recommendations



Event: House and Senate Democratic Leadership Press Conference

Date: Thursday, December 11

Time: 10:00 a.m.

Location: Second Floor Hallway, House Side, New Capitol



12/10/14

Posted December 11, 2014 - 6:29 am


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FBI Considers Money-Laundering Probe Of Russian Media Boss


WASHINGTON -- U.S. federal authorities are considering a request to investigate whether a powerful Russian state media boss, Mikhail Lesin, violated U.S. anti-money-laundering laws when he purchased expensive California real estate.

RFE/RL has obtained a copy of a December 3 letter from U.S. Assistant Attorney General Peter Kadzik that says the request by U.S. Senator Roger Wicker was referred to the U.S. Justice Department's criminal division and the FBI.

A U.S. Justice Department spokesman confirmed the letter's authenticity.




Radio Free Europe
12/11/14

Posted December 11, 2014 - 6:23 am


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RELEASE:


Chairman Palazzo on Future of Space Program

Examining Space Launch System and Orion Programs

Washington, D.C. – The Space Subcommittee today held a hearing to examine the challenges and opportunities facing the Space Launch System and Orion programs.

Space Subcommittee Chairman Steven Palazzo (R-Miss): “The successful test launch of Orion demonstrates that we are on the right track for sending humans back to the Moon and Mars within our lifetimes. Across the nation people were watching with the same hope and pride that all Americans had in the early days of our space program.

“In my congressional district children were bussed to Stennis Space Center to watch a live feed of the launch…The tremendous ongoing work at NASA and our industry partners is beginning to produce tangible results. The nation can be proud of what was accomplished last week. It was certainly a job well done.

“It is no secret that this Committee is concerned that the support within NASA for the SLS and Orion is not matched by the Administration. While this lack of commitment is somewhat puzzling, it is not at all surprising. The president has made clear that he does not believe space exploration is a priority for the nation and has allowed political appointees within the administration to manipulate the course of our human space flight program.

“Let me be very clear, on my watch Congress will not agree to gutting the SLS program, not now and not anytime in the foreseeable future.”

Witnesses at today’s hearing included the Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations Mission Directorate at NASA, Mr. Bill Gerstenmaier, and the Director of Acquisition and Sourcing Management for the Government Accountability Office, Ms. Cristina Chaplain.

12/10/14

Posted December 11, 2014 - 6:15 am


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Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney announced that he would seek reelection in 2015 on the Paul Gallo Show on Supertalk Radio Wednesday morning.

Chaney said he plans to qualify the first week of January, noting he still has work to accomplish on the Gulf Coast.


12/10/14

Posted December 10, 2014 - 8:25 am


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Excerpt from The Parents Campaign email:



"Not much surprises me these days, but I must admit that I was surprised by the budget recommendation announced today by the Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC). In December of each year, the JLBC crafts a budget based upon preliminary estimates of what the Legislature will have to spend in the coming legislative session.

The good news is that revenue is projected to be at an all-time high - at least 3 percent higher than last year's budget. Here's where it gets bizarre: Although Mississippi is projected to have more money on hand than ever before, the committee recommended cutting state services by more than $112-million.



12/9/14

Posted December 10, 2014 - 6:36 am


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GOP wants waiver from healthier school lunch mandate and Bill Cassidy seeks delay on floodplain development limits


WASHINGTON -- Republican Senator-elect Bill Cassidy and Rep. Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., are asking congressional leaders to add language to a pending funding bill to block the Obama administration from implementing an executive order instructing federal agencies to minimize adverse impacts on flood plains.


Times Picayune
12/9/14

Posted December 10, 2014 - 6:30 am


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Legislative Budget Committee wants to spend less next year



Senator Hob Bryan says the Democrats will present an alternative plan Thursday. He was still steaming after Tuesday's presentation.

"They're putting money in the bank and claiming somehow that's good management to build up these huge amounts of money in the bank while leaving children uneducated and while leaving roads crumbling." described Bryan.



WLBT
12/9/14

Posted December 10, 2014 - 6:27 am


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Philip Gunn says too early to discuss tax decrease




Legislative budget leaders have recommended a $6.013 billion total state budget for the next fiscal year, which is less than the $6.2 billion budget proposed last month by Gov. Phil Bryant.

The Joint Legislative Budget Committee recommendations include no mention of a possible tax decrease that some state leaders including Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn have broached.

When asked today, Reeves said he believes it's time to have a discussion about possibly decreasing taxes. Gunn agrees it is something that should be looked at, but says it way too early for that discussion.

"We are a long way from making that decision," Gunn said.



Clarion Ledger
12/9/14

Posted December 10, 2014 - 6:24 am


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RELEASE:


Thompson, Cummings, and Conyers Request In-Depth Hearings into Garner, Brown, and Other Deaths


December 9, 2014 (WASHINGTON) – Today, Reps. Elijah E. Cummings (D-MD), John Conyers Jr. (D-MI), and Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Members of the House Committees on Oversight and Government Reform, the Judiciary, and Homeland Security respectively, requested a series of in-depth hearings to examine issues raised by the deaths of Eric Garner, Michael Brown, and others, as well as incidents that followed these killings. A link to the letter is below.

“We firmly believe that events in Staten Island, New York, Ferguson, Missouri, and elsewhere have fractured the trust of Americans in the integrity of the criminal justice system,” the Ranking Members wrote. “The Federal government has a critical role to play in ensuring that all Americans are treated equally before the law, especially by their local police, and it is our responsibility to exercise oversight of the funding and resources that the Federal government allocates to these local jurisdictions. Hearings into these topics will be important early steps on the long road of healing across the country.”


12/9/14

Posted December 10, 2014 - 6:20 am


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Posted December 9, 2014 - 12:59 pm


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RELEASE:


Roberson announces candidacy for Mississippi House of Representatives

Looks forward to once again serving in the Mississippi Legislature


Starkville, MS— Businessman and attorney Rob Roberson announced today that he will be a candidate in the Republican primary for the Mississippi House of Representatives in the 43rd District. The newly created district includes Oktibbeha County and a portion of Winston County.


“I believe strongly in serving and giving back to our community, and I believe that my experience in the military, legislature and the private sector, has given me the depth of experience that I will need to effectively serve the citizens of Oktibbeha and Winston counties and the state of Mississippi,” Roberson said.

Roberson owns and operates Roberson Law Firm and Bulldog Development LLC. He graduated from Starkville High School and Mississippi State University with a bachelor’s degree in business administration and received his Juris doctorate from Mississippi College School of Law. Roberson previously served in the legislature as Representative of the 37th district.

“I want to have a responsible, sincere conversation about how we can continue to enhance the quality of life in the 43rd district and across the state. I also look forward to placing emphasis on constituent services to ensure Oktibbeha and Winston counties are appropriately represented,” he said.

Roberson and his wife Karen of 19 years have four children: Kelly, Marley, Jack and Eli.

Roberson’s campaign urges those who would like to learn more him or the campaign to contact him at Rob@RobRoberson.com

###


12/9/14

Posted December 9, 2014 - 12:27 pm


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RELEASE:


Governor Bryant Creates Human Trafficking Task Force



JACKSON— Governor Phil Bryant has created a task force to address human trafficking in Mississippi. Human trafficking includes causing another person to engage in prostitution or forced labor or services by enticing, recruiting, harboring, providing, transporting or otherwise obtaining another person by deception, coercion or force.

The task force will meet to examine existing research, and/or to commission new research on the topic of human trafficking. It will also review Mississippi laws, administrative practices and law enforcement training pertaining to the topic. Additionally, the task force will identify opportunities to strengthen Mississippi human trafficking statutes.

“Human trafficking and the people that that fall victim to it are often hard to identify. It’s a serious crime that often is forgotten, even though we know it is happening,” Gov. Bryant said. “By bringing together the relevant individuals from around the state to take a hard look at best practices and put forth recommendations, we will draw closer to putting a stop to this terrible crime in our state.”

The Mississippi Office of Homeland Security will provide appropriate staff and administrative support to assist the group in carrying out its duties. Any other state agency represented on the task force is authorized to provide staff and administrative support, as necessary.

The task force will prepare and submit a report to Gov. Bryant by July 1, 2015. The report will include a summary of findings and final recommendations of the task force to the Governor.

The Task Force shall consist of the following individuals appointed by the Governor:

(a) One member of the Mississippi State Senate

(b) One member of the Mississippi State House of Representatives

(c) The Attorney General of the State of Mississippi or his designee

(d) The Executive Director of the Mississippi Office of Homeland Security or his designee

(e) The Commissioner of the Mississippi Department of Corrections or his designee

(f) One Circuit Court Judge

(g) One County Court Judge who has experience handling youth court matters

(h) One District Attorney

(i) One Youth Court Prosecutor from a County Court

(j) A Representative of the Mississippi Department of Education

(k) A Representative of the Mississippi Department of Human Services

(l) A Representative of the Mississippi Department of Health

(m) A Representative of the Mississippi Department of Mental Health

(n) One representative each from the Mississippi Association of Chiefs of Police and the Mississippi Sheriffs Association with one member being from the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the second from the Southaven area

(o) A Representative from a Non-Government Organization who has been involved in assisting victims of human trafficking

(p) A business leader in Mississippi

(q) At the sole discretion of the Governor, additional members with relevant experience.



12/9/14

Posted December 9, 2014 - 10:54 am


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As a cautionary tale, all of Mississippi should pay close attention to what is transpiring with the Singing River Health System in Jackson County.

For those of you who aren't aware of the saga unfolding regarding this public hospital, its pension plan, mounting debt and declining revenue, allow me to enlighten you. Here's a synopsis of what's known as of today, using Warren Kulo's article on Gulflive Monday afternoon as a guide:

"The defined benefit plan -- which promised employees that they would receive a certain percentage of their annual salaries upon retirement -- required participants to put in 3 percent of their salaries each pay period.

"Due to financial stress, the system stopped contributing to the plan in 2009."


The hospital was to be making employer contributions on top of the employee investment. The fact that the employer portion was not being paid into the plan was not reported to hospital system employees until recent weeks, five years after employer contributions had ceased. Pension statements distributed to the employees during this period showed no signs of concern. The statements even showed employer contributions were being made into the plan.

Kulo's article continues:

"There are 2,389 people in that plan, 623 of which are retired and currently drawing money.

"SRHS leaders announced last week that the plan was "frozen" and that they planned to liquidate it within four months. Today, Singing River Health System Foundation attorney Roy Williams said the plan had been "terminated" during a hearing in chancery court."


Singing River Health System is Jackson County's second largest employer.

The hospital Board of Trustees, which are appointed by the Jackson County Board of Supervisors, and the hospital administration announced town hall meetings to discuss freezing the plan and liquidating it, essentially giving back the funds invested by the employees without the employer portion. This was announced and begun just last week.

But on Monday, after a complaint was filed in chancery court seeking an injunction to the hospital's plan of action, the hospital attorney revealed the Board of Trustees had not just agreed to freeze the pension plan, they went further; they had already voted to terminate the plan which again wasn't communicated with the public even in the midst of this firestorm.

Now we know, per this SunHerald video with Supervisor Troy Ross, that the county Supervisors didn't even know the pension plan had been terminated. {UPDATE: An email obtained by the SunHerald now states that the Supervisors were made aware of the termination.}

When asked how this matter wasn't caught sooner, Jackson County Supervisor John McKay recently said in an interview, "Ignorance isn't an excuse but in this case it is a reason."

The hospital was required to provide an annual financial statement to the county Board of Supervisors. It was received and rubber-stamped with little to no discussion, all while the hospital system and the county continued to increase bond indebtedness (upwards of $106 million), the hospital board and administration increased their footprint by adding and renovating facilities to much fanfare, and the hospital system's revenues sank to under 30 days of operating income to cover expenses, far from what's required.

Yet, when the Supervisors ask questions of the hospital system in public (most discussion has been in executive session under the reason of potential litigation) the Trustees - their appointees - and the administration give veiled, cryptic answers. Even when asked about administration salaries no direct answer is given.

District Attorney Tony Lawrence appeared before the Supervisors in executive session on Monday, the reason for which is still unclear. However, Lawrence recently offered any assistance in investigating the situation as the State Auditor's office begins their review.

SunHerald reporters Karen Nelson, Margaret Baker and Paul Hampton have been diligently seeking answers, trying to connect the dots. Hampton's latest article reveals that neither the hospital Board of Trustees nor the county Supervisors knew of the dire financial straits, or at least that's what they are saying publicly. Either way it borders on gross negligence and incompetence.

The lack of oversight by the county Board of Supervisors is obvious, yet they still have not sought resignations from their hospital Board of Trustees appointments. As a matter of fact, they are singing their appointees' praises.

It's past time for a change of the Board of Trustees, no matter how you slice it. A new board with new financial and legal counsel is needed immediately.

Further, investigations into service contracts and outsourced work needs to be reviewed to ensure all is ethically sound and fiscally responsible. Rumors and questions of hands in the till are rampant and growing. The perception of deception is only getting larger with every passing day.

The public doesn't trust this Board, whether rightly or wrongly. The perception is that they are biding their time, trying to run out the clock until negative public opinion wanes, simply trying to weather the storm. But this isn't going away. They are still making questionable decisions behind closed doors and the Supervisors haven't acted to curtail them in any meaningful way.

Qualifying for county elections are coming. Supervisors best show some resolve and begin publicly asking questions and demanding accountability and cease the closed door discussions or they could face a long campaign year ahead. The Supervisors are seeming blind and deaf to public outrage at this point.

In addition, the state Legislature needs to shed light by ending the public hospital exemption from the Open Meetings law. Requiring public hospitals to maintain more detailed public meeting records is another necessary step. If tax dollars are on the line as they are with public hospitals then the public should be fully aware of what's happening and why at these institutions. State Sen. Brice Wiggins has already expressed his support for such changes.

The Legislature should also require that public hospitals submit annual financial statements to the publicly elected board and that those financials be approved on record, not simply received and acknowledged. Assuming the Supervisors are providing adequate oversight, reading and asking questions, isn't enough to protect the public's interest.

There will likely be more shoes to drop in this saga as the case in chancery court is heard and election pressures mount as we approach 2015. It's worth paying attention to if you're an elected official, health care worker, or just a taxpayer in Mississippi.

Posted December 9, 2014 - 10:02 am


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Sen. John Horhn pleads no contest to DUI



State Sen. John Horhn entered a no contest plea to a DUI charge in Jackson Municipal Court . A no contest plea is technically a guilty plea.


Clarion Ledger
12/8/14


Posted December 9, 2014 - 8:55 am


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Rand Paul: Speaks out on Obama, war on drugs, police



Paul of Kentucky, a potential GOP presidential candidate in 2016, brought his libertarian-leaning messages to Mississippi Republicans at a fundraiser for the state party on Monday. Before the $250-a-plate luncheon, which was closed to the public and media, Paul held a press conference, joined by Gov. Phil Bryant, U.S. Rep. Gregg Harper and state GOP Chairman Joe Nosef.

"(Paul) represents something very important to us," Nosef said, "at the same time being able to stand on principle and expand the party … He's been a unifying figure and at the same time been a leader in bringing us back to our core beliefs."

Bryant praised Paul as "someone who has an independent thinking ability within the Republican Party."

"And we welcome that," Bryant said. "… From time to time there are differences in the Republican Party, and we think that's a healthy thing."



Clarion Ledger
12/8/14

Posted December 9, 2014 - 8:51 am


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Prisons chief: Miss. prison could see changes



JACKSON – The temporary head of Mississippi's prison system told lawmakers Monday that he's trying to improve conditions at South Mississippi Correctional Institution, where workers have complained about long hours and low pay and have expressed concerns about their own safety because of short staffing.

Interim Corrections Commissioner Rick McCarty told the House Corrections Committee that he will ask the Legislature during the 2015 session to consider increasing the salaries for guards, some of whom make about $22,000 a year.

Rep. Dennis DeBar, R-Leakesville, is an attorney who lives and works near the south Mississippi prison. He said prison guards tell him they often get stuck working significantly longer than eight hours per shift, and that's a burden as they try to take care of their families. He said he has been told about guards who have been forced to work double and triple shifts with little or no advance notice.



Hattiesburg American
12/8/14

Posted December 9, 2014 - 6:32 am


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Cochran's Vicksburg park bill before Senate



JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran is expecting a vote in the Senate as early as this week on legislation to allow the Vicksburg National Military Park to add 10,000 acres to protect historic Civil War battlefield sites in Claiborne and Hinds counties.

Cochran and Sen. Roger Wicker, both R-Miss., co-sponsored the bill. It passed the U.S. House this past week.


WMC Action News
12/8/14

Posted December 9, 2014 - 6:25 am


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Mississippi Legislature's Joint Legislative Budget Committee (JLBC) will unveil its budget recommendation Tuesday morning.

Watch for as the story develops.

Posted December 9, 2014 - 6:22 am


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Paul: Miss. GOP reuniting after 'spirited' primary


JACKSON, MISS. — Mississippi Republicans are reuniting after a divisive party primary for the U.S. Senate, a potential 2016 presidential candidate said Monday.

First-term Kentucky Sen. Rand Paul was in Jackson to speak at a $250-per-person fundraising luncheon for the Mississippi Republican Party.

During a news conference before the event at the Old Capitol Inn, Paul was asked about the division between establishment Republicans who supported the re-election of Mississippi Sen. Thad Cochran and tea party Republicans who backed Cochran's unsuccessful primary challenger, state Sen. Chris McDaniel...


..."I would say the party nationally has these battles everywhere. We had a bunch of spirited primaries. And for the most part I think we've come together," Paul said Monday.



Sunherald
12/8/14

Posted December 9, 2014 - 6:17 am


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RELEASE:


Wicker Opposes EPA’s Most Expensive Regulation

Proposal to Change Ground-Level Ozone Standard Could Cost Trillions


It is not surprising that the Obama Administration chose to announce its latest environmental regulation on the eve of the Thanksgiving holiday. With Americans traveling and families busy preparing meals for loved ones, there was a good chance that the costly and unnecessary proposal could slip by unnoticed.

This particular regulation, however, was too outrageous to miss. In proposing to lower the National Ambient Air Quality Standards for ground-level ozone, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is launching what could be its most expensive rulemaking to date. According to a study done by the National Association of Manufacturers, the move would be devastating to the economy, slashing GDP by $3.4 trillion and costing 2.9 million jobs by 2040.

Economic Burden Would Outweigh Health Benefits

Specifically, the proposed rule targets ground-level ozone, which contributes to smog as pollutants in the air react to heat from the sun. Unlike the stratospheric ozone layer that protects Earth from ultraviolet rays, high levels of ground-level ozone can be harmful to human health. The basic purpose of EPA’s air quality standard is to ensure that ozone does not reach these dangerous levels. The existing standard of 75 parts per billion (ppb), established in 2008, adequately protects the health of our citizens. In fact, air quality has improved, even though this benchmark has yet to be fully implemented.

It is curious, then, that the Obama Administration now wants to release an even stricter standard, when such a rule would cause significant economic harm while providing little or no help to the environment. The President acknowledged as much when he refused to take action on a similar proposal in 2011. Local governments and U.S. businesses would be faced with a costly directive to reduce ozone, ultimately hurting economic development and job creation. Working families would surely face the impact, too, as energy prices rise and new job opportunities dwindle.

Moreover, most of the country would not be able to comply with the Administration’s compulsory ozone levels of 65 to 70 ppb. Even now, 40 percent of the U.S. population lives in areas that do not meet the existing standard. Although our state lacks major smog-filled metropolitan areas, at least five Mississippi counties would fail to meet 65 ppb. Areas like DeSoto County would be especially disadvantaged because of nearby cities like Memphis.

Legislation Challenges Administration’s Extreme Agenda

I am a cosponsor of two bills in the Senate that would push back against EPA’s latest rulemaking. One of these measures, known as the “Clean Air, Strong Economies (CASE) Act,” would prohibit EPA from implementing the more stringent standard until 85 percent of counties currently in “non-attainment” can comply with existing levels. Introduced by Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.), the legislation would also require EPA to assess the rule’s costs and feasibility, which it has not taken into account.

Another bill, authored by Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), would delay a final version of the ozone rule until 2018. Titled the “Ozone Regulatory Delay and Extension of Assessment Length (ORDEAL) Act,” it would also extend the time between revisions of air quality standards by five years, giving counties more time to enact compliance plans.

I am disappointed that the Obama Administration continues to pursue a costly environmental agenda when 9 million Americans remain without work. It is clear that the President anticipated the ozone rule would be unpopular, releasing it with more than 3,000 other regulations before Thanksgiving. But keeping his extensive bureaucratic agenda quiet does not change its negative impact. I am hopeful Congress will use its power to provide proper oversight and rein in this Administration’s excessive executive overreach.



12/8/14

Posted December 9, 2014 - 6:13 am


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Education chairs on Common Core hot seat



JACKSON – The chairs of the two Education committees in the Mississippi Legislature – Rep. John Moore, R-Brandon, and Sen. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford – have expressed support for the Common Core academic standards in the past.

Both said recently they didn’t anticipate any major changes to Common Core in the 2015 legislative session. But that assessment may have changed.

During the upcoming 2015 legislative session, they may be in a position of guiding to passage legislation that would alter or even end Common Core in Mississippi.

Passage of the legislation is a distinct possibility after Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves announced last week he would support legislation to end the enactment of Common Core in Mississippi.



Daily Journal
12/7/14

Posted December 8, 2014 - 5:17 am


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TANF Applicants Tested for Drugs Under New Law, Only Two Test Positive


JACKSON, Miss. – Two of Mississippi’s 3,656 Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF )applicants have tested positive for illegal drugs. Drug tests were administered to at least 38 applicants after they were screened as part a new law that went into effect in August.


NewsMS
12/5/14

Posted December 8, 2014 - 5:14 am


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PAUL HAMPTON: DeLano gets his party started



The Legislature could use a few more Scott DeLanos.

I'm sure many Mississippians have been telling themselves: Look at all these tax-cut plans. Oh, it's an election year. What a coincidence.

DeLano, a Republican from Biloxi, just said it publicly, and a bit more succinctly.

But he wasn't talking about Gov. Phil Bryant's tax-cut plan alone when he called all the tax-cut talk in Jackson "political hogwash."

All the GOP leaders are talking about tax cuts. Even Democrats are at it, countering the Republicans with a call for a reduction in the sales tax.




Sunherald
12/6/14

Posted December 8, 2014 - 5:09 am


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Wiggins says he favors curtailing public hospitals' exemption from Open Meetings Act




State Sen. Brice Wiggins said he'd like to see a bill passed next year that would end public hospitals' exemption from the Open Meetings Act.

The problems at the Singing River Health System, whose the underfunded pension plan could be ending and $80 million in uncollectible debt was recently uncovered, prodded Wiggins.

"People have contacted me wanting to see something done and I have been, so I wanted to let them know I have been," he said. "I think (open meetings) is going to be a significant part of that. Getting some version of that passed."

He said a number of statutes apply to community hospitals and he's reviewing them all.




Sunherald
12/5/14

Posted December 8, 2014 - 5:04 am


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WAYNE RODOLFICH (Pascagoula Schools Superintendent): Gov. Bryant's statement on education, not true



Governor Bryant recently made a statement that could have a profound impact on the State of Mississippi. "The public's in charge of education in Mississippi, and you have to be aware of and be sensitive to their concerns," Bryant said.

If this is true, then remove every lobbyist and representative from the American Legislative Exchange Council from policy making in this state. They are not the "public." Respect the more than 100,000 registered voters who asked to be able to vote on a constitutional amendment to fully fund the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. Those registered voters are members of the "public."

The "public" includes the thousands of teachers and students who have spent years implementing the Common Core State Standards in this state. Millions of dollars have been spent during this time by the "public" for training, resources, and technology. What is the explanation to the "public" as to why we would throw away these resources, time, and money in a state that ranks 50th? That list now includes a ranking of 50th in business according to Forbes Magazine. An article in USA Today listed rankings by "24/7 Wall Street" as Mississippi being one of the worst run states in America. Who is responsible for Mississippi reaching that unenviable distinction?


Gulflive
12/5/14

Posted December 8, 2014 - 4:59 am


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Dems' final insult: Landrieu crushed

Cassidy trounces incumbent with Republicans set to control 54 Senate seats in the next Congress.


In the final insult of a devastating 2014 election for Democrats, Sen. Mary Landrieu, the party’s last remaining statewide officeholder from the Deep South, was trounced Saturday in the head-to-head Louisiana Senate runoff election.

Republican Bill Cassidy’s resounding victory is the ninth Senate seat picked up by the GOP in this year’s elections, three more than the party needed to take control of the chamber. With nearly all the ballots counted, Cassidy led Landrieu by 14 points, 57 percent to 43 percent.


Politico
12/6/14




Posted December 8, 2014 - 4:52 am


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Indiana attorney general turns down Gov. Pence’s immigration suit



...But Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood, who co-authored with Zoeller the letter sent Friday to congressional leaders, pointed out that a federal judge ruled last year that the Mississippi governor could not challenge an Obama administration initiative to give temporary reprieve from deportation to illegal immigrants who arrived when they were children.

"Greg, or any other attorney general contemplating a governor jumping into litigation, has got to review that decision and take pause that the federal court has already found that the state didn't have standing to file that action," Hood said.

That suit was filed in 2012 by a group of immigration agents who said the Obama administration's action prevented them from doing their jobs.

Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant signed onto that suit and is part of the current challenge to Obama's latest actions.



IndyStar
12/5/14

Posted December 8, 2014 - 4:45 am


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Morgan Shands, sister trial on embezzlement charges set for week of Dec. 8




CLEVELAND, Mississippi — The former adjutant of American Legion Post 1776 in Cleveland and his sister are scheduled for trial next week on embezzlement charges.

Morgan Shands and Rachel Shands Buser were each indicted in March for allegedly embezzling $613,834 from the American Legion Post. Both are free on bond.


Daily Journal
12/6/14

Posted December 8, 2014 - 4:40 am


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Bryant to speak at MUW graduation



COLUMBUS, Miss. (AP) — Gov. Phil Bryant will speak at the winter commencement at the Mississippi University for Women in Columbus.

The ceremony is scheduled for 2 p.m. on Dec. 12 in Rent Auditorium in Whitfield Hall on the MUW campus.



WTVA
12/6/14

Posted December 8, 2014 - 4:38 am


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