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NRA-ILV has endorsed Republican Trent Kelly for #MS01 special election.

A copy of their endorsement letter can be found here.


NRA-ILV
5/26/15

Posted May 26, 2015 - 4:10 pm

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Thad Cochran’s new marriage — and why our politics stink

Common sense would dictate that sometime over the past decade or so, as his wife slipped further into dementia, Cochran and Webber became something more than just professional acquaintances. To which I say: Who cares?

To me, that Cochran's office felt the need to, at best, obfuscate on the true nature of his relationship with Webber speaks to what's wrong with our politics -- namely an inability (or unwillingness) to put ourselves in the shoes of the people we elect to represent us.

Let's go back to the spring of 2014. Cochran was in the midst of a fight for his political life against state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who had cast the incumbent as both too moderate and too "Washington" to be elected to a seventh term. Then, supporters of McDaniel's -- although he denied any knowledge of their efforts -- sneaked into Rose Cochran's nursing home and took footage of her -- presumably to make the case, which was being whispered about, that Cochran was in a relationship with Webber even as his wife lay infirm. (Worth noting: Before the nursing home incident, no reporters for credible news organizations wrote about the whispers about Cochran and Webber.)

The case, which drew massive national attention, brought a bright focus on Cochran's personal life at a time when he badly needed to convince the most conservative elements of the Republican Party that he was one of them. Hence, the denial of any relationship beyond a professional one with Webber. (Cochran went on to win a stunning come-from-behind runoff victory over McDaniel, although how much of that had to do with his wife and/or Webber is impossible to know.)

I get it. I just wish it weren't so. Put yourself in Cochran's shoes. His wife is fading from him -- or totally gone. He wants someone to share his life with. He has known Webber for a long time. They are contemporaries; he is 77, she is 76. Should anyone begrudge him that chance at happiness -- even if he happens to be a well-known politician?

Chris Cilizza
WAPO
5/26/15

Posted May 26, 2015 - 1:39 pm

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Notorious #MSSEN blogger Johnson banned from Twitter


Looks like California blogger Charles C. Johnson -- who made news in the nasty battle between U.S. Sen. Thad Cochran and Chris McDaniel last year -- has been banned from Twitter for good.

Johnson, described by McDaniel as an "investigative journalist," and by The Washington Post as a "far-right mega-troll," had his Twitter account permanently suspended on Sunday after he asked for donations to help "take out" activist DeRay McKesson, who's been involved with protests after police shootings in Baltimore and Missouri. Several media outlets report that subsequent new Twitter accounts Johnson tried to open were also suspended.


ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/politicalledger/2015/05/26/charles-johnson-twitter-suspended/27962139/
5/26/15

Posted May 26, 2015 - 11:38 am

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Mississippi Casino Revenues Rise




Gamblers lost more money at Mississippi casinos in April, as continued gains at Gulf Coast gambling halls were joined by a rare up month at casinos along the Mississippi River.

State Department of Revenue figures show casinos statewide won $177.1 million from gamblers in April, up 8.1 percent from $163.8 million in April 2014.

The 11 coastal casinos won $94.3 million, up 11.5 percent from April 2014. The 17 river casinos won $82.8 million, up 4.4 percent from last year.

It's the ninth month in 11 that revenue rose along the coast, but only the third time in 34 months along the river. Overall casino revenue has risen 1 percent for the first four months of 2014.




WTOK
http://www.wtok.com/home/headlines/Mississippi-Casino-Revenues-Rise-304936451.html?device=tablet&c=y
5/25/15

Posted May 26, 2015 - 4:52 am

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RELEASE:


STATEMENT FROM THE OFFICE U.S. SENATOR THAD COCHRAN



WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Kay Webber were married in a private family ceremony in Gulfport, Miss., on Saturday, May 23.



5/25/15

Posted May 25, 2015 - 9:11 am

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Legislative candidates prep for primaries



In Senate District 51 in coastal Jackson County, two-term incumbent Michael Watson of Pascagoula is challenged in the Republican primary by Butch Loper of Vancleave, who was the county's emergency management director for four years.

Watson, a 37-year-old attorney, is an ally of state Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville...


..."I don't think a good partnership is happening between the House of Representatives and the senators of Jackson County," Loper said.

Watson disagreed.

"The coastal delegation is working together so much better now than it ever has before," Watson said in a separate interview. "Butch hasn't done his homework and doesn't know what he's talking about when he says things like that."...


In northern Mississippi, the newly configured Senate District 10 has all of Tate County and most of Marshall County. It also has two Democratic incumbents in the party primary -- first-term Sen. Steve Hale of Senatobia and second-term Sen. Bill Stone of Holly Springs...


...Hale has filed court papers challenging whether Stone will meet the requirement of living in the Senate district for two full years by the November general election. Hale says Stone will fall short of the two years. Stone says he will meet the requirement.



SunHerald
http://www.sunherald.com/2015/05/24/6243930/legislative-candidates-prep-for.html#storylink=cpy
5/24/15

Posted May 25, 2015 - 6:54 am

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RELEASE:


Wicker to Convene Hearing on FCC Lifeline Program



WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, will hold a hearing entitled “Lifeline: Improving Accountability and Effectiveness” on Tuesday, June 2, 2015, at 9:30 a.m.



The hearing will examine the Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) progress in reforming Lifeline, a government program that subsidizes monthly telephone services for eligible low-income participants, and how to prevent waste, fraud, and abuse in the program.



The hearing follows a recent report from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Office (GAO), which made several recommendations regarding the efficiency and effectiveness of the program.



Witnesses:



Randy May, President, Free State Foundation
Michael Clements, Acting Director, Physical Infrastructure Issues, Government Accountability Office (GAO)
Scott Bergmann, Vice President, Regulatory Affairs, CTIA - The Wireless Association
Commissioner Ronald A. Brisé, Florida Public Service Commission, National Association of Regulatory Utility Commissioners (NARUC)
Jessica Gonzalez, Executive Vice President and General Counsel, National Hispanic Media Coalition


Hearing Details:



WHEN: Tuesday, June 2, 2015, at 9:30 a.m.

WHERE: Senate Russell Office Building, Room 253






5/23/15

Posted May 25, 2015 - 6:28 am

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RELEASE:


COCHRAN STATEMENT ON MEMORIAL DAY

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, today released the following statement marking Memorial Day and commemorating those who gave their lives in service to our country:

“Memorial Day reminds us of the cost of freedom and liberty. With an understanding of the ongoing threats to our national security today, citizens across Mississippi and around the country will join other Americans this Memorial Day to honor, remember and thank those who sacrificed their lives to serve and defend our nation. From the fields of Lexington and Concord to modern-day battlefields in the Middle East, America has been blessed with bright, brave men and women who risk their lives to protect ours.

“Mississippians have long honored and commemorated those who gave their lives to defend our country and its values. Columbus, Mississippi, held the first Memorial Day commemoration in 1866, when its citizens decorated the graves of both Confederate and Union soldiers. That tradition continues, nationwide, to this day. It reaffirms how preciously we have and must continue to guard our liberty.

“This Memorial Day we also remember the families of the men and women who have lost loved ones in the service of our country. They too often bear unseen scars, and they deserve our visible and tangible support. I encourage all Mississippians to take time to pay homage to the men and women who made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.”


5/23/15

Posted May 25, 2015 - 6:25 am

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Pender: No kumbaya moment in Miss. education



State House Democratic Leader Bobby Moak fired off a missive last week decrying a “GOP education disaster … the third-grade reading gate calamity created by Republicans.”

“This is the disastrous result of the Republican education plan that chronically underfunds our schools and then asks even more of our children,” Moak said of the Republican-led Literacy Based Promotion Act of 2013 taking effect this year.

Them were fightin’ words for Republican House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson. Frierson said many education leaders and advocates use “we’re underfunded” as a crutch that prevents schools from making improvements.

“I’m tired of it,” Frierson said. “… The expectation — the response — always is ‘We can’t do it unless we have more money’ … We recognize the need for more money. But it’s not just about more money. It’s also about leadership.”

Frierson said some school districts “that had all the reasons in the world” — low per-pupil spending, poverty — to do poorly on the reading tests did well, and vice versa. He said communities should demand better performance from school administrators, like they do for athletics coaches.



ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/23/pender-kumbaya-moment-miss-education/27868445/
5/23/15

Posted May 25, 2015 - 6:11 am

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Salter: Democrat's rewrite of MAEP history short on fact



After a long period of seeming political inaction, Democrats in the Mississippi House of Representatives are beginning to push back against the Republican majority.

In great measure, that effort has been led by Democratic State Rep. Bobby Moak and former state representative Brandon Jones, now of the Mississippi Democratic Trust. But Moak's most recent broadside against the House GOP leadership ignores some basic history that shouldn't be ignored....


...Two things are true – Mississippi has never "thrown money" at public education in the sense that critics claim, but Mississippi's Republican leadership this year threw more money at public education than has been thrown at it in a single year in the state's history to the tune of $2.5 billion.

Shortcomings in education funding are bipartisan shortcomings. The Republicans haven't had control of the state's purse strings long enough to take the rap for the failures of an education funding formula designed – political traps doors and all – by prior Democratic leadership.


ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/opinion/columnists/2015/05/23/salter-democrats-rewrite-maep-history/27844557/
5/23/15

Posted May 25, 2015 - 6:07 am

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Kelly turns to Washington for money in bid to replace Nunnelee



Republican Trent Kelly was in Washington earlier this week to raise money ahead of the June 2 runoff to fill the seat of the late Rep. Alan Nunnelee.

Mississippi Republican lawmakers, including Sens. Roger Wicker and Thad Cochran, and Reps. Steven Palazzo and Gregg Harper, planned to attend a fundraiser for Kelly on Capitol Hill.

"Trent Kelly will be a fine congressman," Wicker said. "If we turn out the average voter and get a nice turnout, we'll be in good shape."



ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/politics/2015/05/22/kelly-turns-washington-money-bid-replace-nunnelee/27806591/
5/22/15

Posted May 25, 2015 - 6:05 am

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Poll puts insurance challenger in good light, but expert says it’s flawed

Carried out by the Republic Group LLC on April 28, the poll shows that about 60 percent said they would “most likely” or “absolutely not” vote for such a candidate.

Brian Perry of Capstone Public Affairs, LLC said in an email that the Obamacare question is “loaded.”

“If you told Ole Miss Republicans that Archie Manning supported the expansion of Obamacare they might go buy cow bells,” Perry said.

It would have been fairer if the third question in the poll had preceded the Obamacare question, Perry said. The last question shows that Mosley outpolled Chaney, 383 to 340, in response to the question: “If the election for Mississippi Insurance Commissioner were held today, who would you most likely be supporting?”

Perry said that Chaney is “no shrinking violet,” and could strike back.


MBJ
5/26/15

Posted May 23, 2015 - 3:15 pm

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RELEASE:


HINDS COUNTY JUDGE OVERSTEPPED AUTHORITY, LEGISLATURE ARGUES

The Legislature filed documents at the state Supreme Court to preserve the wording of the Alternative 42A ballot title. In April, a Hinds County Circuit Judge refused to approve the Alternative 42A ballot title agreed upon by Attorney General Jim Hood and legislators.

State law does not allow the Circuit Court Judge to alter the ballot title for Alternative 42A, according to the appeal.

Although both Initiative 42 and Alternative 42A mandate “free public schools,” as does current law, Judge Kidd’s ballot title inexplicably deletes the word “free public” from the legislative alternative, thereby falsely implying to voters that one version would require “free public” schools while the other would not.

The legislative alternative, known as Alternative 42A, ensures public schools are effective in educating Mississippi’s children without subjecting statewide education policy decisions to a single judge in Hinds County. The Legislature passed the initiative to provide Mississippi voters with an alternative to Initiative 42, which allows a single Hinds County judge to make decisions that will have far-reaching consequences for the entire state.

JACKSON – When a Hinds County Circuit Court Judge rewrote a ballot initiative title, he exceeded his legal authority over the Legislature and the Attorney General, legislators said in an appeal filed today.

“Anyone comparing the Circuit Court’s ballot title for Alternative Measure No. 42A with General Hood’s ballot title for Initiative Measure No. 42 might reasonably suspect the Court of partiality,” the appeal states.

This dramatic shift in power away from locally-elected legislators is likely to result in significant tax increases, drastic cuts in state priorities – such as funding for universities, community colleges, University Medical Center, roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and even agricultural programs – or both.
The Legislature should retain its authority granted by the Mississippi Constitution to determine education policy and funding decisions.

“The ultimate enforcement of the Mississippi Constitution, of course, lies in the hands of its people,” the appeal states. “Voters dissatisfied with the Legislature’s discharge of its duties may vote to change the membership of the Legislature. Voters dissatisfied with this Court’s performance of its duties may vote to change the membership of this Court. What the voters of 81 counties and three-fourths of the voters of Hinds County cannot do is vote to change a Circuit Judge who elevates his view of truth and impartiality over that of the Attorney General elected by all Mississippians.”

Initiative 42 and Alternative 42A will be on the Nov. 3 ballot. Voters can also choose not to change the Constitution by voting “no” to both options.


5/22/15

Posted May 22, 2015 - 10:41 am

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RELEASE:

Wicker Announces Amtrak Stop Coming to Marks

Miss. Senator Says Rail Service to Delta Could Boost Economy, Tourism



WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today announced that an agreement has been reached between Quitman County officials, Amtrak, and Canadian National Railway to establish a permanent Amtrak stop in Marks, Mississippi. Wicker played an instrumental role in helping the parties achieve a final deal.



“This is a big win for the Delta and for Mississippi,” Wicker said. “Providing rail service to this part of the state will help boost economic development and tourism opportunities, while delivering an alternative means of transportation for tens of thousands of Mississippians. I commend local city and county leaders, Amtrak officials, and Canadian National Railway personnel for their hard work and persistence in reaching this agreement.”



The region has been without a convenient passenger rail stop for two decades. The City of Marks began the process of obtaining an Amtrak flag stop in August of 1995, after the train station in Batesville was closed. According to Quitman County officials, the stop would provide an essential transportation service for approximately 200,000 residents living in nine counties in the north Delta.




5/22/15

Posted May 22, 2015 - 10:37 am

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HINDS COUNTY JUDGE OVERSTEPPED AUTHORITY, LEGISLATURE ARGUES

When a Hinds County Circuit Court Judge rewrote a ballot initiative title, he exceeded his legal authority over the Legislature and the Attorney General, legislators said in an appeal filed today.

The Legislature filed documents at the state Supreme Court to preserve the wording of the Alternative 42A ballot title. In April, a Hinds County Circuit Judge refused to approve the Alternative 42A ballot title agreed upon by Attorney General Jim Hood and legislators.
State law does not allow the Circuit Court Judge to alter the ballot title for Alternative 42A, according to the appeal.

Although both Initiative 42 and Alternative 42A mandate “free public schools,” as does current law, Judge Kidd’s ballot title inexplicably deletes the word “free public” from the legislative alternative, thereby falsely implying to voters that one version would require “free public” schools while the other would not.

“Anyone comparing the Circuit Court’s ballot title for Alternative Measure No. 42A with General Hood’s ballot title for Initiative Measure No. 42 might reasonably suspect the Court of partiality,” the appeal states.

The legislative alternative, known as Alternative 42A, ensures public schools are effective in educating Mississippi’s children without subjecting statewide education policy decisions to a single judge in Hinds County. The Legislature passed the initiative to provide Mississippi voters with an alternative to Initiative 42, which allows a single Hinds County judge to make decisions that will have far-reaching consequences for the entire state.

This dramatic shift in power away from locally-elected legislators is likely to result in significant tax increases, drastic cuts in state priorities – such as funding for universities, community colleges, University Medical Center, roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and even agricultural programs – or both.

The Legislature should retain its authority granted by the Mississippi Constitution to determine education policy and funding decisions.

“The ultimate enforcement of the Mississippi Constitution, of course, lies in the hands of its people,” the appeal states. “Voters dissatisfied with the Legislature’s discharge of its duties may vote to change the membership of the Legislature. Voters dissatisfied with this Court’s performance of its duties may vote to change the membership of this Court. What the voters of 81 counties and three-fourths of the voters of Hinds County cannot do is vote to change a Circuit Judge who elevates his view of truth and impartiality over that of the Attorney General elected by all Mississippians.”

Initiative 42 and Alternative 42A will be on the Nov. 3 ballot. Voters can also choose not to change the Constitution by voting “no” to both options.


Joint Press Release
LG Tate Reeves and Speaker Philip Gunn
5/22/15


Posted May 22, 2015 - 10:33 am

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Mississippi Democrat chair Rickey Cole LTE:



To the Editor,

​County and town governments across Mississippi are the front line providers of service for our rural infrastructure, public safety, education and quality of life for hundreds of thousands of good, hard-working and law-abiding rural taxpayers. Local government is closest to the people.

​The vast majority of our local leaders put their heart into their work, and are effective, frugal managers of the public treasury. Sheriffs, supervisors and town officials know how to use a little to do a lot, and are often expected to “make bricks without straw” just to keep our rural communities going.

​It should be alarming to every Mississippian that Phil Bryant and the Republican establishment continue to put more responsibilities upon the backs of our local officials while at the same time continuing to take resources away from already-strapped rural communities. For instance, Bryant’s new head of the state prisons, who took over after years of major corruption in that agency on the Republican’s watch, has taken a misguided step that will make it much harder on our rural communities. He has ordered an end to the Joint State County Work Program for prisoners. This bureaucratic action will have the effect of taking millions of dollars away from our counties when it goes into effect August 1. Hardest hit will be our smallest counties and towns in the most rural areas of the state. These small communities rely upon this voluntary prison labor for road crews, maintenance of county and town buildings, and many other odd jobs that will now either have to be hired done, or, most likely, left undone for lack of local funds.

​Rural Mississippi has been forgotten by the Republican establishment in Jackson. Maybe Rural Mississippi should forget the Republicans on November 3rd.

​Respectfully,



​Rickey L. Cole




5/21/15

Posted May 22, 2015 - 10:32 am

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Posted May 22, 2015 - 10:31 am

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College Board selects interim Ole Miss chancellor


Ole Miss provost and vice chancellor for academic affairs Morris Stocks will assume chancellor's duties starting June 15, the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning announced Thursday afternoon.

He will officially become interim chancellor September 15, and remain there until the state College Board appoints current chancellor Dan Jones' permanent successor.

"It's with a mixture of sadness and joy that I make this transition," Jones said in a press release. "I'm certainly sad to not continue my role as chancellor but joyful both by the appointment of provost Morris Stocks as our next leader and joyful for my 30-year association with the university and my 12 years of leadership: six at the medical center and six as chancellor. Provost Stocks is responsible for many of the decisions that led to our rapid growth in enrollment and improvement in important metrics such as our freshman to sophomore retention rate. I know all the constituencies of our great university will support Dr. Stocks' leadership in the coming months."

Jones, whose contract was not renewed, will begin personal leave June 15. Stocks performed the bulk of Jones' duties while Jones took medical leave last fall and winter for lymphoma treatment.



ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/21/college-board-ole-miss-interim-chancellor/27716081/
5/21/15

Posted May 22, 2015 - 5:24 am

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Hernando mayor focused on winning transportation post despite race's new makeup



Tagert is now left to seek re-election for his current post in the August Republican primary against Johnson and Jimmie Mills of Lee County. The winner will face Democrat Danny Woods of Winona in the general election.

Johnson says he was prepared in case Tagert did not win the congressional race.

“People asked me to run and contributed money to my campaign, and I would be doing a disservice if I did not follow through,” Johnson added.



Commercial Appeal
http://www.commercialappeal.com/news/local-news/desoto/hernando-mayor-focused-on-winning-transportation-post-despite-races-new-makeup_73905709
5/20/15

Posted May 22, 2015 - 5:20 am

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Bill Minor: Barbour’s ‘goal’ for diversity in parties a joke


Haley Barbour recently told a black audience at Jackson State University that his goal was to see more racial diversity in the state’s two political parties. “Pepper and salt” is the way he described it.

What a laugh. The state’s master political engineer couldn’t be better satisfied with the current shape of the two parties. In the Legislature, he has virtually wiped out rural white Democrats and marginalized the reliable black Democratic strength.

Controlling the redistricting process, he has overseen gerrymandering of districts to a point able white Democrats see no chance of winning if they run. Barbour’s chief legislative foe had been Democratic House Speaker Billy McCoy, who he narrowly failed to oust in 2007. McCoy’s race to hold his position was so exhausting the veteran northeast lawmaker voluntarily stepped down in 2011.



ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/opinion/2015/05/21/minor-barbours-goal-diversity-parties-joke/27718559/
5/21/15

Posted May 22, 2015 - 5:13 am

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RELEASE:


COCHRAN: MISS. RIVER PROJECT FUNDING SECURED IN SENATE APPROPRIATIONS BILL



Appropriations Committee Approves FY2016 Bill with Funds for Army Corps Flood Control, Dredging Projects, Economic Development Programs



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, today reported committee passage of a bill that rejects an administration proposal to cut the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers budget by 17 percent and instead makes increased funding available for the Mississippi River and Tributaries Project (MR&T).



The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved the FY2016 Energy and Water Development Appropriations Bill that contains important funding for Army Corps of Engineers projects in Mississippi, the Delta Regional Authority, the Appalachian Regional Commission and other programs. The bill conforms to spending restrictions set by law and the recently-enacted FY2016 budget resolution.



“The resources approved in this appropriations bill for waterways management and flood control represent an effort to ensure public safety and increased commerce for Mississippi and other states in our region,” Cochran said. “I look forward to Senate consideration of this bill, which will support economic development in underserved areas while staying below statutory spending caps.”



The bill provides $330.0 million for MR&T, which is $105 million above the FY2015 enacted level. The bill sets aside $10.9 million for dredging on the Mississippi River, $60.0 million for flood control projects, and $39.0 million for other authorized project purposes. These additional pots of funding are intended for important infrastructure projects that were either underfunded or not funded at all in the President’s FY2016 Budget Request.



Overall, the bill provides $2.5 billion nationally for navigation projects and studies, including $1.2 billion in funding from the Harbor Maintenance Trust Fund and full use of estimated annual revenues from the Inland Waterways Trust Fund to advance American competitiveness and export capabilities. Another $1.4 billion is approved to support flood and storm damage reduction activities, including $310 million for the most critical dam safety improvements.



Important to the Corps Research and Development Center (ERDC) in Vicksburg, the bill provides $22.0 million for research and development performed by the Corps of Engineers. The majority of this research takes place at ERDC.



The FY2016 Energy and Water Development Bill is now available for consideration by the Senate. Highlights in the bill that are of interest to Mississippi include:



Mississippi River and Tributaries Project (MR&T): $330.0 million is included for the MR&T project. Of this funding, $10.9 million is set aside for dredging on the Mississippi River and $60 million is set aside for flood control projects.



Environmental Infrastructure Funding: $60 million was included for drinking water and wastewater infrastructure improvement projects nationwide. Mississippi has 31 active projects that could potentially benefit from this funding.



Research and Development: $22 million is included for research and development performed by the Army Corps of Engineers. The majority of this research takes place at the Corps Research and Development Center in Vicksburg, Mississippi.



Department of Energy Experimental Program to Stimulate Competitive Research (EPSCoR) Program: $20 million to support university research in states that have historically received less federal research funding. The University of Mississippi, Mississippi State University, the University of Southern Mississippi and Jackson State University, the four research universities in Mississippi, participate in the DOE EPSCoR program.



Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC): $105 million was included for the ARC, an economic development agency focusing on business development, education, and job training in thirteen states from Mississippi to western New York. This funding includes $10 million to support workforce training programs in south central Appalachia, which includes Mississippi.



Delta Regional Authority (DRA): $25 million is included for the DRA, which works to promote economic and community development in the Mississippi Delta region. This is the highest funding level for the DRA since its authorization in 2000.




5/21/15

Posted May 22, 2015 - 5:10 am

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RELEASE:


COCHRAN SUPPORTS MILITARY CONSTRUCTION FUNDING FOR ARMY RESERVE CENTER IN STARKVILLE

Senate Committee Approves FY2016 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs Appropriations Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations, today reported committee approval for federal funding needed to replace the aging Guy II & Will Jones U.S. Army Reserve Center (USARC) in Starkville.

The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved the FY2016 Military Construction and Veterans Affairs (MilCon-VA) Appropriations Bill, providing $9.3 million in Army Reserve funding to construct a new USARC. Overall, the legislation provides funding to equip and house military personnel, and increases funding for veterans' benefits and programs. The bill conforms to spending restrictions set by law and the FY2016 budget resolution.

"There's little doubt that the existing Army Reserve Center in Starkville has outlived its usefulness and needs to be replaced. The Army Reserve has put forward a plan to replace this dilapidated facility with a new facility that meets modern standards and, importantly, the training needs of the Army," Cochran said. "I appreciate that our Senate bill begins the process of making this funding available within the statutory spending caps."

A new USARC facility in Starkville has been certified by the Deputy Assistant Secretary of the Army for Installations, Housing and Partnerships to be considered for joint-use potential. The project was authorized in the FY2015 National Defense Authorization Act and included in the President's FY2016 budget request to Congress this year. Unlike the Senate bill, the FY2016 MilCon-VA bill approved by the House of Representatives did not include funding for the USARC project in Mississippi.

Increased funding for the Department of Veterans Affairs represents a major feature of the committee-passed bill, with a record level $163.8 billion in both discretionary and mandatory funding provided for the Department of Veterans Affairs. The added $4.6 billion over the FY2015 level will improve the provision of services and care earned by veterans through their dedicated service to our nation. A $1.1 billion discretionary increase would be available to improve patient access to care, and to support additional health care services including coverage of the drug to cure hepatitis C, veterans' caregiver services, and homeless veterans' assistance.

"We've made a concerted effort to provide significant new resources to give the Department of Veterans Affairs every chance to improve its performance and enhance delivery of health care, benefits and services to our nation's veterans. The bill increases funding for veterans in the areas where they need it the most-health care, benefit claims processing, medical research and technology upgrades," Cochran said. "Additionally, the bill includes necessary and vital new oversight measures, such as whistleblower protections and new construction reforms, to help ensure that the VA uses taxpayer resources much more wisely and effectively."

The bill funds the VA Electronic Health Record Program but restricts full usage of the funding until the VA demonstrates functional improvements in the exchange of veterans' medical data between the VA, Department of Defense and private health care providers. The bill also increases the oversight of major VA medical construction programs.

At Cochran's request the bill includes language directing the VA to continue reporting to Congress the details of its actions to resolve administration and care problems at the Gulf Coast Veterans Health Care System in Biloxi and the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport.

The FY2016 MilCon-VA Appropriations Bill is now available for consideration by the full Senate.



5/21/15

Posted May 22, 2015 - 5:08 am

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Gov. Bryant issues letter critical of Oxford House


Gov. Phil Bryant has sent a letter to the Department of Mental Health opposing the agency providing seed money to help Oxford House to open group homes in the state for recovering alcoholics and former drug addicts.

"The Department of Mental Health should end its financial support of Oxford House Inc. and its outreach workers," Bryant said in a May 20 letter to Department of Mental Health Executive Director Diana Mikula and board members. "Oxford House Inc. has has been more focused on expanding its footprint in Mississippi than on providing the time, peer support and living environment necessary to support long-term recovery for existing residents."


ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/21/phil-bryant-oxford-house-department-of-mental-health/27710583/
5/21/15

Posted May 22, 2015 - 5:05 am

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RELEASE:


MOAK AND HOUSE DEMOCRATS SLAM GOP EDUCATION DISASTER

HOUSE DEMOCRATIC CAUCUS PRESS


JACKSON – Democratic House leader Rep. Bobby Moak (D-Bogue Chitto) released the following statement about the Clarion Ledger’s Sunday story on the third grade reading gate calamity created by Republicans:

“This is the disastrous result of the Republican education plan that chronically underfunds our schools and then asks even more of our children. Several schools highlighted saw a majority -- over half -- of students in the third grade held back. Teachers and administrators are having to scramble to address this horrible mess – frequently by taking money out of their own pocket. The Republican Leadership has failed to fund education so that schools cannot hire reading interventionist and they refuse to pass Pre-K, which is vital for children reading by the third grade. Mississippi is the only state in the southern region that does not have full Pre-K.

Mississippi’s Republican political leaders have failed our schools and our state. They have repeatedly made one thing abundantly clear: you can be a Republican in Mississippi or you can support education, but you can't do both.”


5/21/15

Posted May 22, 2015 - 5:00 am

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Mississippi Coast delegation aware of Alabama's threat to casinos



BILOXI -- Members of the Coast legislative delegation had Alabama and taxes on their minds Wednesday morning. And for the most part, they don't care much for either of them.

Alabama got on their radar in the last week as they learned the neighboring state was considering casinos as a way to deal with its budget shortfall.

When District Attorney Joel Smith, who led the legislative update for the Mississippi Gulf Coast Chamber of Commerce at the Golden Nugget, asked what was the biggest threat to Coast casinos, state Sen. Tindell of Gulfport pointed east to Alabama.

3-hour drive to gaming

"When we started gaming back in 1992, us, Atlantic City and Vegas were the three major destinations," he said. "Now you are within a three-hour drive, in the Southeast, if you want to go to a casino.




SunHerald
http://www.sunherald.com/2015/05/20/6236502/mississippi-coast-delegation-aware.html#storylink=cpy
5/20/15

Posted May 21, 2015 - 5:08 am

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CRAWDADDY: Palazzo doubts Obama could take Biloxi if he ever decided to


Palazzo told the Sun Herald it was just routine training and had "nothing to do with marial law."

So even though President Barack Obama has never threatened to attack Mississippi and hadn't even visited the state until 2010 when he came to assess the effects of the BP disaster, that didn't stop Palazzo and Gallo wondering, "What if?"

“He may find himself arrested if he ever did issue that order (to take over Biloxi),” Palazzo said Tuesday on the Gallo Show. “And you’ve also gotta think, if you look at states like Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama, there’s probably more guns per capita per individual. If people are looking to take down a civilian population or overthrow a state, they’d probably start somewhere where the gun laws are a lot stricter than in the South.”


SunHerald
http://www.sunherald.com/2015/05/20/6236847_palazzo-doubts-obama-could-take.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
5/20/15

Posted May 21, 2015 - 5:02 am

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Cannady next tax assessor



Norman Cannady will be the next Tax Assessor for Madison County following a candidate's withdrawal from the August primary this week.

On Monday, Cannady's opponent John Evans, submitted a letter to Circuit Clerk Lee Westbrook asking he be taken off the candidate list.

"Please withdraw my name from the list of candidates for Madison County Tax Assessor for the 2015 election cycle," Evans wrote. "If there are any additional requirements for my removal from the list of candidates, please let me know."



Madison County Journal
http://onlinemadison.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=30243
5/20/15

Posted May 21, 2015 - 4:59 am

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WTOK
5/20/15

Posted May 21, 2015 - 4:56 am

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RELEASE:


Governor Phil Bryant headlines meeting for Trent Kelly with North Mississippi Realtors

WHO: Governor Phil Bryant, Trent Kelly, Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert, North Mississippi Realtors, Republican Chairman Joe Nosef, Fellow Republicans: Ed "Doc" Holliday, Starner Jones, Chip Mills, Daniel Sparks, Quentin Whitwell

WHAT: North Mississippi Realtors Meeting

WHERE: Tupelo Country Club | 4462 Winged Foot Road Belden, MS
Press to congregate on the side of the room. Attendees will be available for interviews after the luncheon.


WHEN: noon, Thursday, May 21

WHY: In support of Trent Kelly, Republican Candidate for the First District of Mississippi.



Posted May 21, 2015 - 4:53 am

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Cochran Mum on Extra $38 Billion for Defense


WASHINGTON — The chairman of the Senate subcommittee that doles out defense dollars is playing coy about whether he will include $38 billion in extra funds in his 2016 Pentagon spending bill.

The House and Senate Armed Services committees, followed this week by the House Appropriations Defense subcommittee, crafted legislation with nearly $90 billion overseas contingency operations (OCO) funds. That's $38 billion more than the White House requested — monies added by GOP leaders to secure defense hawks' votes on their 2016 budget blueprint.

CongressWatch on Wednesday asked Senate Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran, R-Miss., if he would do the same. Cochran kept his cards close.


Defense News
http://www.defensenews.com/story/defense/policy-budget/congress/2015/05/20/oco-republicans-war-fund/27645257/
5/20/15

Posted May 21, 2015 - 4:51 am

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Mississippi Democrats are rallying for Hillary Clinton in her bid for president in 2016. Here's an excerpt from a Mississippi Democratic Party email:


"We had a great time last night at the Hillary for America kickoff event in Jackson, MS! Couldn't make it? Don't sweat it! Grassroots supporters have organized TWO more kickoff events for the campaign!

"Hillary for America staff, local leaders, and supporters will be hosting a grassroots campaign kickoff event this Thursday, May 21st from 5:30 - 7:00pm at Hammontree's R. J. Barrel & Co. in Canton, MS! Then, on Saturday, May 23rd, join supporters in Cleveland, MS from 6:30 - 8:00 at our favorite restaurant - the Senator's Place!

"We're so excited to see communities organizing for a candidate who will fight for the middle class, for education, for labor, and for a stronger economy. We can't win the White House three times in a row without you - make sure you stop by!"


5/20/15

Posted May 21, 2015 - 4:45 am

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RELEASE:


Wicker Proposal Would Strengthen Public-Private Space Partnership

Miss. Senator Seeks Ways to Incorporate Existing NASA Facilities For Use In Commercial Space Flights



WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, today launched an effort to require the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to examine how existing NASA facilities, such as Stennis Space Center, can be incorporated into future commercial space licensing activities.



“We need to maximize the use of existing NASA facilities, such as Stennis Space Center,” Wicker said. “These test facilities, as well as precious tax dollars, could be better utilized by strengthening the commercial-public space partnership. I am hopeful this type of coordination will lead to a renaissance in American space flight.”



Wicker’s amendment was successfully added to the “Commercial Space Launch Competitiveness Act,” S. 1297. The bill was passed by the Commerce Committee today and now awaits consideration by the full Senate.



Specifically, the amendment would direct the Secretary of Transportation and the FAA to include an assessment of how existing test facilities can be used in future licensing activities. The report to Congress would also examine ways to streamline licensing and permitting processes of both launch and reentry vehicles.


5/20/15

Posted May 21, 2015 - 4:43 am

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RELEASE:

Cochran: USDA & FDA Know There’s No Duplication. Why Don’t Opponents Of Catfish Inspection Program?

Senator Stresses USDA Alone Responsible for Ensuring Safe Imports Under Inspection Program

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today continued his defense of a catfish inspection program by drawing attention to a federal agency agreement that disproves arguments that the new inspection program will be a duplicative.

To make his point, Cochran on Wednesday emphasized an April 30, 2014, memorandum of understanding, or MOU, signed between the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) that adheres to a 2014 farm bill directive for the agencies to clarify and differentiate their new inspection responsibilities.

Cochran is fighting for the authorized USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) catfish inspection program established in the 2008 farm bill, continuing to reinforce that the new program will be a more robust, efficient and affordable instrument for ensuring the safety of imported catfish served to American families. An amendment filed to a pending Senate trade promotion bill would terminate the USDA program.

“The catfish program will enhance consumer safety, but it will not duplicate activities between federal agencies. Catfish inspection responsibilities will be transferred to the Department of Agriculture alone and not shared with any other agency,” said Cochran in battling the oft-repeated and incorrect opinion that the USDA effort would create unnecessary duplication of efforts by separate government agencies.

“The facts couldn’t be any plainer. There will be no duplication of effort, no matter how many times that falsehood is repeated by the defenders of the existing minimal U.S. standards for certifying the safety of catfish imports,” Cochran said.

On May 8, 2015, the Secretary of Agriculture provided the following in a letter to Senate and House agriculture appropriations committees: “As previously reported, FSIS and FDA completed and signed the MOU on April 30, 2014. The agencies believe the MOU will ensure that inspection oversight will be non-duplicative and that requirements for domestic and foreign Siluriformes products will be met in accordance with the intent of Congress.”

“The U.S. Department of Agriculture is preparing its final rule on the mandatory inspection of domestic and imported catfish, which is intended to ensure that all catfish for consumption in the United States is safe and free of unapproved drugs,” Cochran said.

Cochran and U.S. Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) on Tuesday together argued on the Senate floor that the USDA program should be implemented to ensure the safety of catfish imported to U.S. markets and criticized government directives to the FSIS to discount the risks of cancer and heavy metal exposure in imported catfish products. (http://1.usa.gov/1AdUFdW)


5/20/15

Posted May 21, 2015 - 4:42 am

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Absentee voting in congressional runoff begins


The run-off will be June 2 with Union Countians again voting at all 20 precincts. The winner this time will complete the remaining year and a half of Nunnelee’s term.

Circuit Clerk Stanford expected to have absentee ballots ready after the May 12 total was certified this week.

Her office is scheduled to be open from 8 a.m. until noon Saturday and the following Saturday, May 30, for the convenience of absentee voters who are unable to get to the courthouse during regular business hours Monday through Friday.

Special elections traditionally have low turnouts, as do runoffs, so Union County participation could be even lower than the 25 percent of 16,011 registered voters who when to the polls May 12.



New Albany Gazette
http://newalbanygazette.com/2015/05/20/absentee-voting-in-congressional-runoff-begins/
5/20/15

Posted May 21, 2015 - 4:37 am

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FoFo riffs on Phil, MSGOP


New Biloxi Mayor FoFo Gilich -- a Republican, mind you -- poked a little fun at Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov Tate Reeves and the state's GOP chairman, all of whom had endorsed his opponent, in his first speech since taking office after his May 12 election....


...But he appears to be a pretty good sport about it, and has a sense of humor. In a speech to the Harrison County Republican Club on Wednesday, Gilich had a little fun with his intro:

Good afternoon, my fellow Demo— Republicans. Thank you for inviting me today.
I'm here to assure you that rumors of my party affiliation have been greatly exaggerated. And just to satisfy any lingering doubters let me say this:
"I pledge allegiance,
"To the Republican Party,
"And to the Republicans for whom it stands,
"One state, under Phil
"Occasionally divisible
"With endorsements not available to all."
I hope all of you appreciate my sense of humor, because if you're going to run for public office, you better have one.



ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/politicalledger/2015/05/20/fofo-gilich-speech/27657655/
5/20/15

Posted May 21, 2015 - 4:31 am

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RELEASE:


Gov. Bryant and MSGOP Chairman Nosef to Lead Unity Rally Supporting Republican Congressional Candidate Trent Kelly

Tomorrow (Thursday) in Tupelo, at noon, please join Governor Phil Bryant, MSGOP Chairman Joe Nosef, and former Republican candidates in the special election for the First Congressional District at a unity rally in support of Republican candidate Trent Kelly, who will face Democrat Walter Zinn in the June 2 runoff election. The noon rally will be held in conjunction with the North Mississippi Realtors Meeting at the Tupelo Country Club, 4462 Winged Foot Road, Belden, MS. The media is welcome to attend.

5/19/15

Posted May 20, 2015 - 10:49 am

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I’m honored to once again receive the endorsement of the Mississippi Association of REALTORS for my re-election campaign. Since my time in the Mississippi Senate and the past eight years as State Auditor, the Mississippi Association of REALTORS has been a great friend to me.

REALTORS represent an integral part of the fabric that makes our local communities grow and improve our quality of life across Mississippi. They understand the importance of transparency, accountability, hard work, and the American dream.

With your help, I will continue to work towards bringing transparency and accountability that Mississippians desire to see in our government.

Please know that Whitney and I covet your prayers and support as we continue to campaign across our great state.

Serving Mississippi Together,
Stacey Pickering

Stacey Pickering Press Release
5/20/15

Posted May 20, 2015 - 8:11 am

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Wicker Champions Shipbuilding, Nat’l Guard Priorities in Defense Bill



WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, successfully included a number of provisions in this year’s “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA). This legislation authorizes defense spending and sets the policy and priorities for our military, including authorization for Navy shipbuilding on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The measure awaits consideration by the full Senate.



“This year, we have assembled a bipartisan reform bill to help ensure that our military remains the best-trained, best-equipped, and most professional fighting force in the world,” Wicker said. “In the Seapower Subcommittee, Senator Hirono and I have focused on taking tangible steps to ensure the Navy’s acquisition and procurement strategies provide the best value to both the taxpayer and the warfighter.”



The bill, which passed the committee by a vote of 22-4, authorizes $612 billion in funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) and the national security programs of the Department of Energy.



Equipping U.S. Naval Forces with New Amphibious Ships



“I am pleased to announce that the bill includes a provision to authorize $199 million in advance procurement for an additional America-class amphibious assault ship, as well as $80 million in research and development funding for the next generation of amphibious ships,” Wicker said. “Amphibious warships send a powerful signal to our adversaries and allies that America’s military remains strong. This effort would help guarantee that our sailors and Marines have dependable and modern equipment when defending America in dangerous and hostile parts of the world.”



The nation’s current amphibious fleet of 30 ships falls short of Global Combatant Commander requirements, which call for over 50 amphibious ships. Earlier this year, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert told the Senate Armed Services Committee that, “Amphibious forces play a very important part in what we call the new normal: the ability to respond quickly to counterterrorism, to piracy, and to support our forces and defend Americans abroad, especially in our embassies.”



Ensuring the Vitality of the National Guard



The committee included provisions supported by Wicker to maintain National Guard personnel levels and prevent additional Apache helicopters from being transferred away from the Army National Guard.



“The National Guard is the ready reserve force of the Army,” Wicker said. “I am pleased the committee continues to resist the Obama Administration’s efforts to reduce Army personnel and reorganize its aviation program pending the findings of an independent commission assessment of the Army’s needs.”



Last year’s “National Defense Authorization Act” included a provision authorized by Senator Wicker and Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that created a commission to study the future of the Army. This independent commission is required to make a recommendation on size and force structure to Congress by February 2016.



Modernizing the Army’s Air Fleet



Wicker succeeded in securing a provision to authorize $187.2 million in procurement for 28 UH-72A Light Utility Helicopters (LUH). These helicopters would be used to replace the Army’s legacy aviation training aircraft. Last year, the Secretary of Defense directed the Army to procure additional LUH for training rather than transfer aircraft away from the National Guard.



Preventing Military Suicide



The committee included provisions based on the “Military and Veterans Mental Health Provider Assessment Act of 2015” coauthored by Senator Wicker and Senator Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., requiring the Secretary of Defense to ensure that all primary care and mental health care providers of the Department of Defense receive evidence-based training on the recognition, assessment, and management of individuals at risk for suicide.



Ensuring Religious Freedom in the Military



The committee included a provision supported by Senator Wicker that encourages the Department of Defense to continue supporting service members’ rights to express sincerely held religious beliefs. This provision communicates to the Department of Defense that it should honor a provision in public law authored by Senator Wicker in 2013, stating that “Unless it could have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline, the Armed Services shall accommodate individual expressions of belief.”




5/19/15

Posted May 20, 2015 - 5:01 am

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Hattiesburg council turns down police chief nominee



For the third time since January, the Hattiesburg City Council rejected a candidate for police chief brought forward for consideration by Mayor Johnny DuPree.

A motion was made Tuesday by Ward 2 Councilwoman Deborah Delgado to approve former Jackson Police Department Deputy Chief Ronald Sampson Sr. as chief, but the motion died for a lack of second from any of the other four councilmen.

Sampson, who currently assists the chief deputy at the Hinds County Sheriff's Office, had been demoted twice in a short stretch between 2008 and 2009, once for an incident involving alleged sexist and racist remarks and another for discrepancies in a fuel card program he oversaw.

DuPree said Sampson had been cleared in both instances, and that the council chose to focus on the accusations instead of the outcome.



Hattiesburg American
http://www.hattiesburgamerican.com/story/news/local/hattiesburg/2015/05/19/council-rejects-apartments-chief/27618013/
5/19/15

Posted May 20, 2015 - 4:58 am

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RELEASE:


COCHRAN & WICKER USE CANCER RISK EVIDENCE TO DEFEND CATFISH INSPECTION PROGRAM

Senate Tout USDA Inspection Program Intended to Improve Consumer Protection



WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today rose in defense of a long-awaited catfish inspection program, pointing to evidence that government officials directed inspection agencies to not consider cancer risks or exposure to heavy metal, like lead or mercury, when assessing foreign catfish production despite overwhelming evidence of their prevalence in imported products.

The Mississippi Senators on Tuesday addressed the Senate in support of a pending U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) catfish inspection program that is again under assault as the Senate considers trade promotion legislation. An amendment offered to the bill would terminate the USDA inspection program, which was first authorized in the 2008 farm bill.

"It is past the time to set the record straight about U.S. Department of Agriculture catfish inspection. It has nothing to do with trade and everything to do with the health and safety of American consumers, who are exposed to dangerous chemicals and unapproved drugs in the imported fish they eat," Cochran said. "The FDA oversight program to ensure the safety of imported seafood from residues of unapproved drugs is very limited, especially as compared with the practices of other developed countries. According to the Department of Agriculture, and other federal agencies, the Food and Drug Administration inspects only 1 percent of all imported seafood products. This is just not acceptable."

"Efforts to cast the program as a waste of government spending are not based in fact," Wicker said. "Once implemented, this non-duplicative program would provide critical safety benefits for consumers in all 50 states. Currently, more than 98 percent of imported catfish - often containing carcinogens, harmful microbials, and heavy metals - are not being inspected before they reach our markets. This program, passed by Congress and signed into law in 2008, would help protect the American people from being exposed to these unacceptable contaminants."

As part of their argument, Cochran and Wicker released an excerpt of a draft USDA rule from 2009 that asserted transferring catfish inspection to the USDA from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) would result in a reduction of 175,000 lifetime cancers, 95 million exposures to antimicrobials, and 23 million exposures to heavy metal. According to the Government Accountability Office, the White House Office of Management and Budget, however, quashed that rule and directed the USDA Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) to focus on salmonella risks rather than cancer risks or heavy metal exposures.

Because the FDA inspects less than 1 percent of imports and only at U.S. borders, there remains a risk that American consumers are being exposed to the unapproved drugs and chemicals use by producers in developing countries to enhance yields and address diseases associated with overcrowded catfish ponds.

The USDA, on the other hand, inspects 100 percent of the farm-raised protein sources like poultry, pork and beef that are imported into the United States. The FSIS inspection process extends to overseas points of origin to monitor and prevent the importation of products containing substances banned for use by the United States.

While authorizing the FSIS-led inspection program in the 2008 farm bill, Congress used the 2014 farm bill to clarify and differentiate the responsibilities of the FSIS and FDA, creating a clearly separate and non-duplicative inspection regimen for farm-raised catfish.

"The catfish inspection program will enhance consumers' safety, but it will not result in duplication of activities by U. S. government agencies. Upon publication of final regulations, catfish inspection responsibilities will be transferred to and not shared with the Department of Agriculture. Claims to the contrary are just false," Cochran concluded.

The Senate is attempting to finalize legislation that would authorize Trade Promotion Authority, a process by which negotiations on international trade agreements can be expedited.


5/19/15

Posted May 20, 2015 - 4:54 am

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Catfish Battle Erupts in US Senate Trade Debate



U.S. Senate debate over a bill to facilitate approval of a mammoth, 12-nation Pacific Rim free trade pact was mired Tuesday in a squabble over catfish, a whiskered, fresh-water fish commercially farmed in the United States that faces competition from Asian imports of a similar species. The controversy illuminates domestic political hurdles for trade legislation, as lawmakers contend with a multitude of local interests affected by international competition....


...That spat spilled onto the Senate floor Tuesday, when Republican John McCain decried a measure that smells fishy (suspicious) to Vietnam and other TPP nations: enhanced U.S. government inspections of an Asian-produced catfish equivalent.

“The true purpose of the catfish program is to create a trade barrier to protect a small, handful of catfish farmers in two or three southern states – one of the most brazen and reckless protectionist programs that I have encountered in my time in the U.S. Senate," said McCain.

The 2008 U.S. farm bill mandated a new catfish inspection regime run by the Agriculture Department. All other seafood sold in America is tested by the Food and Drug Administration...


...According to Republican Senator Roger Wicker, the real issue is not protectionism, it’s the health of American consumers. Wicker represents Mississippi, one of America’s biggest catfish producers.

“What this is about is food safety for Americans in 50 states who deserve to know that the fish they are eating is unadulterated," said Wicker.

Wicker says Asian-produced seafood has been found to have higher levels of chemicals and other contaminants.

“We’re talking about cancer! Many overseas productions are simply not operated under the sanitary conditions that we insist upon in the United States with our farm-raised catfish," he said.



Voice of America
http://www.voanews.com/content/catfish-battle-erupts-in-us-senate-trade-debate/2778516.html
5/19/15

Posted May 20, 2015 - 4:50 am

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Lt. Gov. Reeves speaks to Forrest-Lamar Republican Women




Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves has praised the Hattiesburg-area for its unity in the wake of the shooting deaths of two Hattiesburg police officers earlier this month.

Tuesday, Reeves was the featured speaker during a meeting of Forrest-Lamar Republican Women in Oak Grove.

Reeves said the Hattiesburg community showed the nation and the world that it appreciates and stands behind local law officers.


WDAM
http://www.wdam.com/story/29104630/lt-gov-reeves-speaks-to-forrest-lamar-republican-women
5/19/15

Posted May 20, 2015 - 4:45 am

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Investigation underway at Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport


Problems are coming to light at the Armed Forces Retirement Home in Gulfport. Through emails and Facebook posts, we've heard from residents at the retirement facility who complain about substandard medical care, inadequate food and issues with other basic necessities.

Now, we've learned those complaints are getting a response from Washington.

WLOX News reached out to Rep. Steven Palazzo's office. A spokesperson for the congressman says his office was made aware of the allegations late last week...


...Palazzo's spokesperson said, “We've been told by AFRH that several employees have been temporarily removed and a full investigation is underway.”



WBRC
http://www.myfoxal.com/story/29105405/investigation-underway-at-armed-forces-retirement-home-in-gulfport
5/19/15

Posted May 20, 2015 - 4:41 am

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Wicker Champions Shipbuilding, Nat’l Guard Priorities in Defense Bill

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Subcommittee on Seapower, successfully included a number of provisions in this year’s “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA). This legislation authorizes defense spending and sets the policy and priorities for our military, including authorization for Navy shipbuilding on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. The measure awaits consideration by the full Senate.

“This year, we have assembled a bipartisan reform bill to help ensure that our military remains the best-trained, best-equipped, and most professional fighting force in the world,” Wicker said. “In the Seapower Subcommittee, Senator Hirono and I have focused on taking tangible steps to ensure the Navy’s acquisition and procurement strategies provide the best value to both the taxpayer and the warfighter.”

The bill, which passed the committee by a vote of 22-4, authorizes $612 billion in funding for the Department of Defense (DOD) and the national security programs of the Department of Energy.

Equipping U.S. Naval Forces with New Amphibious Ships

“I am pleased to announce that the bill includes a provision to authorize $199 million in advance procurement for an additional America-class amphibious assault ship, as well as $80 million in research and development funding for the next generation of amphibious ships,” Wicker said. “Amphibious warships send a powerful signal to our adversaries and allies that America’s military remains strong. This effort would help guarantee that our sailors and Marines have dependable and modern equipment when defending America in dangerous and hostile parts of the world.”

The nation’s current amphibious fleet of 30 ships falls short of Global Combatant Commander requirements, which call for over 50 amphibious ships. Earlier this year, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert told the Senate Armed Services Committee that, “Amphibious forces play a very important part in what we call the new normal: the ability to respond quickly to counterterrorism, to piracy, and to support our forces and defend Americans abroad, especially in our embassies.”

Ensuring the Vitality of the National Guard

The committee included provisions supported by Wicker to maintain National Guard personnel levels and prevent additional Apache helicopters from being transferred away from the Army National Guard.

“The National Guard is the ready reserve force of the Army,” Wicker said. “I am pleased the committee continues to resist the Obama Administration’s efforts to reduce Army personnel and reorganize its aviation program pending the findings of an independent commission assessment of the Army’s needs.”

Last year’s “National Defense Authorization Act” included a provision authorized by Senator Wicker and Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., that created a commission to study the future of the Army. This independent commission is required to make a recommendation on size and force structure to Congress by February 2016.

Modernizing the Army’s Air Fleet

Wicker succeeded in securing a provision to authorize $187.2 million in procurement for 28 UH-72A Light Utility Helicopters (LUH). These helicopters would be used to replace the Army’s legacy aviation training aircraft. Last year, the Secretary of Defense directed the Army to procure additional LUH for training rather than transfer aircraft away from the National Guard.

Preventing Military Suicide

The committee included provisions based on the “Military and Veterans Mental Health Provider Assessment Act of 2015” coauthored by Senator Wicker and Senator Joe Donnelly, D-Ind., requiring the Secretary of Defense to ensure that all primary care and mental health care providers of the Department of Defense receive evidence-based training on the recognition, assessment, and management of individuals at risk for suicide.

Ensuring Religious Freedom in the Military

The committee included a provision supported by Senator Wicker that encourages the Department of Defense to continue supporting service members’ rights to express sincerely held religious beliefs. This provision communicates to the Department of Defense that it should honor a provision in public law authored by Senator Wicker in 2013, stating that “Unless it could have an adverse impact on military readiness, unit cohesion, and good order and discipline, the Armed Services shall accommodate individual expressions of belief.”

Sen. Roger Wicker Press Release
5/19/15

Posted May 19, 2015 - 3:49 pm

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Cory Wilson Endorsed by Home Builders

The Home Builders Association of Mississippi has endorsed Republican Cory Wilson for Madison County’s House District 73. The endorsement for Madison’s new House seat is significant given the importance of home construction in Madison County, one of the state’s fastest-growing communities. The Home Builders’ endorsement of Cory Wilson also comes in an open seat Republican primary, something that indicates the strength of the Home Builders’ support.

“Cory Wilson knows how important home construction and the housing market are to Mississippi’s economy, and his conservative, pro-business principles are in line with our priorities,” said HBAM Executive Vice President Marty Milstead. “We’re with Wilson, because Cory will support growth, jobs, and infrastructure, both in Madison County and across the state.”

“I am honored and excited to have the support of the Home Builders Association of Mississippi,” stated Wilson. “Home Builders play a key role in Madison County’s growth, and I look forward to working with them to grow our economy and strengthen our quality of life.”

In addition to the support of the Home Builders Association of Mississippi, Cory Wilson has been endorsed by the Mississippi Manufacturers Association PAC and the Mississippi Association of REALTORS® Political Action Committee.

Cory Wilson Press Release
5/19/15

Posted May 19, 2015 - 2:51 pm

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Catfish swimming into trade debate

Given his long history with Vietnam, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) has been beating the drum against the catfish rule for years. The Navy veteran and former POW is now partnered with Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) and Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), two allies of the seafood industry. And Isakson used his position on the Senate Finance Committee to win assurances last month that an amendment will be allowed as part of the floor debate on the pending trade promotion authority bill.

“I am confident that this will be addressed on the Senate floor,” Finance Chairman Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) told Isakson in the April markup.

Hatch made good on the promise under an agreement reached Monday night, allowing the catfish amendment to be called up on the trade bill. What lies ahead is still uncertain, but the air is already thick with righteous rhetoric from pro-business editorial pages. And taking no chances, catfish’s Southern allies are calling in chits from commodity groups and threatening appropriations projects for those who stand against them.

The increased bullying appears driven by staff serving Sen. Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), a powerhouse on the Agriculture and Appropriations committees and the chief author of the catfish program. At 77, Cochran himself is the very image of the gentle, small-town Southern lawyer, but his aides have clearly felt free to put pressure on commodity groups and Isakson to fall in line.

The war of nerves began last month when a cooking tin of fried catfish was delivered by Cochran’s staff to Isakson’s office within days of the Finance markup on the trade bill. This was followed by not-so-subtle hints that future appropriations for projects important to Georgia’s ports and a major poultry research facility in the state could be affected down the road.

Cochran’s new chief of staff, Keith Heard, a veteran lobbyist on commodity issues, weighed in directly to press typically pro-trade agriculture groups to sign onto a May 4 letter opposing any amendment on the trade bill. “It was done under duress,” said one close observer. “Keith Heard put the hammer down.”


POLITICO
5/19/15

Posted May 19, 2015 - 8:31 am

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MAEP Initiative Hearings Scheduled

Jackson, Miss.—Eight hearings for Initiative Measure 42 and Alternative Measure 42A will be held across the State. The Secretary of State’s Office is required by State law to hold at least one hearing in each of the old five Congressional districts.

“Our Agency wants to give as many Mississippians as possible the opportunity to attend one of the initiative hearings. We have scheduled more hearings than required in geographically proportionate areas across the State to grant more access to our citizens to have a voice in this process,” says Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

Secretary Hosemann adds, “This is true democracy in action. Each side will be given the opportunity to voice his or her opinion on both Initiative Measure 42 and Alternative Measure 42A and the public will be given the opportunity to comment.”

All hearings will be transcribed and placed on the Secretary of State’s website at http://www.sos.ms.gov. The Secretary of State’s Office will accept written comments as well for inclusion on the website.

Mississippi voters will have the opportunity to either vote in favor of or against Initiative Measure 42 and Alternative Measure 42A on the November 3, 2015 General Election.

All hearings will begin promptly at 5:30 pm. The hearing dates are as follows:

Jackson - August 11
JSU e-Center

Hernando - August 13
Gale Center

Tupelo - August 17
The Link Centre

Meridian - August 20
Temple Theater

Cleveland - August 27
Bologna Center – Delta State University

Hattiesburg - September 1
Jackie Dole Sherrill Community Center

Biloxi - September 3
Lynn Meadows Center

Brookhaven – September 8
MS School for the Arts - Auditorium

SOS Delbert Hosemann Press Release
5/19/15


Posted May 19, 2015 - 7:46 am

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Legislators applaud FAA for progress with drone research program


U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker was among a group of lawmakers who last week voiced their support for the Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Center of Excellence for Unmanned Aircraft Systems to develop technologies and policies for drones in the United States.

The show of support came after the FAA also selected the Alliance of System Safety of Unmanned Aircraft Systems through Research Excellence (ASSURE), a group of universities led by Mississippi State University (MSU), to review issues that are critical to integrating drones into the U.S. airspace.

“Advances in unmanned aircraft systems are making a big impact on the ways we live and work – revolutionizing how we engage with the world,” Wicker said. “These technologies help create tens of thousands of jobs, grow our crops more efficiently, improve our response to humanitarian crises and protect our troops. This consortium of research universities, led by Mississippi State University, will play a leading role in the future development of this exciting, emerging field.”

Joining Wicker in praising the FAA were Sens. Thad Cochran (R-MS), John Hoeven (R-ND) and Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), along with Reps. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) and Gregg Harper (R-MS).



Ripon Advance
http://riponadvance.com/stories/510545418-legislators-applaud-faa-for-progress-with-drone-research-program#sthash.1gVbXybz.dpuf
5/18/15

Posted May 19, 2015 - 6:44 am

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Candidates fail to file mandatory May reports




Nearly half of the candidates running for countywide office failed to file required campaign finance reports by end of business Friday, including several incumbents.

Neither District 5 Supervisor Paul Griffin nor his opponent Michael Jolly filed reports by Monday morning.

John S. Evans, who is facing off against Norman Cannady Jr. for the open Tax Assessor seat, had not submitted his finance report. Cannady submitted his on Friday. Sheriff Randy Tucker submitted his report but his challenger Renarldo Manning did not.

According to Circuit Clerk Lee Westbrook, there is nobody to "police" the reports, and that her office files the documents and sends a copy to the Secretary of State's office.



Madison County Journal
http://onlinemadison.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=30220
5/13/15

Posted May 19, 2015 - 5:14 am

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Bomgar leads in fundraising



Barbara Blackmon reported no money raised, spent, or on hand.

She faces off against Kenny Wayne Jones for the District 21 Senate seat. Jones reported having nearly $10,000 cash on hand after raising that much since January.


Madison County Journal
http://onlinemadison.com/main.asp?SectionID=1&SubSectionID=1&ArticleID=30221
5/13/15

Posted May 19, 2015 - 5:10 am

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Phil Bryant: Criminal class vs. law enforcement



It is becoming apparent that a deadly conflict now exists between the criminal class and law enforcement across America. Make no mistake, this is not a racial conflict or a new civil rights movement by a group of Americans segregated and abused. This is an attack on law enforcement — a profession which includes the necessary burden to interact with violent and drug induced behavior by the criminal class.

As a former law enforcement officer, I can assure you no officer wants to be involved in a physical conflict with any citizen, even after they have probable cause to believe the suspect has committed a crime. The officers are trained to use only the necessary amount of force to affect the arrest.

Now comes the narrative of law enforcement officers who allegedly profile based on race, even when the police officers are minorities and when the suspect has violated the law. The incidents can easily be avoided and lives saved. Simply put, if you don't violate the law, disobey a police officer during an intervention and don't resist arrest, your chances of being in conflict with an officer are non-existent.



ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/opinion/columnists/2015/05/16/bryant-criminal-class-law-enforcement/27456815/
5/16/15

Posted May 19, 2015 - 4:58 am

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6 new judge posts on Nov 3. ballot



Judicial candidates run without party labels, and the six new judges will take office Jan. 1 to serve abbreviated, three-year terms. Starting with the next regularly scheduled judicial elections in 2019, the judges in the new posts will serve regular, four-year terms.

House Bill 703 provides for one new judge each in the:

— 4th Chancery District in Amite, Franklin, Pike and Walthall counties.

— 11th Chancery District in Holmes, Leake, Madison and Yazoo counties.

— 20th Chancery District in Rankin County.

— 12th Circuit District in Forrest and Perry counties.

—13th Circuit District in Covington, Jasper, Simpson, and Smith.

— 15th Circuit District in Jefferson Davis, Lamar, Lawrence, Marion and Pearl River counties.

— 20th Circuit District in Madison and Rankin counties....



...Currently, Mississippi has 49 chancery judges in 20 districts. That moves up to 52 judges in the same number of districts.



ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/politics/2015/05/17/new-judge-posts-nov-ballot/27505831/
5/17/15

Posted May 19, 2015 - 4:53 am

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Cash-strapped schools face 3rd-grade crisis


Many of Yazoo City's roughly 100 third graders who failed the test did so by narrow margins. With intense remediation through the district's two summer reading institutes, Lovette hopes at least half will pass the test on the second or third try and advance to the fourth grade.

Even then, they'll likely need additional help. The law requires districts to provide specialized instruction to students who repeat the third grade and to those who just barely made it to fourth.

All of it comes at a cost. To deliver remedial instruction, districts must use highly-qualified literacy teachers or interventionists, whose salaries average about $60,000 per year, according to figures from the Mississippi Department of Education. The law caps at 40 the number of students each interventionist can handle, meaning districts will need 140 of them next year if the current numbers hold.

That's $8.4 million statewide.


ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/17/cash-strapped-schools-face-rd-grade-crisis/27511867/
5/18/15

Posted May 19, 2015 - 4:48 am

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Chris McDaniel: Mississippians’ tears neither black nor white



We proudly watched as thousands of Mississippians of every race, as well as the young and the elderly, stood along the roadsides to pay their final respects as the funeral procession passed by. For Liquori Tate, who was buried in Starkville, his procession stretched for miles as it traveled on the interstate headed northward as thousands more stood on overpasses to honor him.

This is but one recent example of our people at their very best. The people of Mississippi are still as kind and generous as they come, leading the nation in charitable giving, compassion, generosity and church membership.

The problem is not with the good and decent people inhabiting our great state and nation, but with the racial demagogues who preach the destructive divisiveness of racial politics, engaging in race-baiting and despicable appeals to primitive instincts for personal gain and political expediency.



ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/opinion/2015/05/18/mcdaniel-mississippians-tears-neither-black-white/27546457/
5/18/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 6:52 pm

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Entergy says grid manager savings exceed projections

Entergy Corp. estimates its electrical customers in Arkansas, Louisiana, Mississippi and Texas saved more than $250 million during the first year of Entergy’s membership in a regional grid manager.

Customer savings are building more quickly than Entergy estimated before joining the Indiana-based Midcontinent Independent Transmission System Operator in late 2013. Entergy had estimated $1.4 billion in customer savings over a decade.

MISO directs electricity flows across parts of 15 states and the Canadian province of Manitoba. It seeks to make sure power is generated at the cheapest possible plant, even if it’s generated faraway instead of at a nearby plant owned by Entergy. It also manages investment in new transmission lines, to ensure smooth power flows.



Clarion Ledger
5/14/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 5:03 pm

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Our first video!! Please watch, like and share, and encourage your friends to do the same. More to follow...

Posted by Billingsley for Senate, District 25 on Monday, May 18, 2015


Posted May 18, 2015 - 11:36 am

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Trent Lott's Firm Made a Fortune Lobbying for the Kremlin

The Kremlin and Big Oil are stuffing more money into Washington’s influence machine as Europe and the U.S. renew their commitment to Russian sanctions.

While Russia may be angry about international sanctions over the Ukraine conflict, Beltway lawyers are mopping up and big names in lobbying are piling in.

Consider that last year, the Washington, D.C., lobbying firm of former Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott raked in $300,000 from Kremlin-controlled OAO Gazprombank, which was a target of sanctions. The Gazprombank billings for Lott’s firm are about double what Lott made in annual salary during any of his 18 years in the Senate.


Bloomberg
5/18/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 9:54 am

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Decision could trigger overhaul of Obamacare

In the coming weeks, the Supreme Court will issue a highly anticipated ruling on the case of King v. Burwell. The lawsuit alleges that the Obama Administration went beyond the law in implementing the President’s health-care subsidies and mandates.

At the heart of the judges’ decision will be whether the executive branch ignored the statute passed by Congress and instead enacted policies to serve the administration’s political interests.

According to the plaintiffs, the Internal Revenue Service’s practice of applying subsidies to both state and federal insurance marketplaces, or “exchanges,” unilaterally broadens the scope of the health-care law and federal spending. The law as written allows subsidies for insurance plans only through exchanges “established by the State,” not by the federal government.

The King v. Burwell decision could present a prime opportunity to create a better way forward, but Congress will have to act quickly. Without a backup plan, Americans currently receiving federal subsidies to pay for their health insurance – mandated by Obamacare in the first place – could abruptly lose their coverage.

The White House has offered no alternatives if the Supreme Court overturns its implementation of the law, putting the health care of millions of Americans at risk. But Republicans are ready with a plan that offers relief until better reforms can be put in place.

Daily Journal
5/17/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 9:41 am

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Tupelo to get 'first lady' after mayor pops question to former Miss Mississippi



Tupelo will soon have a new first lady.

Mayor Jason Shelton's recent engagement to Fulton native and former Miss Mississippi Chelsea Rick means the beauty queen will soon have a new crown to wear in Tupelo.

Shelton asked Rick to marry him last Saturday near the rose garden at City Hall, where the couple walked nearly one year ago during their first date.



SunHerald
http://www.sunherald.com/2015/05/17/6231977_tupelo-to-get-first-lady-after.html?rh=1#storylink=cpy
5/17/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 9:23 am

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Sam Hall: MS01 had good storylines, but runoff won't be one



Kelly is all but certain to be the next U.S. congressman from Mississippi's first district....



...Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert, an early favorite, came in third. He now faces re-election for his current office. The real story here, however, is that he faces what could be a serious challenger in Hernando Mayor Chip Johnson. It was originally thought that Johnson announced his bid for transportation commissioner as a placeholder should Tagert eventually run for and win the congressional race. Of course, Johnson said at the time of his qualifying for the state office that he was in the race regardless of what happened in the congressional race, but what was he supposed to say?...


...Tagert is well liked, well connected and well funded. However, he just faced a tough loss in the Congressional race, and Desoto County is more than in play with Johnson on the ballot. If Johnson runs hard, he could make a race of it.



ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/opinion/columnists/2015/05/16/hall-ms01-storylines/27454469/
5/16/15


Posted May 18, 2015 - 7:02 am

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Harrison GOP blasts state party



The Harrison County Republican Executive Committee is protesting what it calls the state party’s interference in the Biloxi mayor’s race.

Chairman Frank Genzer of Biloxi told The Sun Herald that local Republicans are upset about a letter from state Chairman Joe Nosef that questioned the GOP credentials of Andrew “FoFo” Gilich.



ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/politics/2015/05/15/harrison-gop-blasts-state-party/27413423/
5/15/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 6:55 am

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Marijuana advocate pulls support for Mississippi initiative



MEMPHIS, Tenn. - A Florida advocate of legalizing marijuana says a threat prompted him to withdraw his offer to pay supporters of Mississippi's petition drive to gather signatures on petitions for a statewide election.

Jeremy Bufford of Medical Marijuana United in Tampa, Florida, offered in April to pay $1 to $2 for each certified signature.

Kelly Jacobs of DeSoto County, who initiated the Ballot Initiative 48 drive, told The Commercial Appeal that Bufford sent an email saying he was dropping out because of a threat.


ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/18/mississippi-marijuana-initiative/27520649/
5/18/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 6:52 am

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MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS


WLBT
5/18/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 6:45 am

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PAUL HAMPTON: Endorsement could come back to haunt Palazzo



I doubt Gov. Phil Bryant or Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves will feel much pain over their ill-fated endorsements of Windy Swetman in the Biloxi mayoral election.

Bryant, after all, is Superman; Reeves, the Terminator (of legislation).

That leaves U.S. Rep. Steven Palazzo, who endorsed Swetman not for some lofty political ideals -- such as he's Republicaner than the other guy -- but because they're friends...


...This is where it gets weird. About the only two people who could save Palazzo from the epic battle hinted at above are Hillary Clinton and President Barack Obama. There is no question McDaniel has ambitions other than the state Senate.

Is congressman one of them?

"Nothing is off the table," McDaniel said last week.

Unless a federal judgeship comes his way.

"I always thought I wanted to be a federal judge," he said. "But to be appointed to the federal bench, you have to have the president's approval. I don't think Obama will appoint me."



SunHerald
http://www.sunherald.com/2015/05/16/6230690/paul-hampton-endorsement-could.html#storylink=cpy
5/16/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 6:37 am

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WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi


WLOX

Posted May 18, 2015 - 6:34 am

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Who are Kelly, Zinn?



The two top vote-getters in the June 2 First Congressional District runoff are virtual strangers to the top northwest county in Mississippi.

That could change as the June 2 runoff looms, just a little more than two weeks away.

Of all the 13 candidates in the race, Trent Kelly and Walter Zinn are perhaps the least known in DeSoto County and spent the least in the local media market.

Kelly's strategy of playing to his Tupelo and northeast Mississippi base apparently paid off with his strong showing districtwide.

A U.S. combat veteran and district attorney, Kelly finished second behind Walter Howard Zinn.

Zinn is a former clerk for former U.S. Rep. and now U.S. Senator Roger Wicker and other political leaders, both Democrat and Republican, in the officially nonpartisan Congressional race.




DeSoto Times
http://www.desototimes.com/news/who-are-kelly-zinn/article_6aa39ca8-fb5c-11e4-86df-c7a4339d0ebb.html
5/16/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 6:28 am

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Miss. lawmakers back competing bills to name courthouse



A competition is brewing again in Congress over what to name the federal courthouse in Jackson.

The House voted April 28 to pass a bill by Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson to name the courthouse on East Court Street after the late civil rights attorney R. Jess Brown.

A week before that vote, Republican Sen. Roger Wicker introduced a bill that would name the building after the late Charles Clark, who served as a federal judge for the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Mississippi from 1981 to 1992.


ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/15/miss-lawmakers-back-competing-bills-name-courthouse/27411973/
5/15/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 4:58 am

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Mississippi lawmaker pushes for dyslexia awareness



Rep. Steven Palazzo and his wife, Lisa, recognized about three years ago that their youngest son, Bennett, was struggling with reading so they hired tutors, but nothing seemed to work.

They had the fourth-grader tested recently and learned he had dyslexia, a learning disability that involves difficulty learning to read.

“When he realized he wasn’t slow or dumb, his attitude changed. He knows he’s smart and knows there’s a way out,” said Palazzo, a Republican representing Mississippi’s 4th District. “I just wish we could have caught this when he was in first or second grade.’’

Palazzo and Republican Sen. Bill Cassidy of Louisiana are on a mission to raise awareness about dyslexia. Cassidy’s daughter, Kate, also is dyslexic.


ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/16/mississippi-lawmaker-pushes-dyslexia-awareness/27453979/
5/16/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 4:55 am

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Feds seek to merge Cleveland schools



CLEVELAND – A federal judge must decide whether this Mississippi Delta college town’s school system is an oasis of integration or a glaring example of continued segregation.

The court hearing opening today before U.S. District Judge Debra Brown in Greenville is something of a dinosaur. Court desegregation orders were common in the 1970s and 1980s, but have become much more unusual.

On the surface, what’s at issue is balancing the white and black population at different schools. But the case is also about whether racism has eased, and whether whites will flee Cleveland if ordered to shift schools as they did in dozens of other Mississippi districts following court-ordered integration. Many of those all-black school districts are in towns with moribund economies and free-falling populations, and white city leaders fear the same fate for Cleveland. The district instead is pushing integration by choice, relying on magnet school programs.


ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/17/feds-seek-merge-cleveland-schools/27511729/
5/17/15

Posted May 18, 2015 - 4:51 am

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GEOFFREY YOSTE WITHDRAWS NAME FROM RACE FOR TRANSPORTATION COMMISSIONER OF NORTHERN DISTRICT

Lafayette County Native, Geoffrey Yoste is withdrawing his name from the election for Transportation Commissioner in the Northern District. He initially filed to run for the seat in order to protect it in the event current Commissioner, the Honorable Mike Tagert, was elected in the MSO1 Special Election. He said, “I and many others felt that it was important that we ensure that we had a solid and conservative Republican to run, and be prepared to serve to continue the outstanding job that Commissioner Tagert has done.”

Since Commissioner Tagert did not make the runoff and will be seeking re-election as Transportation Commissioner, Yoste has made the decision to withdraw. He will also reconcile all of his expenses and after they are paid, his elect committee, Friends of Yoste, will be refunding the money raised back to contributors.

He has turned his full support to Commissioner Tagert, saying, “He has served on the Transportation Commission with distinction and has selflessly represented the constituents of the Northern District and I feel it is vital that we reelect him to this important position.”

In addition, Yoste be concentrating his efforts to help elect the Republican nominee, Trent Kelly, to Congress in the June 2nd runoff.

Geoffrey Yoste Press Release
5/15/15

Posted May 15, 2015 - 1:35 pm

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ADCOCK ENDORSES TRENT KELLY FOR CONGRESS


Adcock cites commitment to military and public service

Today, Sam Adcock endorsed Trent Kelly in the June 2nd First Congressional District runoff election.

“There is a clear choice in this election and I am happy to support Trent Kelly,” Adcock said. “His background and commitment to public service will be important assets to have in Washington. His focus on defense issues and care for our veterans are very important to not only me but to many in the First District. I urge all of my supporters to vote for Trent Kelly on June 2nd.”



Sam Adcock Press Release
5/15/15

Posted May 15, 2015 - 12:38 pm

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COCHRAN, SHAHEEN OFFER BIPARTISAN ON-THE-JOB TRAINING BILL

Legislation Would Help Businesses and Job Seekers through Successful Workforce Development Programs

WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) this week joined U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.) in introducing bipartisan legislation to increase on-the-job training opportunities for workers to find new jobs and update their skills.

The On-the-Job Training Act of 2015 (S.1328) authorizes the Department of Labor to award competitive grants to establish and support local on-the-job or OTJ programs that effectively help people attain skills needed to find and keep jobs.

“In times of economic uncertainty, we should focus on programs with a proven track record of helping businesses and creating jobs. On-the-job training programs work. They connect employers with future employees and ensure that they have the skills needed for career advancement in many fields,” Cochran said. “I’m pleased to join with Senator Shaheen to promote this important, bipartisan legislation.”

“This legislation is about getting Americans back to work with the skills they need in today’s economy,” said Shaheen. “On-the-job training programs are a highly effective way to boost local economies and help the long-term unemployed get their careers back on-track. These programs have been a success in New Hampshire and across the country and this legislation would expand them to keep America’s workforce competitive.”

The Shaheen-Cochran legislation, which is supported by the Mississippi Department of Employment Security, would authorize the U.S. Department of Labor to award capacity-building grants to expand and strengthen state and local OTJ training programs. These successful programs involve a willing employer signing a contract with the local workforce investment board (WIB). The employer then hires workers that need training, and the WIB provides a training subsidy to the employer.

OTJ programs had the best results of all training programs authorized in the Workforce Investment Act, which was recently reauthorized. In 2013, 88 percent of OTJ participants were still employed at their training sites or in other jobs three months after having finished the program, and 79 percent were still employed one year later.

Thad Cochran Press Release
5/15/15

Posted May 15, 2015 - 12:36 pm

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Down ballot races offer most theater

At this juncture, Pickering would still be considered a favorite to win re-election. He has enough anti-corruption trophies in his case, plus eight years of incumbency and the fund-raising advantage that goes with that, to probably fend off Hawkins’ challenge.

A Republican who appears to be more on the ropes is State Treasurer Lynn Fitch. Several of her former advisers have now turned against her, including her GOP primary challenger, Ridgeland attorney David McRae. In the first campaign finance report, McRae has outraised Fitch 3-to-1. Even if you subtract what McRae and his wife have contributed to his campaign, he still outraised the incumbent.

Fitch has lost a lot of “friends” in her first term in office. At least a half-dozen top staffers have quit or been fired. She has already replaced her campaign manager just two months into her re-election campaign.

Fitch has made at least one huge mistake in office, ignoring a law that required her in 2012 to publish a listing in the state’s newspapers of unclaimed property. It was only after the Mississippi Press Association “lawyered up” and Fitch saw that a lawsuit was possible did she concede to publish. She did so last month and now is trying to make re-election hay out of it by championing her efforts to return this $31 million to the rightful owners — three years late.

It’s not very smart to turn former staffers, several GOP operatives and every newspaper in this state against you. If there is a recipe for being a one-term wonder, Fitch so far has certainly followed it.

GW Commonwealth
5/15/15

Posted May 15, 2015 - 9:44 am

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Chaney easily outdoes challenger in campaign fundraising

Chaney, who is seeking his third term as commissioner, reported on his May 8 form with the Secretary of State that he has received $116,425 this year, compared with John Mosley, owner of Clinton Body Shops in Clinton and Richland, who reported $46,250 — more than two-thirds of which, $33,000, came out his own pocket.
Chaney’s cash on hand amount stood at $338,089.43. He said in an interview in March that he would need $300,000 to $400,000 in his war chest. There is no Democratic candidate, so the winner of the primary will become commissioner.

Mosley said in an interview Tuesday that he’s going to put more into his campaign chest.

He cited contributions to Chaney, a former state senator and representative, from large insurance companies. The Travelers Insurance group based in Hartford, Ct. contributed $5,000. Farmers Insurance of Los Angeles donated $1,000. Nationwide Mutual Insurance of Columbus, Ohio, gave $1,000.

Chaney said in a March interview that “we don’t take money from big insurance companies.” He also said that “if I see where I have to regulate somebody” who has offered campaign money he said he would refuse it.

MBJ
5/15/15

Posted May 15, 2015 - 5:48 am

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First Mississippi Book Festival to celebrate state's literary legacy

In effort to highlight the state's rich literary legacy and combat its ranking among the lowest in youth literary rates, leaders announced the first Mississippi Book Festival will be held August 22.

The free event on the state capitol grounds in Jackson will feature 75 authors, headlined by New York Times bestselling author and Natchez native Greg Iles.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said the event will honor Mississippi's legacy of writers such as Tennessee Williams and Willie Morris, but he hopes it will help foster a cultural change.

"In a state that is home to Faulkner, Eudora Welty and so many other tremendous national treasures, to have a literacy rate amongst our young people that is alarmingly low is something that is certainly ironic and needs to be addressed," Reeves said.

The festival aims to attract people of all ages, with presentations from illustrated children's book authors, young adult authors and presentations on civil rights, romance, sports among others.

"What I'm really, really happy about are especially within young adult and civil rights history we're have some really spectacular writers coming," Steve Yates assistant director of the University Press of Mississippi said, singling out Kimberly Willis Holt for "Dear Hank Williams" and Deborah Wiles for "Freedom Summer."

Former Gov. Haley Barbour will launch his book "America's Great Storm," which follows his tenure in the days and months after Hurricane Katrina, during a conversation moderated by journalist Curtis Wilkie.


Clarion Ledger
5/15/15

Posted May 15, 2015 - 5:45 am

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First Mississippi Book Festival to celebrate state's literary legacy

In effort to highlight the state's rich literary legacy and combat its ranking among the lowest in youth literary rates, leaders announced the first Mississippi Book Festival will be held August 22.

The free event on the state capitol grounds in Jackson will feature 75 authors, headlined by New York Times bestselling author and Natchez native Greg Iles.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said the event will honor Mississippi's legacy of writers such as Tennessee Williams and Willie Morris, but he hopes it will help foster a cultural change.

"In a state that is home to Faulkner, Eudora Welty and so many other tremendous national treasures, to have a literacy rate amongst our young people that is alarmingly low is something that is certainly ironic and needs to be addressed," Reeves said.

The festival aims to attract people of all ages, with presentations from illustrated children's book authors, young adult authors and presentations on civil rights, romance, sports among others.

"What I'm really, really happy about are especially within young adult and civil rights history we're have some really spectacular writers coming," Steve Yates assistant director of the University Press of Mississippi said, singling out Kimberly Willis Holt for "Dear Hank Williams" and Deborah Wiles for "Freedom Summer."

Former Gov. Haley Barbour will launch his book "America's Great Storm," which follows his tenure in the days and months after Hurricane Katrina, during a conversation moderated by journalist Curtis Wilkie.


Clarion Ledger
5/15/15

Posted May 15, 2015 - 5:45 am

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Gov. Bryant reveals Superman T-shirt as part of PRCC graduation speech


Bryant promised to keep the speech short, and got to the moral of his story in 15 minutes. It included a visual.

"Find your heroes today," he said. "Find your inner strength. You have the capability to do remarkable things …. I believe there's a little bit of Superman in us all."

Then Bryant parted his graduation gown to reveal the familiar Superman emblem on a royal-blue T-shirt. The crowd applauded as Bryant exited, stage left.

Sun Herald
5/15/15

Posted May 15, 2015 - 5:42 am

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Gov. Bryant reveals Superman T-shirt as part of PRCC graduation speech


Bryant promised to keep the speech short, and got to the moral of his story in 15 minutes. It included a visual.

"Find your heroes today," he said. "Find your inner strength. You have the capability to do remarkable things …. I believe there's a little bit of Superman in us all."

Then Bryant parted his graduation gown to reveal the familiar Superman emblem on a royal-blue T-shirt. The crowd applauded as Bryant exited, stage left.

Sun Herald
5/15/15

Posted May 15, 2015 - 5:42 am

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Kitty Sasser is a Democrat who is challenging Republican Rep. Sam Mims this fall.

Sasser also happens to be the sister of Rep. Bobby Moak, leader of the House Democrats.

Sasser, for her part, filed her May 8 campaign finance reports apparently from the confines of North Pike High School. That fax machine is listed in a superintendent's listing from the department of education and the fax stamp says North Pike on the finance report.

5711 NORTH PIKE SCHOOL DIST 001 Dr. Ben E. Cox 1036 Jaguar Trail Summit MS 39666 bcox@npsd.k12.ms.us 601 2762216 601 2763666 1036 Jaguar Trail Summit MS 39666 18-Aug-11 2803240 Lisa Freeman lfreeman@npsd.k12.ms.us (fax: 601-276-7634)

As for her report, she raised $5,750 with only $3225 COH. $2,000 of that came from Bobby Moak. Mims raised $4,650 and has $252K COH.


Posted May 14, 2015 - 7:09 am

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In what will likely be one of the more watched Republican primary races in the state senate, incumbent senator Will Longwitz and challenger Bill Billingsley posted their campaign finance reports.

Longwitz banked $41,000 this period and has $114K COH.


Billingsley posted $55,000 for the period and has $22K COH
. That figure includes a $10,000 loan from the candidate.

Posted May 14, 2015 - 6:53 am

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Mobile school teacher Alisha Nelson McElhenney banked only $6,578 in her May 8 campaign finance report for her primary challenge against LG Tate Reeves. Reeves banked $276K this period and is showing $2.42 million COH.

McElhenney initially qualified to run for Sen. Michael Watson's seat. When Watson did not run for LG against Tate Reeves, McElhenney essentially switched with Watson and ran for LG. Her candidacy is widely expected to be a litmus test for tea party/liberty groups including the United Conservatives Fund.


UPDATE - 3:05 pm

A title to a post this morning about Alisha McElhenney's campaign finance report stated UCF "backed" McElhenney. The UCF issued a press release included in its entirety below and we have included that in its entirety stating that they have in fact not chosen to support McElhenney or any other conservative in the LG race. Although the story was titled incorrectly, the rest of the story is correct. The title has been corrected.

For the record, the trial lawyer suit referred to in UCF's response was dismissed multiple times and in multiple courts as being utterly without merit.


Contact: B. Keith Plunkett
601.717.3868
UNITED CONSERVATIVES FUND RESPONDS TO FALSE REPORTS ON YALLPOLITICS.COM

May 14, 2015-(Laurel, MS.) - The United Conservatives Fund (UCF) today released the following statement regarding a false report on the website YallPolitics.com. The post headline claimed UCF was “backing” a candidate for Lt. Governor in the upcoming statewide elections, and the article claimed the race was “widely expected to be a litmus test for tea party/liberty groups including the United Conservatives Fund.”

“Once again we see how Alan Lange and his cohorts at Y’all Politics are fond of broad misrepresentations without respect to facts,” said UCF spokesperson Keith Plunkett. “UCF has a system in place for candidates to submit their information, and our executive committee is looking at many who have done so.

The United Conservatives Fund has had no contact with Mrs. McEllhenney or her campaign. Should she decide to reach out we will take a look at her information just like we have all the others.”

“Our 9-member committee from across the state is working on evaluations of the candidates,” Plunkett said. “We will request additional information from them in the next few days to begin finalizing who we may support and in what form that support will be. But, no such announcements of support have been confirmed or scheduled at this time. For Y’all Politics to claim otherwise is just more evidence of how untrustworthy they have become as a source of information, and of the politically charged negative drivel they now promote.”
Plunkett said Y’all Politics “descent into tabloid hatefulness has sometimes been excruciating to watch.”

“Many writers try to be colorful and creative in how they present information,” said Plunkett. “I certainly have. But, when the information itself is untrue, well that’s at best dishonest - at worst it’s defamation.”
This is not the first time Lange has faced such questions. A twenty-year veteran FBI agent sued Lange along with co-author Tom Dawson and publisher Pediment Publishing in 2010 for defamation following the publication of the book, Kings of Tort.

“Y’all Politics was once a valued source of information,” said Plunkett. “It appears Alan’s willingness to put things in a false light to build his brand of negative politics and as a means to hold on to an audience has changed that. Mississippians deserve better. I hope he will do the right thing and issue a retraction.”


Posted May 14, 2015 - 6:46 am

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BRIAN PERRY/Candidates raise $2.3 million


The first campaign finance reports of the 2015 election were filed last week covering all funds raised and spent from the beginning of the year through the end of April. The reports give an early indication of the seriousness of a campaign and according to the Secretary of State are mandatory for all candidates (statewide, district wide, legislative and county) even if no money is raised or spent. County candidates file their reports with their local circuit clerk; all others file with the Secretary of State who makes them available online for anyone to review.

Governor Phil Bryant raised $485,635 and increased his cash-on-hand to nearly $2.7 million. His Republican primary opponent, Mitch Young, reported no money raised; $515 spent and $100 cash-on-hand. One Democratic candidate and a Reform Party candidate running for governor did not file reports. A second Democratic candidate reported raising, spending and having no money. But the third Democrat, trial lawyer Vicki Slater, reported raising $104,419 with $62,507 cash-on-hand. Slater's report was heavy with receipts from lawyers: attorney contributions accounted for 83 percent of her fundraising.

Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves raised $276,101. He now posts over $2.4 million cash-on-hand. His Republican primary opponent, Libertarian opponent, Reform opponent and one of his Democratic opponents all failed to file reports. Democrat Tim Johnson, a former state senator and Elvis impersonator, reported raising $41,525 with $27,551 cash-on-hand. Of that, $25,000 was loan Johnson made to his campaign.



Madison County Journal
http://onlinemadison.com/main.asp?SectionID=3&SubSectionID=3&ArticleID=30228
5/13/15

Posted May 14, 2015 - 5:24 am

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Federal Oversight Ends in Wayne County Schools



Federal government oversight of the Wayne County, Mississippi, school system has ended.

The Department of Justice says in a news release that a federal judge signed an order Tuesday dismissing the longstanding school desegregation case. The school district serves close to 3,500 students and has been operating under a desegregation order since 1970.


WTOK
http://www.wtok.com/home/headlines/Federal-Oversight-Ends-in-Wayne-County-Schools--303628191.html?device=tablet&c=y
5/13/15

Posted May 14, 2015 - 5:21 am

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Attorney: 'Significant' day in court for Singing River Health System retirees



An attorney for the Singing River Health System retirees said Wednesday's hearing before special judge Breland Hilburn made significant strides for the county case over the failing pension plan that affects hundreds of former and current workers at the hospital system, the county's second largest employer.

What happened:

n SRHS attorneys agreed to produce documents from the failing pension plan in 10 days. Retirees' attorneys said they were afraid the documents will be "sanitized," "raw" and not comprehensive, but were glad to get something. They accused the hospital attorneys of dragging their feet since December on turning over documents and accounting about the plan.

n Hilburn set Chancery Clerk Terry Miller to watch over the $150 million assets in the plan until the case is over and told SRHS attorneys no lawyer fees will be taken out of the plan at this time.



SunHerald
http://www.sunherald.com/2015/05/13/6224939_attorney-significant-day-in-court.html?rh=1#storylink=
5/13/15

Posted May 14, 2015 - 5:13 am

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Rankin schools superintendent, employees get pay raise


Rankin County school officials on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for four percent salary increases for cafeteria workers, assistant teachers, bus drivers and administrators effective July 1.

The superintendent also received the same salary increase, raising the amount from $153,900 to about $160,000.

All teachers will receive a legislature-mandated raise after the governor signed a bill last legislative session raising all educators' salaries by $2,500 this coming year.


ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/13/rankin-pay-raise-employees/27236967/
5/13/15

Posted May 14, 2015 - 5:10 am

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Email: Elected official uses office staff to campaign




An anonymous email to Hinds County officials accusing an elected official of using his office and employees to campaign for reelection has prompted a resolution from the Board of Supervisors to all county officials that Hinds County falls under the federal Hatch Act, which prohibits certain campaign activity.

A major component of the Hatch Act is that it protects federal employees from political coercion in the workplace. The Hatch Act prohibits a person from engaging in political activity while on duty, in a government office, wearing an official uniform, using a government vehicle and wearing a partisan political button on duty.

The anonymous email sent to members of the Hinds County Board of Supervisors and others accuses Tax Collector Eddie Fair of using his office to campaign for reelection and is forcing employees to wear his t-shirts.


ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/news/2015/05/13/email-elected-official-uses-office-staff-campaign/27233335/
5/13/15

Posted May 14, 2015 - 5:07 am

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RELEASE:


LAWMAKERS, OFFICIALS TO REVIEW NEXT STEPS & GOALS FOR FAA UNMANNED AERIAL SYSTEMS CENTER OF EXCELLENCE

News Conference: 1:30 p.m., Thursday, May 14, SD-192, to Discuss UAS Use, Research & Policies

WASHINGTON, D.C. - Members of the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have scheduled a news conference to discuss the next steps and goals for the newly-named Unmanned Aerial Systems Center of Excellence (UAS COE), a consortium of universities that will research and develop technologies and policies for the use of unmanned aerial systems in the United States.

The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has named the Alliance for System Safety of UAS through Research Excellence (ASSURE), a consortium of universities headed by Mississippi State University, to lead the UAS COE.

WHO:

* Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.)

* FAA Administrator Michael Huerta

* Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.)

* Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-Alaska)

* Senator Roger Wicker (R-Miss.)

* Representative Kevin Cramer (R-N.D.)

* Representative Gregg Harper (R-Miss.)

* President Mark Keenum, Mississippi State University

* Maj. Gen. James Poss, (ret.) U.S. Air Force, ASSURE UAS Executive Director

* Officials from Mississippi State University, University of North Dakota, North Carolina State University, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Drexel University, University of Alaska-Fairbanks, New Mexico State University, Oregon State University, and Louisiana Tech University

WHAT:

* News Conference: Next Steps & Goals for the FAA Unmanned Aerial Systems Center of Excellence

WHEN:

* 1:30 p.m. Eastern, Thursday, May 14

WHERE:

* Room 192, Dirksen Senate Office Building


5/13/15

Posted May 14, 2015 - 5:03 am

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Tate Reeves: Education a major element in economic growth



Mississippi is making strides toward creating a more favorable environment for attracting and encouraging new business and industry to locate in the state, but more needs to be done, especially in the field of education, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said.

Education, Reeves told the Vicksburg Kiwanis Club Tuesday, is one of the three areas Mississippi must improve if it plans to have a strong economic future and provide jobs for is residents.

“If we’re going to improve the overall economic output of our state, we must also improve the overall education attainment level of our citizens,” he said.

He said the state has increased education spending by about $400 million a year for elementary, secondary and higher education. And while state officials need to continue that investment, they also need to reform Mississippi’s education system.

One way, he said, is by consolidating school districts.


Vicksburg Post
http://www.vicksburgpost.com/2015/05/13/reeves-education-a-major-element-in-economic-growth/#sthash.wpq2pOqZ.dpuf
5/13/15

Posted May 14, 2015 - 5:01 am

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Attorney General Jim Hood says $158 settlement reached with Sprint and Verizon



JACKSON, MS - Attorney General Jim Hood says a $158 million settlement has been reached with Cellco Partnership d/b/a Verizon Wireless (“Verizon”) and Sprint Corporation (“Sprint”).

The settlements have resolve allegations that the companies billed consumers for third-party services that were not authorized. This is known as “mobile cramming.”

AT&T and T-Mobile were involved in similar settlements in 2014. Sprint and Verizon are the last two providers to be involved in the nation-wide settlement to resolve the cramming allegations. A total of $846,136.21 has been netted by Mississippi in the wake of the national mobile cramming settlements with all four mobile carriers. Attorney General Hood says:


WJTV
http://www.wjtv.com/story/29058510/attorney-general-jim-hood-says-158-settlement-reached-with-sprint-and-verizon
5/13/15

Posted May 14, 2015 - 4:56 am

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Democrats celebrate Tuesday win; battle moves to runoff


Mississippi Democratic leaders on Wednesday were celebrating a Tuesday-night victory by Walter Zinn Jr. in the first round of the north Mississippi U.S. House race, in a district considered staunchly Republican.

They were also celebrating results of the Biloxi special mayoral runoff, where a former longtime Democrat – now Republican -- beat out a candidate who had the backing of the state's GOP leadership, including Gov. Phil Bryant...


..."That's the funniest thing in the world to me, how people who are consistently wrong in their predictions, keep on making predictions," said Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole. "… With the miniscule resources he had, Walter did a wonderful job in turning out his voters. Republicans did a poor job of turnout yesterday … I believe the election on June 2 will be right down to the wire."

Cole said he was working the phone Wednesday, drumming up support and financing for Zinn from state and national party sources.

"I love a special election," Cole said. "It's like playing poker with aces, deuces and one-eyed jacks wild. We are going to support (Zinn's) successful grass-roots efforts and expand on them."


ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/politicalledger/2015/05/13/house-biloxi-races/27231493/
5/13/15

Posted May 14, 2015 - 4:50 am

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RELEASE:


Boyce Adams (MS-01) Post-Election Statement


Columbus, Miss.)—Today, Boyce Adams, Republican candidate in Mississippi’s First Congressional District special election, released the following statement following yesterday’s election:



“I would like to sincerely thank all of the people who supported me in the election yesterday. I am forever grateful to the voters, volunteers, contributors and friends who came alongside me during this campaign to stand up for our conservative values. I also want to congratulate all of the other candidates in the race for running strong, competitive campaigns. Now is the right time for Republicans to join together to support Trent Kelly in the runoff to make sure he wins on June 2nd. I’m fully supporting Trent, and I’m confident he will use his experience to fight for our Mississippi values as our next Congressman.”


5/13/15

Posted May 13, 2015 - 3:03 pm

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Governor's Oyster Council unveils recommendations to improve industry


Restoring the reefs, building a hatchery and mapping the water bottoms. Those are among the key recommendations from the governor's Oyster Council, which held its final meeting Tuesday morning.

“As we move forward, we have one aim in mind,” said Chairman Dave Dennis, as he opened the council meeting. “And that's enhancing the oyster industry.”

The Oyster Council chairman admits it is a formidable challenge to reach the council's stated goal of one million sacks of oysters by the year 2025, but with the right recommendations, he says it's achievable.

“The three meat and potatoes things are habitat restoration-creation, aqua culture program and the reef acreage in the sound,” Dennis explained.


WLOX
http://www.wlox.com/story/29047217/governors-oyster-council-unveils-recommendations-to-improve-industry
5/12/15

Posted May 13, 2015 - 5:21 am

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WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

WLOX
5/12/15

Posted May 13, 2015 - 5:19 am

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RELEASE:


Wicker to FCC: Update Rural Broadband Rules

Miss. Senator Says Current System Should Support Existing Technology



WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., Chairman of the Subcommittee on Communications, Technology, Innovation, and the Internet, is asking Federal Communications Commission (FCC) Chairman Tom Wheeler to make Universal Service Fund (USF) support available for broadband when rural consumers choose not to purchase voice telephone service. The FCC does not currently permit such support. Wicker was joined by a bipartisan group of 60 senators in sending a letter to Chairman Wheeler – similar to a letter sent in 2014.



“As technology advances, it is critical that broadband-capable networks are available to all rural customers, regardless of their decision to purchase voice services,” Wicker said. “In rural states like Mississippi, broadband access is particularly important to businesses and local communities. It is time for the FCC to take sensible steps to modernize its outdated rules.”



Over the past several years, there has been a rising trend of individuals opting to use wireless phones or voice over Internet protocol (VoIP) services instead of traditional telephone service. This trend has begun to reach rural households, who are increasingly subscribing to “broadband-only” service in their homes.



Requests from rural consumers present a growing dilemma for rural carriers. Under current FCC rules, local exchange carriers are required to provide broadband to receive USF support, but lose USF support if their customers subscribe to that broadband service without also purchasing voice service. Unless this problem is addressed by the FCC, the current rules will increasingly lead to an unintended outcome of less choice for rural consumers when the goal of national universal service policy is to increase broadband deployment and adoption in rural areas.



Rural carriers are seeking an interim solution to the problem, and this letter is meant to encourage the FCC to craft such a solution.



Full text of the letter:



May 1, 2015



The Honorable Thomas Wheeler

Chairman

Federal Communications Commission

445 12th Street SW

Washington, DC 20554



Dear Chairman Wheeler:



On May 6, 2014, 44 Senators signed a bipartisan letter calling on the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to move forward on tailored modifications to modernize the federal Universal Service Fund (USF) as it supports the delivery of communications services to consumers in high-cost portions of the United States served by small, rural rate-of-return-regulated local exchange carriers. While we commend the FCC for its continuing efforts to implement a Connect America Fund for consumers in areas served by larger carriers, we are troubled that the FCC has yet to take meaningful steps to address one of the most problematic aspects of the existing USF rules in areas served by smaller carriers.



As you know, Americans are increasingly “cutting the cord” and dropping their traditional landline voice “plain old telephone service” (POTS) in favor of wireless or voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) service. Many of these consumers, however, still desire fixed broadband services that offer robust speeds – in fact, fixed broadband services are necessary for consumers to make effective use of VoIP service. Unfortunately, the FCC’s USF rules have not kept pace with changing technology and shifting consumer preference. Instead, out-of-date rules tie high-cost USF cost recovery for small rural carriers to a consumer’s actual purchase of voice service, even if the consumer no longer wants that service and only wants broadband service. The POTS requirement prevents rural consumers from making choices that are available to their urban counterparts. Ironically, these outdated rules may hurt lower-income rural consumers the most, possibly putting the price of broadband out of reach unless those consumers make the additional expenditures to buy POTS as well.



A year after the previous letter, the time has come to take common-sense steps to update the rules. While long-term options to modify USF support can and should be explored, as you’ve committed to doing via the Connect America Fund Further Notice of Proposed Rulemaking, the FCC must not leave consumers in the lurch given the substantial time needed to develop, evaluate, and implement such options. No new models or sweeping changes are needed to adopt and implement a targeted update to fix the issue highlighted in this and last year’s letters – instead a simple plan that isolates and solves this specific issue is all that is needed right now. In addition, we continue to support measures that ensure USF distributions are invested prudently and reasonably, which helps provide the credibility necessary for the FCC to fulfill its statutory mandate.



Small rural carriers have worked hard to provide innovative services to some of the most difficult-to-serve parts of our country. However, without the update to the USF support rules described in this letter and in the letter last year, many rural consumers will continue to be denied a choice among these innovative services. As the FCC continues to modernize USF to support broadband deployment, we must ensure rural consumers are not left behind by antiquated rules that inhibit investment, adoption, and consumer choice. We therefore renew our call for the FCC to expeditiously make careful, targeted updates to the existing USF mechanisms to provide sufficient and predictable support so that consumers in areas served by smaller rural carriers can make the choice to obtain robust broadband services at affordable rates without being compelled to purchase other services.



Thank you for your consideration. We look forward to continuing to work with you to update USF to ensure rural consumers receive reasonably comparable voice and broadband communications services of their choosing at reasonably comparable rates.


5/12/15

Posted May 13, 2015 - 5:16 am

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RELEASE:


COCHRAN, WICKER CALL FOR INCREASED GULF OFFSHORE ENERGY EXPLORATION

Miss. Senators Back Bill to Open New Oil Exploration Areas, Lift GOMESA Caps

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today joined in introducing legislation to expand American offshore energy exploration and increase revenue-sharing for Mississippi and other Gulf Coast states.

The Offshore Energy and Jobs Act of 2015 (S.1276), introduced by U.S. Senator Bill Cassidy (R-La.), would open parts of the Outer Continental Shelf for oil and gas exploration and lift the Gulf of Mexico Energy Security Act of 2006 (GOMESA) caps to provide additional revenue for Mississippi, Louisiana, Alabama and Texas.

“The energy sector in Mississippi is diversified and growing, making it important for job creation and meeting our national energy goals,” Cochran said. “Our energy policies should be geared toward greater U.S. energy and economic security, and that means responsibly maximizing our own energy resources. This legislation would move us in that direction for the benefit of our nation and Mississippi.”

“Offshore energy exploration is important to boosting the Gulf Coast’s overall economy,” Wicker said. “America thrives when our Gulf Coast thrives. This bill would provide precisely what Mississippi needs to prosper – an increase in jobs, revenue, and use of our natural resources.”

S.1276 would redefine President Obama’s Eastern Gulf of Mexico drilling moratoria to open access to the largest undiscovered energy resources in areas 50 miles from the Florida coastline. The legislation also lifts the GOMESA revenue sharing cap to $700 million annually from the current $500 million, allowing the four coastal states greater say in the use of their offshore drilling revenues.

A 2014 study by Quest Offshore estimates that developing oil and gas operations in the eastern Gulf of Mexico could, by 2035, produce nearly one million barrels of oil equivalent per day and contribute more than $18 billion per year to the U.S. economy.

In addition to Cochran and Wicker, U.S. Senators David Vitter (R-La.) and John Cornyn (R-Texas) are cosponsors of the Cassidy legislation.


5/12/15

Posted May 13, 2015 - 5:14 am

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Auditor Demands $13,000 From Former Pontotoc County Worker


JACKSON – State Auditor Stacey Pickering’s office has issued a demand of $13, 934.97 to former Pontotoc County Deputy Chancery Clerk Allison Stegall.

“I’m proud of the work that both our county auditors and investigators have done on this case, and we look forward to making the taxpayers whole,” said Stacey Pickering.



WCBI
http://www.wcbi.com/local-news/auditor-demands-13000-from-former-pontotoc-county-worker/
5/12/15

Posted May 13, 2015 - 5:11 am

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Democratic lawmakers endorse Slater, blast Bryant


Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vicki Slater was joined by a handful of lawmakers and others offering their endorsements at the Capitol on Tuesday and criticizing incumbent Republican Gov. Phil Bryant.

"There is a glaring record of the incumbent who likes to say we are announcing these jobs and these jobs and these jobs around the state, yet there are no new net jobs, because as soon as we announce some new ones, we have lost other ones," said state House Democratic Leader Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto.

Moak and six other Democratic lawmakers endorsed Slater on Tuesday, along with several area pastors and two union leaders.

"Phil Bryant has been prejudiced, plain and simple," said The Rev. Belinda Johnson of Faith Temple Evangelistic Church. "That's why he's turned away the Medicaid expansion dollars from President Obama ... Vicki Slater will give every single Mississippian a seat at the table."



ClarionLedger
http://www.clarionledger.com/story/politicalledger/2015/05/12/slater-governor-endorsements/27177577/
5/12/15

Posted May 13, 2015 - 5:07 am

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Lloyd Gray leaving Tupelo newspaper to head up Meridian-based education foundation


TUPELO, Mississippi — Lloyd Gray, executive editor of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal for 23 years, is leaving the newspaper to become executive director of The Phil Hardin Foundation.

The announcement was made Tuesday in the newspaper (http://bit.ly/1E3CUsz ) by Journal Publisher and CEO Clay Foster. Foster says no decision has been made on Gray's successor.

"Lloyd is an outstanding editor and an even better person," Foster said in a statement. "For the past 23 years, he's embodied a set of principles and values consistent with the Journal's that has served this company and our community well. Principles such as service, honesty, transparency, inclusion, fairness, dignity and trust.

Gray, 60, will assume his responsibilities in July at the Meridian-based foundation, which provides grants to support innovative educational programs and partnerships in Mississippi.


Daily Journal
http://www.dailyjournal.net/view/story/13e93e2b0536418abc4341425306587d/MS--Tupelo-Editor/
5/12/15

Posted May 13, 2015 - 5:02 am

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RELEASE:

Mike Tagert Statement on Election Results



West Point, MS – Tonight Northern District Transportation Commissioner Mike Tagert released the following statement on the result of the First Congressional District Special Election:

“I want to congratulate Trent Kelly and Walter Zinn on their victories tonight. Despite coming up just short in a crowded field, I could not be more proud to have had the opportunity to compete and run a positive campaign focused on the issues. Mary Love and I are humbled by the outpouring of support we have received throughout the campaign from folks across North Mississippi. We cannot thank each and every person enough that made this campaign possible,” Tagert said.

“Serving the people of North Mississippi as Transportation Commissioner has been among the highest honors of my life, and while I ran for Congress to serve at a higher level, that was not the will of the people. I look forward to continuing my public service as Transportation Commissioner and working to build a safer, better transportation infrastructure needed for more jobs and opportunity in North Mississippi.

"It is important that we come together as Republicans and support Trent Kelly in the runoff election on June 2. Trent is a veteran and a person of honor and integrity who will move the ball forward on our conservative principles in Congress and serve the people of Mississippi just as he has served our country in the Army National Guard. I look forward to supporting Mississippi’s next Congressman.”


5/12/15

Posted May 13, 2015 - 5:00 am

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Election results


In Lowndes County, voters approved a $44 million school bond issue.



WTVA
http://www.wtva.com/news/local/story/Election-results/J926-KC25ka4X8GLgEE4NQ.cspx
5/12/15

Posted May 13, 2015 - 4:58 am

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