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This past week, the publication TechDirt published some pretty startling revelations about how the Motion Picture Association of America was hand-in-glove coordinating with the Mississippi Attorney General’s Office with regards an ongoing effort that was codenamed “Project Goliath” set to tackle Google.

As I was preparing this piece, I had to say that I was stunned to see the Clarion Ledger even run a small blurb article mentioning this. But it’s just candidly the tip of the iceberg. This story has been percolating for a while, but has yet to see any sort of meaningful press attention in Mississippi.

We, of course, have been following this story the whole way. The first salvo was fired by Hood in mid-2013 and it has been a pretty steady stream of hostilities between Hood’s office and Google ever since. If you want more information on the story, go to our search function and type in "Google" and all of the stories will come up.

Back in December 2014, there came the revelation that MPAA was essentially helping the Attorney General’s office craft CIDs (Civil Investigative Demands) against Google. Well, Google didn’t think that was too sporting, so they sued Hood in Federal Court and seem to be winning that battle. Judge Henry Wingate ruled that Hood’s office was acting “in bad faith” and there is a rash of discovery, most of which has not been in the public eye to this point.

Fast forward a bit – there is another related civil lawsuit in the Southern District of New York (1:15-mc-00150-P1). In this case, Google is suing Fox, NBC and Viacom to subpoena communications with the entertainment industry and Hood’s office that “are likely to show that the Attorney General's investigation was intended not to uncover supposed violations of Mississippi law, but instead to coerce Google into silencing speech that Viacom, Fox, and NBC do not like . . .” Inside the context of that request, Google is pushing out some of the discovery that’s already come their way from the Mississippi case . . . and it’s fascinating stuff.

It starts with Hood’s comments at the National Association of Attorneys General in June 2013, right when hostilities were started against Google (aka Goliath).

As we move into the fall, we see the coziness of Tom Perrelli with Hood in emails in October. Hood then starts trading emails with Vans Stevenson, who is in house counsel at MPAA talking about how Perrelli drafted the “great letter that I will send Google” for agenda of what would in essence be a shakedown meeting.

There were lots of communications between industry execs (Sony, Disney, Fox, Warner Brothers, MPAA and RIAA), staffers from Hood’s office and, of course, Mike Moore.

Internal MPAA-RIAA Docs With Hood and Moore



But the big bomb came out this past week. In March of this year, they talked openly about a coordinated attack that essentially was going to result in (1) planted Wall Street Journal editorials (2) Today Show features and (3) generated SEC/regulatory actions all geared toward putting downward pressure on Google’s stock.

MS AG Jim Hood's staff emails with MPAA re: Google



At the end, they go on to say that if that doesn’t work, “. . . if necessary, we propose that the AGs will issue CIDs to Google. We have researched these issues in the past and can draw from that experience.”

Those are the facts, now here’s the opinion. If you own a Google stock or a mutual fund (pretty much any mutual fund as Google is massively held), it appears to me that you have state employees in the Attorney General’s office and even the Attorney General himself being at best knowing pawns and at worst complicit actors in a litigation strategy (with their industry competitors) to manipulate the price of a stock against you. I’m not sure I’m cool with paying people in the public sector to drive down the stock of a company that I might directly or indirectly as a knowing part of their litigation strategy that benefits lobbyists, corporations and trial lawyers that don't even live here. Maybe there are some enterprising trial lawyers that can cook up that cause of action.

Either way, this Google litigation is going to go on and there will be more revelations and more unbelievable emails that give an inside glimpse into how companies are shaken down with the help of cozy lobbyist relationships with AGs. Ours just seems to be really popular among lobbyists for doing it. I’m afraid this story, like other Mississippi shakedowns before it, will get worse. Hopefully, the print media in Mississippi will stop shaking in their Nikes and give this story the very real attention it deserves.

Posted July 28, 2015 - 4:43 pm

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Philadelphia's WHOC will be live broadcasting political speeches (via audio and video) from Founders' Square at the Neshoba County Fair.

Here's the link.

Posted July 28, 2015 - 3:56 pm

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SGLF Launches Multi-Platform Ad Buy Promoting Commissioner Chaney’s Record of Success

Today, the State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) launched a multi-platform ad buy – including radio and digital – on the Mississippi Gulf Coast promoting state Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney’s extensive record of fighting to protect Gulf Coast residents. The ads will run for one week and serve to remind Mississippians of the steps Commissioner Chaney has taken while in office to look out for those in Mississippi who may need insurance protection the most.

“From opening a Gulf Coast office to better serve South Mississippi residents impacted by Hurricane Katrina to fighting to lower flood insurance costs, Commissioner Chaney has made protecting Mississippians a top priority during his time in office,” said SGLF Executive Director Matt Walter. “In a state where affordable, quality insurance coverage is so critical to all of its residents, the Magnolia State has an ally in Commissioner Chaney.”

Radio Script:
“When it comes to watching out for Mississippi families, Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney is getting the job done. By opening a Mississippi Insurance Department office on the Gulf Coast to serve thousands of residents devastated by Hurricane Katrina and fighting to lower insurance premiums and better protect the homes of thousands of recovering families. And when it comes to safeguarding our tax dollars and financial future, Commissioner Chaney has dedicated his career to doing just that by helping return nearly $16 million dollars to consumers in claims and premium payments and helping reduce auto insurance premiums by up to 20 percent. And when the Federal Government wanted to increase our flood insurance costs - Commissioner Chaney fought back until Congress passed a new law to reverse the higher costs. Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney - A resilient fighter who will keep protecting Mississippi. Paid for by the State Government Leadership Foundation.”

About the SGLF
The State Government Leadership Foundation (SGLF) spotlights hotbed issues and conservative policies that state government officials wrestle with most. For too long, out-of-touch leaders in the states have colluded with special interests to raise taxes, swell state budgets, and increase the size of government. The SGLF is taking the lead on educating elected and appointed state government officials, providing support to local officeholders, and highlighting meaningful, conservative solutions. The SGLF is a 501 (c)(4) social welfare organization and is a strategic partner of the Republican State Leadership Committee, one of the largest conservative caucuses in the country.

SGLF
7/28/15

Posted July 28, 2015 - 2:01 pm

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From the Y'allPolitics Memory Division, we've documented the fundraising woes of the United Conservatives Fund. In Mississippi, it's been a handful of donors.

But did you also know that the UCF had a Federal PAC? They do. They formed it up early this year. So far, they've raised, in the immortal words of Dean Wormer, "Zero . . . point . . . zero".

While "calling his shot" in February when the UCF launched . . .

“If we can get just a thousand people to contribute, say $50 a month, that is $50,000 a month to spread the word of conservatism,” said McDaniel.

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


That's $600,000 per year they were talkin'. Pretty heady stuff. The truth is they're having trouble getting a few dozen people to contribute $50/month. As of June, their intake for the year was $16K and they'd spent about half of that already.

In a once-in-every-four year cycle, this is when you raise money and help candidates. This is when you endorse candidates. This is when you move the needle for a "conservative revolution". This is when you have impact. They talked big early about evaluating, endorsing and funding candidates, but it's been a big fat nothin' that has happened so far.

Nothin.


Posted July 28, 2015 - 1:36 pm

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Lynn Fitch: Over $200,000 in Campaign Finance Irregularities


You would think of all people our State Treasurer would have impeccable campaign finance reports … but you’d be wrong about that.

There are more than $200,000 in discrepancies in Fitch’s campaign finance reports. These include very large unitemized personal reimbursements, large unitemized credit card payments, suspiciously high charges at luxury spas and hotels, and over $120,000 in disbursements for an apparent loan that was never properly disclosed.

If we can’t trust our State Treasurer Lynn Fitch with her own campaign finances, how can we trust her with the taxpayers’ finances? And perhaps more importantly, what information is she hiding in these suspicious campaign finance reports?

“Our campaign finance laws need reforming. These practices are illegal under federal campaign law and should be under Mississippi’s. But a law shouldn’t be required for Lynn Fitch to do the right thing. I challenge Lynn Fitch to live up to her promise of transparency and come clean on these questionable expenditures,” said Republican candidate for Treasurer David McRae.

Spas, Credit Cards, Luxury Hotels, and other Questionable Expenditures

$13,032.96 – American Express – unitemized and no date. (2/1/13 report)
$5,576.67 – Bank of America – unitemized and no date. (2/1/13 report)
$3,934.28 – Mandarin Oriental - no date. (2/1/13 report) No further detail. Is this the luxury spa and hotel chain?
$1,125.67 – Marriott - 12/8/11- “travel” (post general election vacation?)
$1,513.40 – Embassy Suites - 10/6/11 – “travel” (post primary election vacation?)
$945.81 – Hilton Hotels - no date (10/10/12 report)
$1,500.00 – Governor’s Mansion Matt Huffman 1/9/13 – “campaign events”

Unitemized Personal Reimbursements

$36,494.53 – Lynn Fitch – unitemized and no date. (2/1/13 report)
$3,484.50 – Lynn Fitch – 5/7/15 – “expense reimbursement”
$1,086.50 – Lynn Fitch - 5/15/15 – “expense reimbursement”
$2,515.54 – Lynn Fitch - 3/31/15 – “expense reimbursement”
$570.99 – Lynn Fitch - 1/21/15 – ”expense reimbursement”
$5,576.88 – Lynn Fitch - 1/30/15 – itemized, but several entries seem unusually high.
$5,042.26 – Lynn Fitch - 1/17/14 – itemized, but several entries seem unusually high.

Undocumented Loan Payments

$86,581.05 – Trustmark - no date but on 2/1/13 report
$10,000.00 – Trustmark 5/10/15 – “loan payment”
$2,970.00 – Trustmark - 2/20/15 – “interest expense”
$2,940.00 – Trustmark - 4/23/15 – “interest expense”
$12,070.75 – Trustmark Loan Operations 1/30/15 – “interest expense” (five disbursements on 1/10, 4/7, two on 7/11, and 9/11)
$7,155.55 – Trustmark Loan Operations (two disbursements 6/17 /13 and 9/9/13) “interest expense”
$3,750.00 – Trustmark - 1/10/12 - “loan payable”
$1,000.00 – Trustmark - 10/5/11 – “loan payment”
$829.78 – Trustmark - 9/9/11 – “note payable

Campaign loans are allowed under law, but Lynn Fitch has never disclosed receiving a campaign loan from Trustmark. How much is the loan? When was the loan made to the campaign? Who signed for the loan – just Ms. Fitch or others too?

David McRae Press Release
7/28/15

Posted July 28, 2015 - 1:22 pm

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Unusually High Absentee Voting Activity Reported

A statewide comparison of absentee ballots cast thus far in the Primary Election shows several counties have a high number of absentee ballots requested.

“High absentee ballots are always cause for concern with our Agency,” says Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann. “Now that Mississippi has passed Voter ID, absentee balloting has the highest potential for fraud in our State.”

Percentages are based on the total number of eligible voters to the total number of requested absentee ballots. On average, the percentage of absentee ballots cast in an election is 5-6%.

Counties whose requested absentee ballots are higher than 5%:

• Noxubee 13.66%
• Quitman 10.77%
• Claiborne 7.73%
• Tallahatchie 7.20%
• Benton 5.8%

Washington County (0.20%) and Jackson County (0.22%) have the lowest percentage of absentee ballots requested.

“More and more people are stating they will be ‘out of the county’ on Election Day to cast an absentee ballot,” adds Secretary Hosemann. “Absentee balloting has become early voting in Mississippi. As we have on prior occasions, we have requested some Circuit Clerks provide copies of all absentee ballots following the Primary Election.”

In-person absentee balloting at the Circuit Clerk’s Office ends this Saturday (August 1, 2015) at 12:00 pm. Mail-in absentee ballots must be received by the Circuit Clerk’s Office no later than 5:00 pm, Monday, August 3, 2015.

For a complete list of who is eligible to cast an absentee ballot on Election Day, please review our County Election Handbook available at http://www.sos.ms.gov.

SOS Delbert Hosemann
7/28/15

Posted July 28, 2015 - 7:44 am

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Mississippi County Sued in Federal Court for Corrupted Voter Rolls
Statewide Elections Loom November 2015 with Multiple Counties Having Implausible Rolls

The Public Interest Legal Foundation has filed a lawsuit in federal court against the Clarke County Election Commission in Mississippi because it has more voters on the rolls than living citizens. The lawsuit alleges a violation of Section 8 of the National Voter Registration Act (NVRA) in that the Clarke County Election Commission failed to reasonably maintain voter rolls.

The plaintiff in the case is the American Civil Rights Union. The plaintiff originally sent the defendant a notice letter in June 2014 describing potential violations of federal election law, asking to review election records, and seeking a cure. The defendant never replied to the letter.

The complaint states: “Voter rolls maintained by the Defendant for Clarke County contain more voters registered to vote than citizens eligible to vote. In March 2015 . . . Clarke County, Mississippi had 12,646 registered voters, despite having a voting age population of only 12,549 according to the United States Census. More than 100 percent of living citizens old enough to vote were registered to vote in Clarke County in 2015.”

Corrupted voter rolls in Clarke County are not simply a recent phenomenon. “During the 2010 federal general election, over 101 percent of living citizens eligible to vote in Clarke County were registered to vote,” the complaint alleges.

Mississippi has statewide elections in November 2015. “Corrupted voter rolls provide the perfect environment for voter fraud,” said J. Christian Adams, President and General Counsel of the Public Interest Legal Foundation. “Mississippians should not have to wonder this November if their legitimate vote was cancelled by a vote cast by an illegitimate vote in Clarke County.”

This enforcement action is the first case in the Public Interest Legal Foundation’s efforts to clean corrupted voter rolls around the nation ahead of the 2016 Presidential election. The Obama Justice Department has shut down enforcement of Section 8 of the NVRA and thus allowed voters rolls around the nation to remain corrupted and filled with ineligible registrations. The plaintiff, through lawyers in this case, have brought similar lawsuits and obtained consent decrees against other Mississippi counties for corrupted voter rolls.

The Public Interest Legal Foundation (PILF), (formerly Act Right Legal Foundation), is a 501(c)(3) public interest law firm dedicated to election integrity. PILF exists to assist states and others to aid the cause of election integrity and fight against lawlessness in American elections. Drawing on numerous experts in the field, PILF seeks to protect the right to vote and preserve the Constitutional framework of American elections.

Complaint: http://publicinterestlegal.org/files/Complaint-ACRU-v-Clarke-Co-Final.pdf


Public Interest Legal Foundation Press Release
7/28/15

Posted July 28, 2015 - 7:35 am

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A glance at primary candidates for Public Service Commission

Seven candidates are running in three primaries for Public Service Commission seats on Aug. 4. Here are brief biographies of the candidates.

AP
7/27/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 4:49 pm

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Google: Emails show Hood, MPAA wanted to smear company

Google attached as an exhibit to its latest filing a March 2013 email exchange between MPAA director of external state government affairs Brian Cohen and AG's office staff attorneys Meredith Aldridge and Blake Bee. In the correspondence, the three bullet-point potential agenda items for the June 2013 meeting of the National Association of Attorneys General in Boston.

One of them is referred to "an attack on Google," carried out by the media divisions of NBCUniversal Media, Viacom and Twenty-First Century Fox. Among the suggestions were a segment on NBC's The Today Show in which an unnamed "large investor of Google" denounces the tech giant's online conduct. The email also mentions a Wall Street Journal editorial that warns against Google's stock falling "in the face of a sustained attack by AGs and noting some of the possible causes of action we have developed."

Making "live buys" via Google search of illegal drugs, illegal firearms and counterfeit goods available to media was part of the plan, too.

"Please make sure you keep it confidential – we don't want word getting out about the plans," Aldridge wrote to Cohen. Bee was not copied on that email, but Cohen did loop him in a day earlier when he asked about agenda items for the NAAG meeting.

"Our pleadings speak for themselves as does the fact that forty other state attorneys general support our office’s authority to conduct this investigation of Google," read a written statement from Hood's office. A Google spokesman said no one from the company would comment beyond the court filing.

Clarion Ledger
7/27/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 3:19 pm

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BP settlement is 'Christmas in July' for Coast cities, counties, schools and attorneys

"I'm sure that there will be some spent in other places," said State Sen. Philip Moran, R-Kiln, But he and other Coast legislatures are fighting against that. "I'm of the belief that the money really should be spent in the bottom three counties," he said.

Sen. Scott DeLano, R-Biloxi, said the Coast delegation is working with leadership in the House, Senate and with the governor's office to dedicate the $750 million to bringing a bigger return for the Coast.

For instance, he said if $80 million in federal highway money were available for the Popp's Ferry Bridge, the local match might be $20 million. The improvements would be a life-safety issue to help with evacuation and allow more maritime traffic to pass to the Industrial seaway, creating an economic development opportunity. "To me that's a good investment," he said.

The $750 million is just economic damages, he said. "$1.5 billion will be spent on restoring and rejuvenating our ecosystems and our environment down here."

Proposed projects are expensive and DeLano said, "We could spend this money very quickly. I want to make sure that we just spend that money wisely."

People are going to be watching how Mississippi and the other states use the money -- "and they should," DeLano said. "You'd better believe we're going to have some accountability measures put in place."

The money also will create jobs. Said DeLano: "We want these to be local jobs and this money to be turned over within the Coastal economy,"



Sun Herald
7/27/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 2:26 pm

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While everyone is gearing up for statewide politics at the Neshoba County Fair this week, there's some interesting politics going on inside the MS Band of Choctaw Indians.

The Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians now once again faces a redo election for chief after the Tribal Council voted 9-8 Friday afternoon to ignore the Tribal Election Commission. The commission had previously upheld Tribal Chief Phyllis Anderson's re-eelection. Anderson has now defeated Denson three times (Beasley challenged the results four years ago too). Beasley came to power eight years ago by defeating longtime Tribal Chief Phillip Martin, who led the tribe out of abject poverty into the mainstream of Mississippi's economy through a focus on manufacturing and resort gaming.

Denson won, in part, by hammering Martin on his reliance on "outsiders" - (read "non Choctaw"). Interestingly, front and center at Denson's side at Friday's Tribal Council meeting to hear the election appeal were a couple more political outsiders: former Democratic Congressman Ronnie Shows and Democratic Trust Chairman Brandon Jones. Apparently either they have an abiding love for Denson or perhaps the Mississippi Democrats see a potential source of campaign dollars - Tribal Casinos. And you'd think with the MS Democratic party continuing to be the political and financial disaster that it is, Jones in particular would be dedicating more time to that effort instead of finding new outside battles to fight. Or maybe he's just given up on electing Democrats.

This time, Anderson beat Denson 1,907-1,764 (basically 52%/48%), but Denson appears to not consider elections as the final word. To Denson, this election isn't about the will of the Choctaw People. After all, after electing him eight years ago, a clear majority of Choctaw voters have three times rejected him. For Denson, this appears to be about who has the most pals on the Tribal Council and the last-ditch hope enough tribal members will have grown weary of going to the polls to vote against him.

Interestingly, when Denson successfully defeated Tribal Chief Phillip Martin eight years ago, Martin's political team began exploring a challenge. Chief Martin stopped the process and conceded the election, understanding that unfounded election challenges are corrosive to public confidence. Chief Martin seemed to get that challenges are not routine parts of campaigns. They are supposed to be invoked to preserve democracy, not overturn it. Too bad other Mississippi politicians didn't get that message.

It is a shame for the majority of Mississippi Band of Choctaw Indians voters that cast their ballots that Beasley Denson and his political pals in the Democratic Party don't seem to share that opinion.


Posted July 27, 2015 - 1:04 pm

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MS Right To Life Endorses Stacey Pickering


The Mississippi Right to Life Political Action Committee has again endorsed Stacey Pickering as their candidate for State Auditor. Stacey has a long history in the legislature and as State Auditor of being a champion for the unborn. Stacey’s Christian values are at the core of every decision he makes.

“The citizens of Mississippi are pro-life, and it is through the commitment of candidates and officials like Stacey Pickering that Mississippi is able to be one of the most pro-life states in the nation,” said Barbara Whitehead, Chairman of the MSRTL PAC.

“It is the responsibility of each and every one of us to protect the unborn. I am very grateful to Mississippi Right to Life for this endorsement, and for all of the work that they do day-in and day-out to ensure the protection of Mississippi’s children. As a father of four children, every heartbeat matters. Whitney and I are honored to be a part of the Mississippi Right to Life organization.”

Stacey Pickering Press Release
7/27/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 11:44 am

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Our favorite fool is back as is his foolishness.

There is a determined effort to smear Republican legislators through mailers. The interesting part is the mailers were sent not by the usual Democratic suspects but instead by a group represented by former Chris McDaniel campaign spokesman and our old friend Noel Fritsch. Nothing like a bumbling braggadocios bully who thinks he is actually a super-genius. Fritsch the Fool generated some buzz a few months ago during the legislative session as a representative for the National Association for Gun Rights as he repeatedly threatened legislators, backstabbed Senators who sponsored his bills, and made the pages of the newspaper a few times with his antics. However, this bunch is back and at it again.


The National Association for Gun Rights sent out mailers targeting individual Republican legislators across Mississippi. What is funny is this bunch NEVER attacks Democrats. They also don't believe in following the law. The Clarion-Ledger reported in May that the group was fined $500 by the Secretary of State for seeking donations and avoiding registering with the state as required by law.


Kingfish Blog
7/27/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 10:07 am

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MISSISSIPPI RIGHT TO LIFE ENDORSES LT. GOV. REEVES

Mississippi Right to Life Political Action Committee today announced its support of Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves bid for re-election.

Mississippi Right to Life is an affiliate of the National Right to Life Committee, the nation’s oldest and largest pro-life organization.

“Lt. Gov. Reeves has fought to make Mississippi the safest place in America for an unborn child, and we look forward to another four years of his pro-life policies,” said Barbara Whitehead, chairwoman of Mississippi Right to Life PAC. “On Aug. 4, I urge pro-life voters to support his work to promote the family values that Mississippians hold dear.”

Under Lt. Gov. Reeves’ leadership, Mississippi has worked to protect the health and safety of women by regulating abortion-inducing drugs and requiring doctors at abortion clinics to have admitting privileges at a local hospital. Mississippi has banned abortions after the 20th week of pregnancy. He supported a law allowing patients to finalize end-of-life decisions with doctors through a Physician’s Order for Sustaining Treatment. He also has worked to encourage adoption by supporting a tax credit for families who chose to adopt a child.

“When you elected me as your lieutenant governor, I made a promise to you that I would promote the values of Mississippians, and I would protect the sanctity of life,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “I’m proud to say we are accomplishing those goals and making Mississippi the safest place in American for an unborn child.”

Tate Reeves Press Release
7/27/15


Posted July 27, 2015 - 9:05 am

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RELEASE:


COCHRAN SCORES VICTORY TO MAINTAIN WIRELESS TELEPHONE & INTERNET ACCESS FOR RURAL MISSISSIPPI

Appropriations Committee Approves Wide-Ranging Bill That Also Addresses Flood Risk Management Executive Order


WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, on Thursday supported committee passage of a FY2016 spending bill that includes provisions protecting wireless broadband Internet service in rural Mississippi.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the FY2016 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Bill, which funds the U.S. Treasury Department, the federal judiciary, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Small Business Administration, Internal Revenue Service and other independent government agencies.

The Senate bill, with support from Cochran, would prevent the FCC from making additional cuts to an important program used to expand internet service in rural areas of Mississippi and across the nation. Cochran pushed this effort on behalf of requests from the University of Mississippi Medical Center and citizens throughout Mississippi and its Delta region.

"The Universal Service Fund, as it stands now, is an important resource for maintaining and enhancing wireless broadband internet access in poor and rural areas of our state. This benefits Mississippi's efforts to expand telehealth services, education programs, precision agriculture, weather monitoring and other capabilities in areas that would otherwise have inadequate wireless broadband availability," Cochran said. "I am pleased that this appropriations bill would prohibit the Commission from diverting this funding for other uses until it comes up with a valid plan."

In addition, the Senate bill includes policy provisions to rein in administration overreach, cut bureaucratic red tape, and protect the rights of the American people. To bring regulatory relief to small community banks, the appropriations bill incorporates the Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015, which was approved by the Senate Banking Committee in May.

"The agencies funded by this bill touch the lives of every American household. This legislation makes responsible choices to help ensure that federal actions are helpful and not burdensome," Cochran said.

Also of interest to Mississippi, the bill would prohibit the use of funding in the bill to implement the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, which would require higher base flood level elevations for federally funded investments, until the Congress is satisfied that the Administration has adequately considered public input. (http://1.usa.gov/16rmWiH)

"This action is being taken because the flood risk management order was issued without consultation with the public, despite a provision in a previous appropriations act requiring the administration to consult with the public," Cochran said.

Other areas of interest to Mississippi in the FY2016 FSGG Appropriations Bill include:

Data Centers Consolidation - The bill contains language encouraging the General Services Administration to explore additional options for consolidation of existing data centers and available infrastructure to increase efficiency. In June, the committee approved the bill that funds NASA with instructions for that agency to continue to utilize and expand the National Center for Critical Information Processing and Storage, which is a national model for successful data center consolidation. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security uses the center as its primary national data center and reports the center will save billions of taxpayer dollars. The center is also home to the Navy's top supercomputer and other federal data assets.

Community Development Financial Institute (CDFI) - The bill provides $21 million in CDFI funding for the Bank Enterprise Award program, which supports FDIC-insured institutions that make significant investments in distressed communities. The measure includes language that encourages the CDFI to fund projects in non-metropolitan and rural areas, as well as those serving persistent poverty counties.

Small Business Administration (SBA) - The bill provides funding for the SBA to provide assistance to small businesses, expand the economy, and increase job growth for unemployed and underemployed Americans. The bill fully funds business loans and provides funding for disaster assistance. The bill also funds several valuable programs, including $115 million for Small Business Development Centers and $11.45 million for veterans outreach programs.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) - The bill cuts IRS funding by $470 million, which will require the agency to streamline its activities and prioritize available resources, including user fees, to perform core agency duties. The bill increases funding for Taxpayer Services to significantly improve the handling of identity theft cases and IRS response rates to telephone calls and correspondence from taxpayers. To ensure greater IRS accountability and transparency, the bill also includes:

* A prohibition on funds for bonuses or to rehire former employees unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration;

* A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs;

* A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights;

* A prohibition on funds for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences.

Other Legislative Provisions - The legislation contains several policy provisions, including:

* A prohibition on funds for an increase in pay for the Vice President and other senior political appointees;

* A prohibition on funding for grants or contracts to tax cheats and companies with felony criminal convictions;

* A prohibition against the use of funds to paint portraits of federal employees, including the President, Vice President, Cabinet Members and Members of Congress; and

* A requirement that departments and agencies funded by the bill link all contracts that provide award fees to successful acquisition outcomes, and a prohibition on funds to pay for award or incentive fees for contractors with below satisfactory performance.

###


7/24/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 5:40 am

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Legislative primaries prelude to November battle



“We feel very good about the elections this year,” House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, said recently in an e-mail response. “The Republicans in the House have a great record to run on, and I believe that will show at the ballot boxes.

“I’m confident that we will not only come back with the majority, but that we will come back with more Republicans serving in the House than ever before.”

Not surprisingly, Rep. Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto, the House Democratic leader, provides an alternative view.

“The main thing is I would rather be in the position of the House Democrats than the Republicans today,” Moak said. “We like our numbers, and we like our positions.

“We believe we have made a strong record on education and health care.”



Daily Journal
7/26/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 5:33 am

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Point-Counterpoint: Spending BP settlement funds



The Clarion-Ledger invited Andrew Whitehurst, water program director for the Gulf Restoration Network, and House Transportation Committee Chairman Robert Johnson, D-Natchez, to provide their thoughts on this week’s Point/Counterpoint question: How should the Legislature spend the first $150 million of BP settlement funds?

Whitehurst

The BP settlement money should go for needs on the coast where the vast majority of damage happened: where the hotels were empty, where a full commercial fishing season was cancelled and where the shrimp and oyster harvests are still reduced. The Legislature will, no doubt, offer many competing ideas for spending the first installment of the 17-year payout of a $750 million BP settlement for economic damage. Senator Wiggins from Jackson County, in a recent newspaper article, predicted a combative 2016 Legislative session over ideas for spending the first $150 million from BP.

Johnson

Along the Mississippi Gulf of Mexico there are four public ports that are vital to the economic health of the State of Mississippi and Mississippi’s participation in the global economic environment. However the Mississippi Gulf Coast doesn’t exist on an island. It is part of the overall economic and infrastructure system for the State of Mississippi and as a result it also shares all of its problems.



ClarionLedger
7/25/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 5:28 am

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The Clarion Ledger published their 2015 Voter Guide profiling candidates running statewide and in the central Mississippi area for the Legislature.


Click here.


7/26/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 5:25 am

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Indictment, qualifications frame Madison judge race



Justice Court Judge Bill Weisenberger isn’t just facing an upcoming legal battle. He’s also facing five challengers in the Aug. 4 Republican primary.

And a Democrat and two independents are waiting in the wings for the general election in November.

Weisenberger, the Republican incumbent, was indicted in February for felony simple assault on a vulnerable adult. The indictments stem from a May 2014 incident at the Canton flea market where Weisenberger allegedly struck 20-year-old Eric Rivers, an African-American man, and yelled, “Run, n-----, run.”

In April, the Mississippi Supreme Court suspended Weisenberger from the bench, with pay.



ClarionLedger
7/25/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 5:18 am

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Hinds County DA and challenger disagree on backlog



Hinds County’s district attorney’s race has become a battle over backlog with incumbent Robert Shuler Smith saying there isn’t one and challenger Stanley Alexander citing 2,100 cases awaiting trial to say there is.

Smith will try to hold onto the job he had held since 2008 when voters go to the polls in the Aug. 4 primary.

He faces a determined challenger in Alexander, an assistant attorney general and a former Hinds County assistant district attorney.



ClarionLedger
7/25/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 5:15 am

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WTOK
7/24/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 5:04 am

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Education stands divide candidates for Mississippi Legislature



Democratic chairman Rickey Cole said his party hopes to cut into the Republicans' sizeable advantages in both the House and Senate.

"Whether that gets us to a majority in either chamber, only time will tell," he said. "The math out there is in our favor to gain seats in the House and the Senate. And we have some first-rate, top-quality candidates all over the state."

He said several of those swept into office in the Tea Party wave now face primary opponents, and if they prevail there, will face strong Democratic candidates.

"We have eight or nine chances to pick up Republican seats," he said. "On the House side there are close to two-dozen Republican seats that will be competitive."

Republicans hold a 67-54 advantage in the House and a 32-20 advantage in the Senate.

The difference on education

Cole said the line has been drawn on education.

"Democratic candidates all favor full funding of public education," he said. "I don't know of any Democratic candidates for the Legislature that aren't supportive of Initiative 42.

"Most of the Republican members are on the opposite side of that."






Sunherald
7/26/15

Posted July 27, 2015 - 4:50 am

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Smoking Gun: MPAA Emails Reveal Plan To Run Anti-Google Smear Campaign Via Today Show And WSJ


However, in a filing on Thursday, Google revealed one of the few emails that they have been able to get access to so far, and it's stunning. It's an email between the MPAA and two of Jim Hood's top lawyers in the Mississippi AG's office, discussing the big plan to "hurt" Google. Beyond influencing other Attorneys General (using misleading fake "setups" of searches for "bad" material) and paying for fake anti-Google research, the lawyers from Hood's office flat out admit that they're expecting the MPAA and the major studios to have its media arms run a coordinated propaganda campaign of bogus anti-Google stories:
Media: We want to make sure that the media is at the NAAG meeting. We propose working with MPAA (Vans), Comcast, and NewsCorp (Bill Guidera) to see about working with a PR firm to create an attack on Google (and others who are resisting AG efforts to address online piracy). This PR firm can be funded through a nonprofit dedicated to IP issues. The "live buys" should be available for the media to see, followed by a segment the next day on the Today Show (David green can help with this). After the Today Show segment, you want to have a large investor of Google (George can help us determine that) come forward and say that Google needs to change its behavior/demand reform. Next, you want NewsCorp to develop and place an editorial in the WSJ emphasizing that Google's stock will lose value in the face of a sustained attack by AGs and noting some of the possible causes of action we have developed.
In other words, Jim Hood and the MPAA were out and out planning a coordinated media attack on Google using the editorial properties that supposedly claim to have editorial independence from the business side. Notice that with the WSJ piece, they flat out admit that the editorial will be based on the ideas that "we" have developed. If you work for the WSJ, your editorial independence just got shot down. Remember when CBS stepped in and interfered editorially with CNET for giving an award to Dish at the same time that CBS was in a legal fight over that same device? That resulted in reporters quitting.

This is worse.

This is an out and out case where the MPAA is admitting to a plan whereby it will use mainstream media properties to run bogus and misleading stories to "attack" Google, to further the MPAA's (believed, but misleadingly so) business interests. Is this really how the Today Show and the WSJ pick their editorial topics?


MPAA emails with Jim Hood's office to coordinate Google attack




Tech Dirt
7/25/15

Posted July 26, 2015 - 8:36 pm

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Salter: State term limits still poor public policy

UCF’s proposed Initiative 51 “limits the number of consecutive terms a person can serve in the same state house, state senate or statewide elected office to no more than two terms after the adoption of the amendment. Terms would be deemed consecutive unless separated by a full four-year term.”

Back in May, Plunkett wrote: “The time for term limits has come, and the majority of Mississippians know it. We are at a time and place in history that demands a more hands-on approach from the people. Limiting state legislators and statewide elected officials to two consecutive terms is only a start, but it’s a good start.”

McDaniel, UCF’s chairman, said: “Unlike other term limits proposals this won’t block anyone from public service. Our goal is to increase participation and make elective office more accessible to people who want to serve. The power of incumbency has built a wall between people and their representatives. This has caused an increase in cronyism, back room deals and corruption. We believe regularly changing out officeholders is a step toward transcending those problems.”


Sid Salter
Clarion Ledger
7/26/15

Posted July 26, 2015 - 8:14 pm

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Support Initiative 42, ignore scare tactics: Column

First, some assert that 42 would require an immediate tax increase and/or an immediate cut of approximately 7.8 percent in all other state agency budgets. This assertion is not correct. The initiative petition specifies, explicitly, that funding increases are to be based on increases in general state revenues. If the economy grows in a given year and revenues increase, the petition calls for 25 percent of such increase to be used to augment the previous year’s funding. If in a given year no such increase occurs, education funding would not increase.

Based on revenue projections by the nonpartisan Mississippi Economic Policy Center, it will take approximately seven years, until 2022, to reach funding levels called for by current law. The initiative does not contemplate immediate full-funding in any form or fashion. The threats of required agency cuts or tax increases are simply inaccurate and misleading, and no one should fall for this divide-and-conquer strategy.

The second objection involves court jurisdiction. Existing state law places jurisdiction of any relevant legal challenge in Hinds County, and you may have heard opponents of 42 assert that “we don’t want a judge in Hinds County dictating our state’s education funding.” There are three flaws with this line of argument.


Jim Barksdale
7/26/15

Posted July 26, 2015 - 8:09 pm

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Regional battle over BP money could be ameliorated

elatively sludge and tar-ball free, its leaders have already said they want up to $400 million to fix leaky sewerage and such. They figure this would help the Coast based on a Pearl River trickle-down theory. This prompted my counterpart Paul Hampton at the Sun Herald to opine, “They must be smoking something strong up on High Street.”

Rep. David Baria of Bay St. Louis, is already drafting a bill he wants to pre-file before next year’s session to require at least 80 percent of the BP settlement money over which the Legislature will have dominion be spent in the three Coast counties.

Many Coastians (they never call themselves that) are still upset over the Starkville parking garage funded by Katrina recovery money. Many inland leaders still don’t trust their Coast counterparts not to take money from the state and put it all on red at a roulette table.

If I were an inland lawmaker, I might be a little afraid I’d end up in Biloxi Sen. Tommy Gollott’s crab traps in the Back Bay if I pushed to spend oil settlement money away from the Coast.

Clarion Ledger
7/26/15




Posted July 26, 2015 - 8:04 pm

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Pickering's wife: RV 'second home' at Disney

In an interview Friday, Pickering said he paid "taxes, tags and title" personally for the RV and a BMW the campaign purchased, but would not clearly say whether he listed them as income and paid income taxes on them. In a later written statement, he said, "We have paid the insurance and taxes on the (RV) since it was purchased to cover any personal use."

In 2007, the campaign began making payments of $701 a month to a bank listed as use of an RV. No such payments showed in his 2008 campaign report, but showed up again in 2009. From early 2011, what appear to be similar payments are listed as "travel expense." The payments total at least $55,000.


Clarion Ledger
7/26/15

Posted July 26, 2015 - 8:01 pm

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Hall: Pickering needs to lay everything on the table

It’s the second point that will be the ultimate takeaway from this entire ordeal. If state law strictly prohibited candidates from converting campaign funds to private income, then there would be no questions to answer. It would be a right or wrong situation, transparent to everyone.

However, current state campaign finance laws allow candidates to take money from their campaigns and convert it to personal use, so long as they claim it on their income taxes. Donors don’t much like this, but it’s the way Mississippi works. In fact, some elected officials actually “live out of their campaigns,” so to speak. They pay themselves a salary or pay personal expenditures with campaign funds. Neither the general public nor donors know if they are doing anything wrong because we don’t know if they actually claim that income or not.


Sam Hall
Clarion Ledger
7/26/15

Posted July 26, 2015 - 7:07 pm

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Posted July 24, 2015 - 2:05 pm

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Mississippi delegation attacks carbon dioxide limits


“We believe Mississippi has been treated unfairly and disproportionately under the Clean Power Plan compared to the vast majority of states,” the letter says, according to a news release Thursday.

The letter was signed by Republican Sens. Thad Cochran and Roger Wicker, Democratic Rep. Bennie Thompson and Republican Reps. Gregg Harper, Steven Palazzo and Trent Kelly.



MS Delegation Letter on Clean Power Plan 111d




Washington Times
7/24/15

Posted July 24, 2015 - 1:47 pm

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COCHRAN SCORES VICTORY TO MAINTAIN WIRELESS TELEPHONE & INTERNET ACCESS FOR RURAL MISSISSIPPI

Appropriations Committee Approves Wide-Ranging Bill That Also Addresses Flood Risk Management Executive Order

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, on Thursday supported committee passage of a FY2016 spending bill that includes provisions protecting wireless broadband Internet service in rural Mississippi.

The Senate Appropriations Committee has approved the FY2016 Financial Services and General Government (FSGG) Appropriations Bill, which funds the U.S. Treasury Department, the federal judiciary, Federal Communications Commission (FCC), Small Business Administration, Internal Revenue Service and other independent government agencies.

The Senate bill, with support from Cochran, would prevent the FCC from making additional cuts to an important program used to expand internet service in rural areas of Mississippi and across the nation. Cochran pushed this effort on behalf of requests from the University of Mississippi Medical Center and citizens throughout Mississippi and its Delta region.

“The Universal Service Fund, as it stands now, is an important resource for maintaining and enhancing wireless broadband internet access in poor and rural areas of our state. This benefits Mississippi’s efforts to expand telehealth services, education programs, precision agriculture, weather monitoring and other capabilities in areas that would otherwise have inadequate wireless broadband availability,” Cochran said. “I am pleased that this appropriations bill would prohibit the Commission from diverting this funding for other uses until it comes up with a valid plan.”

In addition, the Senate bill includes policy provisions to rein in administration overreach, cut bureaucratic red tape, and protect the rights of the American people. To bring regulatory relief to small community banks, the appropriations bill incorporates the Financial Regulatory Improvement Act of 2015, which was approved by the Senate Banking Committee in May.

“The agencies funded by this bill touch the lives of every American household. This legislation makes responsible choices to help ensure that federal actions are helpful and not burdensome,” Cochran said.

Also of interest to Mississippi, the bill would prohibit the use of funding in the bill to implement the Federal Flood Risk Management Standard, which would require higher base flood level elevations for federally funded investments, until the Congress is satisfied that the Administration has adequately considered public input. (http://1.usa.gov/16rmWiH)

“This action is being taken because the flood risk management order was issued without consultation with the public, despite a provision in a previous appropriations act requiring the administration to consult with the public,” Cochran said.

Other areas of interest to Mississippi in the FY2016 FSGG Appropriations Bill include:

Data Centers Consolidation – The bill contains language encouraging the General Services Administration to explore additional options for consolidation of existing data centers and available infrastructure to increase efficiency. In June, the committee approved the bill that funds NASA with instructions for that agency to continue to utilize and expand the National Center for Critical Information Processing and Storage, which is a national model for successful data center consolidation. Currently, the Department of Homeland Security uses the center as its primary national data center and reports the center will save billions of taxpayer dollars. The center is also home to the Navy’s top supercomputer and other federal data assets.

Community Development Financial Institute (CDFI) – The bill provides $21 million in CDFI funding for the Bank Enterprise Award program, which supports FDIC-insured institutions that make significant investments in distressed communities. The measure includes language that encourages the CDFI to fund projects in non-metropolitan and rural areas, as well as those serving persistent poverty counties.

Small Business Administration (SBA) – The bill provides funding for the SBA to provide assistance to small businesses, expand the economy, and increase job growth for unemployed and underemployed Americans. The bill fully funds business loans and provides funding for disaster assistance. The bill also funds several valuable programs, including $115 million for Small Business Development Centers and $11.45 million for veterans outreach programs.

Internal Revenue Service (IRS) – The bill cuts IRS funding by $470 million, which will require the agency to streamline its activities and prioritize available resources, including user fees, to perform core agency duties. The bill increases funding for Taxpayer Services to significantly improve the handling of identity theft cases and IRS response rates to telephone calls and correspondence from taxpayers. To ensure greater IRS accountability and transparency, the bill also includes:
• A prohibition on funds for bonuses or to rehire former employees unless employee conduct and tax compliance is given consideration;
• A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target groups for regulatory scrutiny based on their ideological beliefs;
• A prohibition on funds for the IRS to target individuals for exercising their First Amendment rights;
• A prohibition on funds for the production of inappropriate videos and conferences.

Other Legislative Provisions – The legislation contains several policy provisions, including:
• A prohibition on funds for an increase in pay for the Vice President and other senior political appointees;
• A prohibition on funding for grants or contracts to tax cheats and companies with felony criminal convictions;
• A prohibition against the use of funds to paint portraits of federal employees, including the President, Vice President, Cabinet Members and Members of Congress; and
• A requirement that departments and agencies funded by the bill link all contracts that provide award fees to successful acquisition outcomes, and a prohibition on funds to pay for award or incentive fees for contractors with below satisfactory performance.

Sen. Thad Cochran Press Release
7/24/15


Posted July 24, 2015 - 12:35 pm

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Mississippians deserve a strong and positive Mississippi! I am proud of our record at the Treasurer's office. With your help, we will continue to protect Mississippi by saving money and building a strong financial culture for our future.

Posted by Lynn Fitch for State Treasurer on Friday, July 24, 2015


Posted July 24, 2015 - 10:24 am

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RELEASE:


A FIRST IN SIX YEARS: SENATE COMMITTEE COMPLETES WORK ON ALL 12 APPROPRIATIONS BILLS



Not Since 2009 Has Committee Made All Appropriations Bills Available for Senate Consideration and Debate



WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate Committee on Appropriations today cleared its final appropriations measure, marking the first time since 2009 that all 12 appropriations bills have been approved by the full committee.



Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised the committee’s work to make all 12 measures available for consideration by the full Senate.



“The Appropriations Committee took to heart the commitment that the new Congress would get back to work. For the first time in six years, we’ve fulfilled a basic responsibility by moving 12 bills through the committee. Senators should have a chance to debate these bills one at a time, offer amendments and advocate for issues that are important to their constituents,” Cochran said. “Our bills reflect thoughtful, responsible, and frequently bipartisan decisions about prioritizing funding to improve the operation of the government and, where necessary, rein in executive overreach. The bills deserve to be considered by the Senate and enacted into law.”



“Chairman Cochran has done a masterful job getting all 12 appropriations bills through committee. These bills maintain the bipartisan fiscal discipline agreed to in the Budget Control Act while still providing the funding the President requested for defense. They also take important steps toward rolling back excessive regulatory burdens that hold back our economy. Nearly every one of these appropriations bills enjoyed bipartisan support in committee, which is why it’s so disappointing to see Democrats now working to filibuster them on the Senate floor as part of some ‘Filibuster Summer’ game designed to extract a few more dollars for Washington bureaucrats. The new Senate is finally getting the appropriations process back on track, so Senate Democrats shouldn’t stand in the way of that progress by holding funding for the troops hostage for unrelated political demands,” McConnell said.


The committee-reported bills passed by a cumulative total of 277-83. Since January, the committee conducted numerous meetings and briefings, 56 oversight hearings, and seven full committee markups.



The Defense Appropriations bill, which includes funding requested by the President for equipment and training, active-duty military pay and combatting ISIS, was filibustered by Senate Democrats on June 18. The minority has pledged to continue to block debate on all funding measures unless Congress agrees to increase federal spending.




7/23/15

Posted July 24, 2015 - 10:06 am

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RELEASE:


Wicker, Feinstein Introduce Truck Safety Amendment





WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., have introduced an amendment to require the Department of Transportation (DOT) to complete a comprehensive safety study before longer trucks are permitted on highways. The amendment would also require the agency to conduct a formal rulemaking process with public notice and comment period.



The Feinstein-Wicker amendment has been offered to the “DRIVE Act,” also known as the highway bill, which is currently being debated on the Senate floor.



“I believe states are in the best position to make safety decisions about truck size,” Wicker said. “Nearly 40 states, including Mississippi, prohibit twin 33-foot trucks from operating within their jurisdictions. Initial estimates show that longer, heavier trucks could cost an additional $1.2 billion to $1.8 billion in taxpayer funding to repair highways, not to mention $1.1 billion more for bridge repair and reinforcement. Many Americans agree that Congress should not force states to comply with a top-down mandate.”



“With thousands of deaths a year, our highways are already dangerous enough,” Feinstein said. “Allowing trucks that are the equivalent of an eight-story building on wheels to share the road with our cars runs counter to all notions of highway safety. It’s only logical that we wait to receive all the facts before making sweeping changes to federal law.”



The Senate Appropriations Committee recently approved an amendment to the transportation funding bill requiring states to allow trucks with two 33-foot trailers on their highways. Current federal law permits double 28-foot trailers.



When the committee considered the measure, DOT advised that there is currently not enough data to draw firm conclusions on the safety implications of double 33-foot trailers. DOT recommended that no changes to truck size be considered at this time.



Those opposed to twin 33-foot trailers include Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, AAA, the Teamsters Union, several state trucking associations, the National Troopers Coalition, and other law enforcement associations throughout the country.




7/23/14

Posted July 24, 2015 - 10:05 am

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Child welfare may be spun off


Mississippi may consider making its child welfare unit a separate agency, in the latest effort to resolve a longstanding lawsuit over conditions in the state’s foster care system.

In an order signed Thursday by U.S. District Judge Tom S. Lee, the state agreed to hire consultants who will recommend changes to the system, including whether the child welfare unit should become a separate agency from the state Department of Human Services.

The order says a special legislative session might be needed to create a new agency.

Gov. Phil Bryant’s spokeswoman, Nicole Webb, said Bryant will call a special session if children’s welfare is in imminent danger. But if consultants release their recommendations late this year, the issues might be discussed during the regular legislative session that begins in January, she said.


Clarion Ledger
7/24/15

Posted July 24, 2015 - 10:02 am

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STATEMENT FROM STATE AUDITOR STACEY PICKERING
JULY 24, 2015

I was disappointed to read yesterday a series of vicious and untrue attacks leveled upon me by my opponent, Mary Hawkins-Butler. She entered this race with the strategy of attacking the Madison County Board of Supervisors and other Madison County vendors, and now has sadly turned her attacks toward my family and me. She knows her campaign is in dire trouble, and with 11 days until Election Day she is using the oldest trick in the book by trying to smear my credibility. I am embarrassed a so-called Republican would stoop to this level of personal destruction.

I have spent 12 years in public service working on a daily basis with FBI and law enforcement to investigate and prosecute those who misuse public funds and proactively account for our tax dollars. My record speaks for itself. I will not stand by as my opponent throws an election-eve “Hail Mary” to try and tarnish the work of the State Auditor’s office over the last eight years. It is important that I set the record straight regarding the accusations toward my family and me.

There are three points of concern that the Clarion Ledger article addressed.

• Point #1 – Reimbursements filed on my campaign finance reports

o My campaign finance reports have always been filed in a timely manner and strictly following state law. I have thoroughly disclosed disbursements from my campaign account and to whom they were given. They are fully transparent and are in compliance with state law.

o Being a statewide elected official is more than a 9-to-5 job, and the state auditor’s budget does not allow for extensive travel. Throughout my political career, I have traveled extensively during weekends and evenings on behalf of Mississippi Republicans and national Republican candidates. As Auditor, I’m keenly aware that not all of those expenses should be borne by taxpayers. They’re political in nature. I have made countless campaign stops on behalf of state legislative campaigns, fellow statewide officials, local Republican officials and the Mississippi Republican Party. I proudly served as the state Chairman for Mitt Romney’s 2012 presidential campaign, which required multiple trips in and out of state. Serving on boards for the Governmental Accounting Office as well as the National State Auditors Association, some travel was paid for out of the campaign fund and fully allowable under state law.

• Point #2 – Reimbursements to staff

o Over the years, I have had several staffers from the Auditor’s office who have worked on minor projects for my campaigns. They did this work during their own personal time. As reiterated by the Clarion Ledger, this is not prohibited, thus, I reimbursed them from my campaign account for their travel and/or expenses.

• Point #3 – Campaign purchase of a campaign car, mobile campaign office and home security

o Following the same path of many campaigns, my campaign purchased a campaign car in 2011—when my daughter was 15. It was an 8-year-old used car (2003) purchased to perform the regular functions of a campaign car. We personally paid the car insurance and taxes on the campaign car since its purchase to cover any personal use and it wasn’t until it reached well over 180,000 miles and was worth less than $1,500 according to Kelly Blue Book, that our daughter drove it on a consistent basis. The car is still used for campaign functions. Katie drove it to numerous campaign stops this month. She frequently campaigns side-by-side with me and even as a surrogate for events that Whitney and I cannot attend.

o When I first decided to run for statewide office, my four children were still very young. Whitney and I decided that it would be a wise investment for the campaign to purchase a small, Class B RV, so that our family could spend as much time together as we campaigned across the state. This ended up saving the campaign money on costly hotel rooms. It was important to me that voters not only personally meet me, but also meet my family as well. They are an important part of who I am and voters needed to see that. We have paid the insurance and taxes on the vehicle since it was purchased to cover any personal use.

o When I am performing my job as State Auditor, it sometimes causes me to make harsh enemies. It’s part of my job and I will never back away from that aspect of it. However, I refuse to have my family’s safety threatened. On a number of occasions our home garage was ransacked, which was very frightening to my wife and children. Unlike other statewide elected officials, I do not have a security detail, so I made the decision that I had to install a garage door at my home to protect my family. I filed it on my personal taxes, following the law. I am not going to stop pursuing high-profile cases because that is what I was elected to do. However, my family’s safety is my top priority, and that is why I took the action to secure our home from those who may wish to intimidate or cause me harm.

My opponent is using a former disgruntled campaign employee of mine as a pawn. Mary Hawkins Butler is entitled to her own opinions, but she is not entitled to her own set of facts. Them pinning their hopes to my campaign finance statement shows how utterly devoid of substance her vision for Mississippi is.

My family and I will continue to campaign throughout the state over these final days of the primary election, and we look forward to talking with voters and those in the media about my successful record as State Auditor and my plans for the next four years.


Posted July 24, 2015 - 9:25 am

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Moak: Hood urges cell companies to offer call blocking

Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood on Wednesday joined 44 other state attorneys general in calling on five major phone companies to offer call-blocking technology to their customers. Hood announced the action Wednesday in a news release. (Readers may recall I wrote back in June that the FCC was considering a rules clarification to allow blocking of certain calls.)

In a joint letter to the chief executives of AT&T, Sprint, Verizon, T-Mobile and CenturyLink, the attorneys general said a new Federal Communications Commission rule clarification allows telecommunication service providers to offer customers the ability to block unwanted calls, and verifies that federal law does not prohibit offering the services.


Clarion Ledger
7/24/15

Posted July 24, 2015 - 8:50 am

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Brown Campaigns for PSC Post

State Rep. Cecil Brown, who currently represents House District 66, is running for the central district post. He is originally from Meridian.

Brown has served in the state legislature for the past 16 years, but decided to run for the PSC after his legislative district was redrawn.

Brown gave his opinion on how Mississippi Power is trying to fund the Kemper County coal plant project.

"Mississippi Power Company, in their design and implementation of their plan, made some serious mistakes that have resulted in substantial cost overruns," said Brown. "I don't think the ratepayers, that is homeowners, small business, and large businesses and taxpayers, should have to pay for the mistakes that Mississippi Power Company made."


WTOK
7/24/15

Posted July 24, 2015 - 8:48 am

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Supervisor arrested for grand larceny


According to Dance, Nelms walked into an O'Reilly Auto Parts store about two weeks ago, went into the manager's office and stole a deposit bag full of cash.

"Apparently he and the manager knew each other," Dance said. "Jimmy asked the manager if he could use the phone in the office, and the manager said yes."

While in the office, Dance said Nelms also changed into an O'Reilly Auto Parts shirt to disguise himself as an employee.

"That's when the manager told him he couldn't do that and asked him to leave," Dance added.

The next day, the manager noticed the deposit bag was gone and called the company's loss prevention team.

WTVA
7/24/15

Posted July 24, 2015 - 8:45 am

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PERRY/Judging MAEP



Last week, Hinds County Chancery Judge William Singletary ruled against a lawsuit brought by former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove on behalf of 21 school districts for more than $240 million they contended they were owed by the state in underfunded Mississippi Adequate Education Program funds. Musgrove sought the funds as well as an order requiring the state to fully fund MAEP each year.

Singletary wrote, "In the case at hand, the Mississippi Legislature intended to fund MAEP to the fullest extent possible, clearly desiring annual full funding. However, the legislature intentionally included specific alternative procedures to full funding; this alternative procedure demonstrates the Legislature's realization that full funding may not occur every year...this Court is unable to interpret the relevant statutes as imposing a mandatory annual duty on each legislator to automatically vote to apportion and allocate to each school district 100% of the funds estimated under MAEP. Instead, this Court must interpret the statutes in total as instructing the Legislature to fund the MAEP as fully as possible and providing an alternative when full funding is not had."

A partner in Musgrove's public affairs firm said Musgrove would appeal the decision to the Mississippi Supreme Court.

Singletary's ruling relies on proper statutory construction, but also respects the separation of powers in our government. It is the role of the legislature to set education policy as well as allocate funding for state priorities. If a court orders legislators how to spend Mississippi taxpayer dollars, then it has taken the power away from voters who elect those legislators and substituted its own reasoning and understanding.

Mississippi's Constitution specifically prohibits Courts from imposing tax increases or creating new taxes.




Brian Perry
Neshoba Democrat
7/24/15

Posted July 24, 2015 - 8:00 am

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A FIRST IN SIX YEARS: SENATE COMMITTEE COMPLETES WORK ON ALL 12 APPROPRIATIONS BILLS

Not Since 2009 Has Committee Made All Appropriations Bills Available for Senate Consideration and Debate

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The Senate Committee on Appropriations today cleared its final appropriations measure, marking the first time since 2009 that all 12 appropriations bills have been approved by the full committee.

Appropriations Committee Chairman Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) praised the committee’s work to make all 12 measures available for consideration by the full Senate.

“The Appropriations Committee took to heart the commitment that the new Congress would get back to work. For the first time in six years, we’ve fulfilled a basic responsibility by moving 12 bills through the committee. Senators should have a chance to debate these bills one at a time, offer amendments and advocate for issues that are important to their constituents,” Cochran said. “Our bills reflect thoughtful, responsible, and frequently bipartisan decisions about prioritizing funding to improve the operation of the government and, where necessary, rein in executive overreach. The bills deserve to be considered by the Senate and enacted into law.”

“Chairman Cochran has done a masterful job getting all 12 appropriations bills through committee. These bills maintain the bipartisan fiscal discipline agreed to in the Budget Control Act while still providing the funding the President requested for defense. They also take important steps toward rolling back excessive regulatory burdens that hold back our economy. Nearly every one of these appropriations bills enjoyed bipartisan support in committee, which is why it’s so disappointing to see Democrats now working to filibuster them on the Senate floor as part of some ‘Filibuster Summer’ game designed to extract a few more dollars for Washington bureaucrats. The new Senate is finally getting the appropriations process back on track, so Senate Democrats shouldn’t stand in the way of that progress by holding funding for the troops hostage for unrelated political demands,” McConnell said.

The committee-reported bills passed by a cumulative total of 277-83. Since January, the committee conducted numerous meetings and briefings, 56 oversight hearings, and seven full committee markups.

The Defense Appropriations bill, which includes funding requested by the President for equipment and training, active-duty military pay and combatting ISIS, was filibustered by Senate Democrats on June 18. The minority has pledged to continue to block debate on all funding measures unless Congress agrees to increase federal spending.

Sen. Thad Cochran Press Release
7/24/15


Posted July 24, 2015 - 7:57 am

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BRIAN PERRY/Judging MAEP


Where Musgrove failed in requiring a court to dictate to legislators how to spend the budget, this Constitutional amendment could allow a subsequent lawsuit to succeed.
With such a possibility looming, House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson (R-Poplarville) recently called state agency heads to develop proposals to cover a 7.8 percent budget reduction.

It makes sense. If Initiative 42 passes, a judge might order additional funding to education. But a judge can't order tax increases. A judge can't order economic growth. The legislature won't pass tax increases. The legislature also can't order the economy to grow. So in order to increase education funding, funding for other state priorities must be decreased.

Initiative 42 proponents called this fear mongering. I call it math.

Fully funding MAEP will require serious cuts to all other functions of government. Voting for Initiative 42 takes the power out of your locally elected legislator and gives it to a judge, most likely elected in one division of Hinds County. If you don't want cuts to job training or the Highway Patrol or rural hospitals or roads; don't bother with your local legislators because this amendment would take that decision out of their hands.



Madison County Journal
7/22/15

Posted July 24, 2015 - 7:21 am

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Bennie Thompson joining Obama on trip to Africa



A Mississippi Democrat is among the members of Congress traveling to Africa with President Barack Obama.

U.S. Rep. Bennie Thompson is the top Democrat on the House Homeland Security Committee.

Thompson says in a news release Thursday that he's looking forward to seeing what leaders in Kenyaand Ethiopia are doing "to secure the region and stem the tide of the terrorist activity."

Thompson says he's also looking forward to discussing economic development.



Clarion Ledger
7/23/15


Posted July 24, 2015 - 7:18 am

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Jones Co. Circuit Clerk candidate exits race due to same-sex marriage ruling


Jones County Circuit Clerk candidate drops race because of same-sex marriage ruling

A candidate running for Jones County Circuit Clerk is dropping out of the race because same-sex marriages are now legal.

Kirk Landrum submitted his official letter dropping out of the race, WJTV reported.



Clarion Ledger
7/23/15

Posted July 24, 2015 - 7:16 am

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Sources: FBI probing Pickering campaign funds

Butler, on the campaign stump, has questioned whether Pickering has spent campaign money on personal expenses and, if so, whether he has paid taxes. She has raised the questions at at least one event where Pickering was also in attendance. He does not appear to have clearly answered the questions, calling them “rumors” and saying all information is filed on his campaign finance reports.

Butler said Pickering “needs to answer about the vehicles and garage door and other purchases and whether he’s paid taxes and whether he’s being investigated.”

Pickering said: “This is nothing more than last-minute election year politics at its dirtiest.”

Clarion Ledger
7/23/15

Posted July 23, 2015 - 7:44 pm

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On Sunday, Geoff Pender exposed what was originally meant to be a “test piece”. A very small run of direct mail crossed with a very small batch of robocalls fell into the wrong hands two weeks ago. Shortly after Philip Gunn made the comments to kick the movement to change Mississippi’s flag into motion, a very sophisticated group mobilized a campaign very quickly. This group wanted to test the message to see how the possibility of changing the flag might blow back on the race for Speaker.



Recording of the robocall

The mail piece was sent with the postage slug “T Enterprises”. According to the Secretary of State, that registers to Allen Taheri, who is head of A2Z Printing, a local direct mailhouse in Jackson. Ironically (and sadly), a pro-Confederate flag mailer had a Tougaloo, MS address. Taheri, for his part, said that his group was only paid to run the mail piece and cited a confidentiality agreement made at the behest of his client that did not want to be exposed. The mail piece nor the robocall (which A2Z did not conduct) did not otherwise indicate who paid for the effort. It will be interesting at the next campaign finance report to dig through and see the groups that employ A2Z. The bottom line was that this was done by someone with sophisticated quick-strike capabilities that did not want to be associated with the messaging.

The target areas were largely in Desoto county, where there are a slew of contested House seats in heavily Republican districts. However, there was an interesting other locale included in the push . . . Rep. Sam Mims district in Pike County. Mims’ district is illustrative for the simple reason that NO Republican would have ANY reason to run a coordinated direct mail piece and robocall into his district 5 weeks before an uncontested primary. None. That’s an expensive effort done by a sophisticated messaging group and it would be a pure waste of money. What makes Mims’ district interesting is who he’s running against. Kitty Sasser (D) just happens to be the sister of Rep. Bobby Moak. Moak, as the House Minority Leader, who has been conspicuously silent on the flag issue, would likely be the Democrats’ horse to ride in a Speaker race against Gunn next January. Moak’s Leadership PAC has pumped some money into the Mims/Sasser race for his sister earlier this year.

From the Y’allPolitics Memory Division, there have been similar anonymous bomb throwers from the Democrat side of the aisle in recent Mississippi political history that we’ve documented. You might remember back in 2012 and 2013, we did a couple of pieces about the “Home MS” blog that was a Democratic leaning soft money-backed anonyblog effort that turned out to be just a flash in the pan. At the time, we uncovered some loose connections on the implementation (common mailing addresses & personnel) of that effort with Brad Chism’s group in Jackson. Chism is a highly regarded pollster/robocall/direct mail/political consultant who focuses on Democratic advocacy in Mississippi and nationally work from his offices in Jackson.

I am of the opinion and logic seems to indicate that a similar sort of Democrat-oriented soft-money group was behind this effort. Think about it. If it were done by pro-flag Republicans, why would they be secretive? There are Republicans actively and openly pro-confederate flag/anti-Speaker. Whoever did it got caught. They didn’t mean to and as a result, they’ve gotten real quiet. Usually, the truth comes out, and the implications, if in fact Democrat-oriented soft money (from unions, PACs or other similar 501c4 advocacy groups) was behind this for this, are huge. Just like the HOME MS anonyblog effort a few years ago, we eventually figure out who’s doing it, who’s funding it and why. My hope is that we get it done before the general election. It could well force a tectonic shift in how the MS Democrat party operates internally and who runs it in Mississippi.

Again, I have long operated under the premise that the worst thing you can give someone is exactly what they've asked for. These folks wanted exposure. They've got it. Now let's find them out and rid them and everyone who helps them (Democrat or Republican) from the Mississippi political landscape. If folks want to advocate above board and openly, even if I don't agree with it, I'm all for it. But this effort is what's wrong with politics, and I'd like to do my part to stop it.


Posted July 23, 2015 - 2:45 pm

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Minor: No law gives lieutenant governor iron grip

When Taylor and Hale brought their case in 1987, several other senators filed friend of the court briefs supporting Dye’s right to keep his sweeping powers in the legislative branch.

Interestingly one of those senators was Hob Bryan of Amory who is still a senator today. What makes Bryan a more interesting figure today is that he is the leader of the Senate’s Democratic Caucus, which did not exist 28 years ago. Back then, Democrats dominated both legislative chambers.

Tate Reeves, a Republican, is the present lieutenant governor. He first occupied the job in January, 2012 when Republicans took control of the Legislature’s upper chamber. And who did Reeves call upon to author the rules resolution spelling out his powers controlling the committee system and referral of bills? Democratic Sen. Hob Bryan of Amory.

While practically all other Senate Democrats were dumped from important committee chairmanships, Bryan got one of the best ones, the Judiciary B committee.


Bill Minor
Clarion Ledger
7/23/15

Posted July 23, 2015 - 1:43 pm

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Columbus 5th Mississippi city to lower state flag

Without state action, several Mississippi cities have, in recent weeks, taken local action to remove the state flag from public grounds.

Five cities have taken down the state flag: Grenada, Magnolia, Hattiesburg, Clarksdale and, most recently, Columbus, which removed all state flags from city property Wednesday.


Clarion Ledger
7/23/15

Posted July 23, 2015 - 12:48 pm

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Posted July 23, 2015 - 12:39 pm

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United Conservative Fund: All talk, no action?

Press releases, Facebook wars, and blog posts. Such is the record of the United Conservative Fund. The PAC was formed by State Senator Chris McDaniel as he promised to launch a conservative movement to challenge the Mississippi Republican establishment. However, campaign finance reports show the UCF PAC has barely raised any money and has not supported any candidates.

Jackson Jambalaya
7/23/15

Posted July 23, 2015 - 12:09 pm

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Posted July 23, 2015 - 12:07 pm

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Republican Elected Leaders Support Re-Election of Lt. Gov. Reeves

More than 200 GOP elected officials today endorsed Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ bid for re-election. Lt. Gov. Reeves also has the support of Republican Senators, Mayors and Sheriffs from around the state.

“Tate has fought for tax cuts and workforce training initiatives that will grow our economy, and he listens to what local communities need,” said Lowndes County Supervisor Harry Sanders. “For Lowndes County, cutting the inventory tax directly impacted our ability to add jobs and increase investment in our communities. His leadership is helping to grow the state’s economy.”

Lt. Gov. Reeves successfully pushed for the elimination of the inventory tax on small businesses, a reduction in the unemployment tax and making the tax appeal process fairer for Mississippi taxpayers.

“I support Tate because he lived up to his word,” said Lincoln County Chancery Clerk Tillman Bishop. “He said he would balance the budget and cut wasteful spending, and he did. He’s working to right-size government in Jackson.”

Lt. Gov. Reeves said he appreciated the support before the Aug. 4 primary.

“I am grateful for the enthusiasm we’ve seen around the state for the conservative, fiscally responsible policies we’re putting into action,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “Together, Republicans are making Mississippi the best state in America to grow a business and raise a family.”

Republican officials endorsing Lt. Gov. Reeves ahead of the Aug. 4 primary include:

County Officials

Calhoun Co. Sheriff Greg Pollan Clarke Co. Chancery Clerk Angie Chisholm DeSoto Co. Sheriff Bill Rasco George Co. Supervisor Fred Croom
George Co. Sheriff Dean Howell Hancock Co. Sheriff Ricky Adam Hancock Co. Coroner Jim Faulk Hancock Co. Chancery Clerk Tim Kellar
Hancock Co. Constable Terry Necaise Hancock Co. Constable Ray Seal, Jr. Harrison Co. Sheriff Melvin Brisolara Harrison Co. Supervisor Windy Swetman, III
Jackson Co. Sheriff Mike Ezell Jackson Co. Supervisor John McKay Jackson Co. Justice Court Judge Gerald Wayne Thornton Jones Co. Sheriff Alex Hodge
Lamar Co. Sheriff Danny Rigel Lauderdale Co. Tax Assessor James D. Rainey Lauderdale Co. Supervisor Kyle Rutledge Lauderdale Co. Sheriff Billy Sollie
Lauderdale Co. Supervisor Josh Todd Lawrence Co. Sheriff Joel Thames Leake Co. Coroner Earl Adams Leake Co. Sheriff Greg Waggoner
Lee Co. Chancery Clerk Bill Benson Lee Co. Sheriff Jim Johnson Lincoln Co. Circuit Clerk Dustin Bairfield Lincoln Co. Chancery Clerk Tillmon Bishop
Lincoln Co. Sheriff Steve Rushing Lowndes Co. Sheriff Mike Arledge Lowndes Co. Supervisor John Holliman Lowndes Co. Coroner Greg Merchant
Lownes Co. Chancery Clerk Lisa Younger Neese Lowndes Co. Supervisor Harry Sanders Madison Co. Supervisor John Bell Crosby Madison Co. Supervisor John Howland
Madison Co. Chancery Clerk Ronny Lott Madison Co. Superintendent of Education Ronnie McGehee Madison Co. Constable Matt Shackelford Madison Co. Supervisor Gerald Steen
Madison Co. Sheriff Randy Tucker Marion Co. Sheriff Berkley Hall Montgomery Co. County Attorney J. Lane Greenlee Neshoba Co. Supervisor Keith Lillis
Neshoba Co. Supervisor Kinsey Smith Neshoba Co. Sheriff Tommy Waddell Newton Co. Supervisor Joe Alexander Newton Co. Sheriff Jackie Knight
Newton Co. Coroner Danny Shoemaker Newton Co. Constable Mark Spence Pearl River Co. Sheriff David Allison Pearl River Co. Chancery Clerk David Earl Johnson
Pearl River Co. Supervisor Jay Patrick Lee Pearl River Co. Constable Danny Joe Slade Pearl River Co. Supervisor Sandy Kane Smith Perry Co. Supervisor Tommy Walley
Pike Co. District Attorney Jim Duckworth Pike Co. Circuit Clerk Roger Graves Pike Co. Supervisor Gary Honea Pike Co. Supervisor Chuck Lambert
Pike Co. Sheriff Mark Shepherd Rankin Co. Sheriff Bryan Bailey Rankin Co. Supervisor Jay Bishop Rankin Co. Tax Collector Judy Fortenberry
Rankin Co. Supervisor Rodney Keith Rankin Co. Supervisor Walter Johnson Rankin Co. Supervisor Jared Morrison Rankin Co. Chancery Clerk Larry Swales
Rankin Co. Superintendent of Education Lynn Weathersby Rankin Co. Supervisor Greg Wilcox Rankin Co. County Attorney Richard Wilson Simpson Co. Superintendent of Education Glenn Harris
Simpson Co. Sheriff Kenneth Lewis Simpson Co. Coroner Terry Tutor Simpson Co. Supervisor Larry Walker Simpson Co. Circuit Clerk Steve Womack
Smith Co. Supervisor Kenny Cain Washington Co. Supervisor Paul Watson

Municipal Officials

Batesville Alderman Wiliam Dugger Biloxi Councilman David Fayard Biloxi Mayor Andrew "Fofo" Gilich Brandon Mayor Butch Lee
Brookhaven Mayor Joe Cox Brookhaven Alderman Shirley Estes Brookhaven Alderman Fletcher Grice Bruce Alderman Steve Nelson
Byram Alderman Richard Cook Byram Mayor Richard White Calhoun City Alderman Larry Bratton Clinton Alderman Mike Cashion
Clinton Alderman Jan Cossitt Clinton Mayor Phil Fisher Columbia Alderman Cheryl Bourne Columbus Councilman Charles Box
Columbus Councilman Bill Gavin Corinth Mayor Tommy Erwin Corinth Alderman Andrew "Bubba" Labas Corinth Alderman Michael McFall
Corinth Alderman Chip Wood Crystal Springs Mayor Sally Garland Crystal Springs Alderman Steve Singleton Crystal Springs Alderman Hugh Webb
D'Lo Mayor John Henry Berry D'Lo Alderman Kenneth Lewis D'Lo Alderman Pam Smith Diamondhead Councilman Ernest Knobloch
Diamondhead Councilman Blaine LaFontaine Diamondhead Councilman Joseph Lopez, Jr. Diamondhead Councilman Ronald Rech Diamondhead Mayor Tommy Schafer
Diamondhead Councilman Thomas Sislow Enterprise Mayor Larry Murray Enterprise Alderman Darrel Phillips Enterprise Alderman Mary Teresa "Terrie" Smith
Farmington Mayor Dale Fortenberry Farmington Alderman Lowell Gann Farmington Alderman Jeff Patterson Farmington Alderman Johnny Potts
Flora Mayor Les Childress Florence Mayor Pam Clark Flowood Mayor Gary Rhoads French Camp Alderman Jan Henderson
French Camp Constable Thomas Raybourn Gautier Alderman Charles Anderson Gautier Alderman Adam Colledge Gautier Mayor Gordon Gollot
Gautier Alderman Johnny Jones Gautier Alderman Mary Martin Greenville Alderman Carolyn Weathers Greenwood Alderman Johnny Jennings
Grenada Mayor Billy F. Collins Gulfport Councilman Ricky Dombrowski Gulfport Councilman R. Lee Flowers Gulfport Mayor Billy Hewes
Gulfport Councilman Rusty Walker Hattiesburg Alderman Kim Bradley Hattiesburg Alderman Carter Carroll Hernando Mayor Chip Johnson
Horn Lake Mayor Allen Latimer Horn Lake Alderman Tim Smith Houston Alderman Frank Thomas Long Beach Alderman Gary Ponthieux
Long Beach Mayor William Skellie Long Beach Alderman Alan Young Madison Alderman Guy Bowering Madison Alderman Steve Hickok
Madison Alderman Mike Hudgins Madison Alderman Ken Jacobs Madison Alderman Tawanna Tatum Mantachie Alderman Dan Moore
McComb Mayor Whitney Rawlings Meridian Alderman George Thomas Ocean Springs Alderman Chic Cody Ocean Springs Alderman John Gill
Olive Branch Mayor Scott Phillips, Jr. Olive Branch Alderman Alderman David Wallace Pachuta Alderman Glenda Bennett Pachuta Mayor Phil Fuller
Pascagoula Alderman Burt Hill Pass Christian Mayor Chipper McDermott Pearl Mayor Brad Rogers Pelahatchie Mayor Knox Ross, Jr.
Petal Alderman Tony Ducker Philadelphia Alderman Willie Jackson Picayune Alderman Wayne Gouquet Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero
Poplarville Mayor Brad Necaise Poplarville Alderman Jason Pearson Puckett Mayor Ross Espiritu Quitman Alderman James Buchanan
Quitman Mayor Eddie Fulton Quitman Alderman Ronald Holloway Quitman Alderman Harry Wheat Richland Mayor Mark Scarborough
Ridgeland Alderman Chuck Gautier Ridgeland Alderman Wesley Hamlin Ridgeland Alderman Wesley Hamlin Ridgeland Alderman Brian Ramsey
Ridgeland Alderman D.I. Smith Saltillo Mayor Rex Smith Schlater Mayor Jason Colquett Seminary Mayor Billy Karolyi
Slate Springs Alderman Andy Cannon Starkville Alderman Ben Carver Starkville Alderman David Little Stonewall Alderman Ricky Carpenter
Sumner Alderman Leonard Patterson Vardaman Mayor James Marshall Casey Wesson Mayor Alton Shaw Wiggins Alderman George P. Smith
Winona Mayor Jerry Flowers


State Senators

Senator Nickey Browning Senator Terry Burton Senator Videt Carmichael Senator Lydia Chassaniol
Senator Eugene S. Clarke Senator Nancy Collins Senator Sally Doty Senator Joey Filligane
Senator Phillip Gandy Senator Tommy Gollott Senator Josh Harkins Senator Angela Hill
Senator Briggs Hopson Senator Billy Hudson Senator Gary Jackson Senator Dean Kirby
Senator Will Longwitz Senator Chris Massey Senator Philip Moran Senator David Parker
Senator Rita Parks Senator John Polk Senator Tony Smith Senator Sean Tindell
Senator Gray Tollison Senator Giles Ward Senator Brice Wiggins Senator Chuck Younger


Tate Reeves Press Release
7/23/15


Posted July 23, 2015 - 10:32 am

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RELEASE:


MISS. SENATORS PUSH FOR FEDERAL HEALTH AGENCY COOPERATION ON INVESTIGATIONS OF PLANNED PARENTHOOD VIDEOS

Cochran, Wicker Among 49 Senators Concerned Over Planned Parenthood Video

WASHINGTON - U.S. Senators Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today pushed for the Obama administration to cooperate with investigations into whether Planned Parenthood Foundation of America is violating policies and laws restricting the sale of organs from unborn babies.

The Mississippi Senators are among 49 Senators who signed a letter to Health and Humans Services Secretary Sylvia Burwell seeking an internal review of Planned Parenthood's compliance with laws and regulations relating with fetal tissue and partial-birth abortions. The letter was prompted in part by video footage depicting senior Planned Parenthood executives discussing organ harvesting.

In the letter led by Senator Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), the lawmakers assert that the video raises important policy questions associated with late-term abortions and asks Burwell to cooperate with congressional and other investigations stemming from the Planned Parenthood video footage.

"This video raises a number of questions about the practices of the organization, including whether they are in compliance with federal laws regulating both the use of fetal tissue and partial-birth abortions," the letter stated.

"Congress is undertaking efforts to address these questions, and we expect the Department of Health and Human Services to fully cooperate with ensuing investigations - including future requests for information and hearing participation. To that end, we further expect the immediate preservation of any and all Department electronic and paper records that could have any relevance to any ongoing or forthcoming lawful investigation," the Senators wrote.

The Senators also asked Burwell to confirm that she has "commenced or will immediately initiate a thorough internal review of the compliance of the Department and Planned Parenthood - one of the Department's grantees - with all relevant and applicable federal statutes, regulations, and other requirements. Please also include a description of the expected scope of the internal review, as well as an estimated completion date."

Cochran and Wicker are both supporters of pro-life legislation restricting federal funds for abortions and late-term abortions, including Wicker's No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion and Abortion Insurance Full Disclosure Act of 2015 and the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act.

A copy of the letter is available here: http://1.usa.gov/1OofPYI


7/23/15

Posted July 23, 2015 - 10:26 am

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RELEASE:



Delegation to Feds: Mississippi Unfairly Targeted by Carbon Dioxide Rule

Congressional Leaders Send Letter Urging Federal Agencies to Review Clean Power Plan



WASHINGTON – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran, R-Miss., and Roger Wicker, R-Miss., along with U.S. Representatives Bennie Thompson, D-Miss., Gregg Harper, R-Miss., Steven Palazzo, R-Miss., and Trent Kelly, R-Miss., have issued a strongly-worded letter to three federal agencies that asserts the proposed Clean Power Plan goals are prohibitively expensive and unattainable by Mississippi, despite significant investments to improve air quality in the state.



The congressional delegation letter to the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) asks that they investigate whether carbon dioxide reduction goals associated with the Clean Power Plan are achievable at a reasonable cost – specifically for the state of Mississippi.



The letter reads in part: “We believe Mississippi has been treated unfairly and disproportionately under the Clean Power Plan compared to the vast majority of states. EPA’s goal is so difficult that Mississippi would have the third largest carbon cost recovery index and the third highest marginal cost of carbon reduction, according to Fitch Ratings Analysis. … Moreover, Mississippi’s energy production could be severely limited by the re-dispatching of generation resources to reflect a 70 percent natural gas combined cycle capacity factor. This requirement, when combined with the unattainable renewable energy and energy efficiency targets, places every coal-fired facility in Mississippi at risk of being prematurely shut down.



“Utilities in Mississippi have made significant investments over the past several years, substantially reducing the state’s carbon intensity, particularly at Grand Gulf and the Kemper facility. These early, strategic investments, which led to Mississippi’s ranking as the 13th best CO2 emission rate in 2012, are not only ignored by EPA but punished under the proposed rule. The rule would force Mississippi to have the 12th lowest (most difficult) goal among the states, even though this goal is much lower than the new source standard and national average.”



The letter concludes, “We encourage a review of the rule as applied to Mississippi. We urge you to ensure that a full, factual investigation has been done to demonstrate that carbon reduction goals are achievable at a reasonable cost.”



Full text of the letter:



Dear Administrator McCarthy, Secretary Vilsack, and Director Donovan:



We are deeply concerned about the White House’s attempt to regulate CO2 emissions from existing power plants without appropriate factual analysis. We believe Mississippi has been treated unfairly and disproportionately under the Clean Power Plan compared to the vast majority of states.



Utilities in Mississippi have made significant investments over the past several years, substantially reducing the state’s carbon intensity, particularly at Grand Gulf and the Kemper facility. These early, strategic investments, which led to Mississippi’s ranking as the 13th best CO2 emission rate in 2012, are not only ignored by EPA but punished under the proposed rule. The rule would force Mississippi to have the 12th lowest (most difficult) goal among the states, even though this goal is much lower than the new source standard and national average.



In fact, EPA’s goal is so difficult that Mississippi would have the third largest carbon cost recovery index and the third highest marginal cost of carbon reduction, according to Fitch Ratings Analysis. Given the state’s low median household income and the percentage of income devoted to electricity costs, it is clear that EPA performed insufficient analysis on the rule’s impact at the state level.



EPA has touted the Clean Power Plan’s flexibility through its four “Building Blocks” used to calculate the state goal. However, the reductions associated with each individual building block are so stringent and aggressive that there is no ability to achieve any of them, discrediting the notion of flexibility.



Moreover, Mississippi’s energy production could be severely limited by the re-dispatching of generation resources to reflect a 70 percent natural gas combined cycle capacity factor. This requirement, when combined with the unattainable renewable energy and energy efficiency targets, places every coal-fired facility in Mississippi at risk of being prematurely shut down. Many of these facilities have installed, or are currently installing, very expensive equipment in response to prior EPA rules. Under the new proposal, these pollution control assets could be stranded, with some possibly never being placed into service.



A rural electric generation and transmission cooperative is one of the utilities in Mississippi that has a coal-fired facility at risk for early retirement. The forced shutdown of this facility could jeopardize taxpayer-backed Rural Utilities Service loans. If Mississippi ratepayers cannot pay the costs of complying with the Clean Power Plan, their entire loan portfolio may be at risk. There is a strong federal interest that exists for rural electrification, and it should not be sacrificed for EPA’s goals.



In closing, we encourage a review of the rule as applied to Mississippi. We urge you to ensure that a full, factual investigation has been done to demonstrate that carbon reduction goals are achievable at a reasonable cost.




7/23/15

Posted July 23, 2015 - 10:23 am

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Choctaw Election Appeal to be Heard Friday



The Choctaw Tribal Council will hear an appeal of the results in the chief's race later this week.

Beasley Denson lost the election to incumbent Chief Phyllis Anderson by about 160 votes in June. He has challenged the results, citing several alleged discrepancies.

The Tribal Election Committee has rejected the claims and affirmed the results.



WTOK
7/22/15

Posted July 23, 2015 - 7:16 am

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Mississippi's Rep. Brad Oberhousen's watermelon giveaway was racist, challenger Jarvis Dortch says



A white lawmaker says he gave watermelons to people in his central Mississippi House district, and his black challenger says doing so promoted racial stereotypes.

First-term Democratic Rep. Brad Oberhousen of Byram tells The Clarion-Ledger that he gave the melons to several people for their Fourth of July gatherings.

Oberhousen says he has given away fresh produce for years. He says his supporters are black and white and they don't view his melons as having any racial connotations.

His opponent in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary, Jarvis Dortch of Jackson, says he has spoken to voters who felt insulted that Oberhousen posted Facebook photos of himself giving watermelons to black people. Dortch says Oberhousen has deleted the photos.


Gulflive
7/22/15


Posted July 23, 2015 - 7:13 am

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Lt. Gov. Reeves: Vote against school funding initiative



Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves says voters should reject an education funding initiative because he believes it would give a judge too much power over the Mississippi budget.

"I think you should be very concerned about the ultimate implications of it passing," Republican Reeves told the Columbus Rotary Club on Tuesday, according to the Commercial Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1g646n1 ).

He said if voters adopt Initiative 42 in November, people could file a lawsuit if school funding falls short, and a judge in Hinds County — the seat of state government — could order legislators to put more money into K-12 education. Reeves said because education already takes a large portion of the state budget, such an order would affect spending for community colleges, universities and other state programs.



Sunherald
7/22/15




Posted July 23, 2015 - 6:53 am

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Customers could get choice on Mississippi Power refunds



Customers could have the choice of receiving a refund from Mississippi Power -- which the company said will average $650 for an average residential customer -- or have the amount credited to their bill.

The company said in a press released Wednesday that it filed a refund plan with the Mississippi Public Service Commission, "to return to customers, in the most secure and immediate way possible, approximately $350 million collected since 2013 for Kemper-related rate increases."

The PSC voted July 7 to require the refund within 90 days after a Mississippi Supreme Court ruling. The refund is for the amount Mississippi Power collected from customers since March 2013 to fund construction of the Kemper County energy facility.



Sunherald
7/22/15




Posted July 23, 2015 - 6:51 am

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Sid Salter: Neshoba Fair kicks off 2015 campaign run



As the Neshoba County Fair prepares this week to once again enjoy its status as the state’s premier political stump, the political signs and placards are already nailed or stapled to virtually every flat surface.

But while the venerable campground fair looks the part, the state’s 2015 political races have yet to generate much in the way of drama or intrigue. To date, the eight incumbent statewide elected officials for the most part appear to be on cruise control against opponents who are struggling to get traction, name identification and campaign finances sufficient to mount credible challenges.



Clarion Ledger
7/22/15

Posted July 23, 2015 - 6:41 am

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Attaboys and Oh Boys for July 22



To the State of Mississippi for their failure to meet court-ordered requirements in reforming the state’s foster care system. The federal court settlement came in 2008, but the state has not made needed improvements since that time. Just this week the state admitted to its failure in a federal filing. Gov. Phil Bryant has agreed to hire a director for the Department of Family and Children’s Services, waive state salary requirements for the director and for members of a senior management team. It is a shame that the state has failed to meet these demands under two governors. We can only hope that Bryant will live up to his word and help ensure better circumstances for some of the most vulnerable children in our state.




ClarionLedger
7/22/15

Posted July 22, 2015 - 5:17 am

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Mississippi admits failure in reforming foster care



Marcia Robinson Lowry, executive director of A Better Childhood, said Tuesday that Gov. Phil Bryant has agreed to hire an executive director of the Department of Family and Children’s Services, waive state salary requirements for the director and for members of a senior management team, according to the proposed agreement, which hasn’t been approved yet by Lee.

However, Bryant’s spokeswoman Nicole Webb said no formal agreement has been filed, only a draft agreement. She said Judge Lee could take action on the draft agreement at at any time or he could also choose to bring the parties in for further discussion.

Bryant said in a statement: “My intent is to improve conditions for children who find themselves in foster care in Mississippi. These children must be protected, and that is why I have advocated the creation of a Children’s Cabinet. I’ll be the first to admit that Mississippi can and will do better, and I became personally involved in this issue several months ago. I intend to see this resolved to the benefit of these children and the state.”



ClarionLedger
7/21/15

Posted July 22, 2015 - 5:14 am

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Gov. Bryant orders flags at half-staff to honor Tenn. victims



Gov. Phil Bryant signed an executive order for all U.S. and Mississippi flags to be flown at half-staff on all state buildings and grounds from noon Tuesday until sunset Wednesday. The flags are being lowered in memory of four U.S. Marines and one Navy sailor shot to death in Chattanooga, Tenn. on July 16.




ClarionLedger
7/21/15

Posted July 22, 2015 - 5:11 am

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Escorted From County Property: Yazoo Supervisor Says The County Was Spending Too Much




YAZOO CITY, Miss.–Escorted by the sheriff off of county property where road equipment is kept, Yazoo County Supervisor Caleb Rivers said he believed the county was about to spend too much on new equipment.


So, he staged a protest Monday morning....


...Monday morning, when the equipment was set to be sold, he locked a gate and jumped up in one of the trucks and refused to get out. That’s when the sheriff was called in to escort him off the property, and he complied. A video of the event was posted to Facebook by Mickey Rivers, Caleb Rivers’ father.


NewsMS
7/21/15

Posted July 22, 2015 - 5:06 am

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State Flag Taken Down in Columbus, Matter Discussed by Tupelo Council



COLUMBUS, Miss.–The state flag will no longer fly over government buildings in Columbus, but will still fly over schools, after a unanimous vote by Columbus council members Tuesday night. The matter was also discussed, but not voted on in Tupelo...



...In Tupelo, the matter was discussed at Tuesday’s meeting when a resident asked the council to bring it to a vote, which they did not.

However, the council may bring it up and vote on it in a future meeting.




NewsMS
7/22/15




Posted July 22, 2015 - 5:01 am

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If only members of Congress still drank whiskey, smoked cigars and played gin rummy




Whenever former members of Congress get together, they trade tales from the good old days of Capitol Hill camaraderie.

Hearing these stories is a little like listening to a grandfather talk about walking uphill to school both ways in the snow.

It was no different Tuesday morning, when former senators Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and Olympia Snowe (R-Maine) and former congressman Dan Glickman (D-Kan.) released the second installment of their quarterly Healthy Congress Index that uses various criteria to assess the effectiveness of today’s Capitol Hill.

The quartet’s panel discussion, hosted by the Bipartisan Policy Center, hailed an idyllic era when there were more joint caucus meetings, Washington workdays, and bipartisan congressional travel. They remembered fondly when living and playing in Washington was part of the job, not a career detriment.

At the end of a day of legislating, Lott said, they’d be “drinking old Granddads and smoking cheap cigars and playing gin rummy in what we called the medicine room in the Capitol. You don’t have that anymore.”



Washington Post
7/21/15

Posted July 22, 2015 - 4:56 am

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


WDAM
7/21/15

Posted July 22, 2015 - 4:53 am

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Key Field execs respond to Bryant's order authorizing state guard to arm personnel




Lt. Col. Brad Crawford, executive officer of the Mississippi Air National Guard 186th Air Refueling Wing, said he doesn't expect any significant changes locally.

"We don't expect it to change here at Key Field because all of our recruiters are already on base, behind gates; and always have been," Crawford said. "What you are seeing on the news are storefront offices, and ours are behind gates protected by our armed security forces at the gates."

Crawford said it's too early to say what other changes will take place regarding arming full-time personnel at military facilities throughout the state.

"I don't have any of the guidance yet, but what Gov, Bryant did was give the authority to the adjutant general of the National Guard to look into what needs to be done," Crawford said. "It takes some time to figure out what the changes will be. But the main thing is the safety of the recruiters, and that is not an issue for us."



Meridian Star
7/21/15

Posted July 22, 2015 - 4:49 am

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Two weeks, two spots: GOPers aim to debate




Perhaps no candidate has invested more energy in making the debate than Perry, the former Texas governor aiming for redemption after flaming out in his 2012 presidential run. Six months before any votes are cast in Iowa or New Hampshire, Perry's super PAC is spending $1 million on national cable and radio advertising, a gambit meant to boost his standing by a few points and push him onto the stage.

"We decided that we needed to spend some money to support his efforts as a more national audience is getting reeducated to Rick Perry," said Austin Barbour, who leads the $17 million Opportunity and Freedom PAC. "Obviously, the debate is a big deal."

So the group is forced to spend its war chest on advertising in states like North Dakota and West Virginia that are highly unlikely to influence the Republican nominating contest.


KSPR
7/21/15


Posted July 22, 2015 - 4:43 am

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Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves on guns


Lieutenant Governor Tate Reeves praised Governor Phil Bryant for his latest order to arm personnel at state military facilities....



..."It is something in the aftermath of the Chattanooga attacks that we have to do. So I commend Governor Bryant for his decision to allow for that," said Reeves.



WTVA
7/21/14

Posted July 22, 2015 - 4:38 am

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WJTV
7/21/15

Posted July 22, 2015 - 4:33 am

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U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today questioned Gen. Mark Milley, nominee to be Chief of Staff of the U.S. Army, about reports that the Army intends to implement the Aviation Restructure Initiative (ARI) as early as October 1, 2015. The plan would begin the transfer of Apache helicopters from the National Guard to the Army before the National Commission on the Future of the Army completes its recommendations on combat aviation assets, future missions, and force mix.

“The intent of Congress is clear,” Wicker said. “There should be no transfers of helicopters away from the Guard until the Congress receives and reviews the findings of the Army Commission. Making these drastic and irreversible force structure changes to the Guard before we have had the chance to see what the Commission has to say about ARI would not be advisable.”

Gen. Milley stated that he would “await the results of the Commission and pay attention to their recommendations very closely.”

Wicker added, “From my conversations with the National Guard, the loss of this program would set many states, such as Mississippi, back a decade. I also think it would do great harm to active Army and National Guard units, which have operated seamlessly since 9/11.”

Wicker’s comments were made during the Milley’s nomination hearing today before the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Wicker fought to ensure that the FY2016 “National Defense Authorization Act” (NDAA) contained a provision to limit additional Apache helicopters from being transferred away from the Army National Guard until Congress reviews the findings of the Army Commission report that is due in February 2016. NDAA is currently being negotiated by a joint House-Senate conference committee for final congressional approval.

The Army Commission was created by a provision authored by Wicker and Senator Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., in last year’s defense bill.

Roger Wicker Press Release
7/21/15


Posted July 21, 2015 - 3:41 pm

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Cruz coming to Mississippi

Senator Ted Cruz will bring his campaign for the presidency to Mississippi on August 11.

The Texas Senator will be in Desoto County at noon at Sweet Pea’s Table in Olive Branch.


MS PEP
7/21/15

Posted July 21, 2015 - 11:49 am

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State Rep. Steve Holland hospitalized with stomach ailment

The 59-year-old Holland, a Democrat from Plantersville, tells local media outlets that he entered the North Mississippi Medical Center last Tuesday and expects to remain for another week.

Holland has struggled in recent years with infections and stomach issues. Holland missed much of the 2014 session when he suffered spikes in his blood pressure before undergoing major gallbladder surgery.


Clarion Ledger
7/21/15

Posted July 21, 2015 - 11:39 am

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Governor Bryant Lowers Flags in Honor of Servicemen Killed in Tennessee

Gov. Phil Bryant has issued an Executive Order lowering the United States and Mississippi flags in honor of four United States Marines and the Navy Petty Officer who died as a result of last week’s attack on two military facilities in Chattanooga, Tenn.

“The men and women who defend this country are under attack. Just last week, five American heroes were killed in a deliberate act of violence. This is a small way Mississippi can honor those who died. The thoughts and prayers of the good people of this state remain with the families of the fallen,” Gov. Phil Bryant said.

Flags will be lowered to half-staff beginning at noon today and will remain lowered through sunset tomorrow.

Gov. Phil Bryant
7/2115


Posted July 21, 2015 - 11:33 am

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Allen Phillips Fundraising Invtation for July 27 Event



Posted July 21, 2015 - 11:31 am

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Prison led tort lawyer, Scruggs, to promote education

“There were sometimes in my practice that I thought I was on a mission from God, that I was on a crusade and whatever I did was OK because whatever I was trying to accomplish was for the greater good. It just wasn’t the case. I really did overreach my grasp,” Scruggs said.

Vicksburg Post
7/21/15


Posted July 21, 2015 - 6:58 am

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Posted July 21, 2015 - 6:51 am

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STATEMENT OF LT. GOV. REEVES ON NATIONAL GUARD ORDER

“I thank Gov. Bryant for allowing our brave men and women who serve in the National Guard to defend themselves as they perform their duties,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said. “It is unfortunate our servicemen and women must take these precautions on American soil.”

Lt. Gov. Reeves’ legislative agenda included a new law to allow military training to qualify servicemen and women for enhanced concealed carry permits, which enables individuals to carry permits in a variety of places.

Tate Reeves Press Release
7/20/15

Posted July 20, 2015 - 4:39 pm

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Governor Bryant Authorizes National Guard Adjutant General to Arm Personnel at State Military Facilities

JACKSON—Gov. Phil Bryant has issued an Executive Order authorizing the Adjutant General of the Mississippi National Guard, Maj. Gen. Augustus L. Collins, to arm certain full-time military personnel at military facilities, including certain National Guard recruiting centers. The governor’s action follows a deadly attack on two military recruiting facilities in Tennessee last week.

“As commander in chief of the Mississippi National Guard and as governor of the state of Mississippi, I take the safety and security of our military personnel very seriously,” Gov. Phil Bryant said. “These men and women put their lives on the line to protect us, and they deserve the opportunity to defend themselves from violent attacks.”

The Executive Order also directs the Mississippi National Guard to examine existing security policies and procedures at military facilities throughout Mississippi and identify any opportunities to enhance the security of those facilities.

“Our thoughts and prayers continue to be with the families of our heroes lost in the terrible shootings in Tennessee,” The Adjutant General of Mississippi Maj. Gen. Augustus L. Collins said. “The security and safety of our Mississippi National Guard personnel is a top priority. We support Governor Bryant's executive order to strengthen security for our Magnolia Guardsmen."

There are approximately 12,500 soldiers and airmen in the Mississippi National Guard.

Mississippi National Guard recruiters work in nine standalone recruiting offices and also work on college campuses and at Community Readiness Centers around the state. The Mississippi National Guard operates two military installations—Camp McCain and Camp Shelby—and has a presence in 72 of Mississippi’s 82 counties.

Since 2009 there have been at least nine attacks on military facilities in the United States.

Gov. Phil Bryant Press Release
7/20/15


Posted July 20, 2015 - 4:38 pm

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Posted July 20, 2015 - 3:46 pm

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AG Jim Hood task force to combat cyber crimes

The Mississippi Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children task force joins with partners from the U.S. Attorneys’ Offices, of the Northern and Southern Districts of Mississippi, the Oxford Police Department, the Biloxi Police Department, the Adam’s County Sheriff’s Office and the Waveland Police Department to train more than 180 officers on techniques to address the increased usage of cell phones in crimes against children.

“Technology advances rapidly, and cell phones are found in practically every investigation of a crime against a child,” said Attorney General Jim Hood.


WMC
7/21/15

Posted July 20, 2015 - 11:38 am

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The National Rifle Association today gave Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves an A-plus rating for his work to strengthen Second Amendment Rights and endorsed his re-election.

NRA-ILA Executive Director Chris Cox stated, “Under Tate Reeves’ leadership, the State Senate has taken critically important steps over the last four years to protect our Second Amendment rights and to recognize the key role that Mississippi sportsmen play in wildlife conservation. Thanks to his work, self-defense options have been expanded for law-abiding Mississippians and hunters will enjoy savings when purchasing equipment before heading into the field this fall.”

Lt. Gov. Reeves has successfully passed several initiatives to support gun owners, including:

· A reduction of the fee on concealed carry permits, exempting permits when carrying a non-holstered pistol or revolver in fully enclosed case, such as a purse or briefcase, and establishing a certain classification for honorably retired law enforcement officers;
· Give sports enthusiasts a sales tax break on firearms, ammunition, hunting supplies and fishing supplies purchased the first weekend of September;
· Passed legislation to enable Mississippians to pass a state constitutional amendment guaranteeing Mississippians’ Right to Hunt and Fish, which was supported by nearly 90 percent of voters;
· Recognize military service for carrying an enhanced concealed carry permit, exempt members of the National Guard or Reserve units from state residency requirements for such permits, and protect Mississippians from overregulation from the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms on commonly used rifle ammunition;
· Clarify the limits on the ability of cities and counties to restrict the carrying of firearms, and prohibit the governor from taking guns in a state of emergency and cities and counties from participating in gun buybacks unless the entities auction off any firearm received to a federally licensed dealer with proceeds reverting to government’s general fund; and
· Ensure information related to concealed carry permit holders is exempt from the Mississippi Public Records Act.

“We encourage all NRA members to go to the polls and support Tate Reeves in the Primary Election on August 4, and ask their fellow gun owners and sportsmen to do likewise,” concluded Cox.

“Over the past four years, I have worked closely with the NRA to protect Mississippians’ Second Amendment Rights,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “I appreciate their support in this year’s election. We must be vigilant when it comes to protecting our personal rights and our ability to keep our families safe.”

Tate Reeves Press Release
7/20/15


Posted July 20, 2015 - 9:16 am

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WTOK
7/20/15

Posted July 20, 2015 - 6:39 am

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Dr. Scott Elliot: Economic development: A better path to stronger funding of public services



“Robbing Peter to Pay Paul” should never be confused with optimum problem solving.

Yet, Mississippi may be perilously posed to do just that where public education is concerned. I am, of course, referencing Initiative 42, which will be voted upon by Mississippians on Nov. 3. It is a referendum calling for the full funding of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) under any circumstances, meaning whether the State (based on tax revenues) can afford it or not.


I can’t imagine anyone arguing over the merits of stronger support for our public school children and teachers. It’s obvious that the Legislature favors increased K-12 funding, witness the $110 million new dollars appropriated to public schools for FY16 inclusive of a guaranteed faculty pay increase. And the Legislature’s bolstering of public school coffers didn’t just start last session. On the contrary, from FY2000-2015, state appropriations on a per student basis increased about 50 percent for K-12. In contrast, community college funding per student during that same time frame decreased over 14 percent, while university support declined almost 8 percent.

That said, it’s inarguable that full funding of MAEP has rarely been achieved. It’s a geometrically progressive formula that some state leaders would describe as “chasing a rabbit that you never quite catch.” Therefore, MAEP could be characterized more accurately as an aspiration rather than an absolute.



Meridian Star
7/19/15

Posted July 20, 2015 - 6:35 am

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Q&A: Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher


Q: Have you an end goal for your time as corrections commissioner, that by the time you leave you would have met these objectives?

A: My end goal is to leave MDOC with highly trained professionals who are committed to making sure citizens are safe. With that in mind, I expect to have increased the starting pay and upgraded training for corrections officers and parole and probation agents. We must find the funds in order to pay our staff a living wage. MDOC has a cadre of dedicated employees who are second to none. But we don’t pay them enough. Corrections officers do jobs no one else will do. If we don’t fix their wages, I fear we will pay a price. In our business, escapes are constantly possible. The recent escape of two convicted murderers from an upstate New York prison can happen anywhere. I am constantly asking my staff here are we doing it right. Can we do better and how? We must stay abreast of new trends and best practices. Constant re-evaluation of our department will become the norm. I want to make MDOC a career attractive agency for both current and potential employees. I have certain individuals attempting to detract my executive decisions because they are contrary to their “good ole boy” agenda. Doing things their way is part of how we got to where we are today. States, cities, and communities all over America continue to be negatively impacted financially either by shallow, backward thinking leadership or leaders who won’t make the difficult decisions. Often the right decisions are the most difficult ones.



Clarion Ledger
7/18/15

Posted July 20, 2015 - 6:30 am

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The Case of the Mystery Flag Robocalls


I present: The Case of the Mystery Flag Robocalls.

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn caused a stir last month when he said, “As a Christian, I believe our state’s flag has become a point of offense that needs to be removed.”

This caused angst among some of Gunn’s fellow Republicans, bringing up a divisive subject during an election year and battle for the House majority the GOP has narrowly held only since 2011.

And while it appears a majority of Democratic leaders would support removing the rebel emblem, some Democratic strate-gerists appear to be trying to cash in on Gunn’s stance as a wedge issue among House Republicans, or at least testing the waters. An illegally anonymous automated telephone push poll and mailer went out in a few House districts with incumbent Republicans within only a day or so of Gunn’s comments.

The Gunn camp believes Democrats are behind it – someone with a “machine” to turn out the pieces so quickly – and it’s trying to pin the tail on some donkey. But as yet no one has fessed up. Several Democratic leaders and strategists have denied any hand in the electioneering pieces. Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole opined such a campaign for Democrats would be dumb as a sack of hammers.



Clarion Ledger
7/19/15

Posted July 20, 2015 - 6:23 am

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Mississippi Power request to raise rates delayed


Mississippi Power Co. won’t be allowed to charge higher rates as soon as it wanted to help pay for a $6.2 billion power plant in Kemper County.

In an order filed this week, the Mississippi Public Service Commission said it would hold a hearing Aug. 6 on the company’s request to raise rates by 18 percent to pay for $1.1 billion in assets that Mississippi Power says are already in commercial service at the Kemper site.



Clarion Ledger
7/18/15

Posted July 20, 2015 - 6:22 am

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PAUL HAMPTON: They must be smoking something strong up on High Street




Even a casual observer could deduce Jackson is a disaster. But it takes a more nuanced vision to see that the BP oil catastrophe is to blame.

Jackson officials are putting together a proposal to divert $400,000 to pay for improvements to its sewage system.

It is not coincidence that's the amount the Environmental Protection Agency has ordered the city to spend on the system.

Ashby Foote makes the best case for using BP money -- water from the system flows into the Pearl River, which then flows into the Mississippi Sound.

I suspect it has for years and I don't recall Jackson offering to send the Coast any money for fouling one of our major tourist attractions.



Sunherald
7/18/15


Posted July 20, 2015 - 6:18 am

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SUN HERALD | Editorial: We urge you to vote for school funding amendment




Education is a solid investment.

That is why parents save and sacrifice for years to pay for their children's education. That is why students are willing to go thousands of dollars in debt to earn university degrees. That is why savvy industry leaders, such as Ingalls Shipbuilding, invest a small fortune to build training centers.

That's why we recommend voters vote for Initiative 42, which would put in the state Constitution the requirement that the state fund an adequate and efficient system of free public schools.


SunHerald
7/18/15


Posted July 20, 2015 - 6:14 am

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Savant sentencing pushed to October



Former Harrison County Supervisor Kim Savant was expected in a federal courtroom next week. But, that July 30 sentencing hearing has been delayed. Court documents say Savant will now be sentenced October 1.

Back in December, Savant resigned from his seat on the board of supervisors. Moments later, he walked into the federal courthouse in downtown Gulfport and pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to commit bribery. Savant admitted that while serving on the Harrison County Utility Authority, he took money in exchange for votes.



WLOX
7/20/15

Posted July 20, 2015 - 6:11 am

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MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS


WLBT
7/19/15

Posted July 20, 2015 - 6:01 am

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Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher

Q: One of your predecessors, Robert Johnson, recently wrote in an op-ed piece for us that said there are 3,360 empty beds, almost enough to hold the entire prison population housed in for-profit prisons. Do you see continued use of private prisons as still viable for Mississippi given that MDOC’s budget has been cut?

A: Mr. Johnson’s point regarding private prisons and the circumstances under which we turned to them 20 years ago are well taken. But I feel that more analysis of private prisons is in order before we ring that bell. I consider that evaluation a priority of mine, especially for the long-term future of corrections in Mississippi given the drop in the inmate population. Meanwhile, we may be forced to consider closing at least one private institution in order to comply with the 7.8 percent possible FY16 reduction. Even if we do so, the amount of money we owe on the four private prisons is still at $200 million.

Q: While the MDOC Task Force is making recommendations to the governor and Legislature, in the interim how are you approaching the awarding of contracts?

A: MDOC has hired an employee solely responsible for the RFO/IFB process. Committees evaluate proposals pursuant to bid submissions. A recommendation for a contract award is presented to me to accept or reject before we go to the contract review board for approval. I do not discuss contracts with vendors. We are committed to transparency and integrity of the process.


Clarion Ledger
7/21/15

Posted July 19, 2015 - 11:36 am

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Posted July 17, 2015 - 2:35 pm

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Campaign contributions questioned as DeSoto legislative races heat up



Ashley Henley, a teacher who is challenging state Rep. Pat Nelson of Southaven in the Aug. 4 GOP primary, questions in a recent release the nearly $200,000 in non-itemized campaign contributions reported by Nelson since 2012. Financial disclosure laws do not require identifying donors of $200 or less...


...Henley’s report for the same period shows $6,974.60 cash on hand, with two large contributions totaling $11,800 during June, both from the Empower political action committee.

Empower Mississippi is a PAC promoting charter schools, an initiative that has failed to gain much traction in DeSoto County. The county has the state’s largest public school district, always ranked highly in state accountability standards, so the idea of charter schools has failed to attract the level of public support it has in some areas of Mississippi where public schools have struggled to provide minimal education standards.

The group has targeted DeSoto legislative incumbents in this year’s primaries and general election because of what it sees as a lack of support for pro-charter legislation, and Nelson says those efforts are behind the attacks on him and other DeSoto incumbents in the state House and Senate....



...The incumbents are making an issue of the money Empower has put into six DeSoto County legislative races so far, especially because the group has plenty more cash left. Empower has raised $428,000 since its creation a year ago and had $337,000 on hand as of June 10.




Commercial Appeal


Posted July 17, 2015 - 7:55 am

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Senator Longwitz Alleges Problems with Oxford House, Failures at Board of Mental Health

State Sen. Will Longwitz (R-Madison) today questioned the Mississippi Department of Mental Health and the State Board of Mental Health at their monthly meeting in Ellisville.

Longwitz asked the State Board why, in the face of damning evidence of multiple failures, they continue to fund and defend Maryland-based Oxford House, Inc.

“I have found evidence that Oxford House made material misrepresentations on federal loan documents, and I have shown these facts to the State Board. Thus far, they have refused to act,” said Longwitz.

“I have shown that the Department and the State Board are not doing their job administering federal tax money or holding Oxford House accountable. They are allowing Oxford House to run roughshod over the residents of my district, and I have no reason to believe they are operating any different anywhere else in the state.”

“I hope the Department and the State Board will, in the end, remember for whom they work. They work for the people of Mississippi and for the taxpayers, not for an out-of-state organization based in Maryland.”

In his letter and in his remarks, Longwitz pointed out that the Department and the State Board have:
•Failed to hold Oxford House to its own rules and regulations to help people recover.
•Opened new Oxford Houses before the old ones reach capacity, in violation of federal law.
•Failed to screen residents for convicted sex offenders.
•Disregarded Oxford House’s material misrepresentations on federal loan applications.
•Failed to require Oxford House to repay federal loans as required by their contract.
•Ignored evidence of relapses by Oxford House residents, and allowed Oxford House employees to cover up such relapses.
•Failed to show evidence of drug testing of residents.
•Failed to show evidence of testing residents for alcohol use.

“I value any chance to serve the district I represent in the State Senate. But it is simply inappropriate that the Department of Mental Health is relying on me to serve as their full-time Inspector General,” Longwitz continued. “I still hold out hope that they will do what Governor Phil Bryant demanded and cut ties with Oxford House, Inc. of Maryland. We have better ways to house and treat people in recovery. They and the citizens and taxpayers of Mississippi deserve better.”


Sen. Will Longwitz
7/16/15

Posted July 17, 2015 - 6:44 am

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WTOK
7/16/15

Posted July 17, 2015 - 5:54 am

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Lt. Gov. Reeves not surprised by MAEP ruling




Former Gov. Ronnie Musgrove represented them.

Reeves called the suit frivolous.

"The Legislature has to create a budget each and every year and we have to live within our means and we have to invest resources that we have accordingly," Reeves said. "So, I wasn't terribly surprised by the ruling. And I will tell you that I'm proud of the fact that over the last four years, we've increased funding for public education by nearly $400 million a year."



WMCActionNews

7/16/15


Posted July 17, 2015 - 5:50 am

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RELEASE:


Wicker, Murray Introduce New Legislation to Establish Physical Activity Recommendations



WASHINGTON – Today, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker, R-Miss., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., introduced the Promoting Physical Activity for Americans Act, legislation that would establish physical activity recommendations for children and adults. The bipartisan legislation would call on the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to issue physical activity recommendations based on the latest scientific and medical evidence every ten years. The bill also directs HHS, five years after the release of each set of recommendations, to update reports to highlight continuing physical activity issues.



"The government already provides physical activity recommendations for the public, but this information has not been updated since 2008,” Senator Wicker said. “Recent advances in medical science and technology highlight the need for modern recommendations. This bill would ensure that Americans are provided with reliable, up-to-date, evidence-based health information.”



“As we work on policies to improve the health and wellness of families in Washington state and across the country, it is critical all Americans have clear, scientifically-based information on how physical activities can benefit their health,” said Senator Murray. “Staying active is an important part of living a healthy life, and this legislation will help ensure Americans know how much and what kind of physical activities work best for them.”



Regular physical activity recommendations would complement the Dietary Guidelines for Americans, which were first released in 1980, and would ensure HHS continues the legacy of the Physical Activity Guidelines that were released in 2008. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, people who are physically active tend to live longer and have lower risk for heart disease, stroke, type 2 diabetes, depression, and some cancers. Approximately 1 in 5 adults currently get enough physical activity and fewer than 3 in 10 high school students get the 60 minutes of daily physical activity they need.


7/16/15

Posted July 17, 2015 - 5:47 am

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RELEASE:


MISS. AGRICULTURE INTERESTS FUNDED IN SENATE APPROPRIATIONS BILL

Senate Appropriations Committee Approves FY2016 Ag, Rural Development, Food Safety Measure

WASHINGTON, D.C. - U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) today supported committee passage of an appropriations bill that will support agriculture production, research, and conservation programs that are important to Mississippi.

Cochran is chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which approved the FY2016 Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration Appropriations Bill on a bipartisan 28-2 vote. With its approval, the committee under Cochran's leadership has approved 11 of the 12 appropriations bills required of Congress annually.

"The purview of this bill includes many important programs that directly influence U.S. agriculture, public health and the quality of life in rural America. The bill adheres to our budget constraints, yet funds federal initiatives to improve agriculture production and research and to support rural economies," Cochran said.

"As a leader in agriculture production and research, Mississippi has a stake in the federal programs designed to improve production, enhance food safety and provide food to Americans and people around the world. Our universities play an important role in discovering how to maintain U.S. agriculture's global leadership," he said.

This Senate measure support U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) agriculture, rural communities and cooperative conservation programs. It invests in food and drug safety, and provides essential nutrition assistance for children, families and seniors.

In addition to preventing the closure of Farm Service Agency county offices, the legislation also rejects the President's budget request to terminate Agriculture Research Service (ARS) extramural research program research, including more than $8.0 million in research conducted at Mississippi State University, the University of Mississippi and the Jamie Whitten Research Center in Stoneville.

The committee also approved $3.5 million ARS funding to support forest products research, which involves Mississippi State as the lead institution in a collaboration that also includes the University of Maine and Oregon State University.

Other items of interest to Mississippi in the FY2016 Agriculture & Rural Development Appropriations Bill include:

ARS Extramural Research Programs: The committee again rejects the President's budget proposal to eliminate ARS extramural research programs and continues funding for this research. In Mississippi, this research includes biophonics, Mid-South sustainable crop production systems, crop and animal byproducts integration, avian mycoplasmosis, and erosion and sediment control.
Food Safety and Inspection Service: $1.014 billion, approximately the same as the 2015 enacted level, for food safety and inspection programs. Per the President's budget request, a $2.8 million increase is provided to continue implementation of the Catfish Inspection Program.

Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS): Within APHIS funding, $11.5 million is provided for Cotton Pests, $20 million for the national feral hog program, and an additional $600,000 to support aquaculture damage management and research efforts.

Rural Development: Within USDA Rural Development, $3.0 million is provided for the Delta Regional Authority and $3.0 million is provided for a competitive grant program for rural health care services. To support overall rural infrastructure, the bill includes $1.25 billion for rural water and waste program loans, the same as the FY2015 enacted level, $496 million for grants and costs, and $7.5 billion for rural electric and telephone infrastructure loans. The bill makes up to $16.5 million available to the circuit rider program that benefits rural water associations in Mississippi.

Food and Drug Administration: Within funding for the FDA, the committee maintains funding, $1.8 million, for the National Center for Natural Product research Center for Excellence at the University of Mississippi for dietary supplemental research. This facility is the only one in the nation that conducts this research.



7/16/15

Posted July 17, 2015 - 5:45 am

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RELEASE:


Wicker: Education Reform Bill Passes Senate

Legislation Puts States, Teachers, Parents Back in Control of Students’ Success



WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., today supported final Senate passage of a bill to reform the nation’s education system and to prohibit national mandates such as Common Core. The “Every Child Achieves Act,” S. 1177, authored by Sens. Lamar Alexander, R-Tenn., and Patty Murray, D-Wash., received overwhelming bipartisan support with a vote of 81-17.



“Congress has taken a meaningful step to reform America’s broken education system,” Wicker said. “In recent years, the Department of Education has been acting as a National School Board. This legislation would return that power back to the states, school districts, teachers, and parents to decide what is best for their students. Ultimately, improving students’ chances of success should be the top priority. This bipartisan proposal would put that goal back into focus.”



The measure now awaits action by a House-Senate conference committee to resolve differences between the chambers’ bills.



Highlights of S. 1177 include:



Strengthening state and local control by restoring responsibility for creating accountability systems to the states.
Ending the Common Core mandate.
Prohibiting the Secretary of Education from adding new requirements for states or school districts seeking waivers from federal law.
Creating a STEM Master Teacher Corps to recruit and retain teachers in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Strengthening the charter school program.
Helping states fix the lowest-performing schools through federal grants.



7/16/15

Posted July 17, 2015 - 5:43 am

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