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EdBuild recommendation made to #msleg
Here's what we've all been waiting for
by Alan Lange

Final EdBuild Recommendation to #MSLEG by yallpolitics on Scribd



Posted January 16, 2017 - 3:25 pm

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Senator Chris McDaniel Introduces Term Limits Amendment In 2017 Session.



Senator Chris McDaniel has introduced a bill to limit the terms of Missississippi Legislators. The legislation, Senate Resolution 545, would limit a person to “no more than two successive terms in the Mississippi House of Representatives or in the Mississippi Senate. Four years after the expiration of the second term, a person may be elected again to the other house for two terms, but shall not serve more than a total of sixteen years.”

As might have been expected of popular legislation filed by my friend from Jones County, SR 545 has been double referred and will be going to both the Rules Committee and the Constitution Committee in the state senate.



Mississippi PEP
1/15/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 8:44 am

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1/13/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 8:31 am

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Most people think serious Republicans are heartless conservatives that have no compassion and don't know how to have any fun whatsoever. Not true.

Case in point? Rep. Joel Bomgar (R) is sponsoring HB179, which seeks to establish a medical marijuana pilot program. Rep. Kathy Sykes (D) is cosponsoring the bill with Bomgar. Remember in the 2014 session that Sen. Josh Harkins authored a bill legalizing cannabis oil. With 28 states and the District of Columbia with medical or recreational marijuana programs (including neighboring Arkansas), it's not like this is a new concept. But kind of like fart jokes, it makes you nervously chuckle a little.

Bomgar is a serious policy guy. To wit, HB180 is a industrial hemp bill, so the medical marijuana thing doesn't seem to be a passing fancy (Sykes cosponsored that one, too).

Here are the main particulars from the medical marijuana bill.

a) "Allowable amount of marijuana" means:
(i) Two and five-tenths (2.5) ounces of marijuana, and
(ii) The quantity of marijuana products as established by regulation of the department.
(b) "Bona fide physician-patient relationship" means:
(i) A physician and patient have a treatment or consulting relationship, during the course of which the physician has completed an assessment of the patient's medical history and current medical condition, including an appropriate examination;
(ii) The physician has consulted with the patient with respect to the patient's debilitating medical condition; and
(iii) The physician is available to or offers to provide follow-up care and treatment to the patient.
(c) "Marijuana products" means concentrated marijuana, marijuana extracts, and products that are infused with marijuana or an extract thereof and are intended for use or consumption by humans. The term includes, without limitation, edible marijuana products, beverages, topical products, ointments, oils, and tinctures.
(d) "Marijuana testing facility" or "testing facility" means an independent entity registered with the department pursuant to this act to analyze the safety and potency of marijuana.
(e) "Cardholder" means a qualifying patient or a designated caregiver who has been issued and possesses a valid registry identification card.
(f) "Debilitating medical condition" means any of the following conditions: cancer, glaucoma, spastic quadriplegia, positive status for human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), acquired immune deficiency syndrome (AIDS), seizures, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn's disease, multiple sclerosis, ulcerative colitis, intractable pain, or any other serious medical condition or its treatment added by the department, as provided for in Section 5 of this act.


Bipartisanship at it's finest. Congrats Reps. Bomgar and Sykes. You've authored our #msleg . . . . .#billoftheday.

Posted January 16, 2017 - 8:25 am

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Municipal election qualifying continues



Guntown and Plantersville had their first candidates qualify during the past week. In Plantersville, incumbent mayor Gloria Holland filed papers to run for re-election. Guntown incumbent alderman Petey Hopkins did the same.

In Tupelo, mayor Jason Shelton and all seven city council members are all seeking re-election. Two of them currently face challengers.

Candice Knowles will run against Shelton in the Democratic primary for mayor. Also, Democrat Greg Humphrey will challenge incumbent Democrat Nettie Davis for the Ward 4 seat on the city council.



Daily Journal
1/15/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 8:24 am

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City slammed as it declares Monday 'Great Americans Day'



The city of Biloxi has sparked a debate about the holiday honoring the late civil rights leader Martin Luther King, Jr. after announcing on social media that city offices would be closed Monday for "Great Americans Day."

Monday is federally recognized as Martin Luther King Jr. Day.

The Sun Herald reports Great Americans Day doesn't exist as a holiday and is not even recognized by the Mississippi Secretary of State's Office. However, Biloxi City Council passed an ordinance in 1985 declaring the holiday "Great Americans Day."


WTOK
1/14/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 8:21 am

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City of Biloxi under fire for 'Great Americans Day' post

Shortly before 7 p.m., the city posted on its Facebook page that they would be closed on the third Monday of the month. The problem - they didn't reference the day as Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.

Instead, the city told nearly 30,000 people on Facebook that non-emergency municipal offices would be closed in observance of "Great Americans Day." The city has since deleted the post after news agencies around the country picked up the story, garnering it thousands of shares and comments.

WLOX
1/16/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 8:19 am

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WTOK
1/15/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 8:19 am

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Analysis: Tax cuts, economy weigh on MS revenues



But among critics, there’s a spreading sense that despite the expressions of concern, what’s going on is all part of the Republican blueprint.

Listen, for example, to Democratic Attorney Jim Hood, who’s mulling a run for governor in 2019: “It’s not that they’re mean spirited and they don’t care about these people, I don’t think. They came down here on a mission. They were elected to office to cut government, choke government off and cut taxes. And governing and protecting victims, that’s second.”

Bryant argues that state government has become bloated while he’s been governor because spending has grown rapidly as state revenues rebounded from the recession.

“That kind of growth in spending over such a short period is simply unsustainable, and must be addressed,” Bryant wrote in his budget recommendation last fall, calling on lawmakers to “fund only those core functions of government that provide clear benefits to our citizens.”


Clarion Ledger
1/15/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 8:08 am

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MS Legislature, week 2: 'I will cuss you out ...'



"I would like to adjourn today in memory of the Alabama Crimson Tide.” — Rep. John Hines, D-Greenville, taking a dig at Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden, an avid Alabama fan, after the team’s loss to Clemson in the football championship. “You’re out of order — turn the gentleman’s microphone off, please.”


“I will cuss you out if I feel like you need it, and you can cuss me back out.” — Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville


“Is the chairman the owner of an insurance company? … Somebody’s trying to line their pockets. I don’t know if it’s the chairman or not.” — Rep. Adrienne Wooten, D-Jackson, on a mandatory auto insurance bill, referring to House Insurance Chairman Gary Chism, who owns an insurance company


“I’ve got four children. One of them ain’t worth killin.” – House Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith,



Clarion Ledger
1/14/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 8:03 am

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GEOFF PENDER: Saa-lute to Gunn on campaign finance passage



Saaa-lute: This did not appear to be an easy task. Gunn deserves kudos. The bill’s passage appeared to be on the force of his will (and probably a little concern for public perception).

Gunn’s own Republican leadership team — with plenty of help from Democrats in rare bipartisanship — helped kill last year’s measure in the 11th hour of the session on an un-recorded voice vote. Last week, the only Gunn lieutenant to say anything nice about his bill was Rep. Jason White, R-West, who handled it on the floor for Gunn.

The rest of his GOP leaders — with the exception of Education Chairman John Moore, who voted no — appeared to sit on their hands and begrudgingly push their green buttons in what wound up a 104-12 vote.

I heard on good authority that some in Gunn’s GOP caucus asked if they could have a poll on the measure, to which Gunn replied: You will, up on that big electronic vote board in the House.



Clarion Ledger
1/14/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 8:01 am

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Sid Salter: Digital governing needed in digital world



The bottom line is that government has to keep pace with changing technologies or the people they serve are left behind. That’s true at every level of government — federal, state and local.

As technologies evolved from my childhood forward, government at every level usually found a way to keep pace with technological change. Telephone service carried with it built-in taxes and fees. The same was true with cable TV — every town in Mississippi that had cable TV service had a franchise agreement with a private provider who paid government for the privilege.

The latest such evolution at the intersection of technological development and how our governments interact with that development is being seen in California, Pennsylvania and other venues over the issue of taxing audio and video streaming services like Netflix or Hulu.



Clarion Ledger
1/15/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 7:56 am

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Clarion Ledger
1/15/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 7:55 am

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From the Mississippi Center for Public Policy:


MCPP Priorities

The 2017 Mississippi legislative session began on January 3, and the Mississippi Center for Public Policy will keep you updated throughout the session.

We believe legislation should eliminate unnecessary barriers so that opportunities can be created that will benefit all Mississippians. We’re focused on four main principles - economic freedom, education freedom, individual responsibility, and government accountability.

Economic Freedom
We want Mississippi to be a place where entrepreneurs are free to pursue their dreams, which means we must have a competitive economic environment based on free-market principles. Unnecessarily burdensome laws and regulations that hinder economic opportunity should be removed, and we must improve the business community’s ability to create and promote opportunity.

Education Freedom
We believe every child in Mississippi should have access to high-quality education. Parents should have the opportunity to choose the education that works best for their children. We need improved education content at all levels.

Individual Responsibility
We want Mississippians to experience freedom from dependence on government for their daily needs. We support policies that promote personal responsibility and strong families.

Government Accountability
Government should function according to the principles that enhance freedom and responsibility. We believe in restraining the growth of state government when it attempts to move beyond its proper role. We promote wise stewardship of tax dollars and a fair tax policy that collects only what is necessary.

For more about the principles we believe, read (or listen to) our booklet Governing by Principle: Ten Principles to Guide Public Policy?)


2017 Legislative Session Agenda

Consistent with those principles, here are just a few of the many ideas we are promoting:

* legislation to significantly reduce welfare fraud by removing dead people and non-Mississippi residents from Medicaid and other programs;

* a bill to require the U.S. History test that is required for high school graduation to include questions on America’s Founding (it currently covers only 1870 to the present);

* bills to help us recover from the negative effects of Obamacare at the state level; and

* a variety of bills aimed at reducing the regulatory burden on employers so that more private sector jobs can be created.


In addition, we will be monitoring many other bills, and acting when necessary to encourage their passage or their defeat. All our decisions will be driven by the principles described above, and even more specifically, according to the principles we have written about in Governing by Principle.
 
Legislative Action
Only a few bills have begun to make their way through the legislative process. About 1,200 bills have been introduced and assigned to committees. By the end of the session, more than 3,000 bills will have been introduced. Based on prior years’ experience, more than two-thirds of those bills will see no action at all. About 350 bills will be signed into law, including about 100 Appropriations bills and a good number of bills that do no more than give names to bridges or buildings.

The deadline for introducing most bills is this coming Monday, Jan. 16. (Bills that take your money and spend your money, known as Revenue and Appropriations bills, have a late February deadline.)

The House has approved a few bills so far, and the Senate has approved one of them. Here are a few that are significant:

School Superintendents
HB 32, the first bill to make it through the legislature and to the governor’s desk, is a bill to clarify the law passed last year to require school district superintendents to be appointed rather than elected, beginning in 2019. This bill clarifies that if a currently-elected superintendent’s office becomes vacant before 2019, the school board is to go ahead and appoint a superintendent, not hold a special election. The governor is expected to sign the bill.

Campaign Finance
HB 479, billed as campaign finance “reform,” defines and outlines usage guidelines for campaign contributions by any elected official or candidate. The bill prohibits the personal use of campaign contributions and provides acceptable options for how to use leftover money at the conclusion of an elected official or candidate’s service or campaign. Enforcement would be overseen by the Mississippi Ethics Commission. The bill passed by a vote of 102-13 and now goes to the Senate.

Auto Liability Insurance
HB 319 would require drivers to show proof of auto liability insurance to renew their registration (which most people think of as renewing their car tag, or getting their annual car tag sticker). This bill passed the House 82-33 and now goes to the Senate.

Tax Liability
HB 131 would authorize the Department of Revenue to compromise and settle a tax liability that is a doubtful claim. Our state constitution prohibits forgiving a tax debt to the state, no matter how unrealistic its full collection. Proponents of this bill say that if some type of compromise could be allowed, the state would get some money (instead of none), and the taxpayer could begin to rebuild financially. The bill passed without opposition and now goes to the Senate.


1/14/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 7:48 am

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From the Mississippi Democrat Party email:


“This is our opportunity to keep our campaign promise," said Senator Roger Wicker (R-Mississippi) on Thursday when the United States Senate took the first steps toward eliminating The Affordable Care Act, which is known by many as "Obama Care." The program allows roughly 20 million Americans including 139,000 eligible working Mississippians to purchase health insurance policies or to be covered under provisions that had not previously been available in the insurance marketplace.
 
U.S. Senate Democrats offered amendments to keep some of the most popular provisions of the law including continued insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and protecting rural hospitals. They were all voted down by the Republican majority. Democrats also offered amendments to allow cheaper imports of  drugs from Canada but that also was defeated by the Republican membership. The repeal legislation must be drafted by January 27, 2017.
 
Here in Mississippi, repeal will effect 22,000 young adults below the age of 26 still on their parents' policy, 1.26 million people with pre-existing conditions, 1.16 million that receive the free preventative care benefits and 61 thousand that have mental issues or substance abuse problems. But that is not all.
 
Medicare covers 572,000 Mississippians. Repeal of the Act opens back up the prescription donut hole and results in the loss of free wellness visits. It also removes the strengthening provisions for the Medicare Trust to keep it viable. The House of Representatives is due to vote on the first steps of repeal Friday, January 13, 2017.
 
Meanwhile, Tuesday, the U.S. House Republican majority was busy passing a Rules package making it is easier to transfer or sell America’s public lands. If you hunt, fish, or just enjoy the outdoors public lands offer, this legislation has significant impact. Every Republican Congressman from Mississippi, Harper, Kelly, and Palazzo supported the legislation while Bennie Thompson voted NO.

Back at home, the Mississippi Legislature showed once again how they will try to evade public scrutiny when presenting legislation. A bill that limits campaign finances was placed on the calendar on Tuesday and took up for vote on Wednesday. The public had little notice nor an opportunity to have input concerning the legislation. 

 
This will be the Republican majority’s game plan for the year. They can espouse legislation which was taken up in the light of day all while not having hearings or debate prior to slipping it on the calendar for a quick vote.


1/12/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 7:40 am

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RELEASE:

LT. GOV. REEVES SUPPORTS DeVOS NOMINATION

JACKSON – Betsy DeVos will bring a “sense of urgency” to improving educational opportunities for students across the nation, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves wrote in a letter of support for DeVos’s nomination as secretary of education.

The U.S. Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions will hold a nomination hearing Tuesday for Mrs. DeVos, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for education secretary.

“As Lieutenant Governor of Mississippi, I know the importance of ensuring that every student has access to a truly revolutionary education, regardless of the zip code in which they live or the income level of their parents,” Lt. Gov. Reeves wrote to Senate Chairman Lamar Alexander. “Mrs. DeVos’s ardent dedication to this principle, along with her passion for innovative and transformational educational opportunities, will be a fundamental change that our students so desperately need.”

1/13/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 7:37 am

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RELEASE:


Kelly announces appointment to the House Small Business Committee

WASHINGTON -  Representative Trent Kelly (R- Miss) will be returning as a member of the House Small Business Committee. Chairman Steve Chabot announced the names of the Republican Membership on Thursday. The committee has oversight and legislative authority over the Small Business Administration (SBA) and its programs.
                                          
"Small businesses are the top job creators in the First District and in this nation. We need fewer regulations. The work done through the committee is an important part of achieving this goal," Rep. Kelly said. "I am appreciative and excited to continue to work with Chairman Chabot and my colleagues on the committee, putting forward policies that ease the burdens on small businesses so that they can grow and create jobs."

"We are absolutely thrilled that Trent Kelly will be returning as a member of the House Small Business Committee, said Chairman Chabot (R-Ohio). "Trent has truly distinguished himself as one of the strongest, most thoughtful and most effective advocates for small business in Congress. I know he will continue to fight for the kinds of smart, pro-growth policies that will help small businesses in his home state of Mississippi and across America to succeed. I look forward to working with him in the new Congress as we continue to cut burdensome red tape and open new doors for entrepreneurs."


1/13/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 7:36 am

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RELEASE:


GIPSON AND FILLINGANE CHOSEN TO SERVE ON MISSISSIPPI PRESIDENTIAL INAUGURAL COMMITTEE
 
At next week’s Presidential Inauguration, Representative Andy Gipson and Senator Joey Fillingane will represent the Mississippi House of Representatives and Mississippi Senate on Mississippi’s Presidential Inaugural Committee.
 
Gov. Phil Bryant reached out to the legislators this week to notify them of the honor.
 
“I look forward to being with you in Washington next week as we witness the dawn of a new era of freedom and opportunity in American history,” Bryant stated in a letter sent to the selected committee members.
 
Gipson said he feels humbled to be chosen for the opportunity.
 
“I am extremely honored and appreciative to Governor Bryant for allowing me to attend such a historic event in this capacity,” Gipson said. “I truly believe we have a unique opportunity to get this country back on track under the leadership of President-elect Trump, and I look forward to being a part of that.”
 
Senator Fillingane said he was pleased to be included.
 
“I’m proud that our country has chosen Donald J. Trump as its new president,” Fillingane said. “I worked very hard along with many of my fellow legislators and the governor to make sure that Mr. Trump was successful in Mississippi. I’m very excited to be a part of this historic moment in our nation’s history as we inaugurate President Trump.”
 
The Mississippi Presidential Inaugural Committee is comprised of state leaders who will travel to Washington D.C. next week to represent the state of Mississippi as President-elect Donald Trump is sworn into office as President of the United States.


1/13/17

Posted January 16, 2017 - 7:31 am

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RELEASE



Palazzo Supports Fast Track to Repeal Obamacare

Washington, DC – Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) released the following statement today after supporting the passage of S. Con. Res. 3 to facilitate action on the repeal of Obamacare:

“One of my very first votes in Congress was to repeal Obamacare. Since then, I’ve voted over 60 more times to repeal this law that’s been bad for families, bad for small businesses, and bad for hard-working Americans. Today we passed a resolution that is the first step toward repealing this law under a new Republican president. The people of Mississippi sent me to Washington to repeal, replace, dismantle, delay and defund Obamacare, and that is exactly what we’re going to do.”


1/13/17

Posted January 13, 2017 - 3:36 pm

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Selmon makes bid for mayor



District 3 Warren County Supervisor Charles Selmon has officially announced his candidacy for mayor. Selmon made the announcement during a 1 p.m. press conference Tuesday at the Hampton Inn on Clay Street.

“(I announced) my intention to run for mayor. That’s basically what the conversation was about,” he said. “We just talked about how we wanted to move Vicksburg forward and how we’re going to be progressive in doing it.”



Vicksburg Post
1/11/17

Posted January 13, 2017 - 6:14 am

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Mississippi Highway Patrol urges stronger texting law



Mississippi Highway Patrol officials say the state’s nearly 2-year-old texting law is too complicated and the penalty so minor that most law enforcement will write tickets instead for careless driving....


...Poulos and others say municipal police departments aren’t likely to write texting citations since it is a civil citation and can't be filed in Municipal Court. If it had a criminal penalty, a texting while driving citation could be filed in Municipal Court.

Another problem MHP sees with the texting law is it lists only two actions in which a person would be in violation of the law and that is for texting and posting to social media. He said a motorist can argue they were on a website or playing a game instead of texting or posting to social media.



Clarion Ledger
1/12/17

Posted January 13, 2017 - 6:07 am

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State Health Director: No layoffs, but high concern



The state Department of Health does not expect to incur layoffs, amid the latest round of mid-year budget cuts ordered by Gov. Phil Bryant.



Clarion Ledger
1/12/17

Posted January 13, 2017 - 6:05 am

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WJTV
1/12/17

Posted January 13, 2017 - 6:00 am

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Today's #BillOfTheDay comes to us courtesy of Rep. Deborah Dixon. HB2 would allow for motorcycles to run red lights if they don't trip the signal sensor and if no one else is around.

Here's the revision they're asking for
(e) When a motorcycle is the sole occupant of a lane and does not cause the sensor to trigger a green light, the motorcycle may cautiously enter the intersection to proceed through the intersection or make a turn, provided that the motorcycle shall yield the right-of-way to pedestrians lawfully within an adjacent crosswalk and to other vehicular traffic lawfully using the intersection. A motorcycle shall not make a turn under this subsection if a sign stating "No Turn On Red" is in place prohibiting a turn.


I mean, seriously, what could possibly go wrong with giving the legal right for motorcyclists to ignore red lights?

Congrats Rep. Dixon, you've authored our #msleg . . . . #billoftheday!

Posted January 13, 2017 - 6:00 am

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Tupelo - Columbus


WTVA
1/12/17

Posted January 13, 2017 - 5:57 am

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Mississippi electric rates rise with natural gas prices



The Mississippi Public Service Commission voted Thursday to approve higher fuel costs for both Entergy Mississippi and Mississippi Power Co.

Residential customers of Entergy who use 1,000 kilowatt hours monthly will see bills rise by $7 to $99.28.

Typical residential bills for Mississippi Power Co. customers will rise $6.45 per month to about $131.



WLOX
1/12/17

Posted January 13, 2017 - 5:50 am

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Gov. Bryant announces more than $50M in budget cuts



JACKSON, MS (WLOX) - Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant announced Thursday tax revenue for fiscal year 2017 has been less than expected, so he ordered a $55 million adjustment to the state’s budget.

Bryant said the adjustments will include nearly $51 million in budget cuts for state agencies and the transfer of more than $4 million to the general fund from the “rainy day fund.”

“I am hoping these two actions, totaling a $55 million modification to the FY 2017 budget, will be enough to get state government through the current fiscal year, however, additional cuts or transfers from our Rainy Day Fund may be required later,” said Bryant in a letter to state fiscal officer Laura Jackson.

Bryant points out the adjustments equal less than 1 percent of the state’s $5.8 billion operating budget.



WLOX
1/12/17

Posted January 13, 2017 - 5:47 am

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MAYOR GENE MCGEE ANNOUNCES REELECTION BID

RIDGELAND, MS –City of Ridgeland Mayor Gene McGee today announced he would seek re-election in the upcoming municipal election. Mayor McGee was introduced at the press conference by 2015 Mississippi Parent of the Year Sissy Lynn.

"Mayor McGee understands that having strong public schools translates into having a vibrant community, which in turn encourages economic development," said Lynn. "He’s created a quality of life in Ridgeland unlike that of any community in our state. I cannot think of anyone more qualified or deserving to lead our city for the next four years, and I’m excited to support him in his candidacy for re-election of Mayor of Ridgeland."

McGee, who has served seven (7) terms as Mayor stated, “When Jane and I married in 1971, we looked for a place to call home and in which we would raise our family. We chose City of Ridgeland, and I must say that is a decision we have never regretted.

McGee continued, “When I ran for Alderman, I promised to work hard to make City of Ridgeland a city in which other families and businesses would see the potential that Jane and I saw. Four years later, when elected Mayor, I brought my business background to the office and began the work of building an administration that is responsive and responsible to the residents and businesses of City of Ridgeland.

“Under my guidance, City of Ridgeland has been a model in planned development, and in creation of long-term plans to meet future requirements of services and resources in all facets of the City. My vision included state of the art recreational facilities including multi-use trails and outstanding parks, top rated schools, and building Highland Colony Parkway and creating an environment that would nurture businesses and families in a cohesive, planned development of locally owned business as well as corporate headquarters. Today, Highland Colony Parkway is unlike any development found in the Southeastern United States. Our Comprehensive Long Term Plans are organic plans that are evaluated and updated systematically to ensure our ability to budget and implement projects that ensure a safe city with a viable infrastructure.

“After prayerful consideration and discussions, I have decided to run for another term as Mayor of City of Ridgeland,” said McGee. “It has been my honor to serve the people of Ridgeland as Mayor. Our city is growing stronger every year thanks to the efforts of so many citizens who care about our community. Ridgeland is blessed with high quality of life, low property taxes and low unemployment, as well as strong conservative values. During my time in office, we have added high-quality commercial developments, improved infrastructure, developed first class recreational facilities, and maintained top-rated public schools all without ever raising taxes. I am proud of what we have accomplished together and look forward to earning the support of the voters for another term.

“Running for reelection is not just about what you have done, but what you will do going forward. I look forward to discussing my vision for the future with all of the citizens of Ridgeland in the coming campaign.

“Together we can continue building a City in which families want to grow their families and put down roots and in which businesses build and thrive. My promise to you today is the same as it has always been. I will serve the people of City of Ridgeland with honesty and integrity, always putting the best interests of the City forefront in decision making. As always, my door is open to anyone who wishes to discuss their concerns, opportunities, or visions with me.

“I ask for your vote and support on May 2, 2017.”

McGee, a Republican, is seeking his 8th term as mayor. The Republican Primary is May 2nd. The General Election will be held on June 6th.


1/12/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 4:46 pm

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Mississippi House of Representatives Weekly Summary

Several committees held their first meeting of the 2017 Regular Legislative Session this week, and four bills made their way to the House floor for discussion.

On Wednesday, the Rules Committee introduced House Bill 479, which defines and outlines usage guidelines for campaign contributions by any elected official or candidate. The bill prohibits the personal use of campaign contributions and provides acceptable options for how to use leftover money at the conclusion of an elected official or candidate’s service or campaign. Enforcement of this legislation would be overseen by the Mississippi Ethics Commission (MSEC). The bill passed by a vote of 102-13 and will be sent to the Senate for consideration.

The Insurance Committee introduced two bills to the House floor. If signed into law, House Bill 319 would require drivers to show proof of motor vehicle liability insurance to renew their registration. Discussion ensued about the level of effectiveness and logistics of the bill, but the measure ultimately passed by a vote of 82-33.

No opposition arose at the introduction of House Bill 469. Enactment of this legislation would give a board of supervisors the authority to realign or redraw fire protection districts in an attempt to draw the districts so that residences are within five miles of fire protection.

Both bills will be sent to the Senate for consideration.

The Ways and Means Committee introduced House Bill 131, which would authorize the Department of Revenue to compromise and settle a tax liability that is a doubtful claim. The bill passed without opposition and will be sent to the Senate.

Throughout the week, the Appropriations Committee sub-chairmen met with numerous state agencies to hear their budget requests for the 2018 fiscal year. Those meetings will continue into next week.

On Monday, Jan. 16, legislators are scheduled to hear from the consultants of EdBuild, the organization hired to reevaluate Mississippi’s education funding formula. EdBuild will present its recommendations for education spending in a joint meeting with the House and Senate Education and Appropriations committees.

Several groups visited the Capitol this week, including members of the Mississippi Municipal League, the Mississippi Board of Nursing, CASA Mississippi and a number of Mississippi’s fire chiefs from different areas of the state.

1/12/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 4:44 pm

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RELEASE:


COCHRAN, WICKER ANNOUNCE GRANTS FOR CIVIL RIGHTS PROJECTS IN MISSISSIPPI



National Park Service Awards $550,000 for Tallahatchie Co. Courthouse & Adams Co. Projects



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) and Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) today announced that projects to preserve and highlight the Civil Rights Movement in two Mississippi counties will receive $550,000 in federal grant money.



The National Park Service has awarded $500,000 to the Emmett Till Memorial Commission of Tallahatchie County in Sumner to restore the first floor of the Tallahatchie County Courthouse and $50,000 to the Historic Natchez Foundation to research and preserve the civil rights history in Natchez and Adams County.



“More than 50 years have passed since the Civil Rights Movement gained significant momentum in Mississippi and across the country. The passage of time makes preserving these sites and their stories important,” Cochran said. “These grants can help future generations of Mississippians understand and interpret the sites and histories that propelled the fight for justice and equal rights. I look forward to Tallahatchie and Adams counties using these funds to support local and state work to tell their civil rights histories.”

“I am pleased the National Park Service recognizes the importance of funding these restoration projects,” Wicker said. “The events that took place at the Tallahatchie County Courthouse some 50 years ago played an important role during one of the most significant movements in our nation’s history. Additionally, the funds directed to the Historic Natchez Foundation will help to preserve Mississippi’s past for future generations.”


The $500,000 preservation grant for the Tallahatchie County Courthouse will support installation of interactive digital displays and exhibit systems to tell the story of the Emmett Till murder and trial, which helped spur the Civil Rights Movement. The courthouse will remain in use as the second district Tallahatchie County Courthouse as renovation is carried out on the first floor.



The $50,000 history grant will allow the Historic Natchez Foundation to research, interpret, and preserve civil rights history in Natchez and Adams County.



As chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Cochran was instrumental in securing $8 million in FY2016 for the National Park Service Historic Preservation Fund to document, interpret, and preserve sites and stories associated with the Civil Rights Movement. This funding permitted the National Park Service to award $7.5 million in grants for 39 projects in 20 states and the District of Columbia.



A 2008 study, Civil Rights in America: A Framework for Identifying Significant Sites, served as reference in determining these National Park Service grants.



In 2007, Cochran secured a $686,000 appropriation to support the restoration of the Tallahatchie County Courthouse to its condition during the Emmett Till trials


1/12/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 4:43 pm

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ATTORNEY GENERAL JIM HOOD ANNOUNCES 2017 LEGISLATIVE AGENDA

JACKSON- Attorney General Jim Hood today once again called upon the Mississippi Legislature to increase funding for the Department of Mental Health and said the state must take action during the 2017 legislative session to stem the epidemic of opioid abuse.

In a news conference announcing his legislative agenda, Attorney General Hood said lawmakers should make it a priority to improve mental-health treatment in Mississippi. Last year, the Legislature cut the Department of Mental Health's budget by $8.3 million. A few months later, the U.S. Department of Justice sued the state, accusing Mississippi of violating federal law in the way it delivers services to the mentally ill.

Attorney General Hood also encouraged the Legislature to approve meaningful legislation to curb opioid abuse. Among the Attorney General's proposed bills is one that would require health care professionals to have the state's Prescription Drug Monitoring Program checked before prescribing controlled substances such as opioids.

"Opioid abuse has affected millions of Americans, and we see the dramatic impact of such abuse right here in Mississippi," Attorney General Hood said. "The devastating result of this abuse is broken families, escalating medical costs, overdoses and deaths. We must tackle this problem, and we must fund the state agencies that have the resources to address this crisis."

A year ago, Attorney General Hood recommended that legislators allocate more than $20 million to state agencies for various programs. However, little of that money was appropriated for those purposes. In fact, since 2008, budget constraints have forced the Department of Mental Health to reduce the number of beds by approximately 500.

"We have a responsibility to the least among us. While we have made some improvements in our mental-health system over the last few years, we can't lose focus. Nor can we choose to enrich greedy out-of-state corporations through tax cuts rather than meet the needs of people hurting right here in Mississippi," Attorney General Hood said.

Other legislative priorities for the Attorney General include:


* Establishing an Internet use tax. A tax on Internet sales could bring in more than $130 million annually, according to one estimate. More importantly, such a tax would level the playing field for brick-and-mortar stores that are required to levy sales tax. AG Hood recently urged the U.S. Supreme Court to reconsider a 1992 ruling that requires a business to have a physical presence in a state in order to be required to remit sales and use taxes. The AG's proposal would refine and expand that requirement to include most Internet businesses.


* Early voting. A pre-Election Day voting period would begin three weeks before each election.


* Campaign finance. Candidates and political committees would be required to itemize credit-card purchases.


* Wiretapping authority for human trafficking investigations. The Mississippi Bureau of Investigation and the Attorney General's Office could be authorized by a judge to use wiretaps if the agencies demonstrate probable cause to believe the wiretap will provide evidence of the commission of a felony under the Human Trafficking Act.


* Indecent Assault. There is currently not an effective method to charge an individual with fondling a competent adult. Such acts are often charged as simple assault, but are being dismissed because that charge requires bodily injury or an attempt to cause bodily injury as an element for conviction. Adding "indecent assault" as a crime would correct this problem.


* Sexual assault protection order. Courts would be authorized to issue, as part of the sentence, a criminal protection order against anyone convicted of rape or sexual battery, which would prohibit the offender from having contact with the victim. The order would be applicable regardless whether there had been a previous domestic relationship between the offender and victim.


* Internet purchasing notification. Internet retailers would be required to inform the state the monetary amount of online purchases by Mississippi residents.


* Currency forgery/counterfeiting. The punishment for counterfeiting or forging currency would be enhanced to a felony.


1/12/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 1:32 pm

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RELEASE:


LEGISLATORS TO RECEIVE RECOMMENDATIONS ON EDUCATION SPENDING

JACKSON – Options for modernizing education funding will be presented Monday to a joint meeting of the House and Senate Education and Appropriations committees.

Consultants EdBuild will outline their suggestions for directing more tax dollars into the classroom of public schools at 2 p.m. Monday in Room 216 of the State Capitol. Legislators will consider those suggestions as they look to revamp the school funding formula.



1/12/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 11:46 am

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Representative Toby Barker running for Hattiesburg mayor



HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Rep. Toby Barker (R- Dist. 102 announced Thursday morning that he will be running for mayor of Hattiesburg.

Barker made the announcement on his Facebook Page at 10 a.m.




WDAM
1/12/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 10:10 am

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Yesterday, on a bipartisan vote from the Mississippi House, a meaningful campaign finance bill was passed. Last year the Mississippi Senate passed a similar bill which died in the House late in the session.

This bill may not be the end-all, but it's light years away from the current circumstance on campaign finance regulations. It prohibits personal expenditures not directly related to running for office. For those who finish running for office (by filing a termination report), it provides a pretty strict framework for how those moneys are to be handled.

9 Democrats and 3 Republicans voted against the measure's passage.

Time will tell what the Senate will do and whether or not the Governor signs it, but one way or the other, this is a platform for Republicans that ultimately needs to be delivered on this session.

That's your #msleg . . . . #billoftheday.



Posted January 12, 2017 - 8:11 am

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RELEASE:



Palazzo Named to Homeland Security Appropriations Subcommittee

Washington, DC – Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) announced today that he will serve on the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security.

“The first priority of Congress should always be the defense of our nation. As both a Congressman and a Marine, I took an oath to protect this nation against all enemies foreign and domestic. My service on the Homeland Security Appropriations subcommittee will undoubtedly allow me to continue fighting to protect our nation.

“With President Trump and Republican majorities in Congress, this subcommittee will be able to fight to secure and fortify our borders, combat amnesty and illegal immigration, develop cyber technologies against foreign threats, and safeguard our homeland from terrorism and natural disasters.

"I want to thank Chairman Frelinghuysen for his faith in me, and I look forward to working to make America Safe Again and to serving the needs of all South Mississippians.”

The Appropriations Subcommittee on Homeland Security has jurisdiction over funding for the entire Department of Homeland Security, including its components: U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services (USCIS); Customs and Border Protection (CBP); the U.S. Coast Guard; FEMA; Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE); the Secret Service and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA).

Congressman Palazzo previously served on the Homeland Security authorizing committee before being selected for the Appropriations Committee in 2015. He will continue his service on the Commerce-Justice-Science subcommittee and the Agriculture subcommittee.


1/11/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 5:59 am

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Sid Salter: Collect that online sales tax



The percentage of total tax revenue in Mississippi comprised of sales tax is nearly 40 percent, so declines in sales tax collections lost when revenue from growing online sales isn’t collected creates even more problems — and at a time when the state needs revenue for public education, transportation and infrastructure, public health care and corrections.

Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Tennessee and Texas legislators have all taken steps to level the playing field for their bricks-and-mortar retailers trying to compete with mega-online retailers. Mississippi lawmakers can and should follow suit.

To do less is to subsidize Amazon and some of the most successful online retailers on the planet at the expense of Mississippi brick-and-mortar retailers and employers.



Clarion Ledger
1/11/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 5:54 am

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BOBBY HARRISON: Conservatives disdain more government, except for Charter School Board



The legislature creates a new agency and before there is time for the furniture to be broken in and the freshly painted walls to dry there are a cries the agency needs additional taxpayer funding.

Conservatives would argue the aforementioned scenario happens all too often. That is why they continually fight, they say, to control the scope and growth of government – except here in Mississippi with the Charter School Authorizer Board.

In 2013, the Republican-controlled Mississippi Legislature and Republican Gov. Phil Bryant created the Charter School Authorizer Board from scratch. And during the holidays, the Performance Evaluation and Expenditure Review Committee, a legislative watchdog group, issued a report saying the Charter School Authorize Board needs additional money from the Legislature to properly do its job.



Daily Journal
1/11/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 5:50 am

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Debate over vaccinations is back at the State Capitol



JACKSON, Miss. (WTVA)-- The debate over vaccinations is back at the State Capitol this year.

All of this as president-elect Trump met with pro-vaccine CHOICE advocate Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. Tuesday.

Mississippi lawmakers will be considering a bill that would allow for philosophical exemptions. Right now, only medical exemptions are allowed.


WTVA
1/11/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 5:45 am

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Former Mississippi governor out of ICU



JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Former Mississippi Gov. William Winter remains in fair condition as he recovers from head injuries after falling on his icy driveway.

University of Mississippi Medical Center spokeswoman Ruth Cummins says Winter was moved Tuesday from the intensive care unit to a regular room at the hospital.



WTOK
1/11/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 5:43 am

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Bryant reacts to beginning of session, Trump cabinet hearings



Meanwhile, Bryant said he will attend president-elect Donald Trump's inauguration next week.

He said this week's Senate hearings for Trump's cabinet nominees are part of a "healthy debate," as the country prepares for an orderly transition of power.

"I think in the end you will see all of his appointments to the cabinet confirmed and we'll go about having a peaceful transfer of power," Bryant said. "That's the amazing thing about this great country. I will be in Washington on the 20th to see the new president sworn in to office and we'll begin the challenge of governing after that."


WDAM
1/11/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 5:38 am

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Mississippi looks to fund state trooper school



PINE BELT (WDAM) - The Mississippi Highway Patrol is facing a shortage of state troopers, so the governor is asking lawmakers to fund a trooper school to boost numbers.

Gov. Phil Bryant said the department is 160 to 170 troopers short of its allotted 650, and 149 others are eligible for retirement.

"Now is the time," Bryant said. "We can't wait any longer. Lives are at stake on highways. The motoring public is at danger because we do not have enough troopers on the highway to protect those that we are sworn to protect."



WDAM
1/11/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 5:36 am

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RELEASE:


COCHRAN SUPPORTS FIRST STEP TO REPEAL & REPLACE OBAMACARE



WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Thad Cochran (R-Miss.) early Thursday morning issued the following statement regarding his vote in support for a resolution to set in motion the legislative process to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare.



“Passage of this resolution begins the important process of repealing and replacing the Affordable Care Act, which I’ve consistently maintained was flawed from the beginning. The goal will be to undo policies and regulations that limited choice, increased costs and diminished access to healthcare. Mississippians understand that this expensive, big government experiment is not working well.”



On Wednesday evening the Senate began a long series of votes on S.Con.Res.3, a budget resolution to establish a reconciliation instruction for Senate and House committees to develop legislation to replace Obamacare.



The final Senate vote on S.Con.Res.3 was 51 to 48.


1/12/17

Posted January 12, 2017 - 5:32 am

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State Rep. Steve Holland (D), the always colorful self described liberal, told his Mississippi House colleagues Wednesday this would be his last term.

Holland made the comment from the well as he advocated for passage of HB 479, the campaign finance reform measure.

His wife, the mayor of Plantersville, is also expected to not seek reelection this year.


1/11/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 4:23 pm

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RELEASE:


Speaker Philip Gunn and MS House Pass Campaign Finance Bill

Tighter Guidelines, Reporting Prohibit Personal Usage of Campaign Finance Money by Elected Officials and Candidates



Jackson, MS—Today, Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and members of the MS House of Representatives passed House Bill 479 by a bipartisan vote of 102-13. HB479 outlines definitions and usage guidelines for campaign contributions by any elected official or candidate. A push for similar legislation died at the last minute during conference weekend of the 2016 Legislative Session.

“The issue of campaign finance reform has been very important to me for a long time,” said Speaker of the House Philip Gunn, the principal author of the bill. “I have put a lot of time and work into crafting this legislation to make it is as tight and clear as possible. Passing this legislation was the right thing to do.

“The people who elect us expect us to behave with integrity and honor,” he continued. “This legislation effectively outlines the proper procedures for all elected officials and candidates in the handling and reporting of campaign contributions.”

Personal Use
Personal use is defined as any use, other than expenditures related to gaining, holding, or performing functions of public office, for which the candidate or public official would have to report as gross income to the IRS. Enactment of this legislation would prohibit using the funds for: 1) Residential or household items, supplies or expenditures including mortgage, rent, or utility payments for any residential property of a candidate, officeholder or family member; 2) Similar payments for nonresidential property used for campaign purposes if owned by a candidate, officeholder, or family member; 3) funeral expenses for themselves and family members; 4) clothing; 5) automobiles; 6) tuition payments; 7) country club fees, dues, gratuities; 8) salary payments to family members; 9) admission to entertainment events; 10) non-documented loans; 11) travel expenses; 12) payment of fines, fees or penalties issued under MS law.

Exceptions are allowed for: 1) payments for residences at the seat of government not to exceed difference between rental/mortgage amount and earned per diem; 2) a family-owned nonresidential property used for campaign purposes only if fair market value (FMV) is paid; 3) clothing of minimal value related to campaign/officeholder activity; 4) automobile rental expenses and related expenses related to campaign or officeholder activity; 5) country/health club, recreational facility fees, dues, and gratuities if a fundraiser is held there; 6) salary payments to family if they are providing bona fide services and paid FMV; 7) entertainment events if related to campaign or officeholder activity; 8) travel expenses for campaign or officeholder activity.

Conclusion of Service/Campaign
Once an official files a termination report, any unused campaign contributions will be: 1) maintained in campaign account; 2) donated to political organization, PAC, or another candidate; 3) transferred to a new PAC or ballot question advocate; 4) donated to 501(c)(3) organization; 5) donated to the State of Mississippi; 6) returned to donor(s), not including the candidate.

Special Notes
The Governor, Lt. Governor, legislators and candidates for such offices are barred from soliciting or receiving cash contributions or holding political fundraisers during a regular or special legislative session.
Credit card payments must be itemized for expenditures greater than $200.

Enforcement
Enforcement of this legislation will be overseen by the Mississippi Ethics Commission (MSEC). Those found to be in violation of the personal use section of this legislation will be charged with a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of $1,000 and a state assessment equal to the misappropriated funds. A penalty up to $5,000 may be imposed by the MSEC on any political committee that fails to file information on contributions, expenditures, officers and other information required. The Secretary of State shall compile and provide a list of candidates and political committees that fail to comply with the disclosure requirements of this legislation to the MSEC who shall levy a $50 fine per day (max of 10 days) until the party complies. The MSEC is authorized to issue anonymous advisory opinions to candidates and officeholders regarding the requirements of this legislation.

This bill would go into effect January 1, 2018.

1/11/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 3:58 pm

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RELEASE:


Wicker Questions Chao on Transportation Priorities

Miss. Senator Discusses FAA Contract Tower Program, Merchant Marine Academy, Jones Act

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, today questioned Elaine Chao at her nomination hearing to be President-elect Trump’s Secretary of Transportation. Wicker specifically asked the former Secretary of Labor about the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Contract Tower Program, the Essential Air Service (EAS) program, the Merchant Marine Academy, and the “Jones Act,” which supports the U.S. maritime industry.

Wicker expressed support for Secretary Chao following their meeting last month, in which they discussed her decades of experience in public service and firsthand knowledge of serving in a President’s cabinet.

The FAA Contract Tower program is critical to air traffic control safety at many of the nation’s small airports, including seven in Mississippi.

Wicker is a member of the board of visitors at the Merchant Marine Academy. He was supportive of Secretary Foxx’s decision to lift the suspension of the Sea Year on commercial vessels for midshipmen, ensuring the preservation of a critical training program at the academy.


1/11/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 3:53 pm

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Today, the Mississippi House of Representatives passed HB 479, the much anticipated campaign finance reform measure.

It now moves to the Senate.

Rep. Hank Zuber (R), who has been working to have the measure passed for over a decade, had this to say after the vote:



1/11/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 3:44 pm

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RELEASE:


Representative Trent Kelly announces committee assignments for 115th Congress

Washington - U.S. Representative Trent Kelly, R-Miss. today announced he will serve on two committees during the 115th Congress: the House Armed Services Committee and the House Committee on Agriculture. Subcommittee assignments will be released later this month.

Rep. Kelly has served for over 30 years in the Mississippi Army National Guard where he is currently a Colonel. Mobilized in 1990 for Desert Storm, and deploying to Iraq in 2005 and again in 2009-2010 with the 155th Brigade Combat Team, through his experience leading and successfully bringing home troops, Kelly brings first-hand experience of what it means to serve. Prior to his current role with the Joint Force Headquarters for the state of Mississippi, he was the Brigade Commander of the 168th Engineer Brigade leading 1,400 soldiers from the 223rd Engineer Battalion, the 890th Engineer Battalion, and multiple Engineer Specialty Companies from throughout Mississippi.

"Providing for the common defense of this nation is the most important duty we have as elected officials and citizens," Kelly said. "It is important that all branches of our military are successful. I am humbled by this opportunity to work with Chairman Thornberry and my colleagues providing our military with the tools they need, renewing morale among the troops, and working to keep the focus on our most important duty - defending this nation."

"The Armed Services Committee has a unique and solemn role in Congress' first responsibility, which is defending the country," said Chairman Thornberry. "Trent's service as a Mississippi Army National Guard Colonel will be an asset to this committee. I am grateful Trent is willing to dedicate his talents to rebuilding and reforming America's Military."

Kelly will continue his role as a member of the House Committee on Agriculture. Agriculture is a top industry in Mississippi, contributing $7.4 billion to the state economy and employing approximately 260,000 Mississippians.

"In order for our nation to be secure, we must be able to feed and defend ourselves," Kelly said. "Similar to the population of men and women currently serving in the military, a small percentage of people in this nation are farmers. I am proud to continue to serve with Chairman Conaway and colleagues on the committee. I will continue to work to forward policies that encourage rural development and make the agriculture industry successful."

"Trent was a great addition to the Agriculture Committee last Congress, and we benefited from his global perspective having served as a Colonel in the Mississippi Army National Guard. He is a strong advocate for Mississippi agriculture, and I look forward to continuing our important work together."

"My committee assignments are reflective of the important contributions that the people of the First District and the state of Mississippi make to both industries," Kelly said. "I will continue to be a voice for them in DC."


1/11/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 11:30 am

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#BilloftheDay

Everyone wants to get in on the action when the Legislature's in session. And there's not near enough time to review all of the weird or noteworthy pieces of legislation in a few 800 word pieces every now and again. So we are going to try something a little different. At least a couple of days a week during the session, we're going to be featuring a #BillOfTheDay just so we can highlight some of the better ones. There will also be a new section on the center section of the site where you can track those bills we highlight during the session.

And what better place to start this experiment than House Bill 1 in the 2017 session. The first bill filed in a session should really set the tone for the legislative body and Rep. Earle Banks (D) gets us started off with a doozy. The title of the bill is "Venomous snakes; classify as inherently dangerous to humans." Now I'm not a rocket surgeon by any stretch, but 45 years of living in Mississippi have taught me a few things. (1) Don't play with gasoline around bonfires when you've been drinking and (2) Venomous snakes are hazardous to your health. I'm not sure that I need the state legislature to tell me either one.

Probably even more fun than the title is that there's a law already on the books (Section 49-8-5) that classifies dangerous animals to Mississippians. It's replete with three syllable words with latin sounds. Yes, you'll be glad to know that your legislature has already classified such inherent dangers as hippopotamus, buffaloes, cheetahs, rhinos, jackals, African hunting dogs, dingos, baboons and snow leopards as hazardous to your health . . . in Mississippi. And what true Mississippian doesn't have a family story about good ole Uncle Earle being stuck on a squirrel hunt staring down a rhino with nothing more than a 20 gauge with 6 shot and a flask of Bushmill's.

Section 49-8-5, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-8-5. The following wild animals are classed as animals inherently dangerous to humans:
(a) Order Primates:
(i) Family Pongidae (gibbons, orangutan, chimpanzees, siamangs and gorillas) - all species;
(ii) Family Cercopithecidae:
A. Genus Macaca (macaques) - all species;
B. Genus Papio (mandrills, drills and baboons) - all species;
C. Theropithecus Gelada (Gelada baboon);
(b) Order Carnivora:
(i) Family Canidae:
A. Genus Canis (wolves, jackals and dingos; all species, including crosses between wolves and domestic animals);
B. Chrysocyon brachyurus (maned wolf);
C. Cuon alpinus (red dog);
D. Lycaon pictus (African hunting dog);
(ii) Family Ursidae (bears) - all species;
(iii) Family Mustelidae - Gulo gulo (wolverine);
(iv) Family Hyaenidae (hyenas) - all species;
(v) Family Felidae:
A. Genus Leo or Panthera or Neofelis (lions, tigers, jaguars and leopards) - all species;
B. Unica unica (snow leopard);
C. Acinonyx jubatus (cheetah);
D. Felis concolor (cougar) - all subspecies;
(c) Order Proboscidae: Family Elephantidae (elephants) - all species;
(d) Order Perissodactyla: Family Rhinocerotidae (rhinoceroses) - all species;
(e) Order Artiodactyla:
(i) Family Hippopotamidae - Hippopotamus amphibius (hippopotamus);
(ii) Family Bovidae: Syncerus caffer (African buffalo * * *);
(f) Suborder Serpentes: Snakes - all poisonous or venomous species.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2017.


You can't make it up folks. It's our #msleg . . . . . #billoftheday

And if you have #billoftheday nominees, you can either tweet them to us @MSYallPolitics with #billoftheday or you can email them.


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Posted January 11, 2017 - 6:48 am

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Medicaid underfunded to start year, director tells lawmakers


JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi’s Medicaid director says there are straightforward reasons the program is requesting an additional $75 million to get through the final six months of the budget year.

David Dzielak says legislators didn’t put enough money into Medicaid in the first place. Plus, it was one of the agencies affected by state budget cuts in September.


WJTV
1/10/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 5:28 am

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Lawmakers discuss potential impact of an Obamacare change



Many lawmakers didn't have an answer to the question of how the uncertainty of Obamacare's future will impact Mississippi.

"We hear reports of block granting money to states which will mean the federal government will give us a set amount of money and we at that point would choose how to spend it," said Rep. Sam Mims, House Public Health and Human Services chairman. "So we're looking at ways how that will impact us. So, we're still doing lots of research and really listening to what's happening in Washington."

Even insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney has said he doesn't think there will be a change overnight. Many legislators agreed and said that even if there is an overhaul, it may not impact budgeting until next session.


WLOX
1/10/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 4:49 am

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Bryant: State workers must take sexual harassment prevention




JACKSON – Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant announced Tuesday that by executive order, he’s requiring all state employees to take online training in sexual harassment awareness and prevention.

“This should be a low-cost alternative to expensive seminars and provide a standard of prevention in this litigious society,” Bryant said.

The move comes months after the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics agreed to pay $25,000 to settle a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by a former employee against the bureau and its deputy director.

“Everyone deserves a workplace free from intimidation and hostility,” Bryant said on his Facebook page. “I will not tolerate sexual harassment in those agencies that fall under my control.”


Daily Journal
1/10/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 4:46 am

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Bill: Fine drivers who smoke in vehicles with children



Rep. John Hines, D-Greenville, has filed House Bill 377, known as the "Mississippi Protection from Secondhand Smoke for Children Act," which would fine such smokers $25.

If the bill passes, a person would be guilty of a misdemeanor if caught smoking in a vehicle with a child passenger.



Clarion Ledger
1/10/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 4:44 am

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No insurance, no car tag: Bill moves forward



A bill that would require Mississippians to prove they have vehicle liability insurance before they could renew their auto tags cleared committee on Tuesday and heads to the full House.

"No insurance, no tag," said House Insurance Chairman Gary Chism, R-Columbus. "That's how we're going to do it. (Department of Revenue) has a new computer system and every county clerk's office will be on it by Nov. 17. This (bill) would go into effect July 1, 2018.

"Just like you have to pay your garbage bill before you get a new tag, you would have to show proof of insurance before you could get one."

House Bill 319 was authored by Rep. Patricia Willis, R-Diamondhead. It would require people to show proof of liability insurance before renewing an auto tag, not for new tags for newly purchased vehicles.



Clarion Ledger
1/10/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 4:41 am

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Appointed superintendent bill heads to governor's desk



Tuesday the Senate passed House Bill 32, which requires school boards to appoint replacements for elected school chiefs who leave office within the next two years, rather than holding a new election. Last year lawmakers passed a measure requiring all superintendents in the state be appointed starting Jan. 1, 2019. But a "technical change" was needed because the law did not address what should happen in the event that an elected superintendent left office before the term expired.

House Education Chairman John Moore said the oversight was realized amid the resignation of an elected superintendent in Webster County. Jack Treloar stepped down Dec. 31. The cost for a special election for the district was estimated to be $60,000. Bill proponents said allowing school boards to appoint replacements ahead of 2019 could free up funds that otherwise would be used in a special election.



Clarion Ledger
1/10/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 4:39 am

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Democrats elect their leaders in Senate


Sen. Bill Stone of Holly Springs was elected chairman of the Mississippi Senate Democratic Caucus on Tuesday. He replaces John Horhn of Jackson, who resigned as chairman because he is running for mayor of Jackson in this year's election.

“I am deeply humbled to be chosen by my colleagues to represent the democrats in the Mississippi Senate,” said Stone, who has served since 2008.

Democrats control 20 of the 52 seats in the Senate....


...Sen. Derrick Simmons of Greenville was chosen as vice chairman.


Clarion Ledger
1/10/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 4:36 am

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Fitch: End gender wage gap in MS



With one bill sent to committee and another coming down the pike, both authored by Democratic representatives, Republican State Treasurer Lynn Fitch is voicing her support for gender financial equality in the workplace.

“This is critical,” Fitch said. “This is a time where we should move beyond and move to the future. This is not a partisan issue. This is the right thing to do.”

Gov. Phil Bryant, a Republican, said Tuesday he “unequivocally” supports equal pay for equal work.

“While the authors have in the past used this and similar bills to score cheap political points, I welcome a serious conversation about the issue,” Bryant said. “I unequivocally support women receiving equal pay for equal work.”



Clarion Ledger
1/10/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 4:33 am

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Congressman implies Mississippi state flag 'hateful'



A U.S. representative compared a controversial painting hanging in an art gallery at the U.S. Capitol Tuesday with the Mississippi state flag, which contains the Confederate flag emblem.

"You're not permitted to have hateful stuff in the Capitol — that's why you don't have the Mississippi flag up, right?" said Rep. Dana Rohrabacher, R-California, as he hauled the painting away. His comment was captured in a video posted to Twitter Tuesday afternoon.



Clarion Ledger
1/10/17

Posted January 11, 2017 - 4:30 am

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There They Go Again!

Jay Hughes: Back in the School Yard

Inspired by Ronald Reagan's famous retort to Jimmy Carter during the 1980 Presidential race, an email series keeping tabs on out-of-touch Mississippi Democrats.

Democrats in the state Legislature are howling because Republicans are seeking to rewrite the state’s school funding formula to direct more dollars straight to the classroom. On top of being responsible for record funding of public education in recent years, Republicans are now seeking to update the school funding formula--which hasn’t been updated since its creation in 1997--to create a more transparent, efficient, and consistent funding source that is student-centered rather than administration-centered.

So troubled that Republicans are willing to upset the apple cart in order to provide a better future for Mississippi children, one Democrat legislator has unfortunately and ironically even taken to school yard name-calling and bullying to get attention.

Rep. Jay Hughes of Oxford, pictured above, had the following to say of Republican leaders seeking to improve the outdated school funding formula:

“Students who made Fs in school complained the tests were too hard. Now we see what happens when they grow up and get elected.” – Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford

If Rep. Hughes wants to spend his time at the Capitol at taxpayer expense ridiculing his colleagues, then so be it. What's next...stealing someone's lunch money? It may be time for his constituents to consider replacing him with someone who is less interested in juvenile antics and more interested in doing the work of the people. Because at the end of the day, it’s all about being a part of the solution. And that means working together to do what’s best for our children’s future.

MSGOP Email
1/10/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 3:25 pm

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Take a peek inside the Legislature if you dare



Rep. Jeramey Anderson, D-Moss Point will have a state of the district speech at 6:30 p.m. Jan. 23 at the Pascagoula Senior Center, 1912 Live Oak Ave.

Anderson will live stream the speech at JerameyAnderson.com/SOTD, which will launch next week, and on Facebook and YouTube.

People who want to attend can get a free ticket here.



SunHerald
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 3:13 pm

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RELEASE:


Dem Ranking Members: Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board Must be Functional

January 10, 2017 (WASHINGTON) – Today, Homeland Security Committee Ranking Member Bennie G. Thompson, Judiciary Committee Ranking Member John Conyers, Oversight and Government Reform Committee Ranking Member Elijah Cummings, and Intelligence Committee Ranking Member Adam Schiff sent a letter to President-elect Donald Trump asking him to make swift appointments to the bipartisan, independent Privacy and Civil Liberties Oversight Board (PCLOB).

The PCLOB has a dual-mission of reviewing the counter-terrorism actions by intelligence and other Federal agencies and ensuring appropriate consideration of liberty concerns in counter-terrorism laws, regulations, and policies. With only two current members and no full time chair, the PCLOB is at risk of becoming defunct.

“As our country continues to face wide-ranging terrorist threats, both abroad and at home, the Intelligence Community must have robust counterterrorism programs that adhere to the rule of law. Our counterterrorism programs must be subject to unbiased, independent oversight. The PCLOB has proven itself to be that essential oversight body. Its work must continue. A fully-functioning PCLOB conveys to Americans and our allies and enemies around the world that we, as a nation, prioritize protecting our country in a manner that respects liberty.”


1/10/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 3:10 pm

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RELEASE:


Wicker Meets With Mattis, Praises Defense Secretary Pick

Miss. Senator, Retired 4-Star Marine General Discuss Military Strategy, Command

WASHINGTON – U.S. Senator Roger Wicker, R-Miss., a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today met with retired Marine Corps General James Mattis regarding his nomination to be the Secretary of Defense under President-elect Trump.

“Gen. Mattis is an exceptional choice to lead our Defense Department and military service members during these difficult times,” Wicker said. “His extensive knowledge on strategy and foreign policy will serve our national security interests well. President-elect Trump could not have picked a better person for the job.”

Mattis served in the U.S. Marine Corps for 44 years before retiring in 2013 as a four-star general and the head of U.S. Central Command. He is a recipient of the following awards: the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, the Navy Distinguished Service Medal, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Legion of Merit, and the Bronze Star. In 2013, Military Times referred to Mattis as “the most revered Marine general in at least a generation.”


1/10/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 3:06 pm

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RELEASE:

Secretary Hosemann’s Statement on Designation of State Election Systems as “Critical Infrastructure”

“The U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s sudden decision to designate state election systems as ‘critical infrastructure’ is overreaching and unnecessary. The U.S. Constitution delegates responsibility for conducting elections to the states. The diversity of current state election systems is one reason these systems have remained secure. Despite widespread concern about cyberattacks (and repeated attempts), Mississippi’s Statewide Elections Management System was not breached. In fact, the Department of Homeland Security commended Mississippi for its current cybersecurity protocols. No citizen’s vote was compromised in Mississippi.

In the coming days, I will seek more information about the effect of this ‘critical infrastructure’ designation. I remain committed to protecting Mississippians’ personal registration information and protecting each and every vote. Clearly this can be accomplished without overreach by the federal government.”


1/10/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 3:03 pm

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RELEASE:


Palazzo Re-Introduces Amendment to End Obamacare Tax

Washington, DC – Congressman Steven Palazzo (MS-4) re-introduced his “Right to Refuse" Amendment, H. J. Res. 21, that prohibits Congress from taxing individuals and businesses on a failure to purchase a good or service, such as the individual mandate tax implemented by Obamacare.

“When a slim majority of the Supreme Court ruled that ObamaCare’s individual mandate was, in fact, a tax and upheld its constitutionality they opened the door to future legislation that could force citizens to purchase goods or services at the risk of being hit with a penalty tax. The government has no business telling individuals how they should spend their money. My “Right to Refuse” amendment would permanently prevent Congress from passing any legislation forcing Americans to choose between purchasing a good or facing tax penalties. I am looking forward to the quick repeal of Obamacare under President Trump, but we need to ensure that it will never come back in any way or form. My amendment protects the American people from this type of government overreach today and in the future.”


1/10/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 2:24 pm

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Posted January 10, 2017 - 7:37 am

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Snowden urges applications for state bicentennial grants



Mississippi House of Representatives Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden recommended communities and organizations apply for grants to promote the state's bicentennial during the East Mississippi Development Corp. Council of Governments meeting Monday at the Checkerboard Restaurant.

The State Humanities Council is partnering with Mississippi Development Authority's Visit Mississippi to oversee the BiCentennial Year Grant Program. The initiative will award up to $10,000 to individual public programs celebrating the state's historic year.

The program's goal is to inspire and empower local organizations throughout the state to develop public programs documenting, interpreting and exploring community culture, according to the Mississippi Bicentennial Celebration website, ms200.org


Meridian Star
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 7:36 am

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Clarion Ledger
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 7:24 am

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JOURNALIST, COLUMNIST IS ALSO A STATE EMPLOYEE; AND THE “FIRST DISGRACE OF 2017 AWARD”




Gary Pettus is a regular contributing columnist for the Jackson Clarion-Ledger. For many years, Pettus was a member of the newspaper’s staff. At the end of his Clarion-Ledger columns, it notes “Gary Pettus is a Jackson-based journalist and contributing columnist.” It should also be noted Pettus is a state employee and works in the public affairs office at the University of Mississippi Medical Center. Why is this relevant? On Dec. 19, Pettus wrote a column entitled, “New Yuletide lyrics to mark Trump regime.” He suggests revised lyrics for a very popular Christmas season song. Pettus’ revision is entitled, “It’s the Most Trumper-ful Time of the Year.”...


...Why was the column published in the Clarion-Ledger in the first place? The obvious answer is that the executive editor of the newspaper, Sam Hall, is a Democrat partisan. Unlike most editors, Hall probably didn’t bat an eye if he reviewed the column by Pettus. Pettus has taken other cheap shots at president-elect Trump. Perhaps even more significant is he has taken similar shots at Gov. Phil Bryant and Republicans in general. Reminder: Seven of the eight statewide officials in our state are Republicans and the GOP has solid majorities in both the state Senate and House. Another reminder: The Senate and House make appropriations for state government and Gov. Bryant signs the appropriation bills.



Weidie Report
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:53 am

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GEOFF PENDER: Lottery, internet sales: Lawmakers get creative on revenue



When the going gets tough, lawmakers can get creative on financing the state budget.

The going has been tough for the last two years, and recent state revenue figures don’t portend a major upswing as lawmakers convene in Jackson and work to set a state budget over the next three months.

This appears to have many state leaders open to ideas at which they might otherwise scoff, such as a state lottery, or collecting internet sales taxes. It’s also likely to have lawmakers looking at raising the cost of scads of small fees, fines, licenses and registrations in lieu of a major tax increase.



Clarion Ledger
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:50 am

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Bill would stop wrongful birth lawsuits in Mississippi



No known “wrongful birth” and “wrongful life” lawsuits have been filed in Mississippi, but one lawmaker wants to make sure one is never filed.

Senate Bill 2034, filed by Sen. Angela Burks Hill, R-Picayune, would shield doctors from liability against a claim that a child shouldn’t have been born.

The issue involves doctors telling parents about their child's birth defects.



Clarion Ledger
1/9/17



Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:46 am

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Area legislators contribute to THS band trip




TUPELO – The Tupelo High School marching band is a step closer to raising the money necessary to attend the inauguration of President-elect Donald Trump next week.

Area legislators teamed up to make a donation to the band Monday morning. They each contributed their own money for a total sum of $1,650 from the group.

Steve Holland, D-Plantersville; Shane Aguirre, R-Tupelo; Hob Bryan, D-Amory; Chad McMahan, R-Guntown; and Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn, all contributed.



Daily Journal
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:43 am

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Internet sales tax debate is coming back up in Mississippi



"There's a lot of money out there being made at the hands of the Mississippians paying reasonable prices on the Internet," explained Senate Pro Tempore Terry Burton. "But at the same token, the state government is being starved is at 7% but they're not paying in sales taxes."

It's been brought up for years but this could be the year to see a change. Why? The state needs more revenue streams.

"If you pass a bill, you at least put the companies on notice that we are asking to you," said Burton. "We are trying to be nice about asking you, without a federal law, to charge sales tax and then remit it to the states."



WLBT
1/10/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:37 am

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Trump 'Thank You Tour' Stop In Tupelo



TUPELO, Miss. (WTVA) - President-Elect Donald Trump will be sworn into office on January 20. But before that happens, Donald Trump is thanking his supporters across the country.

The President-Elect is visiting many states and cities in person. But, he's also sending his campaign bus to the many places he received a lot of support, and that includes the All-America City.

Dozens of his supporters gathered at South Restaurant in Tupelo this evening.



WTVA
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:34 am

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Reeves: Ignoring roads 'not conservative position'



Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves says road and bridge maintenance and repair is a “core function” of government “and it is not a conservative position to ignore the need or desire to maintain the investments we have made.”...


...Reeves spoke Monday, the beginning of the second week of the 2017 legislative session, to the Stennis Institute of Government’s Capitol press corps luncheon. He covered a wide range of topics, from the anemic state budget to his support for a “Blue Lives Matter” law — providing enhanced penalties for assaulting a law officer — being filed in the Senate over which he presides.

Reeves reiterated his position that the “vast majority” of the state’s BP oil disaster settlement for economic damages be spent on the Coast, which bore the brunt of the damages from the disaster. The Legislature will control $750 million in BP payments through 2033.



Hattiesburg American
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:29 am

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Legislators talk education, infrastructure at ADP forum



The Mississippi Adequate Education Program formula, which was adopted by the Legislature 20 years ago, doesn't include everything districts are mandated to provide students, so it is not an efficient way to distribute funds, Rep. Toby Barker, R-Hattiesburg, said. Literacy coaches, Pre-K education, the Educable Child Program, dropout prevention and even teacher supplies are some of the items not covered by MAEP.

"So many things have been added to educational spending that are outside the formula," he said. "What often people don't understand is it takes around $2.4 billion to fully fund MAEP. In the last two years, we have been funding (education) at about $2.2 billion."...



...Sen. Billy Hudson, R-Hattiesburg, said the older bridges were made from wooden cross ties that are rotting. Today's bridges are made of concrete and steel, which are much more durable. However, the bulk of those bridges and many roads that need repairs are in the counties' jurisdictions, and not enough money is getting to the counties to make the needed repairs. Funding road and bridge repairs is a matter of safety, but it also is a matter of improving the economy, especially in agriculture.

Hudson said he is going to propose an increase for the state's fuel tax, which is one of the lowest in the nation — in his estimation between 5 cents and 10 cents per gallon. The state's current fuel tax is 18.4 cents per gallon.

"I don't want to raise taxes, but we've got to do something about it," he said. "I think we've got to do it, and we've got to do it now. We can't keep waiting."



Hattiesburg American
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:24 am

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Fairley files appeal against sentencing, conviction



HATTIESBURG, MS (WDAM) - Hub City pastor Kenneth Fairley, was sentenced to federal prison for his role in defrauding the U.S. Government, and now he is appealing that ruling.

Last week, Fairley’s attorneys filed a notice of appeal on his behalf to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.


WDAM
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:19 am

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Lawmakers again consider adding domestic violence as grounds for divorce



LAMAR COUNTY, MS (WDAM) - State lawmakers are again expected to consider adding domestic violence as a reason Mississippians can file for divorce.

In 2016, Sen. Sally Doty (R-Brookhaven) filed Senate Bill 2418, which would have made domestic abuse the thirteenth ground for divorce in Mississippi, but the bill died at the end of session.

“There was quite a bit of debate last session about that particular issue," said Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall. "I think the reason, personally, that it didn’t go any farther than it did was because it was sort of thrown at us at the very last minute. Especially the non-attorneys, which is the vast majority of the legislature, had to get up to speed and educated on the issue and when it was tossed out in the last couple of hours of the legislative session without any sort of preview or any time for them to review what the issue really is and why do we need this, it just caught a lot of people off guard, and people hesitant to pass major policy changes to the law without doing their due diligence.”



WDAM
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:16 am

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‘Trump’s cabinet is a joke’ chants crowd near Sen. Cochran’s office




About 50 activists chanted, sang and waved signs outside the federal courthouse on Monday evening in a protest against climate change deniers in federal government.

The main target of the rally organized by the Steps Coalition was Sen. Thad Cochran, whose office is nearby. Steps Coalition spokeswoman Jennifer Croslin said similar rallies were held at Senate offices across the country.

She was surprised at the turnout because only 14 people had RSVP’ed to the event.



SunHerald
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:08 am

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Reeves says he expects education funding report within days



JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves says he expects a consultant to submit its recommendations for changing Mississippi's education funding formula "in the next week or so."

The Republican said Monday at a luncheon sponsored by the Stennis Institute of Government and the Capitol press corps that lawmakers still plan to rewrite the formula during the current legislative session.



WLOX
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:05 am

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MS bill: Fly the state flag or face penalties



Sen. Joseph Seymour (R-Vancleave) filed SB20157 last week, regarding flying the state flag.

The bill would require governments or state colleges to display the official state flag on a Monday through Friday of each week.

If the administrative head does not fly the flag, the state will withhold 25 percent of his or her monthly salary until compliance.

Seymour said it is not about the design of the flag, but the taxpayers vote to want the flag flown across Mississippi.



WLOX
1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 5:01 am

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RELEASE:


Wicker: The Time Has Come to Repeal Obamacare Once and For All

Real Change Starts with Policies Aimed at Lowering Costs, Increasing Access

I voted against the President’s health-care law when Democratic supermajorities in Congress passed it in 2010. I voted for the law’s repeal in 2015, but that legislation was vetoed by President Obama. Now Congress is presented with another opportunity to end Obamacare and put us on a path forward to lower costs and expand choices for Americans. The Senate is currently considering a repeal resolution, which could pass in the coming days. Under the Trump Administration, this effort to repeal and replace the law is nearing reality.

Why Obamacare Doesn’t Work

Mississippians have told me time and again why the health-care law does not work for them. For starters, the cost of health insurance has become unaffordable. How are families expected to remain financially secure with skyrocketing monthly premiums and deductibles in the thousands of dollars? This is hardly the $2,500 average decrease that President Obama promised the law would achieve.

Mississippians have not been able to keep their doctors, as was also promised. The law has forced insurers to cancel plans, leaving some people with no option other than to change or lose their coverage. Now, with the exit of major insurers from the federal insurance exchanges, the prospect of choosing the best health provider is even more difficult. More than half of the counties in our state have only one insurer offering Obamacare plans this year. These problems have only gotten worse with time.

Instead of continuing the government takeover of health care, a market-driven approach would recognize the power of competition to keep premiums down. Washington’s overreach under Obamacare has left small businesses dealing with burdensome rules and uncertainty. The time and costs of complying with these rules squanders the resources that could instead be used to create new jobs.

We Found Out ‘What’s In It’

For the past eight years, I have said that this 2,700-page health-care law is not a practical solution. Former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi famously said the law should be passed so Americans “can find out what’s in it.” Americans have learned what’s in it and the consensus is clear: Obamacare has not brought about constructive change, only more problems.

Eight out of 10 Americans, according to a recent Gallup poll, want major changes to the law or want it replaced altogether. They know what does and does not work because they have lived with the consequences of this flawed law. Unfortunately, the damage inflicted by Obamacare will not be fixed overnight. Republicans are committed to ensuring a smooth transition for Americans who through no fault of their own are on Obamacare. Repealing Obamacare is just the first step toward enacting policies that put Mississippi families first.

1/9/17

Posted January 10, 2017 - 4:59 am

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Ex-Republican Party head Barbour to lobby U.S. for Ukraine

Barbour and BGR agreed in late December to a $50,000 a month retainer to "design and implement a comprehensive government affairs and business development strategy" for the Ukraine government - including "arranging meetings" with U.S. officials, according to a disclosure filed Jan. 1 with the Department of Justice.

BGR also said in the federal disclosure filing that it "seeks to strengthen U.S.-Ukrainian relations and encourage private U.S. businesses to invest in Ukraine."

Reuters
1/9/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 3:30 pm

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Lawmakers wrap first week of session



“Oh beautiful ….” — Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, who loudly sings this line at the end of the Pledge of Allegiance nearly every day when the House comes into session.

“The first rule of holes is, when you find yourself in one, quit digging.” — Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, on the Paul Gallo radio show, calling for lawmakers to un-do some of the more than 40 tax cuts passed over the last five years....


...“Students who made Fs in school complained the tests were too hard. Now we see what happens when they grow up and get elected.” – Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, in a social media post criticizing lawmakers who want to change the state’s school funding formula.

“The longer I serve, the less faith I have in government.” – Sen. Chris McDaniel, R-Ellisville, in a social media post.

Posted January 9, 2017 - 7:56 am

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Teacher merit pay changes proposed



Mississippi teachers might see merit pay next year under the state's "School Recognition Program," but a proposed House bill would change how such pay is determined....


...Instead of individual schools, HB154 — authored by Rep. Hank Zuber, R-Ocean Springs — would base merit pay on a district's ratings. Under the proposed legislation, districts that have received the state's top ranking or improved by a letter grade would receive $100 per pupil, and districts rated "B" would get $75 per pupil. The same would apply for charter schools.

Rep. Jay Hughes, D-Oxford, who co-authored the bill, said basing merit pay on districts is a more "equitable" approach. Hughes went on to say the change is needed because "proverbial across-the-track schools" or schools that perform lower are not incorporated under the current law.



Clarion Ledger
1/8/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 7:47 am

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Sid Salter: Health care questions loom



Just as well known in government circles is the fact that despite those health care challenges and the unrelenting poverty that exacerbates them, Mississippi avoided the Affordable Care Act or “Obamacare” like the veritable plague.

The proposed Medicaid expansion that was part and parcel to ACA got the same cold shoulder. In 2014, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant said: “For us to enter into an expansion program would be a fool's errand. I mean, here we would be saying to 300,000 Mississippians, 'We're going to provide Medicaid coverage to you,' and then the federal government through Congress or through the Senate, would do away with or alter the Affordable Care Act, and then we have no way to pay that. We have no way to continue the coverage.”

Now, after the Republican takeover of the U.S. Senate and the election of Republican Donald Trump as president, Bryant may soon be a political prophet if the new Republican majority in Congress makes good on the stated intent of many to repeal the ACA.



Clarion Ledger
1/8/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 7:44 am

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RELEASE:


Chairman Harper Certifies Presidential Electoral Results

WASHINGTON – Today, Committee on House Administration Chairman Gregg Harper (R-Miss.) assisted in the official counting of the Electoral College votes during a Joint Session of the U.S. Congress.

Chairman Harper said: “It is such a privilege to serve as an official teller during today’s counting of the electoral votes for the President and Vice President of the United States. We live in a magnificent country where a peaceful transition of power occurs after every presidential election. This is an exciting time for our great nation and I am so honored to be to a part of such an historic procedure certifying the votes for President-elect Donald Trump and Vice President-elect Mike Pence.”

Background on a Joint Session for Electoral Count:
• Congress is directed by the Constitution to review and count the electoral votes certified by the states in a Joint Session in January in the year following the meeting of the electors.
• The electoral count occurs in a Joint Session in the Hall of the House.
• By tradition, the Speaker of the House and the Senate as a whole appoints the Chairs and Ranking Members of the Committee on House Administration and the Senate Rules Committee to serve as the four official tellers.
• Pursuant to the 12th Amendment, the President of the Senate (the Vice President) presides over the Joint Session where electoral votes are counted.
• The certificates and other papers relating to the electoral count are presented in alphabetical order by state.
• The certificates of votes given by the electors are opened by the President of the Senate and handed to the tellers, who read them in the presence and hearing of the House of Representatives and the Senate.


1/6/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 7:35 am

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Whiplash from the United Conservatives camp over Trump
Let's get real for a moment
by Alan Lange
Today, Keith Plunkett, assistant chief cook and bottle washer for the re-re-revamped United Conservatives Fund posted an article on MSPEP about the mainstream press not playing it straight with President-elect Trump. No real news there.

The article had its own cute little graphic. It talked about CNN shading the replacement of the announcer of the inaugural parade. It even referenced a Cornell study. Pretty standard stuff for a conservative blogger.

But not even 12 months earlier when Plunkett was assistant chief cook and bottle washer for the Ted Cruz campaign in Mississippi, he wrote an article called Playing the Trump Card deriding Trump and his supporters in Mississippi that even featured Trump in clownface and referred to Trump supporters as the then-perjorative "Trumpsters".



The internet is written in ink, not in crayon. Yet this is the braintrust that is trying to overthrow the GOP "establishment" in Mississippi. They've yet to pass a bill, elect a candidate and, to the best of my reckoning, have raised less money than most girl scout troops over the same period.

I make that goofy point to make this real one . . . There's going to be frustration with GOP control and a super-majority in what is a pretty tough political and budget environment both in the state and nationally. I can personally say I've already started to feel it in Mississippi. It seems that in the Legislature we've put little effort into big things and big effort into little things. As I've said on multiple occasions, this is a once in a generation opportunity to do big things. Major education reform (like cutting the number of school districts in half), creating a better economic development environment, and possibly even updating Mississippi's antiquated 1890 Constitution are all things that are easily in our grasp here in the state. Republicans are going to own this deal and there are going to be lots of people trying to capitalize off of the frustration if big things aren't accomplished. But history is what it is, and it's going to be critical when those moments come that the people who want change even within the party are not just winners of meme-competitions and shouting contests.

We need people that show up to work everyday not thinking of themselves first. This is real stuff and and we need real people at the table.



Posted January 9, 2017 - 7:32 am

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Congress to step up its own cybersecurity protections



WASHINGTON — In the wake of charges that Russian hackers tried to destabilize the U.S. election, Congress will step up efforts to protect itself from cybersecurity attacks, including better training for lawmakers and staffers, said the head of the committee that oversees operations in the House.

“One of the biggest threats that we have here would be the security, in particular the cybersecurity threats, that we face," said Rep. Gregg Harper, R-Mississippi, the new chairman of the House Administration Committee. “Every office, every committee, every part of Capitol Hill is subject for attack by foreign governments, by individuals, people in this county who mean us harm."



Clarion Ledger
1/8/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 7:30 am

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Analysis: MS lawmakers face gaps in current budget



The Legislative Budget Office says agencies have submitted $101.1 million in deficit requests for fiscal 2017, which ends June 30. That is 1.6 percent of the state-funded portion of current budget of just under $6.4 billion.

It’s not unusual for a few agencies to submit midyear requests for more cash, and that’s partly because writing a state budget is a long process based largely on educated guesswork.



Clarion Ledger
1/8/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 7:20 am

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Rep. Greg Snowden "On the Record" at WTOK

http://www.wtok.com/video?vid=410087125 (Part 1)

http://www.wtok.com/video?vid=410087155 (Part 2)

http://www.wtok.com/video?vid=410087235 (Part 3)

http://www.wtok.com/video?vid=410087225 (Part 4)



Posted January 9, 2017 - 7:19 am

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MS OK'd cannabis oil use but federal approval lacking



Almost three years ago, the Mississippi Legislature passed Harper Grace's Law, named after then-2-year-old Harper Grace Durval who suffers from Dravet Syndrome, a rare form of epilepsy.

The legislation allows marijuana oil to be used to treat children in Mississippi who suffer from epilepsy seizures. It removed the cannabis extract oil from the state's illegal drugs list.

Although it was 2014 when the law passed, no one seems to know for sure when the cannabis oil might be available for use in Mississippi. The necessary federal approval has yet to be obtained before testing and ultimate use.



Clarion Ledger
1/8/17


Posted January 9, 2017 - 7:18 am

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Parole law costing taxpayers millions



If those behind bars lack an “approved address” as required under the law, they must stay there, explained Steve Pickett, chairman of the state Parole Board.

He said he’s “outraged at the idea of keeping someone in prison because they are homeless. My biggest problem beside simple humanity is I do not like to see taxpayers’ dollars wasted.”

Corrections Commissioner Marshall Fisher said there are currently 191 paroled offenders having to stay in prison because they don’t have an “approved address” for a home or a place to go.



Clarion Ledger
1/8/17


Posted January 9, 2017 - 7:15 am

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Lawmakers to review Chickasaw consolidation



CHICKASAW COUNTY – The Mississippi Legislature will now decide the details of consolidation to join Houston, Okolona and Houlka schools.

A report by the Commission on Chickasaw County School Consolidation has been written and was sent to lawmakers last week and the Legislature could vote this spring on how Chickasaw County’s three school districts will become a county school district with one board of trustees and one superintendent.

Billed as an administrative consolidation, there are no plans to close any schools, build new schools or do away with teachers, coaches or staff.



Daily Journal
1/8/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 6:10 am

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BILL CRAWFORD: Trump tweets unnerve Trent Lott




“He is very capable of doing a switcheroo really quick, which can be a good thing or it can not be.”

This was former Senate Majority Leader and Mississippi Senator Trent Lott talking about president-elect Donald Trump.

Switcheroos, as Lott calls them, are becoming a hallmark of Trump’s transition to the presidency. He says one thing one day, then changes it the next. His team says one thing, then he says another.

In its story quoting Lott, Politico.com found itself unable to decide if the “mixed messages and shifting realities of Trump world” are a “byproduct of Trump’s unconventional approach to communications or a more systemic dysfunction.”




Daily Journal
1/8/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 6:05 am

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Lottery odds still long, may be improving



This session, which started Tuesday, Clarke and other lottery proponents might have reason for a little more optimism, albeit, only slightly more optimism.

The odds of a lottery passing during the 2017 session are high – probably not as high as winning the powerball – but still high.

But a little additional optimism exists because of the comments of Gov. Phil Bryant, a well established social conservative, in the narrative for his budget proposal released late last year. The Republican governor said he would be open to discussions of a lottery.


Daily Journal
1/8/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 6:02 am

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State Representative pushes salary increase for Highway Safety Patrol



One of those is House Bill 332 and it would members of the Highway Safety Patrol and Bureau of Narcotics a salary increase by about $2,500.

It was just two years ago that Governor Phil Bryant reported a shortage of about 150 troopers in Mississippi saying many were leaving for better paying positions in other states.

State law allows the Highway Patrol to have up to 650 sworn troopers. The agency currently has about 480.


WTVA
1/6/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 5:55 am

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Free seminar offers campaign tips in municipal election year



The Mississippi Commission on the Status of Women and the Mississippi Municipal League are sponsoring a free training seminar called "Ready to Run."

It takes place from 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Tuesday at the Hilton Hotel and Conference Center in north Jackson.

Speakers include Republican state Sens. Sally Doty of Brookhaven and Terry Burton of Newton, Democratic Sen. Juan Barnett of Heidelberg, Republican Reps. Becky Currie of Brookhaven and Manly Barton of Moss Point and Democratic Rep. Angela Cockerham of Magnolia.



WTOK
1/8/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 5:46 am

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NASA Administrator makes final visit to Stennis and updates Mission to Mars



STENNIS SPACE CENTER, MS (WLOX) - On Friday, Administrator Charles Bolden made his tenth and final visit to Stennis Space Center as NASA's leader before he leaves the position on Jan. 20.

"Nothing goes to space without going through Mississippi," Bolden said during his 30-minute visit with the media.

Engines built to propel men into space are tested at Stennis. Over the next year, several tests are scheduled with the ultimate goal of developing an engine strong enough to make it to Mars.



WDAM
1/6/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 5:43 am

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Gov. William Winter improving after fall



JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) - Hospital officials at UMMC say former Governor William Winter's condition is improving more than 24 hours after the 93-year-old slipped and fell on ice in his driveway.

A spokesperson says Gov. Winter's condition has been upgraded from serious to fair.

Those close to the former governor say he received a concussion and fractures after falling Saturday, but medical professionals believe he can recover from those injuries.



WDAM
1/8/17

Posted January 9, 2017 - 5:39 am

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Jay Hughes: First Education Committee Meeting


Presentation by MDE Superintendent Carey Wright. Best thing that has helped public schools in these lean times are literacy coaches. We need more, and could use math coaches. Nice to hear from someone in the committee room who is actually involved in education.

What was LEARNED: #1 Mississippi Public K-12 is improving. (So, why monkey with the fragile funding and screw up things?)

What was LEARNED: #2 MDE does have approximately 12 days of required testing in grades 3-8. Teachers in actual classrooms say they spend 20 days to prepare = 32 days.



Hotty Toddy
1/5/17

Posted January 6, 2017 - 12:38 pm

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RELEASE:


Thompson: Taxpayers will Pay for Border Wall Broken Campaign Promise

January 6, 2017 (WASHINGTON) – Today, Rep. Bennie G. Thompson (D-MS), Ranking Member of the Committee on Homeland Security, released the following statement on news reports that President-elect Trump and the Republican Majority in Congress intend to have the American taxpayer pay for his border “wall”:
 
“It was always a campaign fantasy that Mexico would pay for a wall along our nation’s southwest border.  Before even taking the oath of office, President-elect Trump is already signaling he will break a major campaign promise if he forces American taxpayers to pay for his wall. Unfortunately the Republican Majority is eager to help him and seems willing to ram funding for the Trump wall in must-pass government funding legislation, effectively holding the government hostage while surely adding billions to the deficit.”
 
“Any suggestion that we will be reimbursed at some point in the future is just another fantasy.  Conservative estimates show that the proposed wall will cost billions and Democrats will refuse to allow the President-elect to stick those of us who pay taxes with the bill for something the Border Patrol has not asked for and will do nothing to address the nation’s border security challenges.  Instead we should be working together on comprehensive immigration reform that addresses real issues rather than legislating campaign slogans.”  
 

1/6/17

Posted January 6, 2017 - 12:36 pm

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