CLARION LEDGER – Lobbying for the state

Last year, state agencies paid contract lobbyists at least $360,000, according to the 2017 lobbyists’ financial and clients reports filed with the Mississippi Secretary of State’s Office.

Some of those state agencies say no tax dollars are used to pay for these lobbyists, which they consider crucial.

Sen. John Polk, chairman of Senate Accountability, Efficiency, and Transparency, said Friday that he is very much concerned if taxpayers’ money is being used to pay lobbyists in an attempt to get more funds from the state.



WLOX Editorial – State Legislators need to watch their revenue estimates

It seems that about this time of year, we often hear that the state of Mississippi isn’t collecting enough tax dollars to pay all the bills it committed to pay. But this year that is not the case. It looks like a more conservative estimate on tax collections led to proper planning on spending.

So for the current budget year which runs from July to June, it looks like we won’t have mid-year budget cuts by state agencies nor will the state have to dip into its reserves.

We know it’s not easy to estimate state revenues, but we like the idea of under projecting and under spending. It’s better than over projecting and then having to cut spending.



 

WTOK – Rep. Charles Young, Jr. returns to Meridian after unveiling a gun at Miss. Legislature

 

DAILY JOURNAL – Bryan: MAEP continues to provide more funds to schools than rewrite – OR – Bobby Harrison goes to the mat to help defend MAEP

JACKSON – State Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, one of the architects in 1997 of the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, says it will produce nearly $300 million more for local school districts by 2025 than the funding formula authored by House Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton.

“At the end of the day, every school district will get a bigger check” from the state, Bryan said…



…Gunn said the Adequate Education Program is difficult to understand while his proposal is “understandable, reliable.”

Gunn said the state could not afford a fully funded MAEP.

“If you want me to put more money into education, I have to take it from somewhere else or I have to raise your taxes,” Gunn said.

US NEWS – Bill: Mississippi Drivers Should Get Out of the Left Lane

The House of Representatives on Wednesday passed House Bill 80 , sending it to the Senate for more debate.



The proposal says a vehicle shouldn’t be driven in the left-hand lane of any road with four or more lanes when the vehicle is impeding traffic.

Sponsored by House Transportation Committee Chairman Charles Busby, the bill says drivers should only use the lane for passing, unless the right lane is closed, is in disrepair, or is otherwise impassable.

CLARION LEDGER – They said it: Lawyers, guns and urine — quotes from the Legislature

“I hold in my hand a product called extreme fetus urine.” — Rep. Willie Bailey, D-Greenville, on a bill to ban urine products used to beat drug tests. The product he held up is actually called XStream Fetish Urine.

“Mr. Chairman, it seems like you’ve produced a pretty good bill. Are you sure there’s no leaks in it?” — Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, on the urine ban bill.

MERIDIAN STAR – 12 malpractice suits named new state medical board head

The new head of Mississippi’s agency for licensing and disciplining doctors has faced 12 lawsuits alleging malpractice, The Clarion Ledger reports.

Judges dismissed some, but Dr. Kenneth Cleveland, recently hired as executive director of the Mississippi State Board of Licensure, settled at least two of the suits, the newspaper reported.

“Just because you have a lawsuit filed against you doesn’t mean you’ve done anything wrong,” said Dr. Charles Miles, president of the licensing board. “I can assure you I can get an attorney to file suit because you wore the wrong color shoes if he thought he could make some money.”

WLBT – Concerns are being voiced over an employment protection bill – OR – Equal Pay Amendment may in fact be a poison pill in bill to limit minimum wage adjustments

 

MSNewsNow.com – Jackson, MS

POLITICO – Top official departs ‘rudderless’ railroad safety agency 

Heath Hall became the Federal Railroad Administration’s acting chief after being appointed deputy administrator in June. But he subsequently appeared at least twice in local media reports last summer as a sheriff’s department spokesman in Madison County, Mississippi, where he has long run a public relations and political consulting firm.

The firm also continued to receive payments from the county for its services from July through December, despite Hall’s pledge in a federal ethics form that the business would be “dormant” while he worked at DOT. And Tiffany Lindemann, a former FRA public affairs official who left the agency in September, told POLITICO this week that she had fielded at least three requests from a Mississippi television journalist seeking to speak with Hall during the summer…

…“We were unaware of the information that is being reported but those allegations, if they are true, are troubling,” DOT spokeswoman Marianne McInerney said in a statement Saturday. She added, “Heath Hall has resigned his position at the Department effective immediately.”

Sen. Wicker recognized for SPEED Act

 

NEW YORK TIMES – Developers Seek $6 Million Tax Break for Trump-Managed Hotel

As President Trump’s family business prepares to open a hotel in the Mississippi Delta this fall, its local development partners have asked the State of Mississippi to subsidize the project with up to $6 million in tax breaks, according to documents obtained through an open records request.

If approved, the benefits could offset nearly a third of the projected $20 million in costs for the hotel, which is owned by the local developers, Dinesh and Suresh Chawla.

The Chawla brothers are already financing the project through a bank loan, but Dinesh Chawla said in an email to The New York Times that the Mississippi tourism tax rebate would “improve our cash flow.” The Chawlas, who applied for the rebate in late December, are also planning to use city and county property tax abatements, records show.