DAILY JOURNAL – Legislative decision still must be made on how to divide BP money

Many Gulf Coast legislators say, since the oil spill caused by the massive explosion of the Deepwater Horizon in the Gulf of Mexico mostly impacted their region, they should receive the funds. That also has been the position of Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, who presides over the Senate.

But others, including many Northeast Mississippi legislators, have a different view of how the $750 million in funds the state will receive over 17 years should be spent.

“I think it is going to be a dogfight,” said Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville. “I think the Coast deserves a large portion of the money. But I kind of feel the rest of the state should benefit a little bit.

“I don’t have a preconceived formula. But they ought to be able to work out something. If they can’t, I could.”

Rep. Shane Aguirre, R-Tupelo, said, “I like the plan to spread it out throughout the state…The Coast has been made whole.”

CLARION LEDGER – Some Mississippi teachers could become exempt from state income taxes

Proposed tax breaks for Mississippi residents who receive a bachelor’s or post-graduate degree could be the lone policy addressing the state’s need for more qualified teachers to survive the 2018 session.

House Bill 1550, which passed by 180-0 last week, attempts to head off the exodus by offering a three-year state income tax exemption to these Mississippi residents. Under the proposal, K-12 teachers would be eligible for a five-year exemption…

…Lamar, the bill’s sponsor, doesn’t expect the measure to be a silver bullet — for one, it still faces approval by the Senate and it’s likely that additional revisions are needed, but he believes “this is a start.”

“Teaching should be one of our most honored and sought-after professions,” he said. “There’s probably no other profession that comes close to shaping and molding young people.”

(YP Note: There’s only 122 members in the MS House, not 180.)

THE DISPATCH – Slim Smith: Slimantics: Mr. Smith goes to Jackson

Given that, I thought it wise to consider “how the sausage gets made” in Jackson these days through the perspective of three state senators.

Sen. Hob Bryan of Amory is among the most respected persons in the Mississippi Legislature for a couple of reasons. First, he’s smart. He finished second in his class at the prestigious University of Virginia Law School. Second, he’s been in the state senate for 35 years now. That he is one of just three Democrats to serve as a committee chair (Judiciary B) in a legislature where the Republicans have super majority in both chambers is a testament to the respect — often grudging respect — he has earned over more than three decades in Jackson.

By comparison, Angela Turner-Ford (D, West Point) and Chuck Younger (R, Columbus) are relative newcomers. This is Turner-Ford’s sixth session, Younger’s fifth…

…”It’s very frustrating. Under the current framework, you just do the best you can. It’s not how we should be operating, but what can you do?”

Lest you are inclined to dismiss Bryan and Turner-Ford as minority party malcontents, consider Younger’s evaluation of the process.

“Hell, I’m disgusted, too,” Younger said. “We’re all disgusted. Even Republicans are disgusted with not having more say. I’m sick of having the head guys make all the decisions.

CLARION LEDGER – Mississippi gives tax break to hotel tied to Trump company

Mississippi has granted a tax break worth just over $6 million to a hotel developer affiliated with the Trump Organization.

Mississippi Development Authority spokesman Jeff Rent confirmed Thursday that the agency’s board approved the tourism tax rebate Wednesday for a hotel in Cleveland, Mississippi. The state offers developers a rebate of up to 30 percent of their investment.

The Scion at West End Hotel is being built by Chawla Pointe LLC, a Mississippi-based, family-run hotel company whose CEO is Dinesh Chawla.

SCIENCE MAGAZINE – Meet the scientists running to transform Congress in 2018

Last month, Randy Wadkins prepared for the spring semester at the University of Mississippi by reviewing his notes for the advanced chemistry course he has taught for many years. Then the professor of biochemistry, who grew up near the university’s Oxford campus and received his Ph.D. there, forced himself to step outside his comfort zone: He flew to Washington, D.C., where he asked strangers for money.

Wadkins is running for U.S. Congress, and his fundraiser took place in a neighborhood restaurant just a few kilometers from where he would like to be working come January 2019. Wadkins warmed up his small but enthusiastic audience with a story about picking peas as a child every Saturday on his grandparents’ farm to supplement his family’s meager pantry. It reflects his “I’m just an ordinary person like you” message to Democrats in Mississippi’s first congressional district, who on 5 June will choose a standard bearer to oppose the Republican incumbent in November.

The candidate voiced his anger about the state of U.S. politics with the young professionals, who shared his distaste for the policies of President Donald Trump and the Republican majority in Congress. A dysfunctional and hyperpartisan House of Representatives, he told them, might work better if more of its 435 members were scientists like himself. Then came his pitch: “I’m here to help make that happen, and the first step is by taking your money.”

Email from the Mississippi Democratic Party supporting Starkville Pride Parade

In the history of our state there is already more than our fair share of discrimination and division. The Mississippi Democratic Party continues in its commitment to support all forms of equality regardless of race, color, class, religion, gender, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, population, national origin, immigrant status, disability, or appearance.

The actions taken by the Starkville Board of Alderman are disappointing to see, but we must not let these actions prevent us from moving forward on the path towards justice and equality for all.

We support Starkville Pride, and encourage others to be supportive as well. If you would like to support financially and you are able please contribute to the cause here…

WLBT – Parents and providers rally at the State Capitol for more child care funding

“For last year, 6 million dollars in state funds would’ve brought into the state an additional 13.2 million,” said Carol Burnett, Executive Director of the Mississippi Low Income Child Care Initiative.

So, that’s the problem. DHS has access to a federal block grant for the child care payment program. But it requires matching dollars from the state. Mississippi said it didn’t have enough money to match the federal dollars last year. Because of that, $13 million dollars had to be returned the feds.

“Mississippi deserves childcare for every family,” said Rep. Cheikh Taylor. “DHS deserves to be funded adequately. And we shall not go gently into the night saying that next year, next year, next year we’ll get these things done.”

Congressman Palazzo announces Tele-Town Hall