WTOK – Diversity is ‘blessing’ for Mississippi, new ag leader says

The new Mississippi agriculture commissioner says diversity of race and culture makes the state stronger.

Former state Rep. Andy Gipson of Braxton was sworn in Monday as the state’s eighth commissioner of agriculture and commerce.

Gipson is an attorney, farmer and Baptist pastor. He says Mississippi’s diversity has been “a problem” in the past but he believes God has designed that diversity “for blessing, not for cursing.”

Gipson succeeds fellow Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith, who is moving to the U.S. Senate.

WLBT – Conservative lawmakers discuss void left by Andy Gipson’s vacancy in the Mississippi House

With Gipson officially out of the legislature, his former colleagues say his absence will be felt.

“What I don’t want is a hole left in the legislature where we can’t get conservative bills,” noted Rep. Becky Currie. “The one thing that we all depended on Andy for was that we knew when we took our very conservative bills, Andy Gipson was never afraid to take them on.”

As Rep. Gary Chism notes, those bills often put Gipson squarely into the midst of controversy.

“He’ll take on any challenge,” said Chism. “He did get threats.”

WJTV – Bryant, Hosemann sign Cindy Hyde-Smith’s appointment documents

Gov. Phil Bryant and Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann have signed the documents to appoint Cindy Hyde-Smith to become a U.S. Senator.

Bryant tweeted a photo that shows him with Hosemann Sunday night signing the paperwork

WTVA – Tupelo Mayor Announces Bid for U.S. Senate 

Tupelo Mayor Jason Shelton says he will run in the November special election for the U.S. Senate to serve the remainder of Thad Cochran’s term.

The Democrat becomes the fourth candidate to announce his intention to run.

Mississippi Democrats receive “grant” from National Democrats for campaign assistance


DAILY JOURNAL – State budget stabilized during 2018 session

The state budget, which was cut more than $360 million during the past two years, was stabilized during the 2018 session that ended last week.

The budget for the fiscal year starting July 1, passed in the just-completed 2018 session, is $22.4 million or 0.04 percent more than the amount appropriated for the current fiscal year.

“We were able to prioritize the core function of government,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves said, adding extra funds were provided for public safety, for the foster care system, for a school recognition program to provide salary supplements for the staff of improving schools and to expand early childhood education efforts. Reeves said most agencies received near level funding during the 2018 session.

But Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said the budget is another warning sign that the approximately 50 tax cuts passed in the last six years are having a negative impact on state revenue collections.

CLARION LEDGER – Mississippi AG asks Congress to expand Medicaid fraud, abuse investigative resources

That’s why the attorneys general from 49 states, including Mississippi’s Jim Hood, have asked Congress to pass a law expanding the authority of the Medicaid Fraud Control Units.

In Mississippi, cases of abuse against patients outside a facility — like when a Jackson caregiver allegedly stole $22,100 from an elderly woman she had been caring for in her home — are typically prosecuted by the attorney general’s Vulnerable Adult Unit.

That unit is facing staff shortages and high caseloads following budget cuts, according to the office.

US Sen. Wicker reflects on Thad Cochran