CLARION LEDGER – Retired state employees should be able to keep their pension and serve in Miss. Legislature, AG says

Retired state employees have long forfeited their pensions if they served in the Mississippi Legislature.

Now a new attorney general’s opinion could clear the way for state retirees, including troopers, teachers, school superintendents and health officers, to serve in the Legislature without losing those pensions.

Jim Hood’s opinion concluded that a Public Employees’ Retirement System of Mississippi regulation barring these state employees from running contradicted both state law and other PERS regulations. (Although the opinion isn’t binding, it does stand until a court — or the Legislature — decides otherwise.)…

…Nancy Loome, executive director for The Parents’ Campaign, said the decision could be “a real game changer. For so long, retirees and former teachers who are retirees have expressed real frustration they were prohibited from serving in the Legislature and drawing the retirement they had earned.”

These retirees understand how the system works and how it can be improved, she said. “This is long overdue.”

State Sen. Sollie Norwood, D-Jackson, sought the opinion because “you have a whole cadre of qualified individuals that would offer themselves for public service, but you’ve alienated them.”

DESOTO TIMES – Hernando native eyeing run for Mississippi Governor

In an interview with the DeSoto Times-Tribune on Monday, Foster said he will be making his decision whether or not to run for the state’s top executive in “a week to two weeks.”

For Foster, who operates Cedar Hill Farm in the Love community, southeast of Hernando, his decision to run for governor of Mississippi is not flighting fancy…

…Foster said that he wants to appeal to a broad base but he is unabashedly conservative and proud of it.

“I am a conservative Republican,” Foster said. “I am tough on liberals and progressives but I understand that there needs to be a discussion of the issues. I want to listen to people of all political backgrounds. There are things that we all have in common. We all need affordable healthcare. We have to help our schools. Our schools are struggling. I want to give people another option in the Republican primary. That is my goal and my intention. I’m not running against anybody.”

DAILY JOURNAL – Hyde-Smith noncommittal on Trump’s prison reform bill

President Donald J. Trump, joined by Vice President Mike Pence and U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Miss., participates in the First Step Roundtable with Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryan and law enforcement leaders Monday, Nov. 26, 2018, at the Mississippi Coast Coliseum in Biloxi, Miss. (Official White House Photo by D. Myles Cullen)Hyde-Smith was present at the round table, seated close to the president. But even as she campaigned for election to her seat by boasting that she has voted with Trump 100 percent of the time, she is not yet willing to vocally march in lockstep with the president on criminal justice issues.

The Daily Journal submitted questions to the senator’s office, asking whether she planned to vote for the First Step Act.

In response, the senator provided a written statement.

“This is an important issue I’m very passionate about. We have to be smart about how we address it, particularly in addressing recidivism,” Hyde-Smith said. “There are still a lot of ideas being discussed at this point. I’m following the debate, and I’m committed to giving it my best efforts.”

In her comments at the presidential roundtable, Hyde-Smith did voice concerns about the nation’s recidivism rate and praised Mississippi’s drug courts.

CLARION LEDGER – The race is on – again – as Congress’ freshmen battle for the best office

One by one, new members, including Mississippi Rep.-elect Michael Guest, were called up Friday to pick a white-and-black button out of a small mahogany box in the Rayburn House Office Building. The lighthearted lottery tradition gives all incoming lawmakers a fair chance of choosing an office…

…At one point, Guest walked up to the front of the room and checked the screen listing the offices still available. He ended up with one on the second floor of the Cannon Office Building, which is under renovation…

…Guest has also kept some of Harper’s staff, including Downs and Sharon Cooper Johnson, Harper’s deputy chief of staff.

WTOK – Auditor demands money from estate of chancery clerk

The Mississippi auditor is demanding payment of $673,000 from the estate of a longtime county official who died in August.

Auditor Shad White says Thomas C. Tolliver was overpaid as Wilkinson County chancery clerk.

Chancery clerks keep records of divorces, child custody cases and land ownership. They are paid from collected fees with a $90,000 pay cap. White says Tolliver exceeded the cap and didn’t transfer more $160,000 back to the county from 2008 to 2016.

NEWSMS – Mississippi group looks to legalize medical marijuana

An initiative to make medical marijuana legal in 2020 is underway. Jamie Grantham, a spokesperson with the Medical Marijuana 2020 group said the initiative has been approved by the Secretary of State and the Attorney General’s Office. Now, they have 12 months to gather over 86,000 signatures to place it on the ballot in 2020.

“We have looked at what other states have done, how their programs are functioning well, and what’s not functioning well,” Grantham said. “We want to be able to provide a well-regulated and tightly restricted medical marijuana program for patients here in Mississippi who are suffering from debilitating medical conditions.”

Northern PSC Commissioner Presley participates in international conference


DESOTO TIMES – State Treasurer to host event

Area individuals who just might be in for an early Christmas present by learning if they are on the State Treasurer’s unclaimed property list have a golden opportunity.

On Thursday, Dec. 13, staff from State Treasurer Lynn Fitch’s office will be available in Senatobia and Hernando to help area residents search the state’s unclaimed property list and file claims for their funds.

“Since I took office as Treasurer in January 2012, my office has distributed over $91 million in unclaimed property,” said Fitch. “This represents more than 57 percent of all the funds distributed through the State unclaimed property program since it began in 1982.