Stay up-to-date on what’s in the news with the Y’all Politics Daily Roundup. 

YP – Senate Public Health & Welfare Committee hold last Medical Marijuana public hearing

After each individual spoke in front of the senators, Chairman Sen. Hob Bryan stated that one of the goals he had in mind with holding the public hearings is to flesh out the issues and have some public conversation. Chairman Bryan feels as if the committee has accomplished this.

“I do not intend to call any additional hearings. I think the hearings we’ve had have been productive,” said Bryan. “Just speaking for myself, I think that I have gotten something out of every single presentation at every single hearing which is a pretty good track record.” 

Senator Kevin Blackwell, the lead lawmakers on the issue in the upper chamber, is currently working on medical marijuana legislation and has previously stated to Y’all Politics that he expects to have a measure ready for consideration in August.

YP – Mississippi and federal health officials are needlessly complicating COVID outreach messaging

Whether it’s the White House or the MS Department of Health, this high minded, heavy-handed handling of people that disagree with them is the height of arrogance and tone deafness.  It presupposes that everyone reading things on Facebook is a moron who are incapable of deciding for themselves what’s true and what’s not.  I can tell you that in 16 years of Y’all Politics, there have been tens of thousands of comments on our Facebook posts that I don’t agree with, but unless they’re libelous we generally take the stance that people should be free to express themselves.

Unfortunately, Mississippians (and Americans in general) have a long storied history of ignoring public health advice.  Not wearing a seatbelt can kill you.  Smoking can kill you.  Being fat can kill you.  And public health advocates have screamed for decades about all three and yet, people still make choices.  Arguably bad ones . . . but their choice nonetheless.  COVID public health advice is being dispensed now with such sanctimony, and it seems to have the clear intent of just beating people into submission.  People generally don’t like that and push back against it.

The difference now and clearly what MSDH does not understand is that so many COVID vaccine hesitant individuals believe in their heart that COVID has been politically weaponized.  It has been weaponized to substantially alter the course of the 2020 political campaign.

MSDH COVID-19 Reporting

YP – AG Fitch files brief in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health abortion ban case

Thursday, Attorney General Lynn Fitch filed a brief with the Supreme Court of the United States which defended the right of the people to pass laws that will protect the unborn as well as women’s health. The brief was filed in the Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization suit.

“There are those who would like to believe that Roe v. Wade settled the issue of abortion once and for all,” said Attorney General Fitch. “But all it did was establish a special-rules regime for abortion jurisprudence that has left these cases out of step with other Court decisions and neutral principles of law applied by the Court. As a result, state legislatures, and the people they represent, have lacked clarity in passing laws to protect legitimate public interests, and artificial guideposts have stunted important public debate on how we, as a society, care for the dignity of women and their children. It is time for the Court to set this right and return this political debate to the political branches of government.”

The U.S. Supreme Court made the decision to take up the case on May 17 of this year. Its primary focus is Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban, a law that was passed in the 2018 Legislative session. It is likely a verdict will not be rendered before summer of 2022.

YP – Former Moss Point Mayor sentenced to 30 months in federal prison for fraud

The former Mayor of Moss Point and his wife were sentenced today by a federal court in South Mississippi for their roles in committing fraud.

Judge Sul Ozerden sentenced Mario King to 30 months in federal prison with 3 years of supervised release after his time is served. He also must pay $8,000 in fines.

King’s wife, Natasha, was placed on probation per the recommendation of prosecutors. She was ordered to pay $5,500 in fines. In total, the couple must pay jointly $6,937 in restitution.

State Auditor Shad White issued a statement on the Kings’ sentencing. His office played a key role in the initial investigation.

YP – Mississippi’s 2021 sales tax-free weekend will begin Friday, July 30

 maintains a sales tax holiday each summer as back to school preparations heat up.

The 2021 Mississippi tax-free holiday will take place from 12:01 a.m. Friday, July 30, to midnight Saturday, July 31.

These no-tax days offer a prime opportunity to stock up on school supplies, clothing, and more ahead of the upcoming school year.

During this weekend, the state sales tax of 7% will be waived on purchases of clothing, footwear and school supplies that are selling for less than $100 per item.

YP – Senate Democrats attempt to start debate on an infrastructure bill that hasn’t been written yet

On Wednesday, U.S. Senate Republicans blocked an attempt by Democrats to reach the 60-vote threshold to take up a placeholder bill for an eventual infrastructure plan. The main reason the 50 Republicans voted against starting debate on the proposed bipartisan infrastructure legislation is that the bill has not actually been written yet.

Both Mississippi Senators were among the Republicans voting no on the cloture motion.

Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith issued a release soon after the vote saying she was in favor of negotiating an infrastructure bill but she wants to see details on what the measure will include and how it will be funded.

YP – Wicker (R), Manchin (D) join in support of Hyde Amendment to prohibit federal abortion funding

This week, U.S. Senators Roger Wicker (R-MS) and Joe Manchin (D-WV) sent a joint letter to Senate leadership and the Senate Appropriations Committee requesting the continued inclusion of the Hyde Amendment, which prohibits federal funding for elective abortions, in legislation that will soon be considered by the committee.

“The Hyde Amendment is a decades-long, consensus-building compromise, and we urge you to maintain this longstanding provision in the Fiscal Year 2022 bill,” Wicker and Manchin wrote.

Though the Hyde Amendment has been included in annual appropriations bills on a bipartisan basis since 1976, a key subcommittee on the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee recently cleared the Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act without prohibitions on federal funding for abortions.

Democrats block GOP efforts to restore Hyde Amendment in House

YP – Alleged teacher union leader embezzlement in Mississippi sparks federal lawsuit

The American Federation of Teachers-Mississippi chapter claims that the national AFT (affiliated with the AFL-CIO) helped cover up the questionable financial transactions of  funds by the Jackson Federation of Teachers (JFT) and JFT President Dr. Akemi Stout. They have taken their claims to court in a federal lawsuit.

According to an article written by Jackson Jambalaya, AFT-MS found that the JFT was having “cash-flow issues” in 2018 and 2019. Those years the state chapter said JFT did not make the required payments that come largely from member dues. The lawsuit also claims that Dr. Strout, head of JFT, attempted to move the headquarters to her home.

According to the complaint, when the state chapter attempted to investigate the situation they were denied access to JFT records and financial books. Subsequently, JFT refused to give any financial statements to the state chapter. Therefore, AFT-MS notified the national headquarters.

YP – USM’s Gulf Blue initiative looks to improve blue economy in South Mississippi

Gulf Blue, an initiative through the University of Southern Mississippi, is expected to capitalize on the coast’s geography and maritime resources, further positioning the Mississippi Gulf Coast to lead the development of world-changing innovation.

“The University of Southern Mississippi has been committed to charting a path forward for our Coastal Operations that not only advances the development of key academic programs that serve our coastal community, business, and economic needs, but that also elevates our robust research enterprise – in partnership with coastal business and industry – to harness the momentum of our state’s growing blue economy and to propel the Mississippi Gulf Coast into its transformative future,” said University President Rodney D. Bennett.

YP – AITX Railcar Services, LLC expanding in Brookhaven with $23.36 million investment

AITX Railcar Services, LLC is expanding in Brookhaven. The project is a $23.36 million corporate investment and will create 75 jobs.

“AITX has been a valued employer in southwest Mississippi for nearly five decades. The company’s latest expansion in Lincoln County serves as an excellent example of a supportive business environment and strong workforce combining to provide businesses like AITX with the right environment for lasting growth and success,” Governor Tate Reeves said.

The company has had operations in Bude since 1974 and announced it was locating a maintenance facility in Brookhaven in 2013. The Brookhaven facility currently complements the activities of the Bude facility, providing light maintenance activities, cleaning and ‘quick turn’ light repair capabilities geared toward expediting railcars back into service.