Gov. Bryant’s special session

Facing a $75 million shortfall in the state budget, Gov. Bryant called a special session to dip into the state’s rainy day fund to cover the deficit. After much grandstanding, the legislature authorized the governor to pull from the $349 million fund to balance the state’s $6.2 billion fiscal 2016 budget.

After years of demanding that the rainy-day fund only be used to pay one-time costs, Republicans are dipping into the fund for a second time within a year. And this after a year of corporate giveaways and borrowing money to do so. Katherine DeCoito makes the observation that, at this rate, the politicians are incentivized to make every year a “rainy day”–at least until the state is bankrupt–and they can no longer bail themselves out.

Geoff Pender further illustrates the absurdity of the legislative session which cost taxpayers $102,000 which would be comical if it wasn’t so pitiful. Our legislators, Democrat and Republican, apparently think they are playing with “Monopoly” money. Unfortunately, it is not.

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Federal Judge Overturns HB 1523

U.S. District Court Judge Carlton W. Reeves blocked House Bill 1523 from going into effect following the state legislature’s passage during the 2016 Legislative Session. Under the bill, businesses would have been allowed to deny services based on sincerely held religious beliefs without facing reciprocity from the state. Individuals would still be able to bring suit against such businesses but the state would remain neutral.

Judge Reeves’ injunction asserts that the law violates the U.S. Constitution in two places:

  1. The First Amendment by “establish[ing] an official preference for certain religious beliefs over others,” and
  2. The Fourteenth Amendment by explicitly favoring “anti-LGBTG religious beliefs” and providing adherents to those beliefs a special right to discriminate that is not available to others.

Mississippi’s Attorney General Jim Hood believes the federal court ruling was clear and does not expect to appeal. No other officials’ comments were available.

This is not the first time Judge Reeves has ruled on religious freedom issues. In July 2015, he issued a court order to prevent Rankin County School District (RCSD) from including any religious activities at school sponsored events. After receiving a $7,500 fine after failing to satisfactorily comply with the court order, the RCSD prevented the Brandon High School Band from playing “How Great Thou Art” during a halftime show fearing that such an act would violate the court order and subject the district to additional fines.

Although born in Texas, Reeves grew up in Yazoo City and was appointed to the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Mississippi by President Obama in 2010.

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Presidential Candidate Voter Guide

Family Research Council published their 2016 Presidential Candidate Voter Guide. A snapshot of the “Values Voter Presidential Voter Guide” details both Republican and Democrat candidates’ positions on marriage, abortion, religious liberty, and other contemporary issues. A snapshot of the guide is provided below but the entire guide, with an exhaustive reference list, is available on the FRC website.

2016 FRC Presidential Candidate Voter GuideThe Presidential Voters Guide above was last updated by FRC on 7 March 2016. FRC updates their website and candidate information becomes known and as candidates drop out of the race.

Vote Tuesday in Mississippi’s Primary

Tuesday, March 8th is Mississippi’s opportunity to choose who they want representing them in the November General Election. Both Republicans and Democrats hold their primaries on the same day and, since Mississippi is an “open” state, anyone can vote for either party.

While both the Democrat and Republican parties have had many contenders drop from their respective primary races, many will still be listed on the ballots.  For the Democrats, the ballot will have the following:

  • Hillary Clinton*
  • Roque ‘Rocky’ De La Fuente
  • Martin O’Malley
  • Bernie Sanders*
  • Willie Wilson

The Republicans have reduced the number actively campaigning to four but the list of names on the Mississippi ballot also remains lengthy:

  • Jeb Bush
  • Ben Carson
  • Chris Christie
  • Ted Cruz*
  • Carly Fiorina
  • Lindsey Graham
  • Mike Huckabee
  • John R. Kasich*
  • George Pataki
  • Rand Paul
  • Marco Rubio*
  • Rick Santorum
  • Donald J. Trump*

Asterisks indicate those candidates with active campaigns.

In addition to the widely publicized Presidential Primaries, South Mississippi will also be selecting their choice to represent the respective parties for the U.S. House of Representatives 4th Congressional District.  Incumbent Rep. Steven Palazzo is running unopposed for the Republican ticket while Democrat Mark Gladney is running unopposed to challenge Palazzo in November.

To see a sample of your ballot and find your polling place, visit the Secretary of State’s Polling Place Locator.

State legislators attempt to protect traditional values

Under House Bill 1523, State officials, private business owners,and others who provide services to the public couldn’t be punished for acting on deeply held religious beliefs.  The bill specifically protects individuals and organizations for acting upon the following “religious beliefs or moral convictions:”

  1. Marriage is or should be recognized as the union of one man and one woman.
  2. Sexual relations are properly reserved to such a marriage.
  3. Male (man) or female (woman) refer to an individual’s immutable biological sex as objectively determined by anatomy and genetics at time of birth.

The bill would prevent the state government from taking any legal action against any religious organization, state employees, or other persons for acting in a manner consistent with these beliefs.

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State Legislature debating guns in churches

House Bill 786 was approved by state Representatives and would accomplish three things:   (1) allows church authorities to develop security programs that designate enhanced carry permit holders or those with military or law enforcement backgrounds to protect places of worship, (2) ensures that these participants receive the benefits of existing protections under the state’s Castle Doctrine law; and (3) clarifies current permitless carry options for law-abiding citizens while maintaining the existing enhanced and regular concealed carry permitting systems.

The Mississippi Senate now takes up the bill for consideration.

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Fight against “adult entertainment” on Canal Road

On February 18th, the Harrison County Planning Commission held their regular meeting and heard a petition to allow “a form of Adult Entertainment” at 18009 Tillman Road.  The subject property is 1,700 feet south of Faith Baptist Church on the corner of Canal Road and Tillman Road.

The following information was available from the Planning Commission proposed agenda posted on the Harrison County website:

Case File 1602HC018 – Other to allow the establishment a juice bar with exotic dancers in accordance to Section 305 Non-Classified Uses – Old Hwy 49– tax parcel 0610H-01-001.001 – Ronald Nance for Danielle Fayard – Supervisor District 3

Said petition was filed by Ronald Nance for Danielle Fayard requesting to add a form of Adult Entertainment in conjunction with a Juice Bar on a 0.6-acre parcel of land as identified on the site plan. Section 305 requires the Planning Commission to make a determination of the district or districts in which such use shall be permitted, either by right or on a conditional basis. The property is currently zoned as C-1 (Neighborhood Commercial) and R-2 (Medium Density Residential) District. The subject property is located at 18009 Tillman Road. The ad valorem tax parcel number is 0610H-01-001.001.

According to church members in attendance, the issue was tabled until a future meeting. The property is easily recognizable to those travelling on Canal Road and a photo of the proposed site from Google Maps is below.

18009 Tillman Rd

Site of proposed adult entertainment venue on Canal Road

Per Mississippi law, counties have authority to regulate adult entertainment. Per Section 305 of the Harrison County Zoning Ordinance, adult entertainment is a “Non-Classified Uses” and therefore requires planning commission approval:

For any use not specifically listed, the planning commission shall make a determination of the district or districts in which such use shall be permitted, either by right or on a conditional basis. Any such determination shall be based on the subject use’s similarity in nature, intensity of land use impact and general character to other uses listed in the various districts.

While the location is within District 3, all church members and residents of Harrison County need to come together and tell our Board of Supervisors and Planning Commission that such establishments are not desired anywhere in Harrison County let alone on Canal Road.  Notify your Supervisor and plan to attend future Board of Supervisors Meetings and Planning Boards.

Harrison County Board of Supervisors:

Harrison County residents can determine the district of their resident via their voter registration card or by viewing the district map.

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