Governor outlines priorities in State of the State address

Below is the Governor’s address. Gov. Bryant’s remarks start at the 8:30 mark.

Gov. Bryant’s agenda focuses on the following:

  • Job Training
  • Tourism
  • Income tax cuts
  • School vouchers for special-needs children
  • Corrections and contracting reforms

The state’s Democratic Response is below:

For more information:


2014 State and National General Election Summary

The 114th U.S. Congress started earlier this month following a wild 2014 midterm election. The following websites capture those 2014 election results in various formats and perspectives:

2014 Election results by Congressional District (Courtesy of the New York Times).

2014 Election results by Congressional District (Courtesy of the New York Times).

Push for legalized marijuana in Mississippi has begun

If Mississippi for Cannabis can obtain 107,216 signatures by October, the legalization of marijuana would be placed on the 2016 ballot in Mississippi. The Mississippi for Cannabis registered the initiative with the Secretary of State as Initiative 48. If Initiative 48 reaches the ballot and is passed, it would amend the state constitution to regulate the drug like alcohol, the Governor would also be required to pardon all “persons convicted of nonviolent cannabis crimes,” and the first 3 years of tax revenues would be earmarked for education.

The following specific language would be added to the state constitution:

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Lt. Gov. releases 2015 priorities

Mississippi Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves published his priorities for the 2015 Legislative session.  As the second-highest ranking official in Mississippi and the President of the Senate, the Lieutenant Governor wields significant power in appointing members to Senate committees and setting the legislative agenda.

His initiatives are summarized as follows:

  • Eliminating the vehicle inspection sticker.
  • Placing public hospital boards under the Open Meetings Act.
  • Reforming state contracting laws.
  • Expanding physician residency access.
  • Improving care for the mentally ill.
  • Ensuring high academic standards for Mississippi students.
  • Spending more on education based on effective district management.
  • Providing school choice for special needs children.
  • Reducing concealed carry permit fees.
  • Recognizing military training for firearm permits.

Further explanation can be found on the Lieutenant Governor’s website. Like all state-wide offices, Mr. Reeves is up for re-election in 2015.

For more information:



2015 Ballot Battle Over MAEP Set

With proponents obtaining enough signatures to place Initiative 42 on the 2015 Ballot, the State Legislature acted to create an alternative, HCR 9 or Initiative 42A, which the House and the Senate passed this week.

If approved by voters in November, Initiative 42 would change the Mississippi Constitution to read as follows (underlined and struck-through text indicates added or deleted language):

SECTION 201. To protect each child’s fundamental right to educational opportunity, The Legislature the State shall, by general law, provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools upon such conditions and limitations as the Legislature may provide. The chancery courts of this State shall have the power to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief.

Proponents say that this constitutional amendment will require fully funding K-12 education in Mississippi per the MAEP formula that was adopted in 1997 to determine funding. Opponents say that Initiative 42 strips the Legislature of control over education and places that control in the hands of the Chancery Court of Hinds County.

Initiative 42A would change the constitution as follows:

SECTION 201. The Legislature shall, by general law, provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an effective system of free public schools.

Proponents of this alternative argue that this will keep control of education in the State Legislature and focus on results (i.e. the insertion of “an effective system”). Opponents say Initiative 42A only confuses voters and does not allow for a simple “up or down vote” on Initiative 42 by the people of Mississippi.

To pass, a proposal must win a majority and at least 40% of the total votes cast. With competing proposals, passage of either is more difficult. If voters are uneducated before going to the polls, the ballot could also be very confusing.

For more information:

Athiests demanding change to Mississippi Constitution

Section 265 of the Mississippi State Constitution states, “No person who denies the existence of a Supreme Being shall hold any office in this state.” Mississippi Public Broadcasting reports that, although the provision has been ruled unconstitutional and unenforceable, the atheist group Openly Secular, is demanding that the section be removed.

For more information:

2015 Preview: Busy Year for Mississippi

With 2015 a state-wide election year, the upcoming session of the Mississippi Legislature is sure to be interesting.  First, every member of the legislature and all state-wide office holders are up for re-election. Additionally, Initiative 42, the proposal to amend the state constitution to require fully funding MAEP, will be on the ballot and a possible alternative if passed by the Legislature.

With MAEP on the ballot, public education funding is certain to be a top issue for the legislature. The full MAEP formula has only been funded twice since adopted in 1997 (both times during election years) and, with Medicaid costs increasing, funding the full amount will require some combination of decreasing amounts for other services and higher education or raising taxes.

Tax relief is another political football and only the governor has proposed to give a tax credit to low to moderate income working families.  The $5 state inspection sticker may also come up for consideration since it does not generate much revenue. Corporate taxes are also on the table; Mississippi is one of 13 states with a franchise tax that puts the state at a competitive disadvantage with other states in attracting new businesses.

With the scandals that have hit the Department of Corrections, Contract Reform will likely be another big topic this year. Tighter restrictions on no-bid contracts is likely to be politically popular this year.

Mark the calendar with these notable days in 2015:

  • State Legislature Convenes: January 6th
  • State Legislature Adjourns: April 6th
  • Party Primary Election: August 4th
  • Party Primary Runoff Election: August 25th
  • General/Special Election: November 3rd
  • Special Runoff Election: November 24th

For more information: