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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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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Are rights from God. . . or man? Part II

After Chris Cuomo’s quarrel with Judge Roy Moore, another media-type has expressed her belief that rights come from man. In response to Sen. Ted Cruz invoking God as the grantor of rights, Yahoo News political reporter Meredith Shiner posted:

If rights are granted by men, they can be taken away by men.

The Declaration of Independence declared that humans are “endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights” and the U.S. Constitution was created to prevent government from trampling them. In a 2001 interview, President Obama recognized the Constitution’s restraint on government: “It says what the states can’t do to you. Says what the federal government can’t do to you but doesn’t say what the federal government or state government must do on your behalf.”

Rights granted by men are artificial or man-made but certainly not natural and unalienable! Shiner should thank God for all of her rights, including her 1st Amendment right to speak her mind–even if she doesn’t know Who granted them.

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MAEP Initiative 42 on 2015 Ballot

By gathering enough signatures, MAEP proponents have placed Initiative 42 on the 2015 General Election ballot. Per the Secretary of State press release, “Initiative #42 seeks to amend the State Constitution to require the full funding of education and grant the Chancery Court of Hinds County the power to enforce the full funding of education with appropriate injunctive relief.”

Currently, the Mississippi State Constitution entrusts education funding to the State Legislature.  Section 201, states “The Legislature shall, by general law, provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of free public schools upon such conditions and limitations as the Legislature may prescribe.”

The 2015 ballot will simply read, “Should the state be required to provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools?”

However, Initiative 42 will amend Section 201 of State Constitution to read as follows: “To protect each child’s fundamental right to educational opportunity, the State shall, provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools. The chancery courts of this State shall have the power to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief.”

MAEP is a formula adopted by the State Legislature (MS Code § 37-151-7) in 1997 to define funding levels for public education in Mississippi. Of the $6 Billion 2014 state budget, education received about $2.4 Billion.  Fully funding MAEP would require 10-15% more funding and has been fully funded twice since it’s adoption.

For further information:

Mississippi’s 2014 General Election Set

Prepare now for the 2014 General Election.  As a mid-term election, voter turn-out is generally lower meaning every vote is even more important.

The following are the candidates for the various offices affecting Mississippi’s Gulf Coast.  All links are to the candidates’ campaign websites, if available.  Additional information on each candidate can be found by searching The Blessings of Liberty.

U.S. Senate:

U.S. House of Representatives 4th Congressional District:

Several judicial positions are up for election this cycle as well.  Below are the listings for the coastal counties with Circuit Court judgeships on the ballot:

District 2 (Hancock, Harrison, Stone):

  • Circuit Court Judge, Place 1:  Lisa P. Dodson (unopposed)
  • Circuit Court Judge, Place 2:
  • Circuit Court Judge, Place 3:  Larry Bourgeois (unopposed)
  • Circuit Court Judge, Place 4:  Roger T. Clark (unopposed)

District 19 (George, Greene, Jackson):

  • Circuit Court Judge, Place 1:  Robert P. “Bob” Krebs (unopposed)
  • Circuit Court Judge, Place 2:  Kathy King Jackson (unopposed)
  • Circuit Court Judge, Place 3:  Dale Harkey (unopposed)

Below are the candidates for the coastal counties’ Chancery Courts:

District 8 (Hancock, Harrison, Stone):

District 16 (George, Greene, Jackson):

  • Chancery Court Judge, Place 1:
  • Chancery Court Judge, Place 2:  Jaye A. Bradley (unopposed)
  • Chancery Court Judge, Place 3:
    • Michael L. Fondren
    • Gary L. Roberts

Jackson County is holding a special election for a new sheriff to replace Mike Byrd who resigned in 2013; more information if available here.  Three Mississippi Court of Appeals judgeships are also up for election but none that represent the coastal counties (District 5).

For More Information:

Candidates for Jackson County Sheriff

Jackson County appointed interim Sheriff Charles Britt after Mike Byrd was resigned after being charged with felony crimes in December 2013.

A special election will be conducted in November to elect a permanent replacement.  The following have applied for the job (links are to on air interviews on NewsRadio 104.9FM:

For more information:

 

 

Review of the Republican runoff

On Tuesday, June 24th, Senator Thad Cochran won the Republican nomination for the U.S. Senate seat he currently occupies.  The nastiest and craziest primary in recent memory apparently deserves an equally crazy ending.  While lobbyist Stuart Stevens wrote that the formula for victory was very simple, a look back at the results is fascinating.  The Stennis Institute remarked, “[T]he turnout for the runoff election exceeded the primary turnout by 20%, which is an astonishing fact.”

National Review echoed the thought with a similar assessment:  “It’s generally agreed that Thad Cochran squeaked out a win in Mississippi last night in part by getting Democrats, especially African Americans, to turn out.”  Harry Enten of FiveThirtyEight completed the exhaustive (and fascinating) data-mining showing how Cochran’s victory correlated to black turn-out and later reported that a Cochran victory was not as implausible as pundits initially predicted.

Mississippi State’s Stennis Institute produced numerous post-runoff maps including the one below.  The colors show the vote difference between the primary and runoff for each county while the elevation shows the voter turnout.

Vote Difference from June 3rd

Change in raw vote numbers from June 3rd primary to the June 24th runoff

Turnout in DeSoto County increased in support of challenger Chris McDaniel but was overshadowed by the dramatic increase in Hinds County in support of Cochran.  The author counted 6 counties that shifted from one candidate to the other but the most significant was in Jackson County which netted more than 700 more votes for Cochran.

Runoff Results by County

However, even in counties held by McDaniel, the change in margin of victory greatly favored Cochran who received a net increase in votes in 48 of the 82 Mississippi counties.  The Stennis Institute’s full analysis with even more maps is provided in “Mississippi Primary Runoff Election, 2014.”

But how did Cochran expand the voter pool to increase turnout and win the Republican nomination?  The days following the election have shown that defining your opponent is critical to energizing potential voters.  Negative and misleading attacks are expected from those across the aisle, but Cochran used the tactic effectively against a member of his own party.  Consider this flyer that was found in traditionally Democrat precincts and posted by National Review:

GOTV Flyer for Thad Cochran

Courtesy of National Review

Like the flyer above, a “robocall” in support of Cochran stated similar positions and even implied that Cochran would not block President Obama’s agenda, a significant point that McDaniel expected would increase his support in the reputedly “deep red” state of Mississippi:

If that wasn’t enough, listen to this clip posted by Breitbart and reportedly aired on WMGO radio warning voters that the Tea Party will take away food stamps and “everything we and our families depend on that comes from Washington will be cut”:

Tea Party Republicans are shocked at the Cochran campaign’s attempt to disparage a fellow Republican Party member.  The election results and campaign tactics demonstrate the divide between establishment and Tea Party Republicans and will likely shape both the ethic and ideology of future campaigns, especially when facing an ideological purist from within one’s own party.

Cochran friend, classmate, and Ole Miss professor Curtis Wilkie, defending Cochran’s campaign in The Last Southern Gentleman, wrote on the day of the runoff, “In a rare sight for a Republican, Thad is openly seeking help in the predominantly black Mississippi Delta in the closing hours of the campaign.”  Bolstering one of McDaniel’s assertions during the campaign that Cochran has never led a conservative fight, Wilkie recalls that “He specialized in agriculture and appropriations and rarely engaged in discussions about heated ‘wedge issues’ such as abortion rights and gun control.”

A week after the election, McDaniel has yet to concede, at least in part, due to reports of voting irregularities which include a 50% increase in voter turn-out in Hinds County.  A June 25th Fox News report summarized:

Of particular interest to the McDaniel campaign was the turnout in Hinds County, which Cochran won by nearly 11,000 votes Tuesday. By contrast, Cochran won the county by 5,300 votes on June 3. Just under 25,000 total ballots were cast in Hinds County Tuesday, while 16,640 total ballots were cast on June 3.

On Fox New Channel’s “Hannity,” McDaniel stated that he intends to verify the number that voted in the June 3rd Democrat primary and illegally voted in the Republican runoff.

For more information:

Cochran declared winner of runoff

The Associated Press declared Sen. Thad Cochran the victor in Mississippi’s heated Republican Primary for the U.S. Senate.  With 99.9% of precincts reporting, Cochran led with 50.8% of the vote and just over 6,000 more votes than Chris McDaniel.  The June 24th runoff was truly remarkable with more than 60,000 votes being cast than in the June 3rd Primary (in an off-year election, no less).

CNN reported, “Cochran’s backers turned to Democrats, especially African-Americans, who make up 37% of the state’s population.”  Breitbart added, “[A]allegations flew that Cochran allies were using ‘walking around money’ to incentivize Democrats to the polls.  Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole, for instance, said Cochran operatives were paying people in the black community to donate to Cochran.”  Such reports may inspire a McDaniel challenge since anyone who voted in the June 3rd Democrat Primary are ineligible to vote in the Republican runoff in accordance with state law (Mississippi Code § 23-15-575).

In accordance with Mississippi Code § 23-15-599, the Republican Party must certify the primary election vote by July 4th (within 10 Days of the election).

For more information:

Do Democrats and Republicans represent differing views on the role of government?

With Mississippi’s 2014 Primary Elections on June 3rd, consider a quote from one of President Bill Clinton’s mentors.  Carroll Quigley wrote the following in his 1966 book Tragedy and Hope:

The chief problem of American political life for a long time has been how to make the two Congressional parties more national and international.  The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers.  Instead the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can “throw the rascals out” at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.  The policies that are vital and necessary for America are no longer subjects of significant disagreement, but are disputable only in details of procedure, priority, or method. . .  Then it should be possible to replace it, every four years if necessary, by the other party, which will be none of these things but will still pursue, with new vigor, approximately the same basic policies.

Is your candidate really different or just a little more or less of what is already in elected office?  Is that what you want?  Our country must to return to the principles that made our country the greatest on the earth.  We need revival. . . in the church house AND in the state house.  Make your vote count!