In February, National Journal released its Ratings for the U.S. House of Representatives. The ratings were based on economic, social, and foreign policy issues and Mississippi’s 4th District Congressman, Steven Palazzo, was rated as the most conservative from Mississippi and the 21st most conservative out of all 435 House members. Palazzo is more conservative than 76% of the House of Representatives on Economic issues, 87% on Social issues, and 95% on Foreign Policy issues.
The following organizations offer ratings of elected officials based on their priorities (Economy, Religious Freedom, Foreign Policy, etc.) and points of view. Many of these organizations’ websites can be searched to find ratings for previous years so that former representatives (such as Travis Childers and Gene Taylor) can be researched as well:
Independent Voters of Illinois-Independent Precinct Organization (IVI-IPO) provides an extensive listing of groups that provide Congressional ratings. Their list can be viewed by clicking HERE.
In the wake of the Mississippi House’s rejection of education vouchers for 500 special needs students, Louisiana reports 91.9% of parents are happy with the Louisiana Scholarship Program. The program provides funds for parents to choose a school of their choice if they have incomes below 250% of the federal poverty limit and are enrolled in a public school with a C, D, or F grade. Of those parents, 91.6% said they are happy with academic progress.
Louisiana’s program now supports 6,490 families. Despite documented academic successes which led Louisiana’s legislature to roll-out the program statewide, the program had to survive a Justice Department lawsuit last year that alleged the program “impede[d] desegregation.” Keep in mind, all the students benefitting from the vouchers are poor and most are minorities!
Just as Louisiana had to fight unions and the federal government to get and then keep the voucher program in place, Mississippi will have to fight those that benefit from the status quo. Where does your state Senator or state Representative stand? Below is how Gulf Coast Representatives voted on vouchers for special needs students:
- Jeramey D. Anderson (110)–Nay
- David Baria (122)–Nay
- Sonya Williams-Barnes (119)–Nay
- Manly Barton (109)–Yea
- Richard Bennett (120)–Yea
- Charles Busby (111)–Yea
- Carolyn Crawford (121)–Yea
- Scott DeLano (117)–Yea
- Casey Eure (116)–Yea
- Jeffrey S. Guice, Harrison & Jackson Counties (114)–Yea
- Greg Haney (118)–Nay
- Timmy Ladner, Hancock & Harrison Counties (93)–Yea
- Doug McLeod (107)–Yea
- Randall H. Patterson (115)–Nay
- John O. Read (112)–Yea
- Patricia Willis, Hancock & Harrison Counties (95)–Yea
- H.B. “Hank” Zuber, III (113)–Yea
Even if they voted with your desires in the 2014 session, be sure to let them know what you think. Nothing keeps them from changing their vote in the future except accountability to constituents.
For more information:
In the Clarion-Ledger report, “Analysis: Legislative leaders earn marks, from A+ to D,” Geoff Pender gives his report card on state politicians Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, House Speaker Philip Gunn, Senate minority leader Hob Bryan, and House minority Leader Bobby Moak. While subjective and his opinion, it provides background information on our state’s highest elected officials.
The Miss. Senate confirmed Carey Wright as the State Superintendent of Education on March 19th despite her support for Common Core. Common Core is a national educational curriculum and standard promoted by the Obama Administration. The Senate voted 46-6 to confirm Wright.
The Mississippi State Board of Education approved Common Core-aligned curricula in February. The standards were adopted in 2010 but 2014-2015 school year will be the first year that the curriculum and testing aligned with them.
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With conservative activists backing challengers to sitting Republican Senators in Mississippi (Chris McDaniel), Kansas (Milton Wolf), and Kentucky (Matt Bevin), establishment Republicans are feeling the pressure to maintain their power. In an interview with the New York Times, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) declared war on the more conservative members of his party stating, “I think we are going to crush [the Tea Party] everywhere.”
In Mississippi, Sen. Thad Cochran currently has little to worry about. He is comfortable with his record and lead over Chris McDaniel heading into the state’s June 3rd Primary according to a Roll Call report. Tea Party groups, including those that support McDaniel, have targeted incumbents like Cochran who have used earmarks and their positions within the federal government to bring pork into their states while bolstering their own footholds in government.
Conservative organizations such as FreedomWorks, the Madison Project, Club for Growth, and the Senate Conservatives Fund are collectively but unofficially known as the “Tea Party.” Among other things, such organizations have typically supported a return to constitutionally limited government, lower taxes (if not abolition of the IRS), and reducing the size and intrusiveness of the federal government. In 2010 and 2012 such organizations were responsible for ousting Republican Party-backed candidates to elect Senators Rand Paul (R-KY), Ted Cruz (R-TX), and Marco Rubio (R-FL).
The Republican Party traditionally supports incumbents but has been criticized in recent years by its more conservative members like the Tea Party organizations for neglecting the U.S. Constitution, not fighting for limited government and lower taxes, and not aggressively opposing President Obama and Democrat Party policies.
The Mississippi House of Representatives passed House Bill No. 49 requiring drug testing for recipients of TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families). The bill passed with all Republicans voting “Yes” and most Democrats voting “No.” Before becoming law, the bill must be passed by the state Senate which is expected to act on the bill later this year.
Under the proposed law, applicants for TANF who are at risk for drug use must submit to a drug test at state expense. Refusal to submit to drug testing would terminate the benefit unless that person enters an approved substance abuse treatment program.
TANF is a federal cash program administered separately by the states.
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