Governor’s review of the 2015 Legislative Session

The Clarion-Ledger summarized the 2015 session as follows:

For all the talk of broad tax cuts, or “a taxpayer raise,” the only break rank-and-file Mississippians will see from the 2015 legislative session is $5, from the elimination of vehicle inspection stickers.

The state’s GOP leadership, holding both a House and Senate majority, passed competing tax cut plans, and each chamber initially killed the other’s. They reached a compromise only late in the session, but then Democrats prevented the super-majority vote needed for passage.

This election-year session, which wrapped up Thursday, at times appeared more about politics or minutiae than major policy. Lawmakers argued over joining a drive to compel Congress to balance its budget (they did), banning trade with Iran (they didn’t, after realizing Toyota might have Iranian investments), exempting children from vaccinations for their parents’ philosophical beliefs (they’re not), feeding deer meat to prison inmates (they’re not) and whether to allow homeschooled children to play public school sports (they didn’t).

At one point in the session, lawmakers couldn’t get a bipartisan two-thirds vote to delay business for a day for an ice storm.

“As always, you get some things you want and some things you don’t,” Gov. Phil Bryant said of a legislative session where he saw several of his initiatives shot down.

In his own statement, Gov. Bryant praised the legislature for passing the following legislation to him:

  • Education vouchers for special needs students (SB 2695)
  • Strengthening 2nd Amendment protections (SB 2394, SB 2619)
  • Improving state contracting procedures (HB 825, SB 2400)
  • Investing in Huntington Ingalls in Pascagoula and Batson Children’s Hospital in Jackson
  • Increasing state trooper pay (SB 2500)
  • Medical licenses for retired military practicing on voluntary basis (HB 215)
  • Increasing public hospital transparency (SB 2407)
  • Waiving out-of-state tuition for military veterans (SB 2127)
  • Standing with Israel by restricting state financial involvement with entities conducting energy-related business with Iran (HB 1127)

See the Governor’s full statement below.

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Gov. Bryant considering several bills

Gov. Bryant is carefully considering whether to sign Senate Bill 2161, an “anti-Common Core” bill. He is concerned that it doesn’t have any teeth but just makes recommendations that could be rejected by the Department of Education in favor of existing Common Core standards. Tea Party conservatives like Senators Chris McDaniel and Melanie Sojourner are pushing for a veto and a special legislative session to create a true alternative solution to Common Core.

The Governor has been more positive about a pair of pro-2nd Amendment bills, Senate Bills 2394 and 2619, which reduce concealed carry permit fees and allow weapons to be carried in fully enclosed cases (such as purses and briefcases) without a permit. Gov. Bryant has indicated that he will sign both bills.

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“Permit-less” concealed carry for purses passes House

[UPDATE: Post title originally indicated that the Senate passed the bill; the Senate has not yet passed the bill as of the time of publishing.]

Senate Bill 2394 was passed by the House on March 27th to allow concealed carry of a gun in “a purse, bag, handbag, satchel or other similar bag or briefcase or fully enclosed case” without a concealed carry permit.  The Senate is expected to approve the bill and Gov. Bryant has already said he would sign it into law.

Rep. Andy Gipson, who helped kill a bill earlier in the session misleadingly advertised as “constitutional carry” (SB 2618), reiterated his commitment to meaningful 2nd Amendment legislation and added the language to SB 2394. Originally intended to reduce the fees for concealed carry permits, SB 2394 would also exempt active-duty military and service-disabled veterans from concealed carry permit fees. A concealed carry permit would still be required for reciprocity with other states.

Senate Bill 2619 also passed the House and would exempt active military, veterans, and retired law enforcement from the training requirements to obtain enhanced carry permits. It also seeks to nullify any federal ammunition bans like the recent bans considered by the BATFE.

Both SB 2394 and 2619 must be approved by the Senate before going to the Governor.

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House kills so-called “Constitutional Carry” bill

Senate Bill 2618, the so-called “Constitutional Carry” bill, was killed in the house this week. Rep. Andy Gipson argued that the bill was not fundamentally sound and did not strengthen gun rights in Mississippi where open carry, unlicensed vehicle carry, and concealed carry are already legal. Gipson stated the House “remains committed to passing good legislation that further supports and restores the Second Amendment rights of Mississippians. But [the House of Representatives] will do so independently of questionable organizations, in a manner that retains integrity and in a way that will not risk sacrificing the many gains we have made the last four years.”

Gipson has been a staunch gun rights proponent. Under his leadership in 2013, the House passed and the Governor later signed House Bill 2 which, Gipson stated, reflects what the Mississippi State Constitution Article 3, Section 12 already guarantees.  Specifically, House Bill 2 clarified the definition of concealed carry in Sections 45-9-101, 97-37-1, 97-37-15, and 97-37-19 of Mississippi state law.

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“Constitutional Carry” bills under fire

Rep. Andy Gipson and other gun rights advocates have come out against Senate Bill 2618 known as the “Constitutional Carry” bill. Constitutional Carry is the ability for citizens to carry a gun just because the U.S. Constitution preserves that right in the 2nd Amendment. According to Rick Ward, “That means no permit, no application, no background checks, no government approval, no fees, and no training requirement.”

Rep. Gipson says that the bill, passed by the Senate, was not a “constitutional carry” bill and identified  the following:

Section 1 of the bill as passed the Senate included a general prohibition on concealed carry of pistols, revolvers, and an assortment of knives and other types of weapons.

Section 2 of the bill as passed the Senate included the requirement under current law (Section 45-9-101) of a concealed carry license for the concealed carry of stun guns, pistols and revolvers. Subsection 13 of this provision prohibits concealed carry, even by licensees, in numerous prohibited locations.

House Judiciary B Committee has amended the bill submitted to them by the Senate into something Gipson says is better legislation. However the final product has not been voted upon by the House. The Senate will also have to vote on the new language.

For more information:

Republican Primary 4th Congressional District Candidate: Steven Palazzo

As the incumbent representing Mississippi’s 4th Congressional District, there is much written and in the news concerning Rep. Steven Palazzo.  Completing his second term in office, Palazzo originally defeated former Rep. Gene Taylor in the 2010 elections when the Tea Party was rising to prominence.

A former U.S. Marine and currently serving in the Mississippi National Guard, he is no stranger to the military or the issues that affect national defense.  He is also a Certified Public Accountant and owns his own business.

From his website, here are Palazzo’s position on various issues:

  • Obamacare:  Has voted to defund, repeal, replace, and delay multitude of times and will continue to do so.  Obamacare increases healthcare costs and insurance premiums, hurts the quality of healthcare, has added numerous taxes and increased the national debt.
  • Flood Insurance:  Successful in passing legislation that restores grandfathered rates and building codes; removed the home sale trigger that would drastically increase flood insurance premiums.
  • National Security:  The wellbeing of those who serve and have served in the military is a top priority.  Wants to immediately fix and restore cuts to military retirees that happened in the past 2 years.  Will continue to lead the fight to keep shipbuilding at Ingalls as those jobs are vital to the Gulf Coast economy.
  • Taxes:  High taxes and spending are out of control.  Limited resources must be wisely used and entitlement programs must be controlled.
  • Economy:  Congress needs to focus on promoting economic growth for the country.  Will continue to fight for legislation that fixes health care, relieves gas prices, reduce regulations, and restore employment.
  • 2nd Amendment:  Hunting and fishing are a way of life in South Mississippi and the 2nd Amendment is more than just hunting.  Supports the National Right-to-Carry Reciprocity Act and Protecting Gun Owners in Bankruptcy Act which will allow guns to be exempt from estate in bankruptcy.
  • Environment:  Supports the RESTORE Act which restores Mississippi’s natural resources, fisheries and coastal wetlands including the economic health of coastal communities adversely affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill through a trust fund paid for with Clean Water Act fines.

For more information:

Republican Primary 4th Congressional District Candidate: Tavish Kelly

Tavish Kelly is co-owner of Kelly Firearms, a retailer and manufacturer of guns in Picayune and he believes that the protection of liberty is the only legitimate function of government.  A former chairman of the Pearl River Republican Party, he has been very active in the county and state party activities.

Valedictorian of his Pass Christian High School class, he is an Eagle Scout, graduated from Mississippi State University with degrees in Political Science and Mathematics, and is studying Constitutional Law at Ole Miss.

The issues below issues and the positions are taken from Kelly’s campaign website:

  • Abortion:  Believes that life begins at conception and that abortion is a violent trespass upon another human’s rights.  However, he does not think this is an area for the Federal government but for the states:  “The Constitution contains no provisions enabling the Congress, President, or Supreme Court to regulate, allow, or forbid abortion. This power is thus reserved to the States and the people, respectively, under the Tenth Amendment.”
  • The Federal Reserve:  Does not like the Federal Reserve and wants to return competition back to the monetary system.
  • 2nd Amendment:  Sees the right to keep and bear arms as one of the most important freedoms and the 2nd Amendment should prevent any and all Congressional legislation infringing upon that right.  Desires the repeal of laws such as the Firearms Act, Gun Control Act, and Brady Act.
  • Patriot Act:  Wants to repeal the Patriot Act.  The Patriot Act as a violation/circumvention of the 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
  • Marriage:  Believes it is the union of a man and a woman administered by God.  Kelly sees that the regulation of marriage by government through various means has been corrupted by the political process.  Desires to free governmental infringement in marriage and repeal of statutes that attempt to define and control it.

For more information:

Republican Primary U.S. Senate Candidate: Thad Cochran

Having served in Washington, DC since the 1970s, Sen. Thad Cochran is no stranger to politics or to Mississippi.  Seeking to return for his 6th term in the U.S. Senate, Cochran is facing his toughest Primary contest since first becoming a Senator.

With over 30 years in politics, there is little that Cochran doesn’t have a record or position on.  The positions below are taken from his campaign website:

  • Economy:  Supports free enterprise, lower taxes, and economic opportunity.  Believes governments role is to create an environment where opportunity exists for everyone who wants to seize it.  Opposed bailouts, the stimulus package, Obamacare, and IRS targeting of individuals.
  • Spending:  Wants to get spending under control and has repeatedly co-sponsored a Balanced Budget Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.  Entitlement spending comprises 55% of the federal budget and must be limited.  Attributes his role as an appropriator as being responsible for rooting out wasteful spending proposals than anyone else in Congress.
  • Healthcare:  Opposes Obamacare and has voted to oppose, defund, or repeal it.  Forced the National Institutes of Health to put a great focus on Mississippi academic research partnerships leading to the Guyton Research Complex in Jackson.
  • Energy:  Supports an “all-of-the-above” policy to harness all of our country’s energy resources.  Desires to make Mississippi a leader in energy independence.  Opposed to a “carbon tax” and is dedicated to blocking EPA over-regulation.
  • Agriculture:  Reduce regulations to save taxpayer dollars and help farmers and help negotiate the current farm bill which slashed duplicative programs.
  • Abortion:  Pro-life and desires “to bar the use of certain federal funds to pay for abortions.”  Cosponsored the No Taxpayer Funding for Abortion Act of 2011 and wants every health plan under Obamacare to disclose any coverage of abortion in the plan’s marketing and advertising.
  • 2nd Amendment:  “[B]elieves that the Second Amendment right of the American people to keep and bear arms is not negotiable.”  Opposed efforts such as the UN Arms Trade Treaty which threaten the 2nd Amendment.  Works tireless to equip first responders.
  • Education:  Championed Ready to Learn to encourage broadcasters to create educational programming for early childhood.  Opposed Common Core.  Helped make Mississippi’s community college system a national model.
  • Immigration: “[C]onsistently voted against inadequate immigration legislation.”  Voted against Reagan’s amnesty bill in 1986; “one of three Senators in history to vote against every comprehensive immigration reform bill that sought to provide amnesty to those who have entered our country illegally (1986, 2006, 2007, 2013).”  No path to citizenship for those here illegally.  Enforce existing laws.
  • Infrastructure:  “[H]e has ensured that needed improvements to[Mississippi’s] interstates, bridges, and railways have been made.”  Working hard to keep jobs at Stennis Space Center and that the state is an attractive venue for private aerospace ventures.
  • National Security:  Has always supports the missile defense technologies necessary for global security and defense of Israel.  Supports shipbuilding needs of the navy and other federal organizations and that many of them “would not have been built in Mississippi” without his leadership.  Made the Engineer Research and Development Center in Vicksburg the flagship research facility for the U.S. Corps of Engineers.  Supporter and advocate of Israel.
  • Emergency Management:  Secured $29 Billion after Katrina to rebuild basic infrastructure.  Helped make Mississippi the national model for how to prevent waste, fraud and abuse.
  • Marriage:  Cosponsor of the Marriage and Religious Freedom Act which would bar the Federal Government from discriminating against individuals and organizations upon their faith-founded belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

For more information:

Republican Primary U.S. Senate Candidate: Chris McDaniel

A lawyer and former state Senator, Chris McDaniel is attempting to upset incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran to become the Republican candidate for U.S. Senate.  The Christian Science Monitor listed McDaniel as the top candidate that could be “the next Ted Cruz.”

Representing Jones County in the Mississippi Senate since 2008, he is a Partner at Hortman, Harlow, Bassi, Robinson and McDaniel, PLLC, a general civil and trial practice in Laurel.  McDaniel’s attorney profile lists his practice areas as general litigation, insurance defense, personal injury, commercial litigation, constitutional law (civil rights), education law, consumer products litigation, mass tort litigation, and complex multi-party litigation.

The following positions were taken from McDaniel’s campaign website:

  • Healthcare:  Volunteered his time in Mississippi’s suit against Obamacare.  Opposed Medicare expansion, supports defunding, repealing Obamacare.  Desires commonsense healthcare reform, increased choice, health savings accounts, and allowing insurance across state lines.
  • Taxes:  Believes the tax code is a mess and must be reformed.  Supports scrapping the existing tax code and moving to a simpler, flatter tax system.  [Stated in an interview with Bryan Fischer that he did know whether the Fair Tax or the Flat Tax was best.]
  • Education:  Desires to repeal No Child Left Behind, eliminate federal government control over education, and restore education to the states, local communities, and parents.  Supports school choice.  Opposes Common Core.
  • Immigration:  Opposes amnesty and supports enforcement of existing laws including securing the border.  Introduced the Employment Protection Act to require all companies to check legal status of potential employees.
  • Energy:  Reduce foreign oil dependence by expanding domestic energy use.  Supports offshore drilling, drilling in ANWR (Arctic National Wildlife Refuge), Keystone pipeline, and opposes subsidizing alternative energy forms.
  • Agriculture:  Unleash agriculture from federal regulations and control from Washington.  Supports repealing the Death Tax in its entirety to enable the transfer of farms to children without penalty.
  • Economy:  Regulations are strangling jobs and small businesses.  Washington is addicted to spending and our country is on the verge of financial crisis.  Must cut spending, pass a Balanced Budget Amendment.  Supports making permanent the temporary ban on earmarking.
  • 2nd Amendment:  Opposes all efforts to undermine the 2nd Amendment.  Sponsored legislation that required the state to honor any valid concealed carry permit issued by another state.
  • National Security:  Will fight for the men and women of the military to ensure support in and out of uniform.  Wary of engaging in foreign entanglements but acknowledges the need to remain vigilant of many threats.  Wants to reevaluate foreign aid process.  Will oppose all treaties that compromise American sovereignty.  Committed to the U.S. military remaining the strongest in the world and will not appease our enemies.
  • Abortion:  Pro-life and believes in the responsibility to protect unborn life.
  • Marriage:  Believes marriage is between and man and a woman and will vote to protect that definition.

For more information:

Democrat Primary U.S. Senate Candidate: Bill Marcy

Bill Marcy is no stranger to politics.  Marcy ran unsuccessfully for Mississippi’s 2nd Congressional District against Bennie Thompson twice as a Tea Party Republican.

Describing himself as “a conservative with Libertarian leanings” On NewsRadio 104.9’s Gulf Coast Mornings, Marcy said, “I am not happy with the Democratic or Republican Party.”  When asked about his switch from Republican to Democrat, Marcy stated, “We switched so that we could bring in the black base. We are very open about that. Black folks just won’t vote for a Republican. . .”

If successful, Marcy would become the first black Senator from Mississippi since 1881.

Marcy spells out his positions on his 2012 campaign website as follows:

  • Economy:  The tax and spend mentality of our President and the Democrat-led congress is making it harder to create new private industry jobs. The only way out of this recession is to permanently lower taxes and cut the size of government.  Opposes the 1993 NAFTA agreement.
  • Taxes:  Believes the tax burden is abusive and has been used for political reward or punishment.  Willing to pay for constitutional items such as national defense, bridges and highways but not pork.  Supports the Fair Tax plan.
  • Bail-outs:  Against bailing out people or businesses that created the current economic crisis.  Believes that no one and nothing is “too big to fail”.
  • Education:  Wants to requires all students to study the U.S. Constitution.  Supports education vouchers to drive competition to improve quality education; tax dollars should follow the given child, not the schools.
  • Drug Legalization:  Supports legalizing marijuana use for adults.
  • Defense:  Believes in a strong national defense as this is the first responsibility of government as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
  • Energy:  “Drill here, Drill Now!”  Incredulous that U.S. policy does not take advantage of domestic resources.
  • Health Care:  Does not believe our health care system is broken but the best in the world; Against the takeover of healthcare under Obamacare which has destroyed full-time jobs.  Supports Health Savings Accounts.  Wants to guarantee insurance portability from job to job and across state lines.  Supports tort reform to reduce cost of healthcare.
  • Immigration:  Wants to enforce existing laws.  Supports legal immigration but need to secure the borders not only to prevent illegal immigration but to prevent terrorists from entering.
  • Abortion:  “[A]bortion is really the killing of unborn children.”
  • Marriage:  Supports the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.
  • 2nd Amendment:  “[G]uarantees law-abiding citizens’ right to bear arms. This is not up for debate.”
  • 10th Amendment:  Believes the need for a limited central government with most everything delegated to the states.

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