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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House passes several Senate bills

With March 11th being the deadline for the House to take action on bills and constitutional amendments originating in the Senate, several significant issues were settled.  From the House of Representatives Weekly Summary, the following issues were approved:

Senate Bill 2389 is an Article V vehicle to amend the U.S. Constitution to require a balanced federal budget and limit the ability of Congress to raise the debt limit without states’ approval. The bill was passed by the House but not without some contention between Democrats and Republicans.

Senate Bill 2695, the “Special Needs Bill,” was passed to set-up a pilot program to give parents of special needs students allotments (or vouchers up to $6,500) to can seek the educational opportunities appropriate and best suited for their children’s specific situation.

Senate Bill 2161 establishes a commission to study Common Core State Standards, determine suitability for Mississippi school children, and present recommendations to the State Board of Education.

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Education bills approved in the Senate

The Mississippi Senate passed SB 2695, Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act, on Wednesday. The measure is designed to help special needs students by providing a $7,000 voucher, provided on pre-paid debit cards, to seek educational services outside the public school system. If enacted into law, it will be limited to 500 students in the first year. The estimated $3.5 million first year cost would be paid from the state’s general fund and not the Mississippi Adequate Education Program earmarked funds. Funds could only use the funds at Mississippi Department of Education approved vendors.

Gov. Phil Bryant and the National Excellence in Education Foundation praised the passage. However, the Parents Campaign opposes SB 2695 because it does not help all students with disabilities and sees it as a step toward privatization of public schools.

SB 2695 will proceed to the House for consideration where a similar bill, HB 294 sponsored by Carolyn Crawford of Pass Christian, awaits passage.

Senate Bill 2161 was passed yesterday and will establish the Mississippi Commission on College and Career Readiness to recommend new education standards to replace the Common Core States Standards adopted.  Several Tea Party conservatives, namely Senators Chris McDaniel, Melanie Sojourner, and Michael Watson, protested since the Senate refused to add language making the adoption of the commission recommendations mandatory. Those objecting to SB 2161 also fear that the Commission could recommend standards that simply mirror Common Core standards.

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Clarion-Ledger: Bryant, Reeves declare legislative victory at deadline

Bryant, Reeves declare legislative victory at deadline

Geoff Pender, The Clarion-Ledger, 03 Feb 2015

With Tuesday night’s deadline, both Gov. Phil Bryant and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves were declaring success, with most of their legislative agenda’s surviving the deadline for passage from committee.

A spokeswoman for Bryant said his legislative agenda is “full steam ahead,” and provided this list:

Alive and subject to today’s deadline:

Mississippi Works Fund, $50 million for workforce training (SB2457, HB 911)

MS Works Scholarship, $3 million for career tech students (SB2452, HB950)

Common Core Reform (SB2161)

Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act (SB2695, HB394)

Government Reform: change composition of Contract Review Board (SB2553, HB825)

Government Reform: move Inmate Canteen Fund to Treasurer’s Office (SB2521, HB400)

Government Reform: move Ag leasing to Secretary of State (SB2562, HB403)

Government Reform: require DFA sign off on emergency contracts (SB2400, HB1137)

Measures to require casinos to seize gaming earnings of parents who owe back child support and to fund state trooper training did not pass committee. As long as the code sections are open, these efforts are not “dead, dead, dead”

Reeve’s office released:

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ agenda proposals, which include bringing transparency to state purchases and eliminating the vehicle inspection sticker, cleared Senate committees by today’s deadline. The Senate will consider bills over the next week

Lt. Gov. Reeves said he appreciated the support of senators on initiatives aimed at eliminating wasteful spending and making government more efficient.

“We’ve taken a strong first step in making real reforms happen in several areas of government that have been neglected for too long,” Lt. Gov. Reeves said. “We need bold reforms to make a difference for taxpayers.”

His agenda included Senate Bill 2553, by Sen. Nancy Collins, R-Tupelo, to tighten state contracting laws and increase scrutiny on government purchases. The bill remakes the Personal Service Contract Review Board, requires a biannual review of procurement practices by the legislative watchdog committee, and ensures pricing details and terms of contracts are public records.

Other bills on Lt. Gov. Reeves’ agenda include:

·Senate Bill 2519, by Sen. John Polk, R-Hattiesburg, eliminating the vehicle inspection sticker.

·Senate Bill 2407, by Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, placing public hospital boards under the Open Meetings Act

·Senate Bill 2481, by Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, improving care for the mentally ill.

·Senate Bill 2161, by Sen. Videt Carmichael, R-Meridian, ensuring high academic standards for Mississippi students.

·Senate Bill 2695, by Sen. Collins, providing school choice for special needs children

·Senate Bill 2394, by Sen. Terry Burton, R-Newton, reducing concealed carry permit fees.

·Senate Bill 2619, by Sen. Haskins Montgomery, D-Bay Springs, recognizing military training for firearm permits.

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.

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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.

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