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:
Bobby Harrison of the Daily Journal runs down the significant events of the 2014 legislative session with a two-part series:
- Teacher pay, justice reform biggest achievements
- School districts still in budget hole
In his first story, Harrison provides a recap of the following issues that the legislature tackled during the session:
- Teacher Pay: Initially promoted by Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton), the bill provides $2,500 pay raise over 2 years. The senate finalized the language which, under Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves’ leadership cut out performance requirements.
- Criminal Justice Reform: Sweeping reforms resulting from recommendations of judges, prosecutors, district attorneys, law enforcement and local officials. Estimated to save $266 Million over 10-years.
- Special Needs Payments: Promoted by Sen. Nancy Collins (R-Tupelo), the proposal failed largely due to objections over giving “education vouchers.”
- Religious Freedom: Religious Freedom Restoration Act passed even after firestorm in Arizona. Legislation changed to prevent the government from being able to force someone to take action against their religious beliefs.
- Bonds: $199.9 Million in new bonds were approved for Cooper Tire in Tupelo, a Tammy Wynette Museum in Tremont, the William Faulkner/Union Heritage Museum in New Albany, and renovations to Okolona College.
- Texting: After looking like ban on texting while driving would pass, Rep. Bill Denny (R-Jackson) entered a motion to reconsider which effectively killed the bill since efforts to table the motion were defeated.
- Medicaid Expansion: Republican leadership continues to oppose medicare expansion. Both the House and the Senate rejected federal funds to expand Medicaid as is allowed under Obamacare (to cover those earning 138% of the federal poverty level).
- Judges, Law Enforcement: Added 16 assistant district attorneys, 50 new Highway Patrol troopers, added funds for the state Crime Lab.
The second story focuses on the budget. According to Harrison, the $2.4 Billion public education budget was an increase of $85 Million over the previous year. The current education budget is $255 Million short of the funding formula based on the Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP).
In all, the 2014 $6 Billion general fund budget was an increase of about $200 Million over 2013.
For more information:
When the Mississippi legislature adjourned April 2nd, it adjourned sine die which in parliamentary speech means that there is no appointed time for a future meeting (in other words, the legislative session is ended). The Latin phrase is pronounced “sī-ni-ˈdī.”
The sudden and frustrating finish (at least to the House) inspired Chris Davis, News Mississippi News Director, to write the parody, “Sign or Die” which was featured on the Paul Gallo Show April 3rd. Listen to the ditty via Paul Gallo’s twitter feed:
With an estimated 65,000 special needs children in the state of Mississippi, the Miss. House rejected an effort to provide “state” funds (essentially education vouchers) for the most needy 500 students to attend an education program that meets their specific needs.
On Tuesday, Rep. David Baria (D-Bay St. Louis) issued a point of order insisting that a super majority would be required to pass the bill since it was seen as a donation of state money to individuals. Earlier today, Speaker Philip Gunn (R-56) ruled that a simple majority vote was sufficient. The political jousting was all ‘water under the bridge’ as the measure failed to muster even a simple majority.
One of the 10 Republicans that voted against the bill, Rep. Tom Weathersby (R-Florence), believes that “in our school districts we are capable of handling most of those needs. Some of our people in the public school system saw it more as a voucher bill than a special needs bill. Maybe at some point in the future that bill can be amended in a way that we can get some positive effects out of it.”
Rep. Carolyn Crawford (R-Pass Christian) has been pushing the legislation for 2 years emphasizing that Public Schools are not meeting the requirements for special needs. The amount of funding that would be provided to each special needs child would be on par with the MAEP standard.
For more information:
Gov. Bryant is encouraging the Mississippi House of Representatives to approve House Bill 765, the Equal Opportunity for Students with Special Needs Act. Since special needs students trail all other students in graduation rates, HB 765 would provide education vouchers for those students under certain circumstances so the parents could choose the best location and type of education to meet their children’s unique needs.
If enacted, the program would fund qualified special education students at the MAEP base student cost plus a share of costs for special programs required by that student.
Passed in 1997 by the Democrat-controlled state legislature, Mississippi Adequate Education Program (MAEP) is a formula that produces the base student cost to provide each student an “adequate education” in Mississippi. Each district must provide up to 27% of that base cost through local revenues with the state funding the difference.
The Republicans now controlling the legislature have not funded education to the MAEP standard by $1.2 Billion since 2008–a point which the Democrats attempt to use against them. In the current budget talks, the MAEP formula is underfunded by over $200 Million for 2015.
Back to vouchers. . . If education vouchers are good for special needs students, wouldn’t they be good for all students?
For more information: