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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Gov. Bryant approves ballot language for state constitutional amendment

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2015 Constitutional Amendment Ballot Language [Click to view larger]

The biggest issue on the November ballot is the proposed state constitutional amendment for public school funding. With competing alternatives on the ballot, Initiative 42 and Initiative 42A, voters will make two choices: whether to amend the state constitution at all and, if approved, whether to amend with the language of Initiative 42 or Initiative 42A.

Every voter with vote on BOTH issues regardless of whether they vote “Yes” or “No” to amend the constitution. In the language of the ballot, voters will first choose “for approval of either initiative” or “against both initiative[s].” In the event “approval of either initiative” receives a majority of the vote, all voters must vote on the second issue “for Initiative Measure No. 42” or “for Alternative Measure No. 42 A.”

Geoff Pender filed the following report in The Clarion-Ledger to describe the ballot approval process and the constitutional amendment choices:

Gov. Phil Bryant on Wednesday approved the ballot for the Nov. 3 general election, including two dueling constitutional amendments on school funding.

Voters will have to pay attention to their ballots in November – it gets a little tricky around the education funding initiatives.

“It is a complicated ballot, because we have two votes (on the initiatives),” Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said. “I trust voters will read both of those explanations on the ballot and make an informed decision.”

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McDaniel undecided in 2015

In the Clarion-Ledger report “McDaniel ‘would prefer federal position’” by Geoff Pender, Sen. Chris McDaniel hinted at a possible 2016 run for the 4th Congressional District seat currently held by Rep. Steven Palazzo. In the interview, McDaniel indicated that he will seek re-election for the District 42 state Senate seat that he currently fills. Officially, McDaniel has only stated that he will not run for Governor.

In lieu of an official announcement, some indications have pointed to a possible run for Mississippi Lieutenant Governor. McDaniel has openly objected to Lt. Gen. Tate Reeves’ control over the state Senate as stripping control from the people.

As a Tea Party favorite, McDaniel garnered national attention during the 2014 election campaign in which he pushed Sen. Thad Cochran to a run-off in the Republican Primary.

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2015 Ballot Battle Over MAEP Set

With proponents obtaining enough signatures to place Initiative 42 on the 2015 Ballot, the State Legislature acted to create an alternative, HCR 9 or Initiative 42A, which the House and the Senate passed this week.

If approved by voters in November, Initiative 42 would change the Mississippi Constitution to read as follows (underlined and struck-through text indicates added or deleted language):

SECTION 201. To protect each child’s fundamental right to educational opportunity, The Legislature the State shall, by general law, provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools upon such conditions and limitations as the Legislature may provide. The chancery courts of this State shall have the power to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief.

Proponents say that this constitutional amendment will require fully funding K-12 education in Mississippi per the MAEP formula that was adopted in 1997 to determine funding. Opponents say that Initiative 42 strips the Legislature of control over education and places that control in the hands of the Chancery Court of Hinds County.

Initiative 42A would change the constitution as follows:

SECTION 201. The Legislature shall, by general law, provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an effective system of free public schools.

Proponents of this alternative argue that this will keep control of education in the State Legislature and focus on results (i.e. the insertion of “an effective system”). Opponents say Initiative 42A only confuses voters and does not allow for a simple “up or down vote” on Initiative 42 by the people of Mississippi.

To pass, a proposal must win a majority and at least 40% of the total votes cast. With competing proposals, passage of either is more difficult. If voters are uneducated before going to the polls, the ballot could also be very confusing.

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Clarion-Ledger: State’s gay marriage ban’s days appear numbered

On October 6th, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear appeals from 5 states where lower courts ruled same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional.  By refusing to hear those appeals, the bans on same-sex marriage are overturned and the Supreme Court is unlikely to rule in favor of any bans in the future.

Geoff Pender reports that many legal experts believe it is only a matter of time before Mississippi’s ban will be overturned.  Even state Representative Andy Gipson (R-77), Pastor of Gum Springs Baptist Church, says to prepare for Mississippi’s constitutional ban to be overturned.

Gov. Phil Bryant remains defiant, “In 2004, over 86 percent of Mississippi voters supported a constitutional amendment providing that marriage in Mississippi is valid only between a man and a woman.  I will continue to uphold the constitution of the state of Mississippi.”

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“Business as usual” vs. “Sacrifice” at issue in campaign

Sen. Thad Cochran is firmly established as a gentleman in the U.S. Senate.  Years of working across the aisle with Democrats has gained him the respect of Senators Harry Reid (D-NV) and Mary Landrieu (D-LA) as well as fellow Mississippi Senator Roger Wicker and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC).

Unlike his opponent, state Sen. Chris McDaniel, who says that compromise is part of the problem, Cochran makes no apologies for the tactic.   In their endorsement, the Sun Herald even called him a “respected conciliator.”  Cochran’s negotiation skills have pushed through many deadlocked bills and brought millions of dollars in federal funds to Mississippi.

McDaniel was identified as an “up-and-comer” from the moment he took office as a state Senator in 2008.  But he is equally unapologetic in his commitment to fight compromise.  “The liberals always win.  That’s not compromise.  That’s called surrender.”

Concerned for the country’s future, McDaniel says every state depends on federal funding, an addiction that must stop:  “. . . every state is going to have to make sacrifices to save this union.”

With one day left until the primary election, Geoff Pender says both McDaniel and Cochran are consummate gentlemen.  In a very close race for Mississippi’s U.S. Senate seat, personality may be vital to turnout and victory while statesmanship will be vital for whoever wins.

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McDaniel defends himself to Libertarians

After decade-old audio was discovered from his radio program “The Right Side,” U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel emailed the Libertarian Party of Mississippi to emphasize that his criticisms were of the candidate and not the Libertarian Party in general.

Within the lengthy email, posted below from Facebook, McDaniel articulates his record and support for Liberty.  Undoubtedly Libertarians will be important to McDaniel if he expects to upset Sen. Cochran in the June 3rd Primary.

With the media combing through numerous hours of audio, McDaniel can expect much more analysis and questioning should he win the Primary Election against Sen. Thad Cochran.

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Primary challenging party

As the campaign heat intensifies and garners national attention, so does internal party strife.  The Republican Primary contest between incumbent Sen. Thad Cochran and state Sen. Chris McDaniel is not only stressing the candidates but also the Republican Party.

Tea Party Republicans within the state are calling for state GOP chair Joe Nosef to resign after he spoke to NBC News and provided the media with marginalizing comments about U.S. Senate challenger Chris McDaniel.  The press release illustrates the growing divide in the state’s Republican Party between so-called establishment Republicans such as Sen. Cochran and former Gov. Hale Barbour and Tea Party supporters which endorse McDaniel.

For his part, Nosef defended himself with the following statement:

Anyone who has paid close attention to our US senate primary knows that I’ve not only stayed neutral with regard to the candidates but also worked relentlessly against efforts to divide our party. I continue to receive encouragement in this effort to promote unity from our GOP elected officials, voters across the state, members of both campaigns, as well as very active, long-term tea party members. I also appreciate the good people across our state who make up the lifeblood of the tea party and have enjoyed working with them for years. I am grateful for their support. I have a great working relationship with them in all corners of our state and look forward to working together in this year’s campaigns and into the future.

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Clarion-Ledger releases trio of opinions on U.S. Senate race

The Clarion-Ledger released 3 opinions late Saturday night that provide an excellent overview of the Mississippi race for the Republican nomination for U.S. Senate.

Robbie Nichols relentlessly blasts Sen. Thad Cochran in he op. ed. Cochran is no conservative.  She paints a very positive view of state Senator Chris McDaniel and a run-down of the big-government, “king of pork,” and pro-Obama lines that the McDaniel campaign is trying to paint Cochran with.

In the opinion Hall:  McDaniel, Cochran race about to get ugly, Sam R. Hall provides the feedback from the recent polls by Rasmussen Reports and Harper Polling that show good trends for McDaniel.  He evenly summarizes both candidates with the following:

McDaniel and his supporters will continue to talk about how he is a true conservative who will stand against run-away spending and constitutional attacks. They will label Cochran as a liberal spender who has been in Washington so long that he has lost touch with Mississippians, evidenced by votes to increase the national debt and his refusing to lie down on the tracks to stop Obamacare.

From Cochran and his supporters, the pro-incumbent message is likely to remain the same. They will continue to remind Mississippians of how much the senior senator has done for the state, how crucial he was in the Katrina recovery and how important his position as chairman of the Appropriations Committee would be if Republicans take back the Senate — something that seems quite plausible right now

The Political Editor for the Clarion-Ledger, Geoff Pender summarizes the needed strategy from McDaniel while identifying the goals of the Cochran camp in Senate race devolves into racism, ‘boobies’.

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Clarion-Ledger | Analysis: Legislative leaders earn marks, from A+ to D-

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.