MAEP Initiative 42 on 2015 Ballot

By gathering enough signatures, MAEP proponents have placed Initiative 42 on the 2015 General Election ballot. Per the Secretary of State press release, “Initiative #42 seeks to amend the State Constitution to require the full funding of education and grant the Chancery Court of Hinds County the power to enforce the full funding of education with appropriate injunctive relief.”

Currently, the Mississippi State Constitution entrusts education funding to the State Legislature.  Section 201, states “The Legislature shall, by general law, provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of free public schools upon such conditions and limitations as the Legislature may prescribe.”

The 2015 ballot will simply read, “Should the state be required to provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools?”

However, Initiative 42 will amend Section 201 of State Constitution to read as follows: “To protect each child’s fundamental right to educational opportunity, the State shall, provide for the establishment, maintenance and support of an adequate and efficient system of free public schools. The chancery courts of this State shall have the power to enforce this section with appropriate injunctive relief.”

MAEP is a formula adopted by the State Legislature (MS Code § 37-151-7) in 1997 to define funding levels for public education in Mississippi. Of the $6 Billion 2014 state budget, education received about $2.4 Billion.  Fully funding MAEP would require 10-15% more funding and has been fully funded twice since it’s adoption.

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Background Info for Candidates for Gulf Coast Chancery Courts

The Neshoba Democrat posted the following background information on Chancery Court judges and their opponents in the upcoming general election on November 4th:

Eight Chancery Court District (Hancock, Harrison, and Stone Counties):

In Place 2, incumbent Jennifer Schloegel, daughter of former Gulfport mayor George Schloegel, is seeking a second term. She defeated four opponents in 2010 with 51 percent to avoid a run-off. She faces a challenge by civil litigation attorney Stephen Benvenutti of Bay St. Louis. Schloegel made headlines this year presiding over the open records lawsuit against Auditor Stacey Pickering by the Sun Herald seeking documents from the Department of Marine Resources that state and federal officials were using as part of their investigations.

In Place 3, incumbent Sandy Steckler, a former state senator, faces a challenge from former Biloxi city attorney Ronnie Cochran.  Steckler was appointed to the bench in 2001 by Gov. Ronnie Musgrove.

Sixteenth Chancery Court District (Jackson, George, and Greene Counties):

In Place 1, incumbent Neil Harris, Sr. is being opposed by Jackson County Board of Supervisors Attorney Paula S. Yancey.  Last year, the Mississippi Supreme Court ordered a public reprimand and $2,500 fine for Harris for violating the due process rights of three people he charged with contempt.  Yancey has served as Jackson County’s Board Attorney and formerly as county administrator.

Place 3 incumbent Chuck Bordis, IV is being challenged by Michael Fondren and Gary Roberts. Bordis was appointed by Governor Haley Barbour in 2009 after his predecessor, Randy Pierce, won election to the Mississippi Supreme Court. Bordis was unopposed in 2010. Fondren is an attorney in Pascagoula and Roberts is a Gautier city judge whose now ex-wife was involved in a scandal which resulted in the resignation of American Red Cross President Mark Everson.

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Former Governor Musgrove Supports Gay Marriage & Gay Adoption

In an op-ed written for the Huffington Post, Former Governor Ronnie Musgrove (D-MS) announced his support of gay marriage and adoption.  This announcement reversed a position he once held when, as Governor, he signed a law making it illegal for gays and lesbians to adopt in the state of Mississippi.

The governor stated that his previous action had been guided by his faith.  After some soul-searching inspired by Sen. Rob Portman’s (R-OH) reversal of opinion, Gov. Musgrove now believes that signing into law that prohibition was wrong.  Sen. Rob Portman (R-OH) changed his of position on “Gay Rights” following his son’s announcement that he was gay in March of 2013.

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