|March 08, 2013||Rural Caucus formed in House||no comments|
|March 01, 2013||Charter schools likely to conference?||no comments|
|February 22, 2013||Some thoughts on 13 Amendment oversight||no comments|
|February 16, 2013||Gunn not afraid to exercise power||no comments|
|January 25, 2013||What the governor did not talk about||no comments|
|January 07, 2013||Late session start makes holiday more enjoyable||no comments|
|December 14, 2012||The governor, Christmas parties, tours, wise men||no comments|
|December 05, 2012||Reeves not backing down on charter school sites||no comments|
|November 29, 2012||Turner effective senator||no comments|
|November 15, 2012||State revenue finally rebounding||no comments|
JACKSON -- A new rural caucus has been formed in the Mississippi House.
The group consists of more than 30 members and of both Democrats and Republicans representing rural areas of the state.
"We formed this group so that those of us who represent Mississippians living in rural areas will have a strong voice on behalf of our citizens," said Rep. Preston Sullivan, D-Okolona, who along with Willie Bailey, D-Greenville. and Bill Pigott, R-Tylertown, are the co-chairs of the group.
"We know that the interests and issues facing Mississippi's rural communities are important to the welfare of our state," Sullivan added.
It is yet to be determined how effective the new group will be in the 122-member House under the chamber's Republican leadership.
JACKSON -- It appears that charter school legislation is heading to conference where leaders from the House and Senate will try to hammer out their differences near the end of the session.
The Senate Education Committee has inserted its charter school language in the House charter school bill. If the House Education Committee takes up the Senate bill, it is expected to return the favor by placing its language in the Senate bill.
Groups such as the Parents Campaign have endorsed the House proposal while supporters of a more expansive charter school law have endorsed the Senate plan.
If they choose to, the groups supporting the House bill could try to lobby the full Senate to adopt the more restrictive House version when the bill is brought up for a vote before the full chamber.
If they were successful, the proposal would go straight to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature.
That appears unlikely, especially considering Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves' mastery of the Senate and the likelihood he wants to go to conference to try to garner more concessions from the House resulting in a more expansive charter school program.
JACKSON -- Eric Clark, former secretary of state, somehow had missed the mini national controversy caused by the fact that Mississippi just recently ratified the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning slavery.
As everyone knows by now, the Legislature finally got around to approving a resolution ratifying the 13th Amendment in 1995, but that resolution never was filed with the proper federal authorities.
That oversight apparently was made by the office of former Secretary of State Dick Molpus. Current Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann filed the paperwork recently when the oversight was brought to his attention.
Clark followed Molpus as secretary of state in 1996 and served two terms, and voted for the ratification prior to that as a member of the state House in 1995.
Clark, a historian and current executive director of the state Community College Board, said in hindsight he was surprised that Mississippi had not ratified the 13th Amendment as a condition of re-entering the Union after the Civil War.
And on another point for someone to think Molpus or someone in his office purposefully did not filed the resolution has little knowledge of Mississippi politics. Molpus has probably done more in terms of racial reconciliation than any Mississippi politician other than former Gov. Williiam Winter. Molpus did those things knowing at the time they put his political career in peril.
For those efforts he should be praised instead of lambasted because of an honest oversight by his office.
JACKSON -- Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, is proving that as speaker of the Mississippi House he is not afraid to exercise the power of his office to the fullest.
Late last year he removed Linda Whittington, D-Schlater, from Education to place a pro charter school legislator the key Committee.
And then last week he sent a Medicaid re-authorization bill to the Rules Committee to ensure its death to block the full House from having an opportunity to vote on the expansion of Medicaid. In the past, the measure would have gone to the Medicaid or Public Health committees.
Those two actions are perfectly within the speaker's power, but such power has seldom if ever been exercised by a speaker in recent memory.
JACKSON -- Hard to know if it has any significant for the 2013 legislative session, but it was of interest that there was no mention of immigration during Gov. Phil Bryant's State of the State speech.
In the past, the Republican governor has been an outspoken advocate of passing legislation giving local law enforcement more authority to check for undocumented immigrants,
But during his recent State of State that was not mentioned.
The governor, an outspoken opponent of abortion, also said nothing about that topic even though he spoke on the 40th anniversary of the landmark Roe vs. Wade Supreme Court decision.
In addition, the issue of guns was not mentioned even though he previously had urged legislators to pass laws to oppose any restrictions that might be placed on gun ownership by the federal government.
The governor, for the most part, focused on education and economic development during the speech.
JACKSON -- The Legislature's Jan. 8 opening on Tuesday is the latest the session can begin.
Under the Mississippi Constitution the session begins the first Tuesday after the first Monday in January. The earliest the session can begin is on Jan. 2 when Monday is New Year's day.
I like the late opening.
First of all it makes it easier to celebrate the holidays. When the session begins early in January, it conflicts with the holidays and forces the early removal of Christmas decorations, which is basically an all day endeavor in the Harrison household where my wife essentially insists on decorating every nook and cranny for the holidays.
But with the late start of the session, we left the Christmas decorations up until this past weekend. During Christmas my wife replaces our regular glasses with 12 Days of Christmas glasses. This means I can get one glass, which is easily identified, and use it for days at a time.
I like that, and I like Christmas decorations.
I wish the Constitution was changed so that the session began on the 8th each year.
For the holidays, it is the right thing to do.
JACKSON -- Phil Bryant, like many past governors, hosted a Christmas party for the media.
I am always humbled to be invited to a Christmas party at the governor's mansion. I am always appreciative that while individual governors may dislike coverage they receive by a media outlet they, in my experience, have been gracious in such settings as a Christmas party.
Quick story from the Christmas party.
First lady Deborah Bryant was in front of the mansion during the Jackson Christmas parade when a little girl watching the parade admired the big white house that is the mansion and asked who lives there.
The first lady replied the governor does. The little girl then asked if he was at home. The first lady replied he was. She said she wished she could go inside the house.
Deborah Bryant said she lived there, too, and said come on. Rumor was she did not get the standard tour, but instead a special tour that included more of the house.
Oh, Bryant also confirmed that there was trouble putting up the Nativity scene at the governor's mansion because it was missing a wise man.
He said it was hard to find three wise men around the Capitol.
During the recent trip to Helena, Ark., to visit the KIPP Delta School, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves made it clear he is not backing down from his insistence that charter schools be allowed without local board approval in what are now accredited as C districts or successful districts under the old accreditation system.
That was one of the sticking points that led to the rejection of charter schools during the 2012 session. Both Gov. Phil Bryant and Speaker Phiilp Gunn have indicated in recent statements that low performing or D and F accredited systems might be a good point to start with charter schools in Mississippi.
While Bryant and Gunn did not say their positions are locked in, if they are in unison on the issue during the session, Reeves may have to back down or run the risk of killing charter schools in 2013.
That could prove troublesome for the Republican lieutenant governor because he has become one of the most ardent supporters of charter schools.
JACKSON -- Make no mistake about the fact that Bennie Turner, D-West Point, was an effective state senator for District 16 until near his death this past Tuesday from brain cancer.
But people who were not familiar with Turner before his 1999 bout with meningitis that nearly took his life and severely impacted his hearing do not know the full measure of the man. Turner was a unique legislator in that he was a commanding presence without trying to be, a calming influence and a deep thinker.
He was a rare politician who did not speak unless he had something significant to say and then was measured in what he said.
Many believed he was destined for historic accomplishments in Mississippi politics before the illness.
JACKSON -- Unless the economy goes back into nosedive, state revenue for the current budget year, which started July 1, is projected to finally surpass the amount collected in fiscal year 2008.
The state is projected to collect $4.94 billion this year compared to $4.937 billion in 2008. It is amazing that it is taking the state at least five years to return to revenue levels the state enjoyed before the Great Recession hit.
That trend in revenue collections is unprecedented in Mississippi. Normally, in Mississippi revenue collections from year to year show slow, but steady growth.
More disturbing is that according to state Economist Darrin Webb Mississippi "has roughly the same number of people employed in 2012 as it did in the mid-90s."