|May 17, 2013||State superintendent's post does have risks||no comments|
|May 02, 2013||Would Gunn consider race to replace Cochran?||no comments|
|April 26, 2013||Are all studies created equal?||no comments|
|April 21, 2013||Special session opportunity for transparency||no comments|
|April 12, 2013||Will new Pearl mall provide health insurance?||no comments|
|April 07, 2013||Vote-counting impacts charter school decisions||no comments|
|March 23, 2013||Ed bills face Thursday deadline||no comments|
|March 18, 2013||Medicaid solutions numerous, but not guaranteed||no comments|
|March 08, 2013||Rural Caucus formed in House||no comments|
|March 01, 2013||Charter schools likely to conference?||no comments|
JACKSON -- The post of state superintendent of education, which is expected to be filled later this year, is no doubt an attractive opening for an ambitious educator.
But the post does come with some perils and drawbacks. New accreditation standards are upping the ante as far as pressure on the post at the same time the Legislature continues to underfund the schools -- by $1.28 billion since fiscal year 2009.
Plus, the perception by some is that the state Board of Education, which will hire and supervise the superintendent, has lost some of its clout with the new Republican majorities in the House, Senate and Governor's Mansion.
A possible example of the lost clout is that the during the 2013 seession the Legislature bypassed the existing state Board of Education and created another board to oversee charter schools.
JACKSON -- Speculation is that state House Speaker Philip Gunn's name should be added to the long list of possible candidates for the U.S. Senate seat in 2014 if incumbent Thad Cochran opts to retire.
It is anybody's guess right now what Cochran might do.
But many speculate that Gunn, along with many other of the state's political leaders, might be interested if Cochran does retire,
Perhaps that issue came up last week when Gunn hosted an after-hours meal in his state Capitol office for Billy Mounger, Billy Powell and Wirt Yerger, three legendary king makers in state Republican Party circles.
JACKSON -- When and if Gov. Phil Bryant calls a special session, perhaps as early as the coming week, Sen. David Blount can re-introduce his proposal to require more analysis of bills cutting or raising taxes before legislators vote.
The transparency proposal, which has bipartisan support, died in the 2013 regular session.
Speculation is that Bryant will call a special session soon for an economic development proposal in the Clay County area. That could come as early as April 26 or soon after.
Of course, Bryant also is expected to call a special session to take up re-authorizing and funding Medicaid before July 1.
Blount, D-Jackson, could introduce his proposal at either special session or in both.
JACKSON -- Much of the focus during the just-completed legislative session was on whether school boards of C-rated district would have veto authority over charter schools locating within their boundaries.
But probably just as important an issue -- especially for charter school supporters -- was whether students would be able to cross district lines to attend charter schools. Without that authority, it will be difficult for charter schools to locate in smaller districts, some say.
Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, a strong charter school advocate, wanted the legislation to have the provision allowing students to cross district lines.
In the final days, when House and Senate leaders negotiated those issues and others related to charter schools, the House leaders offered two proposals.
One would not allow any crossing of district lines. The other would allow students in D and F schools in D and F districts to cross lines to attend a charter school.
In the end, the Senate leaders took the proposal that allowed no transfers across district lines even though that is not what they supported. But the House and Senate leaders began counting votes and realized that by including the crossing district lines provision they could lose one, two or maybe three votes in the House and that could be the difference in passing charter school legislation.
That compromise passed the House by a 62-55 margin. Had they lost a couple of votes, the margin would have been getting in the danger margin where anything could happen.
JACKSON -- The House has until Thursday to send three significant education bills to conference or they die.
* The omnibus bill that includes charter schools, third grade reading gate and enhanced standards for students going into teaching.
* A proposal to have the Mississippi Adequate Education Program funding formula for local school districts recalculated every year instead of every four years.
* A proposal to put into law the definition of how long a student must stay at school each day to be considered in attendance, thus, eligible to be counted by the district for state Adequate Education funds.
It appears the Republican leadership in the House does not have the votes to pass the omnibus bill and send it to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature. But the other proposals in the legislation already are in conference in other bills where House and Senate leaders on education issues will meet in the coming days to try to hammer out differences.
The MAEP funding formula changes and the attendance proposal are not alive in other bills in conference, but there might be an opportunity to add those issues to legislation already in conference.
Sometimes it seems that proposals never die during the legislative process.
JACKSON -- With the legislative session quickly coming to an end (scheduled to conclude April 7) the question is what will become of Medicaid.
I am not talking about the proposal to expand Medicaid. I am simply referring to the current Medicaid program that provides health care for poor children, poor pregnant women the disabled and for some services for the elderly, such as keeping granny in the nursing home.
The legislation that would re-authroize Medicaid was killed in a fight over whether to expand the program as part of federal law.
At this point, the leadership could attempt to garner a two-thirds majority in both chambers to revive legislation to expand the program. But that seems difficult since Republicans and Democrats are still fighting over whether to expand the program.
Gov. Phil Bryant could call a special session -- either within the current session or after the regular session ends. Medicaid's current authorization runs through June so there is a little time, though, there is no guarantee an agreement could be reached in special session.
The final option would be for the governor to run the program through some type of executive order/court conservatorship garnered by Attorney General Jim Hood. Hood got such as court order early in former Gov. Haley Barbour's tenure for the governor to run the Department of Human Services for a brief time. There is a possibility any action to run the program without legislation could be challenged in court.
There are many possible solutions to the pending Medicaid crisis but all could face roadblocks.
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.