await their money
n Stanford Financial Group investors had a week of stops and starts as they waited to reclaim their assets.
A judge ruled Monday that investor accounts of less than $100,000 would not be released until at least March 12. But by Friday, both the date and amount had changed.
Now, investors with accounts of up to $250,000 will have access to their money starting this week.
Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann said about 4,320 accounts held by Mississippians will be released.
The accounts were frozen last month after three Stanford executives, including James Davis and Laura Pendergest-Holt of Baldwyn, were accused of orchestrating a $9.2 billion Ponzi scheme.
Homestead, voter ID bills fade away
n Unanswered questions led to the demise of a proposed tax break for some elderly and disabled homeowners.
The Senate had passed a bill that would have raised the homestead exemption from $75,000 to $100,000, but Percy Watson, the chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee, let the measure die because he was uncertain of the ripple effect on other taxpayers.
Supporters of the bill said it would reduce expenses for the disabled and people over 65; opponents feared that it would simply shift the burden to other local taxpayers.
In other legislative action last week:
n The Senate Elections Committee killed a bill that would have required photo identification for voters. Republicans, normally supportive of voter ID, did not like the early voting and age exemptions that the House had included in the bill.
n The Senate voted to eliminate a hospital tax that Gov. Haley Barbour had supported as a way to fund the state’s Medicaid deficit.
n The Senate, also acting on Medicaid, approved a measure that would require face-to-face recertification for some recipients.
n A bill that cleared the Senate would require the governor to hold a public hearing before exercising a pardon and would require a unanimous vote by the five-member Parole Board to release anyone convicted of capital murder or a sex crime.
Unemployment rate reaches 11 percent
n What a difference a year can make – and this time, not for the better.
Northeast Mississippi’s unemployment rate for January reached 11 percent, mostly due to manufacturing shutdowns and layoffs. The rate reached double digits in 13 of the 16 counties, including Lafayette County.
“We’re usually recession-proof,” said Max Hipp, CEO of the Oxford-Lafayette County Economic Development Foundation, referring to the community’s university-based economy.
“But we’ve seen some cutbacks in some areas. People are rolling back production to keep up with the level of purchasing that’s declining nationwide.”
In January 2008, the region’s unemployment rate stood at 7.3 percent. And even in December, the rate was 9 percent.
A lucky 13
n Jasmine Murray’s run on “American Idol” ended two weeks ago – or so everyone thought.
But now the 17-year-old has returned to the big stage. Murray, who grew up in Columbus, was selected last week as one of the show’s wild card picks after performing Christina Aguilera’s “Reflection.”
In a surprise, the judges expanded the field of finalists, turning the Top 12 into the Top 13.