Inside the 2018 Legislature | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

Inside the 2018 Legislature

Stories from inside the statehouse as the Legislature meets for its 90-day session

Politics

Lawmakers Turn to Budgets; Re-Entry Reforms on Governor’s Desk

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It's crunch time at the Mississippi Capitol. This week lawmakers will have to finalize the state budget, predominantly behind closed doors, before passing a slim fiscal-year 2019 budget.

Politics

UPDATED: ‘Galactic Trouble’ for Foster Care Ahead?

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Jess Dickinson likes to use an ancient maxim he heard in a film, "The Bourne Ultimatum," to illustrate where he sits currently as the commissioner of Mississippi's foster-care system. "Hope for the best; plan for the worst," Dickinson says.

Health Care

Judge Blocks Newly Signed 15-Week Abortion Ban for 10 Days

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It took less than 24 hours for Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban to become law and then be stopped from taking effect.

Justice

Criminal Justice Reform Law Headed to Governor's Desk

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If Gov. Phil Bryant signs House Bill 387 into law, Mississippians will not automatically go to prison or jail if they do not pay fines or court fees.

Personhood

Reversing 'Roe'; Outside Group Uses Mississippi as 'Bait' to End Abortion

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The State of Mississippi's Republican legislative leadership may have just decided to end all abortions after 15 weeks, but they used a template developed outside the state. The legislation is designed to "bait" abortion-rights proponents into a fight over ending abortion outright, the bill's architect group admits.

Crime

Not 'Soft on Crime': Clergy Want Prison Reforms to Become Law

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The Mississippi Legislature could approve two re-entry and criminal-justice reform measures this session, which are still alive.

Education

Senate's 'School Safety Act' Tightens Teacher Gun Training, Carry Laws

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Schools, colleges and universities around Mississippi could create school-safety programs, designating certain licensed firearm owners who complete approved training courses to carry a concealed gun for the explicit purpose of resisting violent intruders on campus.

Politics

Equal Pay Amendment 'Harmful' to Mississippi Workers, Advocates Say

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Equal-pay advocates say that an amendment the Mississippi House of Representatives passed to guarantee that women are paid as much as men is actually harmful because it exempts many employees from the protection.

City & County

'One Lake' Bond Bill Passes House By Slim Margin After Questions

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Proponents of the "One Lake" project along the Pearl River through Jackson got a financial boost when the Mississippi House of Representatives passed a nearly $100-million bond and loan measure by a three-vote margin on Thursday.

Politics

Budgets, Infrastructure Funding and What’s Still to Come

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It's halftime in the Mississippi legislative session, and the heavy lifting for lawmakers trying to pass a balanced budget is just beginning.

Politics

'Brain Drain' Tax Credit Legislation Passes Mississippi House

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The Mississippi House of Representatives wants young people to stay in Mississippi. It unanimously passed a measure Wednesday to offer tax breaks to recent college graduates who stay in Mississippi and work in the state, immediately after graduation from a four-year college or university.

Crime

Gang Bill Could Increase Prison Costs, Disparately Affect African Americans

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Proposed legislation to crack down on gangs statewide could lead to increased prison costs, a move that would counteract the state's progress in decreasing the number of inmates—and taxpayer dollars used to incarcerate those inmates—since 2014.

Politics

Medicaid and Guns Bills Live, Vouchers Die

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Rep. Jason White, R-West, who is largely responsible for writing the House's Medicaid bill, supported Rep. Cheikh Taylor's amendment to the House Medicaid legislation and asked the House to vote for it.

Crime

Re-Entry Reforms Still Alive in Legislature

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Mississippi can begin to look at justice reinvestment, and it should be a priority, Andre de Gruy, the state public defender who is also on the state's Corrections and Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force, told the re-entry council earlier this month.

Education

Proposed School Board Election Changes Dead by Bipartisan Vote

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In a bipartisan shutdown, Sen. Kevin Blackwell's bill to change school-board elections statewide died in the Mississippi Legislature on Monday.

Politics

Proposed Gun Law Would Allow Lawsuits over Conceal-Carry Laws

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Mississippians with enhanced concealed-carry licenses, who are required to take an instructional course on firearms training before they receive their license, could file a lawsuit against public entities, like state agencies or universities, with policies limiting their right to carry a gun if House Bill 1083 becomes state law.

Politics

Surprise! House Targets Attorney General Jim Hood Again

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Rep. Mark Baker, R-Brandon, is consistent at least. His annual trip to the podium to limit Attorney General Jim Hood—the only Democrat in a statewide elected office—went well for him this week.

Crime

'Anti-Gang' Bills: One Alive As Experts Warn About Downside

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Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, did not want to debate the "anti-gang" bill for long this morning, and after about half an hour, he tabled House Bill 541, noting that the Senate had already passed its version of the legislation.

Education

Funding the ‘School Choice’ Lobby

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In just one year, the Mississippi Legislature has gone from slightly tweaking its voucher program for students with dyslexia to a push to allow any public-school student to apply for a taxpayer-funded voucher to use at a private school.

Health Care

15-Week Abortion Ban Moves Ahead

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Abortion would be illegal after 15 weeks in Mississippi if a bill the House of Representatives passed late Friday becomes law.

Business

Equal Pay Included in Bill Prohibiting Cities from Raising Minimum Wage

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An equal pay amendment is included in a bill the Mississippi House of Representatives passed this morning prohibiting cities from raising the state minimum wage.

Business

House Passes Equal Pay Amendment, But Its Future Is Unclear

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The Mississippi House of Representatives was expecting a leisurely Friday, but when Rep. Mark Baker, R-Brandon, took up House Bill 1241 this morning, things got interesting.

Politics

University Funding Cuts Prompt Talk of Tuition Hikes, Consolidation

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Most of the state's public university and college presidents crowded into the Mississippi House of Representatives' appropriations room on Monday with a united message.

Development

House Passes Road Bill, Discusses Ed Formula

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EdBuild's contract with the Legislature is long over, but three staff members came back to the Mississippi Capitol last week to run numbers in their education-funding recommendations for representatives.

Development

House Passes $100 Million Transportation Legislation In Bipartisan Vote

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The Mississippi House of Representatives voted to use approximately $108 million in tax revenue for roads and bridges on Thursday in a bipartisan vote. House Bill 722 will divert 35 percent of the state's use tax collections to cities, counties and a grant program to pay for infrastructure.

Crime

Crises in the Capitol: Infrastructure, Crime Lab, Not Enough Money to Cover Needs

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It's hard to prosecute someone for a violent crime if you do not know how the victim died. The Mississippi Legislature is grappling over that question in the new session; the Mississippi crime lab is in crisis.

Education

Tate Reeves: Huge Tax Cuts Will Stay, Expand School Vouchers

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Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves will not budge on the state's massive tax cuts, and he wants more school vouchers enabling families to use public funds to send their children to private schools.

Development

'We're the Pigs': House Jumps the Gun(n) on Transportation Funding

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While few House members seemed ready to begin work on legislation, on Wednesday, Jan. 3, three House committees met and passed five transportation-funding related bills, which Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, primarily authored.

Cover

Honey, We Shrunk the General Fund: Medicaid, Education, Gang Debates Loom in 2018

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The Joint Legislative Budget Committee, made up of lawmakers, adopted a budget that cuts the State's general fund by $66.1 million or 1.3 percent. The legislators' plan includes small increases for the Department of Public Safety to fund 60 state troopers who will graduate from in 2018.

Politics

Workforce Readiness, Infrastructure Top Business Priorities in Mississippi

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Infrastructure funding and workforce development are the two primary legislative goals for the state's business community, Mississippi Economic Council Chairman William Yates said at the organization's "Capital Day" on Thursday, Jan. 4.

Health Care

Medicaid Meltdown?

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Medicaid is arguably one of the more disliked state agencies in the Republican supermajority Legislature—constantly berated for eating up almost a sixth of the state's $6-billion budget in the last year.