Update on BP money from Lt. Gov. Reeves, Gov. Bryant

Thanks to Lt. Gov. @tatereeves and the Senate Appropriations Committee for passing SB2176. BP money should fund projects on our beautiful Gulf Coast. I encourage the full Senate to pass this bill as soon as possible.

DAILY JOURNAL – House Education chair says MAEP sets unrealistic goals, urges passing of replacement funding method

JACKSON – House Education Chairman Richard Bennett said Monday the Mississippi Adequate Education Program needs to be replaced because it is “not a realistic goal” for public education.



Bennett, R-Long Beach, said the state could not afford to fund the MAEP.

Speaking of the proposed Mississippi Uniform Per Student Funding Formula Act, Bennett said, “This is a formula we can meet. This is a formula we will continue to work on.”

While Bennett stressed multiple times that the new proposal is still a work in progress, he told fellow House members Monday he wants the House to pass it this week to replace the MAEP school funding formula.



CLARION LEDGER – Trump offshore drilling opposed by Mississippi environmental groups, supported by Bryant

Mississippi environmental groups are opposed to the Trump administration’s plans to open more federal waters to oil and gas drilling and are calling on Gov. Phil Bryant to ask for an exemption or protections for Mississippi like Florida was granted.

But Bryant said he supports the administration’s plans and noted Mississippi state waters extend further than most states, which would prevent nearshore drilling on the Coast.

“Because the proposal would not introduce drilling to the Mississippi Sound, and would limit it and similar activity to waters south of the Barrier Islands, he will not seek an exemption,” Bryant’s office said in a statement on Monday. “The revenue from the leases would be helpful in funding things like education, health care and infrastructure.”

NEWSMS – Senator Hill: eliminate the MDE

A Senate Bill that would do away with the Department of Education, that’s what one Senator has proposed for Mississippi. Senator Angela Hill has submitted a bill that could potentially get rid of the Department of Education in Mississippi.

“There’s ways to manage the things that the Department of education manages without having that big bureaucracy,” said Senator Angela Hill. “There are definitely ways to streamline all of that.”

Senate bill 2016 says that it would reduce the general fund appropriation to the state department of education and then transfer those funds to the teacher instructional materials fund for 2018. However, Hill says that she believes the entire department could be dissolved completely.

WTOK – Carmichael to lead PEER Committee

State Sen. Videt Carmichael of Meridian (R-Dist. 33) has been elected to chair the state legislative Performance Evaluation Expenditure Review Committee.

Carmichael has been on the committee since 2012 and was vice-chair in 2017.

“I am honored to have been chosen chairman of such an important joint committee and I will do my best to serve,” Carmichael said.

CLARION LEDGER – U.S. Rep Gregg Harper point person after sexual harassment hits Congress

“I can tell you every day but Christmas I have worked on sexual harassment issues in some form or fashion to make sure we get this right,” said Harper, chairman of the House Administration Committee.

Harper plans to introduce a bill as soon as this week to update the 1995 Congressional Accountability Act. That law requires Congress and the legislative branch to comply with workplace laws enforced in the private sector, including sexual harassment.

He hopes to have a House vote on the measure by the end of January.

THE DISPATCH – Judge orders expert witness Pete Perry’s info shared in Starkville mayoral race challenge

A judge has ordered Johnny Moore’s legal team to provide supporting documentation to attorney’s representing Lynn Spruill if they plan to have a Hinds County Republican testify during the trial for Moore’s election challenge.

During a Friday morning hearing in Oktibbeha County Circuit Court, Judge Barry Ford ordered Starkville attorney William Starks, who is representing Moore, to provide full documentation to Spruill’s legal team if they want to call Hinds County Republican Party Executive Committee Chairman James L. “Pete” Perry as an expert witness on the election challenge. The matter is scheduled to go to trial before Ford on Feb. 5.

Attorneys Jim Mozingo and Lydia Quarles are representing Spruill. They filed a motion challenging Perry’s inclusion as an expert witness and contended they hadn’t been provided enough information about him.

Starks plans to call Perry as an expert witness during the trial to testify to irregularities on ballots in the contested election. At one point during Friday’s hearing, Starks said there are issues on some ballots, such as absentee ballots not being signed across the flap or applications missing the proper clerk seal.

 

Bigger Pie’s Medicaid Primer Part I

Medicaid is a state and federal partnership where the federal government matches dollars contributed by the states. The match rate, known as the federal medical assistance percentage (FMAP), depends on the economic conditions prevalent in the state. Those states with higher economic indicators are matched at a lower rate than states with lower economic indicators. The lowest match rate is 50% (think of states like New York, Massachusetts and California). That means that when these states spend one dollar on the program the federal government contributes one dollar to make a total of two dollars.

Because Mississippi has such poor economic indicators and a high level of poverty, it receives the highest FMAP in the country at 75.65%. That means for every dollar Mississippi spends on the Medicaid program the federal government contributes three dollars to make a total of four dollars. The state with the next highest FMAP is West Virginia at 73.24%. The average FMAP for the southeastern states is 68.6%

Medicaid covers the healthcare needs of about one in four people in Mississippi. Therefore, it is an important component of the healthcare industry in Mississippi and a critical funding component for almost all the hospitals in the state. Last year, total Medicaid spending in the state was just over $6.1 billion. That is almost the entire amount of the state’s general funds. It is critically important that the Mississippi Legislature and Governor consider any changes to the program during this legislative session with great caution and care. It’s not just about the money, it’s about the health and well-being of about 755,000 citizens of this state.

Does Amazon’s Purchase of Whole Foods solve their internet tax question?

Amazon, starting early last year, began voluntarily collecting the 7-percent tax on retail sales for the state. But later in 2017, Amazon announced the purchase of Whole Foods, a nationwide grocer that specializes in health food items and environmentally friendly products. Whole Foods has a location in Jackson.

Based on a U.S. Supreme Court ruling from the 1990s, retailers do not have to collect the sales tax/use tax for the state if they do not have a brick-and-mortar location in the state.

Frierson said the Whole Foods location in Jackson gives Amazon a brick-and-mortar location in the state, switching its tax from a use tax to a sales tax.