Coast Has Successful Legislative Session

Sun Herald: Coast has successful legislative session

House Bill 1410 didn’t make a lot of headlines or newscasts statewide this legislative session, but the measure, the first major structural change to state homeowners insurance laws since Hurricane Katrina, was one of the most important to South Mississippi in years.

The bill, authored by Rep. Scott DeLano, R-Biloxi, will for the first time, starting in 2013, tie home fortification against storms to discounts on insurance premiums.

As the 2012 session started, many South Mississippi leaders were concerned about a loss of clout and seniority for the area after a huge turnover — nearly half the 29-member delegation — from last year’s elections.

Dems Believe They Had Influence

Clarion Ledger: Dems believe they had influence

Democrats filled the 2012 legislative session with impassioned speeches in opposition to the conservative Republican agenda, and they say their efforts did not fall on deaf ears. Too much, too little, too late

“We mostly prepared to play defense,” House Minority Leader Bobby Moak said of the House Democrats’ strategy after finding themselves in the minority for the first time since Reconstruction. “We watched the issues and had as much input as we possibly could,” he said.

Probably the most effective Democrat on defense was Senate Judiciary B Committee Chairman Hob Bryan, D-Amory. He killed the Alabama-style immigration bill and an anti-abortion effort that would have challenged Roe v. Wade.

Barbour: Romney Well-Positioned

Politico: Barbour: Romney well-positioned

Former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour said Sunday likely Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney is in a better position than he expected going into the general election.

Barbour told Bob Schieffer on CBS’s “Face the Nation” he was surprised the former Massachusetts governor was ahead or even in polls against President Barack Obama.

“I think a lot of people expected Romney would be like [President Ronald] Reagan was in 1980,” Barbour said, noting that the even polling follows a bruising Republican primary contest.

I wonder if Haley even believes some of the crap he says anymore. Romney has not went through a bruising primary. He out-spent his closest opponents at any given time by 10 to 1, carpet bombing them with tv and radio ads that most of the time stretched the truth. If ever there was a way to buy a nomination, this was it.

Voter ID Bill Gets Final Approval in Miss. House

Hattiesburg American: Voter ID bill gets final approval in Miss. House

House Bill 921 passed 79-39 Thursday. It would require voters to show a driver’s license or other form of photo identification before casting a ballot.

The bill is intended to enact a state constitutional amendment that Mississippi voters adopted in last November’s general election.

However, before voter ID can become law, it must be approved by the U.S. Justice Department, which will check to ensure that the change does not dilute minority voting strength. Federal approval is required because of Mississippi’s history of racial discrimination.

State Could Reapprove Kemper Coal Plant Tuesday

Sun Herald: State could reapprove Kemper coal plant Tuesday

The Mississippi Public Service Commission appears poised to reapprove Mississippi Power Co.’s coal-fired power plant in Kemper County, despite calls from critics for a deeper examination.

The commission has set a Tuesday morning meeting where the plant will be on the agenda. Southern District Commissioner Leonard Bentz said he hopes that other commissioners will vote with him to push through final approval on the $2.4 billion project.

Though Northern District Commissioner Brandon Presley, a Democrat, opposes the move, Central District Commissioner Lynn Posey, a Republican, is likely to vote with Bentz. Posey did not respond to a request for comment

Commissioner Presley continues to stand with the Mississippi ratepayers while the GOP members are once again siding with “Big Energy”. State Dems must make it a priority to field credible candidates in the Central District.

New GOP-Drawn Districts Put Southern Democrats on Endangered Species List

Chicago Tribune: New GOP-drawn districts put Southern Democrats on endangered species list

Two years ago, Democrats lost 16 House seats in 10 Southern states: North Carolina, Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina, Texas and Virginia. While Democrats fared well under California’s and New York’s redistricting plans, the new congressional district maps in the South are more favorable to Republicans.

The South used to be solidly Democratic. After the Civil War, Southern whites in former Confederate states voted en masse for Democrats, who defended racial segregation. That started changing in the mid-1960s, when President Lyndon B. Johnson, a Southern Democrat, pushed hard for the 1964 Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act a year later.

apitalizing on voters’ discontent with the economy, a new health care law and the president, Republicans rebounded in 2010 and regained control of the House. They also picked up more state legislative majorities in the South and with that, the prerogative to redraw political lines to conform with population changes measured by the census.

State Moves Closer to Takeover of Aberdeen Schools

Clarion Ledger: State moves closer to takeover of Aberdeen schools

The state Commission on School Accreditation unanimously supported declaring an extreme emergency exists in Aberdeen schools.

The state Board of Education will pick up the issue during a work session Thursday and then vote Friday on whether to move forward with the takeover.

Aberdeen, a district of almost 1,500 students in northeast Mississippi, is in violation of 31 of the state’s 37 accreditation standards, Paula Vanderford, director of accreditation for the state Department of Education, told accreditation commission members today.

The problems she went on to describe to commission members ranged from board members violating state open meetings laws and interfering in the day to day operations of the district Aberdeen schools officials failing to report two investigations into alleged incidents of teacher sexual misconduct.

Plan for Charter Schools Revived

Clarion Ledger: Plan for charter schools revived

The Mississippi Senate on Wednesday gave a jolt of life to controversial legislation that would ease allowances for public charter schools.

The bill now heads to the House for concurrence or conference committee. An earlier proposal died in the House Education Committee last week, prompting Republican lawmakers to revive one of their key legislative items

The amended bill would give school boards in successful districts veto authority over charter schools, but only until 2015. That’s a compromise from the House version that gave successful, high performing and star districts permanent veto authority.

“It’s incentive for successful school districts to move up to high performing or star,” said Senate Education Committee Chairman Sen. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford.

After Fiery Debate, Voter ID Bill Clears Mississippi Senate

Clarion Ledger: After fiery debate, Voter ID bill clears Mississippi Senate

A bill to implement Mississippi’s Voter Identification Law passed in the Senate 34-14 today, but not without a lengthy and sometimes fierce debate.

Sens. David Jordan, D-Greenwood, Kenneth Wayne Jones, D-Canton and Derrick Simmons, D-Greenville, members of the Legislative Black Caucus, spoke against the bill, saying the measure echoes the Jim Crow era.

Sen. Gary Jackson, R-French Camp, asked Jordan if he was questioning his Christianity. Jackson later accused Jordan of injecting race into the debate.

“We’re trying to implement what the voters of this state asked us to implement,” said Sen. Joey Fillingane, R-Sumrall, explaining the voter ID bill is designed to curtail voter fraud.