Mississipi state senator David Blount (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
An effort for Capitol Complex consolidation — which supporters say would save $5 million a year on office leasing costs and whittle the space state workers occupy to levels consistent with federal standards — died earlier this month.
The bill authored by Sen. David Blount and backed by a Millsaps College analysis easily passed the Senate but failed to make it onto the House calendar. Blount said he will try again next year.
“I’ll continue to pursue cost and operational efficiencies,” said Blount, a Jackson commercial real estate professional.
Blount’s bill also would have handed the authority for negotiating facilities leasing to the Department of Finance & Administration, the state’s property management arm. The current practice is for each state department or agency to negotiate its own lease terms.
Further, state offices scattered around the tri-county area would have been consolidated into the Capitol Complex and moved state government closer to the federal benchmark of 218 square feet of space per worker from its current 323 feet.
Pro Life Mississippi officials have sent a letter to pro-abortion organization Planned Parenthood’s national and state offices inviting the group to join in support of the new “Admitting Privileges” law in Mississippi. The law was scheduled to go into affect on July 1, but a temporary restraining order filed by Mississippi’s lone abortion clinic halted implementation until a full hearing on July 11.
In the letter, Pro Life Mississippi President Dana Chisolm writes:
“While our organizations obviously differ on the core issue of abortion, one thing we do hold in common is support of women’s health. Similar laws are already in place in 13 other states holding opportunistic doctors accountable for atrocities against women.
Admitting privileges will require the purchase of malpractice insurance where currently there is no requirement, giving injured women no redress against shoddy practices. On staff OB-GYN’s, as required in the law, provide a higher level of service for the women of Mississippi.
Our organizations may end up disagreeing on many other issues, but certainly we can agree that a woman’s health is of paramount importance. Certainly we could agree that the 2,000 plus Mississippi women each year who feel they must make the horrific choice of abortion deserve a higher standard of care.”
Chisolm had this to say about the letter: “In Mississippi we have itinerant doctors coming in from other states to administer dangerous procedures on our young women. Within hours they are traveling back home to their families, leaving these poor young ladies to fend for themselves. We have witnessed young ladies faint and vomit on the sidewalk in 100 degree temperatures while attempting to get back to their car with no staff assistance. There simply is no room for this level of barbarism in a civilized society. Regardless of the other political issues surrounding abortion, we should at least be able to agree on that.”
in 1863, Vicksburg surrendered after prolonged siege operations that began in May and June. This was the culmination of one of the most brilliant military campaigns of the war. Maj. Gen. Ulysses S. Grant’s armies converged on Vicksburg, investing the city and entrapping a Confederate army under Lt. Gen. John Pemberton.
With the loss of Pemberton’s army and this vital stronghold on the Mississippi, the Confederacy was effectively split in half. Grant’s successes in the West boosted his reputation, leading ultimately to his appointment as General-in-Chief of the Union armies.
Founded by the Reverend Newit Vick in 1819 and incorporated in 1825, by 1860 Vicksburg was a major transportation hub that catered to steamboats and the railroad. Boats left daily providing connections to the major towns in the Mississippi River Valley, and rail service linked the city with Monroe, Louisiana to the west and Jackson, Mississippi to the east. In 1860 Vicksburg had a population of 4600 and was the second largest city in the state after Natchez.
The rugged hills of Vicksburg made the city a natural defensive point on the Mississippi River. One Union soldier on seeing the terrain for the first time wrote his sister, “Tis the opinion of all that Vicksburg is the strongest fortified place in the Confederacy.”
Members of the Mississippi House and Senate are facing their first major deadline of year.
Monday is the final day for lawmakers to file general bills or constitutional amendments that will be considered during their four-month session.
The session started in early January and ends in early May.
Bills are already filed on several big issues, including charter schools and immigration.
Committees now have until March 6 to act on general bills or constitutional amendments filed in each chamber. The House committees will consider House bills, and the Senate committees will consider Senate bills. The surviving proposals will move on for debate in the full chamber.
There are later deadlines to file and pass money bills.
The Associated Press has named Laura Tillman as a legislative relief reporter in Mississippi.
The announcement was made on Monday by AP South Region Editor Lisa Marie Pane, Mississippi-Louisiana News Editor Brian Schwaner and Chief of Bureau Adam Yeomans.
“Coverage of government and politics is a top priority for AP in Mississippi,” Schwaner said. AP has two reporters assigned full-time to the Capitol in Jackson — Emily Wagster Pettus and Jeff Amy. Tillman will supplement their work, and report as well on other key news topics of interest to AP members in Mississippi.
Once a lawmaker is vested in state government, they get perks like no other state employee. With a base pay about $10,000, their retirement packages go far beyond that.
Through the Supplemental Legislative Retirement Plan, known as SLRP, legislators are the only public employees who get an additional 50% more in retirement simply because they are legislators.
“For legislators to add 50% on to that for themselves, most people see as very wrong,” said Mississippi Center for Public Policy President, Forest Thigpen.
Thigpen says the payout is often a hot button issue since it’s calculated on a lawmakers highest four salary years while in office and includes per diem payments.
“The result is that it’s not uncommon for 40, 50, $60,000 to be the base on which their retirement is calculated,” said Thigpen.
It was established by lawmakers back in 1989 and ever since then the plan hasn’t changed much. Currently there’s a total of 381 active members enrolled in SLRP, including current lawmakers as well as those already retired and their beneficiaries.
For fiscal year 2011, SLRP paid out $823,936 in benefits to 147 members or beneficiaries currently receiving them. As a whole, the Public Employees Retirement System, known as PERS, paid out more than $1.6 billion to more than 83,000 people.
Gov. Haley Barbour, under fire in recent days for pardoning more convicted murderers, on his last day in office on Tuesday granted clemency to what appears to be dozens of convicts, for crimes ranging from simple possession of marijuana to homicide.
It was unclear how many granted pardons were being freed from jail and how many were simply having their records cleared by the governor.
Barbour has come under fire from victims’s families, the public and lawmakers for his pardoning of convicted killers who have worked as trusties at the Governors Mansion, including several in recent days.