I’ve heard Republican power brokers are already working on a fairly complicated contingency plan involving multiple appointments that could end with a South Mississippian in the lieutenant governor’s office if Cochran steps down before his term ends. Gov. Phil Bryant would appoint Cochran’s replacement until an election could be held.
Bryant could choose Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves for Cochran’s seat. There’s friction between the Bryant and Reeves camps at the Capitol and the move would get Reeves out of the state Senate, clearing the way for Bryant to appoint his own lieutenant governor. The guv’nah would then have a full-time legislative water carrier who could settle in as an incumbent before running for election.
Word around the campfire is it’s likely he’d go with one of two Coastians to replace Reeves. This would be major, given
Coast candidates have historically fared very poorly in statewide elections.
Bryant’s top choice may be State Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, a staunch Bryant loyalist who had been rising fast after taking office in 2008, but has seen his influence diminish substantially during the Reeves regime because of drama between the two camps.
If not Watson, things would get a little weirder.
Bryant could appoint former State Sen. Billy Hewes, Gulfport’s next mayor, who was Bryant’s pro tem when Bryant was lieutenant governor.
Hewes lost his 2011 bid to become lieutenant governor when Reeves beat him in the Republican primary. But he’s also a seasoned politician with connections forged during a 20-year stint in the Legislature.
Filed under Billy Hewes, Congress, contributor, Governor, Gulf Coast, Legislature, Michael Watson, Mississippi, Mississippi State Senate, Opinion, Phil Bryant, Politics, Public Service, Republican, State Government, Tate Reeves
The state Senate’s Ports and Marine Resources Committee is continuing rounds Thursday to visit coastal ports, committee chairman Sen. Brice Wiggins said.
Wednesday the group visited Bienville Port in Hancock County and the state Port of Gulfport.
Thursday morning, they will be in Jackson County to tour the Port of Pascagoula.
Two members from the House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Harbors and Airports will also be in attendance, as well as members of the Pascagoula Bar Pilots Association and representatives of Signet Maritime.
The visiting legislators will view activities at the public and private marine terminals and shipbuilding operations, which are responsible for more than 18,000 direct jobs, more than $1.4 billion in earnings and $1 billion in tax revenues annually.
Legislators on the tour include Sens. Brice Wiggins, Josh Harkins, Tommy Gollott, Philip Moran, John Polk and Michael Watson. Reps. Sonya Williams-Barnes and Larry Byrd are also expected to attend.
Filed under Economic Development, Gulf Coast, John Polk, Josh Harkins, Larry Byrd, Legislature, Michael Watson, Mississippi, Mississippi State House, Mississippi State Senate, Politics, Public Service, State Government, Transportation
One highlight of the new white paper is that PERS’ 10-year average investment return is 5.4 percent, while its operating “assumption” is 8 percent.
This is akin to someone assuming their salary will be $40,000 a year as he spends money, when it’s really $30,000.
It also states that, under a new standard, PERS is only 53.5 percent funded, compared to the national state average of 77 percent.
Something, eventually, has to give – either benefits drastically cut or taxpayers hit hard.
“The question is, is there the political will to address it?” said Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, one of the few legislative leaders I could get last week to discuss the program that dares not speak its name.
Filed under Entitlements, Legislature, Mississippi, Mississippi State House, Mississippi State Senate, Opinion, PERS, Politics, Republican, Retirement, SLRP, Spending, State Government, Tate Reeves
First, we want to thank all the readers of Mississippi PEP. Our traffic has increased by leaps and bounds over the course of the past month. We’ll take that as a sign that your liking a lot of the new ways we get information to you. If you haven’t yet signed up for Mississippi PEP’s Newsletter, you should do that now. Not only will you receive the newsletter to catch up on the month. You’ll get a preview of the month to come, and codes to access exclusive content. There is a link below, and a link at the top of this page.
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Here is this weeks top 5 stories as decided by you:
- Group urging McDaniel to run for U.S. Senate goes viral, reaches 1000 members in 5 days. News of a growing effort to recruit State Senator Chris McDaniel to run against long time incumbent U.S. Senator Thad Cochran has been the top story.
- Sen. Watson on Education in Mississippi: Why Parental Choice?. Senator Michael Watson makes his debut as a contributor to Mississippi PEP with the first in a series of articles on Parental Choice in Public Education.
- ObamaCare Regulations of State Health Insurance Exchanges: Commissioner Mike Chaney decides to deal with the devil. Managing Editor Keith Plunkett breaks down Insurance Commissioner Mike Chaney’s assault on state’s rights and the free market by agreeing to go along with ObamaCare’s state exchange rules.
- One News Now refers to Reeves as “Rogue Lt. Gov.” over Illegal Immigration in MFIRE article. Lt. Governor Tate Reeves continues to catch flack for killing Immigration Reform in Mississippi’s State Senate. This story has been picked up by other conservative blogs across the country and is gaining steam ahead of a legislative hearing on August 23rd.
- State Board of Education already at work trying to game the system under new school rankings. The ink has barely dried on the new A-F government school grading system, but the Mississippi Department of Education is already at work trying to boost failing school’s numbers by doing away with drop out rates as an indication of their lack of success.
Sign up for the Mississippi PEP Newsletter and get links to exclusive content you may have missed. And codes to those pages only Mississippi PEP Subscribers get access to.
Filed under charter schools, Chris McDaniel, contributor, Education, Entitlements, health, Immigration, Keith Plunkett, Legislature, MFIRE, Michael Watson, Mississippi, Mississippi State Senate, Obamacare, Opinion, Politics, Republican, State Government, Superintendents, Tate Reeves, Teachers
The bill allows the state to depose school board members and order new elections in districts that are taken over twice within 10 years. It originally also allowed the state to merge a twice-failed district into a neighboring district without the consent of the neighboring district. But Sen. Hob Bryan, R-Amory, successfully amended the bill to require the consent of the receiving district.
Tollison fought the amendment, saying that without the power to make good districts combine with troubled neighbors, the state would be deprived of leverage needed to force reforms. Only an involved community can permanently improve a district, he said.
“Everybody says ‘not in my backyard,’ but it is in your county,” Tollison said.
The amendment’s adoption dealt a rare defeat to Senate Republicans leaders, who have generally gotten their way so far in this session. A total of seven Republicans broke ranks: Sally Doty of Brookhaven, Angela Burks Hill of Picayune, Gary Jackson of French Camp, John Polk of Hattiesburg, Tony Smith of Picayune, Sean Tindell of Gulfport and Michael Watson of Pascagoula. By contrast, only Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, voted to allow forced mergers.
The bill goes to the House, which passed a bill Thursday with language along the lines originally sought by the state. That measure also would allow parents to transfer children from districts whose accreditation is revoked by the state. Local and state tax money would follow the student to a new district. Administrative changes being made by the Department of Education would also bar unaccredited districts from playing sports against other schools or taking part in other interscholastic competitions. Among districts at risk of losing their accreditation is the Jackson city district, the state’s second largest by enrollment.
via Forced school district mergers rejected | Hattiesburg American | hattiesburgamerican.com.
Filed under Angela Burks Hill, David Blount, Education, Gary Jackson, John Polk, Legislature, Michael Watson, Mississippi, Mississippi State House, Mississippi State Senate, Politics, Republican, Sally Doty, Sean Tindell, State Government, Superintendents, Teachers, Tony Smith
Republican Sen. Michael Watson said he hasn’t read FIllingane’s bill, but he would support changing the constitution to end abortion.
“People didn’t really understand what (Initiative 26) was. There was, again, some bad information that got out and some scare tactics that were used,” Watson said.
Watson said in a state where the majority of voters are pro-life, a clearly drafted amendment would pass.
“If you take a look at Mississippi as a whole, more than 70 percent are pro-life, so that’s something that clearly defined that people understand. I think they’d pass it,” Watson said.
But Breland said she and other organizations who were against Initiative 26 will likely step in to stop legislation like Filligane’s.
“I think the majority of Mississippians understood with Initiative 26 that you can be pro-life and still think that this is a very complicated issue that’s best left for families and doctors to decide,” Breland said.
The measure is a legislatively referred amendment, which means that supporters are not tied to rules that would have prevented a voter-initiated ballot amendment like last year’s Initiative 26.
via Residents To Vote On Personhood Initiative – Politics News Story – WAPT Jackson.
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Mississippi State Senator Michael Watson has just introduced Senate Bill 2137, “An act to require retail dealers and distributors of gasoline to offer for sale or use nonethanol-blended unleaded premium grade gasoline.”
When asked for his motivation, the Senator from Pascagula, on Mississippi’s Gulf coast, replied: “Being from the coast, I continue to hear about my constituents having to spend money repairing their boats, lawn mowers, weed eaters, etc. I’d heard several folks talking about the consequences of ethanol and decided to do a little digging, which ultimately lead to my drafting of this bill.”
via Mississippi Senator seeks to require ethanol-free gasoline | General Aviation News.
Haley Barbour consults with Lt. Governor Tate Reeves.
“I have met with Sen. (Michael) Watson, with the speaker of the House and (Speaker Pro tem) Greg Snowden and briefed the lieutenant governor,” Bryant said this morning. “My request is that we restrict to very narrow guidelines the ability to provide pardons or clemency. My standard will be that it’s only for cases where there is clear and convincing evidence that someone has been wrongly convicted … There may be some instances – we have DNA testing and other new technology.
“I say have a constitutional amendment – let the people vote on it. I’m a big proponent of letting the people decide things.”
Bryant on Thursday had met with Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, chair of the Constitution Committee to start drafting language. Watson and other South Mississippi lawmakers have for years pushed for reducing gubernatorial clemency powers, after former Gov. Haley Barbour freed a man in 2008 who had shot his ex-wife to death as she sat at a red light in Pascagoula. The man had served as a trusty at the Governor’s Mansion.
via Bryant supports reducing governor’s clemency powers – Featured Story – SunHerald.com.
Filed under Governor, Greg Snowden, Haley Barbour, Legislature, Michael Watson, Mississippi, Phil Bryant, Politics, Republican, State Government, Tate Reeves
Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, said one of the first bills he will propose this week is a measure that requires public benefit recipients to take mandatory drug tests and verify U.S. citizenship.
The bill will include people receiving Medicaid, welfare, food stamps, electronic benefit transfer cards and other state assistance program benefits.
“Our system is abused,” Watson said. “Across the state, lawmakers have big hearts and truly want to help people, but we want to help people who also want to help themselves.”
Watson said the programs are meant as a temporary helping-hand for people going thorough a hardship.
“To the people who are taking advantage of our generosity and hardworking Mississippian‘s tax dollars, we want to say no more,” Watson said. “The folks that can work, need to get a job and stop taking advantage of our system.”
Watson said he knows critics argue there may be little, if any, savings on the state’s part. He said the main goal is accountability.
“It’s a sensitive and an emotional topic, but you have to look at it logically,” Watson said. “Even if you break even, it’s well worth it in my opinion.”
Watson said the bill is modeled after Florida’s implementation of a similar law. In that state, applicants who test positive for drugs are barred from receiving assistance for a year.
via Pascagoula Sen. Michael Watson proposes drug testing welfare recipients | gulflive.com.
Filed under Gulf Coast, Law Enforcement, Legislature, Michael Watson, Mississippi, Mississippi State Senate, Politics, Republican, Spending, State Government, Taxes
Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula, was left off the education panel despite sitting on it for the last four years.
Watson, the author of charter school legislation in the last session, is considered a huge proponent of education reform.
Instead, Watson was asked to chair the Constitution Committee.
“Let’s call a spade a spade,” Watson said. “I supported a close friend of mine for lieutenant governor (Billy Hewes) and this is the result. I’m disappointed that the coast, as a whole, didn’t get a louder voice on the chairmanships.”
Watson said he appreciates Reeves appointing him vice chairman of the Drug Policy Committee, as well as placing him on the judiciary B, forestry, ports and other panels.
“If anything, this just makes me want to work even harder,” Watson said, a second-term senator. “I’ve learned during the last 4 years that you don’t have to sit at the head of the table to be an effective leader.”
via Senators from Pascagoula gain appointments from Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves | gulflive.com.
Filed under Education, Gulf Coast, Legislature, MAEP, Michael Watson, Mississippi, Politics, Republican, State Government, Tate Reeves, Teachers