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In mostly abortion-free Mississippi, court battle continues

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rssfeeds.hattiesburgamerican.com – Mississippi – 2023-01-31 09:37:25

Derenda Hancock, co-director of the Jackson Women's Health Organization clinic patient escorts, better known as the Pink House defenders, stands before the Mississippi Governor's Mansion in Jackson, Friday, Jan. 20, 2023.

JACKSON, Miss. — A physicians’ group based in the Midwest lacks legal standing to challenge a 25-year-old ruling recognizing a right to under the constitution, lawyers for six women who support abortion rights argued in court papers filed Friday.

“This case was brought by an out-of-state organization that obviously believes the government should force Mississippi women to carry pregnancies to term and give birth against their will,” attorney Rob McDuff said Friday, adding that those who filed suit have “no…

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Chapel Hart performs at Gov. Tate Reeves’ State of the State address

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rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi – 2023-01-31 09:58:10

Chapel Hart, the country music trio from Poplarville that was a sensation of America's Got Talent, sings the National Anthem before Gov. Tate Reeves' State of the State address on the south steps of the Mississippi State Capitol Mon Monday.

Award winning music group Chapel Hart caught America’s attention last year when they were voted a rare unanimous golden buzzer award while competing in America’s Got Talent, and it seems the -trio have now become favorites of a different group of voters, the Mississippi .

Danica Hart and Devynn Hart and their cousin Trea Swindle sang the national anthem at the of the State address Monday evening, after receiving an invitation from Gov. Tate Reeves.

“I think that it is such an honor for us to be here tonight because we are so proud to be , and to be…

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‘This is a complete attack:’ At least 31 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced this session in Mississippi

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‘This is a complete attack:’ At least 31 anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced this session in Mississippi

Lawmakers have introduced 31 bills targeting the rights of LGBTQ+ in education and health care as the first deadline to pass bills out of committee approaches.

It is likely the highest number of anti-LGBTQ+ bills introduced in any state so far this year, say and LGBTQ+ advocates in Mississippi. Second to Mississippi is Missouri, where lawmakers have introduced 29 bills, according to a tracker from the American Civil Liberties Union.

Just eight bills targeting the LGBTQ+ community were introduced last year in Mississippi, according to advocates.

“I don’t know about anybody else, but my head is kind of spinning from all of this,” said Rob Hill, the director of the Human Rights Campaign Mississippi. “I’ve never seen anything like this from the years that I’ve been working in Mississippi. I get it if anybody else is overwhelmed by this, because I certainly am.”

Hill spoke during a call on Monday held by advocates – including the ACLU, the Southern Poverty Law Center, the Immigrant Alliance for Justice and Equity, and the Trans Program.

The explosion of anti-LGBTQ+ bills, advocates said, is in part tied to this year’s election in Mississippi. The state’s trans community – the explicit target of many of these bills – is small. Last year, the Williams Institute, a research institute at the University of California, Los Angeles, School of Law, estimated there are just 9,600 trans adults in Mississippi and 2,400 trans youth, a fraction of the nearly 3 million people who live in the state.

The bills range in scope and severity. Two House bills would prevent gender-confirmation surgery from being performed on anyone under the age of 21 in Mississippi; two more Senate bills would make this kind of surgery a form of child abuse. Another replicates Florida’s “Don’t Say Gay” Act.

Many of the bills that advocates are tracking are duplicates, and most won’t make it out of committee. But research by the Trevor Project, a nonprofit focused on suicide prevention among LGBTQ+ youth, has shown that bills don’t have to pass in order to have a harmful affect on the community’s mental health.

The bill with the fastest legs – House Bill 1125, also known as the “Regulate Experimental Adolescent Procedures Act,” or REAP – passed out of the House on Jan. 19. Authored by Rep. Gene Newman, R-Pearl, it would prohibit Mississippi doctors from performing gender-affirming surgery or writing prescriptions for hormone replacement therapy or puberty blockers to minors.

Families could not be reimbursed by insurers or for these procedures. Any doctor that violated the law would lose their license and tort claim protections and could be sued under a “civil claim of action” for 30 years.

On the call, McKenna Raney-Gray, staff attorney for the ACLU’s LGBTQ Justice Project, noted the bill is based on misconceptions about trans health care. Gender-affirming care is not “experimental,” she said, but is endorsed by major medical associations including the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American Medical Association.

“The terminology that they’re using in the names of the acts is incredibly inaccurate and mischaracterizing everything about gender-affirming care,” Raney-Gray said.

Mississippians under 18 aren’t getting gender-confirmation surgery in the state. On the floor, Rep. Nick Bain, R-Corinth, said he doesn’t know of any Mississippi children who’ve received it. The had 47 “visits” regarding gender affirming care between 2017 and 2022, but Bain said he is unsure if any of those patients were minors.

Trans youth in Mississippi – namely 16- and 17-year-olds – are receiving hormone replacement therapy, though advocates suspect this is likely not happening at high rates. While this form of treatment has been shown to improve mental health and reduce suicidality, it can be difficult for trans youth to obtain if they lack family support, the financial means, or access to supportive doctors.

“It breaks my heart y’all, because it’s nowhere near accurate,” said Jensen Luke Matar, the director of the nonprofit Trans Program. “It’s fluffed up in a way to make it seem like they’re working hard to protect our children, and it’s the exact opposite.”

Across the country, research has shown that anti-LGBTQ legislation is linked to more Internet searches about suicide and depression.

In Texas, after Gov. Greg Abbott ordered child welfare officials to investigate reports of children receiving gender-affirming care as child abuse, a 16-year-old transgender boy attempted suicide. After his family sought treatment, they were investigated for child abuse, according to a lawsuit.

Last week, HB 1125 was assigned to a Senate committee. On the call, advocates speculated the reason for its speedy movement in the Senate is that the lieutenant governor, Delbert Hosemann, faces a challenge from the right this year in Sen. Chris McDaniel.

“It’s just chess,” Matar said. “They’re playing chess, and they’re using the most vulnerable population as their pawns.”

“This is a complete attack,” he added.

Raney-Gray said that many of the introduced bills in Mississippi are identical to bills filed across the country in the last year. HB 1125 is similar to legislation in Alabama and Arkansas, but she said it comes with a significant edit.

While the version of the REAP Act that passed in Alabama and Arkansas made it a for doctors to provide gender-affirming care, Mississippi’s bill only imposes civil penalities.

Raney-Gray said the changes to Mississippi’s seem designed so that the REAP Act holds up in Mississippi’s courts, while the bills in Alabama and Arkansas have been blocked by the courts.

Anti-LGBTQ+ bills identified by advocates:

HB 576: Gender reassignment surgery or services; prohibit performing or paying for.

HB 1124: Gender reassignment surgery or services; prohibit performing or paying for.

HB 1258: Gender Transition Procedures; prohibit for persons under age twenty-one.

HB 1126: Transgender procedures; restrict for persons under age 21.

SB 2760: Mississippi Help Not Harm Act; enact.

HB 1127: MS Safe Adolescents from Experimentation (SAFE); create to prohibit providing gender transition procedures to minors.

HB 1125: Regulate Experimental Adolescent Procedures (REAP) Act; create to regulate transgender procedures and surgeries.

SB 2770: Gender reassignment surgery; criminalize performance of upon minors.

SB 2861: Insurance; prohibit mandates for gender reassignment surgery or services.

SB 2864: State funded health plans and Medicaid; prohibit payment of gender reassignment surgery or services

HB 456: Child abuse; revise definition to include gender reassignment.

SB 2883: Child sex abuse; include chemical or physical sterilization of child within definition of.

HB 509:”Families’ Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2023″; enact.

HB 1476: “Families’ Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2023”; enact.

HB 1478: Parental rights; establish fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education and care of their children.

SB 2763: Families’ Rights and Responsibilities Act; enact.

HB 1489: “Families’ Rights and Responsibilities Act of 2023”; enact.

HB 1479: Parental rights; establish fundamental right of parents to direct the upbringing, education and care of their children.

HB 1480: “Parents’ Bill of Rights Act of 2023”; enact.

SB 2761: Parents’ Bill of Rights; enact.

SB 2765: Mississippi Families’ Rights And Responsibilities Act

HB 1074: The Title IX Preservation Act; enact.

SB 2820: “Transparency in Education Act”; prohibit certain curriculum in without parental consent

SB 2773: The Defense of Title IX Act; enact.

HB 1144: Title IX Preservation Act; create.

SB 2076: Title IX Preservation Act; enact

HB 1367: The Academic Transparency Act of 2023; enact.

HB 1045: Libraries; regulate the material that is curated for children and younger teens.

SB 2141: Distribution of obscene materials; delete exemption for public school libraries.

SB 2764: Parental rights in education; prohibit instruction regarding sexual orientation or gender identity in K-12

SB 2058: School counselors; delete requirement of counselors to abide by the American School Counselor Association Code of Ethics.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Gov. Reeves claims ‘best year in state history.’ His 2023 challenger says he’s moved state in ‘wrong direction’

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Gov. Reeves claims ‘best year in state history.’ His 2023 challenger says he’s moved state in ‘wrong direction’

The opening salvos of the 2023 governor’s race were fired on Monday as Gov. Tate Reeves delivered his annual of the State address and his opponent Brandon Presley offered the Democratic Party’s response.

“2022 was perhaps the best year in Mississippi history,” Reeves declared on the south steps of the Mississippi State Capitol on Monday evening. “… Today, it’s a cold-hard-fact that really, really good things are happening in Mississippi. And it’s my honor to stand before you today and announce that the state of our state is stronger than ever.”

Reeves, the first-term Republican governor, focused much of his speech on economic development and touted state government’s nearly $4 billion budget surplus as an example of good times under his watch.

“Our conservative reforms and sound budget management have laid the foundation for this economic boom,” Reeves said. “It’s the policies of yesterday that have paved the pathway to today’s prosperity.”

READ MORE: Transcript: Gov. Tate Reeves delivers 2023 State of the State address

Presley, a Democratic public service commissioner who announced a 2023 challenge of Reeves earlier this month, delivered a response to the State of the State. He blasted the governor’s leadership over the past four years, saying the state is “moving in the wrong direction” under Reeves’ leadership.

“While he brags about a budget surplus, family budgets are running out,” Presley said. “And while you’re careful with your money, he’s throwing your tax dollars away. He’s been caught in the middle of the largest public corruption scandal in our state’s history. $77 million dollars of taxpayer money that should have gone to working families that are struggling instead went to help build a volleyball court… a volleyball court! … Some was even given to Tate Reeves’ own personal trainer. And you should tune in because we are only just now learning how bad and possibly illegal all of this activity was.”

Standing for a recorded in an abandoned hospital in Newton County, Presley also panned Reeves for refusing to address the state’s hospital crisis.

“We have a solution. By extending to the working people of our state, we can keep hospitals across Mississippi from experiencing the same fate as this one,” Presley said. “All Tate Reeves has to do is lift his hand, take an ink pen, and sign on a line. Instead, he lacks the backbone and he will sit on his hands while people lose their jobs, some lose their lives and our hospitals suffer. When Tate Reeves finally wakes up and asks why hospitals are closing, he should look in the mirror.”

READ MORE: Transcript: Brandon Presley offers Democratic response to 2023 State of the State address

Reeves, though, said in his speech that his plan to solve the state’s health care crisis and pending hospital closures is to encourage competition in health care, innovation and technology. He urged lawmakers to “think outside the box” on improving health care and to not expand Medicaid coverage to the working poor.

“Don’t simply cave under the pressure of Democrats and their allies in the media who are pushing for the expansion of Obamacare, welfare, and socialized medicine,” Reeves said. “Instead, seek innovative free market solutions that disrupt traditional delivery models, increase competition, and lead to better health outcomes for Mississippians. Do not settle for something that won’t solve the problem because it could potentially and only temporarily remove the liberal media’s target on your back. You have my word that if you stand up to the left’s push for endless government-run healthcare, I will stand with you.”

The candidates’ contrast in outlook on state of the state sets up what is expected to be among the most expensive and bitter governor’s races in state history. Reeves will continue boasting what he says are accomplishments and gains the state has made under his leadership, while Presley will continue critiquing the governor’s positions on major issues facing the state.

In a 45-minute speech on Monday, Reeves laid out the accomplishments he said had been achieved.

He said the state set a record economic pace during his governorship, including a $2.5 billion aluminum plant announced near Columbus, for which lawmakers at Reeves’ behest pledged $247 million in incentives.

The favorable economic conditions, Reeves said, “led to investing a historic amount in jobs training, and … resulted in a record $6 billion in new capital investment in 2022, which is more than seven times the previous average of approximately $900 million a year before I became governor.”

Reeves said that wages in Mississippi are rising, by more than $7,000 or 18% per capita since 2019 and the state is seeing “the lowest unemployment rate in our state’s history.”

But despite Reeves’ rosy portrait of the state’s , he omitted several key statistics about the state’s economy. Mississippi had the lowest per capita income for 2021 at $45,881, according to the St. Louis office of the Federal Reserve. The average of Mississippi’s four contiguous states, was $52,780.

And, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, for the third quarter of 2022, Mississippi’s personal income increased by 3.8%. Eight states saw their personal income increase less than Mississippi’s during the period.

And, based on Bureau of Labor Statistics data, Mississippi added only 500 net jobs between December 2021 and 2022, meaning its job growth for the year was essentially flat, or statistically 0%. All other states had jobs growth of at least 1%, with some exceeding 6%.

Presley, in his response, highlighted some other economic problems the state has faced.

“Mississippi is at the bottom of the nation for economic growth,” Presley said. “We’re one of only three states that lost population, and the numbers recently released by the bureau of labor statistics show zero job growth in Mississippi. We are one of only seven states that taxes groceries.”

Reeves reiterated his vow to eliminate the state’s personal income tax — a proposal lawmakers debated at length last year but defeated, although they did pass the largest income tax cut in state history, which is still being implemented. He did not mention eliminating the grocery tax.

Reeves also said the state has seen historic improvement in education in recent years. He said reforms he helped pass as lieutenant governor about a decade ago have brought much success in public education.

“A little over a week ago we announced – for the third time since I’ve been governor – that Mississippi’s high school graduation rate hit an all-time high and continues to be better than the national average,” Reeves said.

The governor also focused heavily on red-meat conservative issues — in response to what Reeves called “the radical left’s war on our values.”

Reeves reiterated his support for a “Parents Bill of Rights,” similar to legislation being passed or debated in many other GOP-led states that would force public school teachers to share lesson plans and administrators to adhere to the will of parents on things like names, pronouns and other health matters.

Reeves also lamented “a dangerous and radical movement that is now being pushed upon America’s kids” regarding treatment of transgender people and vowed to fight such movements. Legislation is pending this year in Mississippi and other states to ban gender affirming procedures and drugs for anyone 18 or under.

“Across the country, activists are advancing untested experiments and persuading kids that they can live as a girl if they’re a boy, and that they can live as a boy if they’re a girl,” Reeves said. “And they’re telling them to pursue expensive, radical medical procedures to advance that lie.”

To deal with an expected increase in child deliveries from the overturning of Roe v. Wade rights, Reeves said the state should cut red tape and make adoption easier, create child care tax credits and allow parents to write off child care supplies on tax returns and increase support for pregnancy resource centers. He said the state should strengthen its child support laws and force more fathers to support children.

Reeves vowed to help fight in the capital city of Jackson and statewide. He also vowed to go after government corruption, such as the state’s massive welfare scandal.”

“That’s why this session, I’m calling on the to make further investment into our Capitol by giving them the 150 officers and equipment they need to continue fulfilling their mission and continue pushing back on lawlessness in Jackson,” Reeves said.

And in a statement that directly addresses one of Presley’s points about Reeves involvement in the welfare scandal, the governor vowed that “my administration will go after all crime within our jurisdiction.”

“Regardless of the crime committed, regardless of who did it, regardless if it happened on the street or in an office building, my administration is and will continue to hold criminals accountable,” Reeves said. “That’s why my administration remains committed to delivering justice and recouping every dollar possible from those who stole from Mississippians through the theft of TANF (welfare) dollars.”

Throughout both speeches, the contrast in perspectives between Reeves and Presley were on full display.

“Mississippi is winning, and our state is on the rise,” Reeves said. “I urge all of you here today to stand with me and call out the lies when they are thrown at all of us. We can never give into the cynics who seek to tear down our great state. We can never give into Joe Biden and the national Democrats who seek to force feed us an unhealthy dose of progressivism because they view Mississippians as neanderthals. And we can never give into those who want us to live in a perpetual state of self-condemnation.”

Presley, though critical of Reeves and his leadership, did present a positive outlook on the state’s future.

“Together, we can build a Mississippi that focuses on the future, not the past,” Presley said. “We can build an economy that works for everybody… We should fund the police, increase healthcare, and invest in education. Together, we are going to end the insane grocery tax. We’re going to make sure folks from Walnut on the Tennessee line to Waveland on the Gulf Coast can walk with pride because they have a job and hope for their children’s future.”

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Transcript: Gov. Tate Reeves delivers 2023 State of the State address

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Transcript: Gov. Tate Reeves delivers 2023 State of the State address

Gov. Tate Reeves, a first-term Republican, delivered his annual State of the State address on Jan. 30, 2023.

Below is the transcript of Reeves’ speech, which aired live on Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

Editor’s note: This transcript was submitted by Reeves’ staff and has not been formatted to match Mississippi Today’s style.

WATCH: Gov. Tate Reeves’ full State of the State address.


Thank you, Lieutenant Governor Hosemann and Speaker Gunn.

To the members of the and other elected officials here tonight, thank you. Thank you for your continued partnership and thank you for the tireless work you do on behalf of our great state and her people.

I also have to take a moment to thank my beautiful wife and Mississippi’s outstanding First Lady, Elee. She’s an incredible wife, an awesome mom, and a wonderful representative for our state. I’m amazed daily by your grace and your kindness, and I’m so thankful to have you in my life every single day.

Finally and most importantly, I have to thank the three million Mississippians who have helped our state usher in an unprecedented period of economic growth, educational achievement, and freedom.

2022 was perhaps the best year in Mississippi’s history. Because, here in Mississippi and unlike in Washington, D.C., we still have the incredible capacity to work together and accomplish great things for our constituents.

The sense that our state is one big, small town binds us and it furthers a sense of optimism that we can still work together here and deliver results on behalf of our people.

The people of Mississippi are our state’s strength. It is because of your hard work that our state is primed and ready to face the challenges of tomorrow.

It is because of your work ethic and your commitment to excellence that more and more companies are choosing to do business in Mississippi and that our state’s brightest days lie in front of us.

It has been the privilege of a lifetime to serve as your governor over the last three years. I haven’t taken it for granted for one second, and I promise you that I never will. It is truly an honor to wake up each and every day and get to work on your behalf, and I look forward to making even bigger things happen in this great state.

Now, over these years some days have been more challenging than others. But no matter what’s thrown at Mississippi, I thank God each night that I have the chance to live, work, and serve alongside of you. There is no place I would have rather weathered tornadoes, floods, hurricanes, or a global pandemic than right here in Mississippi.

But Mississippi – and I think you’ll agree too – means more than simply a place to batten down the hatches during natural disasters.

Mississippi is all of our home. Our state is filled with natural beauty and friendly people. I, like so many of y’all today, am grateful to be raised in this loving community.

I’m proud to be a Mississippian, and I’m proud of the life lessons I’ve learned from the people I’ve met along the way.

One of those people, is my hero – my dad. Now, I don’t remember the first time I met him because I was only a few minutes old. But I do remember some of the lessons he taught me, especially when it comes to the value of hard work.

My father grew up in a two-room home with five brothers and five sisters in Bogue Chitto. He started a small business in the early 70’s and spent many, many nights sweeping the dirt floors and praying for his next clients.

Like entrepreneurs across Mississippi, he spent his life growing that business. Only in America could the son of that man stand here today as the governor of this great state. It is the American Dream, and the lessons I learned from him have inspired everything that I’ve done.

I’ve tried my best to take those lessons with me over the years and incorporate them into everything that I do. I’ve leaned on them when times were good, and I’ve leaned on them when times were bad.

They’ve helped to keep me grounded and to remember what’s really important in life. They’ve helped me govern, and they’ve helped me keep perspective.

Today, it’s a cold-hard-fact that really, really good things are happening in Mississippi. And it’s my honor to stand before you today and announce that the state of our state is stronger than ever.

Our state is strong because our people and my administration are laser focused on the issues that matter to Mississippians.

As you’ve heard me say before, the way we measure success is in the wages of our workers, the success of our students, and winning the war on our values.

Mississippi is hitting the target on all three of these fronts.

First, wages. Since 2019, we’ve raised per capita personal income in Mississippi by approximately $7,000 or almost 18%. We are boosting the money that Mississippi families are bringing home – especially right now, as we combat rising inflation from wasteful spending in Washington, D.C.

This wasn’t by accident. We were able to accomplish this momentous feat because we never wavered from the tried and true economic and fiscally conservative principles that have set up states for growth for generations. And we were able to accomplish this despite the left’s best attempts to grow government.

Our conservative reforms and sound budget management have laid the foundation for this economic boom. It’s the policies of yesterday that have paved the pathway to today’s prosperity.

It’s led us to a $4 billion budget surplus. $4 billion!

It’s led to investing a historic amount in jobs training, and because of that we have the lowest unemployment rate in our state’s history.

It resulted in a record $6 billion in new capital investment in 2022, which is more than seven times the previous average of approximately $900 million a year before I became governor.

And it helped us finalize the largest economic development project in Mississippi history – a $2.5 billion capital investment that will create 1,000 new jobs with an average salary of almost $100,000 a year.

But we had more than just one major economic deal. That grand slam was great, but there were dozens and dozens of projects impacting every corner of our state over the last year. The fact is that thanks to our singles and our doubles, Mississippi is starting to run up the scoreboard.

Last year we announced a $2 million investment that will create 117 new upholstery jobs in New Albany.

We announced a $79 million investment that will create 21 new operations jobs in Pelahatchie.

We announced a $51 million investment that will create 41 new manufacturing jobs in Winona.

Canton, Philadelphia, Bay Springs, Columbus, Starkville, Southaven, Meridian, Calhoun, Waynesboro, Vicksburg, Olive Branch, and Corinth – just to name a few of the places that we announced investments this last year.

My friends, when it comes to setting up our people and state for more economic prosperity, we are, by every objective standard, getting the job done.

We are boosting salaries and we are expanding the tax base. And we are investing in the areas that will provide our state with the highest return – our people.

I want our state to go even further in supporting Mississippians. Our state is in the best fiscal shape we’ve ever been in, and our state is in the best financial shape in history and our residents deserve to get a bigger piece of the pie.

We can and should do more to put additional dollars into the pockets of Mississippians. We will do this, by eliminating our state’s income tax once and for all.

We can do this and we can do this without raising other taxes. You’ve heard me say this before, but I’m going to keep saying it because it’s that important: government doesn’t have anything that it doesn’t first take from somebody else.

I believe that Mississippians not politicians or the government know best how to spend their dollars. I also believe that those who have competitive advantages win.

We have a competitive advantage in our people. We need to add another competitive advantage with our tax code.

To build the best possible environment for entrepreneurs, to combat ’s runaway inflation, to compete with the likes of Florida, Tennessee and Texas, to continue making it easier for Mississippians to support their families, we must eliminate Mississippi’s income tax.

That’s why last year I was so proud to sign into law the largest tax cut in Mississippi history, which returned over half a billion dollars to Mississippians.

That’s more dollars in your pocket, more dollars in your kids’ college funds, more dollars put toward buying a home or retirement, and more dollars for you to spend on your priorities. Not politicians’ pet projects.

I’m proud of what we accomplished. But I’m even more fired up to keep the tax cuts coming. You have my word that as long as I’m governor, I’m going to continue relentlessly fighting for permanent, long-term tax relief that lets you keep more of your own hard-earned money.

But Mississippi isn’t just witnessing historic achievements in our state’s . We’re also seeing it in classrooms across our state.

A little over a week ago we announced – for the third time since I’ve been governor – that Mississippi’s high school graduation rate hit an all-time high and continues to be better than the national average.

And like our state’s economic growth, our education improvements didn’t happen by accident.

Our state’s stellar report card didn’t just appear out of thin air.

Mississippi insisted on getting kids back into school when other blue states stayed closed, and now we have the best education numbers in our state’s history!

The year Philip Gunn and I first presided over a State of the State in 2012, Mississippi was dead last in fourth grade math. Now, we’re above the national average at Number 23.

That means that over the last ten years since we passed education reform, Mississippi surpassed half the states in the nation.

We’ve gone from needs improvement to most improved.

We’ve led the nation in fourth grade reading and fourth grade math gains.

And students from all walks of life are finding more success in Mississippi. In 2003, Mississippi was among the worst performers when it came to test scores for Black students. Today we’re fifth in the entire nation when it comes to fourth grade reading test scores for Black students. Fifth in the entire nation!

So, when some people say, “Mississippi is last in education,” folks, they’re just not telling you the truth.

I want to personally thank all the legislators that played a role in helping to pass those education reforms. I also want to thank all the involved parents and dedicated teachers across Mississippi. We couldn’t have accomplished these goals without you.

Our state – unlike some others that have been in the – recognizes that we have a duty to both. We should ensure that parents continue to play an active role in their kids’ education, and we should ensure that teachers are paid what they deserve.

It is my firm belief that Mississippi has some of the best teachers in the nation, and their salaries should reflect that.

That’s why I was proud to sign legislation giving Mississippi teachers the largest pay raise in state history. We elevated teacher salaries above not only the Southeastern average, but even above the national average!

Mississippi’s teachers earned those raises, and I was proud to sign them into law.

But regardless of the technology or textbooks we put in front of our kids, nothing is more influential to a child’s educational development than parents.

And when it comes to education, Mississippi should protect parents’ voices and their right to be involved in the classroom. Because at the end of the day, the state doesn’t run a child’s life – parents do. We need more transparency in schools in this country. We need more choice. We need more freedom. That will be the best way to protect our children.

I’ve been shocked to see how some states have embraced the misguided practice of pushing parents out of the classroom, pushing parents out of their children’s lives, and pushing parents out of the school board decision-making process.

Nobody, and I mean nobody, is more invested in the life and the future of a child than a parent. They shouldn’t be labeled as domestic terrorists for simply asking questions or for attending a school board meeting. They should be celebrated for being invested in their child’s education.

As a father myself, I want schools across Mississippi to complement the lessons parents are trying to teach at home, not reject them. That’s exactly why I am calling on the legislature to pass a Parents’ Bill of Rights this session.

Through the Parents’ Bill of Rights, we will reaffirm that in Mississippi, it is the state who answers to parents and not vice versa.

This Parents’ Bill of Rights would further cement that when it comes to the usage of names, pronouns, or health matters, schools will adhere to the will of parents. There is no room in our schools for policies that attempt to undercut parents and require the usage of pronouns or names that fail to correspond with reality.

I am proud to be governor, but the greatest pride in my life is being the dad of three wonderful girls. There are few things I love more than having the chance to cheer them on from the sidelines at their soccer or basketball games.

That’s why I’m especially proud to have signed legislation that ensured, that in Mississippi, we’re going to let boys play boys sports, and girls play girls sports. I didn’t do this just for my daughters, I did this for all of Mississippi’s daughters.

But we need to do even more to protect Mississippi’s children. We have a duty to keep pushing back against those that are taking advantage of children and using them to advance their sick and twisted ideologies.

There was a time in America when saying to kids ‘you can be whatever you want when you grow up’ meant that one day they could become a teacher, officer, or fire fighter. A professional athlete, a doctor, or even a lawyer. That if you push yourself, there is nothing you can’t accomplish.

But today, there is a dangerous and radical movement that is now being pushed upon America’s kids. It threatens the very nature of truth. Across the country, activists are advancing untested experiments and persuading kids that they can live as a girl if they’re a boy, and that they can live as a boy if they’re a girl. And they’re telling them to pursue expensive, radical medical procedures to advance that lie.

These radical liberals are attempting to undermine objective, scientific truths. They’re trying to undermine how we view gender and even manipulate English words and grammar rules. From their illogical pronouns to their attempts at pushing the word Latinx onto the Hispanic community – they don’t care about the destruction they’re causing or whether they have the support of those they’re trying to group or label. Rather, they’re tyrannical in their approach to these issues and their unceasing attempts to have them adopted by society.

And let’s be honest, America stands essentially alone in the truly outrageous position that we’ve staked out on this issue. While some in our country push surgical mutilation onto 11 year olds even here in Mississippi, even liberal darlings like Finland, Denmark, and Sweden don’t allow these surgeries to be performed on kids who are under 18.

The fact is that we set age restrictions on driving a car and on getting a tattoo. We don’t let 11 year olds enter an R-rated movie alone, yet some would have us believe that we should push permanent body-altering surgeries on them at such a young age.

Mississippi must continue to do everything in our power to counter those who want to push their experiments on our kids. Time is of the essence, and we don’t have a second to waste. We must take every step to preserve the innocence of our children, especially against the cruel forces of modern progressivism which seek to use them as guinea pigs in their sick social experiments.

Let me be clear to those radical activists around the nation who want to do our kids harm.

Mississippi will not be trading compassion for compliance.

Our voices will not be silenced when it comes to science.

We will not be pressured into not asking questions.

And we will not give in to liberal intimidation when it comes to protecting our kids.

This is my promise to every Mississippian across our state.

There is also another way we are going to keep our kids safe, and it includes keeping their parents safe as well.

One of the most fundamental responsibilities of government is to ensure public safety and to uphold law and order.

I ran for governor to fix Mississippi’s problems, not to hide them. That’s why I’ve become increasingly concerned that, for three consecutive years now, homicides have numbered in the triple digits here in our capital city. We can and must do better.

The fact is, no matter how hard we try, there will always be evil in the world. There are those who lurk in the shadows seeking to hurt those around them. There are those who seek to inject drugs and crime into their communities, all so they can make a buck.

These actions undermine social cohesion and safety in our neighborhoods. They threaten the lives of our kids and the safety of our families.

To put it mildly, the crime situation in Jackson is unacceptable. Kids are getting killed in our streets and it’s time we put a stop to it.

Now, some have suggested that the response should be to undercut, defund, and dismantle the police. I couldn’t disagree more.

Many of us have family and friends who wear the badge. It’s worth constantly reminding ourselves that these individuals are the thin blue line which helps hold communities together.

In Mississippi we choose to fund the police. We choose to back the blue. We choose to celebrate the brave men and women who put on the badge every day and run towards danger. That’s exactly what Mississippi has done, and that’s exactly what Mississippi will continue to do.

Last year, the Mississippi Department of Public Safety conducted two major surges of law enforcement personnel – one in Jackson and one along our Gulf Coast. We flexed law enforcement in the areas and helped to shut down criminal elements in the regions. And while those surges proved to be successful, we still have more work to do.

That’s why this session, I’m calling on the legislature to make further investment into our Capitol Police by giving them the 150 officers and equipment they need to continue fulfilling their mission and continue pushing back on lawlessness in Jackson.

And let me say this as well, my administration will go after all crime within our jurisdiction. Regardless of the crime committed, regardless of who did it, regardless if it happened on the street or in an office building, my administration is and will continue to hold criminals accountable.

That’s why my administration remains committed to delivering justice and recouping every dollar possible from those who stole from Mississippians through the of TANF dollars.

Again, I ran for governor to fix Mississippi’s problems, not to hide them. Which brings me to my next area of focus – our state’s healthcare system.

Mississippi is not immune to the struggles facing healthcare systems across the country. Together, we should keep working to improve Mississippians’ access to quality healthcare, and together, we should keep working to ensure Mississippi’s healthcare system meets the needs of our people.

It starts with leveling the playing field. Most people do not know that it is illegal to open a new health care facility that competes with other institutions. We are all frustrated and worried by the threats that some hospitals may close. The first step should be allowing new ones to open! By reforming Mississippi’s Certificate of Need laws, we can root out anti-competitive behavior that blocks the formation of medical facilities and prevents the delivery of lifesaving healthcare to Mississippians.

We should continue to strengthen the pipeline of medical professionals by doubling and tripling down on our improved workforce development strategy, and we should pass legislation that levels the playing field for hospitals with expanded residency programs.

Because, at the end of the day, the real answers to our problems are not contained in the same old proposals that only serve to delay the inevitable at the expense of taxpayers. The real answer to our problems lies in innovation.

Technology is changing, and the way healthcare is delivered is changing. Our policies must adapt with the times and facilitate care that focuses not on institutions but on the patients we seek to support.

Throughout modern history we’ve witnessed innovation disrupt industries such as manufacturing, transportation, food, and entertainment. There was a time when people had to go to the theater to watch a movie. Today, they can watch them at home and on an airplane. On cable TV, Netflix, and every streaming service in between.

The fact of the matter is that technology and innovation lead to new opportunities. The same can be said of our healthcare system.

There was a time when if you needed medical services, you had to go to a large brick and mortar hospital – that was your only choice. But today, people are increasingly choosing new healthcare distribution channels over your traditional hospital. Today, people are accessing healthcare through telemedicine providers, micro-hospitals, urgent care facilities, and expanded care opportunities with nurse practitioners, pharmacists, and others.

This legislative session, I urge the legislature to think outside the box when it comes to improving Mississippi’s healthcare system. Don’t simply cave under the pressure of Democrats and their allies in the media who are pushing for the expansion of Obamacare, welfare, and socialized medicine.

Instead, seek innovative free market solutions that disrupt traditional healthcare delivery models, increase competition, and lead to better health outcomes for Mississippians.

Do not settle for something that won’t solve the problem because it could potentially and only temporarily remove the liberal media’s target on your back.

You have my word that if you stand up to the left’s push for endless government-run healthcare, I will stand with you.

For as dire as national sometimes seem, there’s still a tremendous amount of hope in Mississippi.

There really are incredible things happening here. And I’m talking about far more than our state winning its second college baseball national championship in a row, as incredible as that was.

Last year, Mississippi led the nation to overturn – the greatest accomplishment in the conservative movement in my lifetime.

Long story short, more innocent children will now have the chance to be born.

There are future doctors who now have the chance to be born. There are future teachers that now have the chance to be born. There are future nurses, future linemen, and future truckers. There are future fathers and future mothers, friends and family, brothers and sisters. They all now have the chance at life.

And there may very well even be a life that was saved who, a few years from now, will stand up here and give his or her update on the State of our State. What a wonderful blessing that would be.

But the fact is that being pro-life is about more than just being anti-. We don’t just want to eliminate the taking of unborn children’s lives, we want to make it easier for parents to raise children and for mothers to give birth to happy and healthy kids.

Now some have said that too many children will be added to Mississippi’s population. I say what a wonderful problem to have. On this point I agree with Mother Teresa when she said, ‘How can there be too many children? That is like saying there are too many flowers.’

But I also recognize we are called to do more and to support these new moms and new babies.

And I want every element of our laws to reflect and facilitate this critical mission.

That’s why I’m also calling on the legislature to establish a New Pro-Life Agenda that helps make Mississippi the easiest place in the nation to raise a family.

Together, we can prove the country wrong just like we did in education. Just like we led the nation in overturning Roe, we can lead the nation in supporting mothers and babies.

This session, Mississippi should establish a childcare tax credit and allow Mississippi families to write off childcare supplies on state tax returns.

We should increase our support for pregnancy resource centers and thus help to care for expectant and new mothers, especially those who are struggling with poverty or isolation.

We should expand childcare opportunities by cutting red tape. There’s no reason that we should let government get in the way of parents accessing care for their children.

We should expand safe haven laws, so parents have every available opportunity to choose life.

We should reduce the existing adoption backlogs and make it easier and less expensive for parents to adopt kids into a loving forever home.

And we should update our child support laws so that fathers must support their children from the moment their life begins – at conception.

This is our New Pro-Life Agenda. As I’ve said before, it will not be easy, and it will not be free. But I know that together, we are going to get the job done and deliver the support Mississippi mothers and babies deserve.

My fellow Mississippians, it’s been quite the year for our state. We’ve had moments of triumph and moments of anguish. But through it all, we’ve emerged stronger, together.

We know where Mississippi has been, and we know where Mississippi is going. Regardless of the unfair stereotypes placed upon our state and her people, we know good things are happening here.

Is our state perfect? Of course not. But besides heaven, no place is.

We know what’s happening on the ground here. We know it because we are seeing it. Whether it’s the record investment or all-time low unemployment, the all-time high graduation rate or standing up to the radical left’s war on our values – Mississippi is winning, and our state is on the rise.

That’s why I urge all of you here today to stand with me and call out the lies when they are thrown at all of us.

We can never give into the cynics who seek to tear down our great state.

We can never give into Joe Biden and the national Democrats who seek to force feed us an unhealthy dose of progressivism because they view Mississippians as neanderthals.

And we can never give into those who want us to live in a perpetual state of self-condemnation.

My friends, I am proud to serve as Mississippi’s 65th governor but I’m even prouder to call myself a Mississippian.

The eyes of our state are turned to the future, and that’s why I will continue to reject those who would seek to divide and separate us. Instead, on behalf of all Mississippi, I am proud to pronounce once more that we are all Mississippians, committed to improving this home that we love.

We are blessed to live in a wonderful state. We are blessed to have wonderful neighbors. We are blessed by one common God who smiles down upon Mississippi.

I have no doubt that our future is brighter than ever before and that, together, we will continue to build this great state upwards.

God bless all of you. And may God continue to bless this great state that we all love, Mississippi.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Chris McDaniel qualifies to run for Mississippi lieutenant governor

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rssfeeds.hattiesburgamerican.com – Mississippi – 2023-01-30 15:40:23

Sen. Chris McDaniel of Ellisville, Miss., announces his candidacy  for lieutenant governor during an event at GOP Headquarters in Jackson, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023.

Far-right firebrand Sen. Chris McDaniel will be making another attempt at taking down a sitting Republican statewide official, after signing papers Monday to qualify in the race for lieutenant governor.

In a primary campaign that could cast long shadows over the ongoing legislative session, McDaniel, R-Ellisville, will be facing off against current Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who is finishing his first term as leader of the chamber in which McDaniel serves, and Shane Quick, whom Hosemann defeated in the GOP primary four years ago.

Though weeks apart, both Hosemann and McDaniel qualified…

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Reeves and Presley spar over where MS stands

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rssfeeds.clarionledger.com – Mississippi – 2023-01-30 20:28:08

Gov. Tate Reeves delivers the State of the State address on the south steps of the Mississippi State Capitol on Monday evening.

Last year may have been the best year in history if you ask its governor, but his potential Democratic opponent in the upcoming gubernatorial election is not so sure.

Republican Gov. Tate Reeves declared the State of the State to be strong, as a cool mist fell over the south steps of the Mississippi State Capitol. Behind him, many legislators, statewide officials, and even award-winning music trio Chapel Hart looked on.

Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, who has also filed to for governor, gave his party’s response at a very different location: the former emergency room…

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Transcript: Brandon Presley offers Democratic response to 2023 State of the State address

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Transcript: Brandon Presley offers Democratic response to 2023 State of the State address

Brandon Presley, a Democratic public service commissioner, gave the official Democratic Party response to Gov. Tate Reeves’ Jan. 30 of the State address.

Below is the transcript of Presley’s response, which aired on Mississippi Public Broadcasting immediately following Reeves’ address.

Editor’s note: This transcript was submitted by Presley’s campaign and has not been formatted to match Mississippi Today’s style.

: Watch Brandon Presley’s State of the State response here.


Good evening, I’m Brandon Presley. And as you might be able to tell, I am speaking to you this evening from inside a closed-down emergency room in a shutdown hospital. But before I tell you why I’m standing here tonight, I want to tell you a little bit about where I’m from and who I am.

I grew up in North Mississippi, in a small town called Nettleton. It’s not a one-stoplight town, it’s a no-stoplight town. It’s a little dot on the map and like many towns in Mississippi, it’s the kind of place that Tate Reeves probably doesn’t know exists and doesn’t care about.

When I was growing up in Nettleton, my momma worked at the local garment factory before it shut down, then she became a preschool teacher at the local church up the street. She raised me, my brother, and sister in the house that I still live in. Back then, you could see straight through the floor to the dirt, but with my mama’s trust in God, we never felt as poor as we really were.

My daddy was an alcoholic who never made it to recovery. On my first day of 3rd grade, he was murdered in cold blood. My life, like many of yours, has had its share of tragedies, but with that faith in God that my mama taught me, I have been able to push through bad times, just like so many of you watching tonight. I’ve been there and so I know how you feel as you struggle to pay the bills, get the groceries and just hope that maybe you can make it to the next paycheck.

But thanks to the values I learned in that old house, I did push through. I went to college. I became mayor of Nettleton to fight for my neighbors and the folks who helped me become who I am today. We got Nettleton moving again. We cut taxes twice and balanced the budget. Since then, I’ve served on the public service commission to fight for families and against special interests who, too often, rule the roost in state government. We opened up closed-door meetings where the public was shut out and brought transparency to our state agency. I voted against boondoggles like the Kemper power plant and saved taxpayers over six billion dollars. Many times when I had to stand alone.

It takes guts and backbone to stand by yourself when the lobbyists and folks with big campaign checks oppose you. That’s called leadership. We don’t have it with Tate Reeves and that’s exactly why I’m running for Governor.

But, tonight isn’t about me and my story – it’s about you and your story, your family’s story, and your community’s story. It’s about the Mississippi that we want to build together. So, I ask you, do we want to keep goin’ down the same path that got us here, or do we want to start winning again?

Because tonight, I listened to ’ State of the State address. I’ve watched his “leadership” over the years, and I know and see what you know and see. Mississippi is full of good people, but we are led by horrible politicians and it’s time for that to change.

The reality is, under Tate Reeves’ leadership, we are moving in the wrong direction. Nothing makes that clearer than where I am tonight. I’m at what once was Pioneer Community Hospital in Newton, which employed over 200 people. Now, it’s shut down for good. No doctors roaming the halls, no nurses tending to patients, no ambulances outside, no cars in the parking lot. Right now, there are thirty-eight more rural hospitals just like the one I’m standing in, and they are on the brink of shutting their doors. If hospitals continue to close, the impact will be catastrophic. Jobs lost and for thousands gutted.

Every time we close a rural hospital, folks have to drive farther and farther to see a doctor and the true, sad fact is that some will die. This is the reality that Tate Reeves has chosen to put us in. Make no mistake, he made this choice. We have a solution. By extending to the working people of our state, we can keep hospitals across Mississippi from experiencing the same fate as this one. All Tate Reeves has to do is lift his hand, take an ink pen, and sign on a line. Instead, he lacks the backbone and he will sit on his hands while people lose their jobs, some lose their lives and our hospitals suffer. When Tate Reeves finally wakes up and asks why hospitals are closing, he should look in the mirror. And this hospital is just one example of how Tate Reeves and his policies are hurting our families.

Mississippi is at the bottom of the nation for economic growth. We’re one of only three states that lost population, and the numbers recently released by the bureau of labor statistics show ZERO job growth in Mississippi. We are one of only seven states that taxes groceries. In the Delta, there is one pediatrician for every 4,000 kids. It’s no surprise we lead the nation in deaths for children under the age of one, how is that pro-life? What does all that tell you? That Tate Reeves is only pro-life until you’re born and then he’s done caring about you.

While he brags about a budget surplus, family budgets are running out. And while you’re careful with your money, he’s throwing your tax dollars away. He’s been caught in the middle of the largest public corruption scandal in our state’s history. $77 million dollars of taxpayer money that should have gone to working families that are struggling instead went to help build a volleyball court… a volleyball court! And paid for speeches by famous people that were never given. Some was even given to Tate Reeves’ own personal trainer. And you should tune in because we are only just now learning how bad and possibly illegal all of this activity was.

But, I’m done talking about Tate Reeves. I want to listen to you. I want to fight for you. Together, we can build a Mississippi that focuses on the future, not the past. We can build an that works for everybody.

It starts in Jackson next year, with a strong ethics package to root out corruption and ensure our politicians are serving you rather than being sold off to the highest bidder. It is time to send a signal to the special interest that the party Is over and their day of complete control of our state has come to an end. It continues by funding rural hospitals and officers, not stealing from them. Yes, we should fund the police, increase healthcare, and invest in education. Together, we are going to end the insane grocery tax. We’re going to make sure folks from Walnut on the Tennessee line to Waveland on the gulf coast can walk with pride because they have a job and hope for their children’s future.

Mississippi, I love you. If you need me, you know where to find me – I won’t be in under the chandeliers tinkling glasses with the powerful, I’ll be with you. I’ll be on your side.

…The holes in the floor have been fixed in that old house I grew up in, but the values my momma taught me and the love that made it a home are still here. I don’t care who you’ve voted for, or what party you’re in. I know that we’re neighbors and we look out for each other.

May God bless you, and may God bless the great state of Mississippi.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Transcript: Democratic leaders respond to 2023 State of the State address

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Transcript: Democratic leaders respond to 2023 State of the State address

Rep. Robert Johnson and Sen. Derrick Simmons, the House and Senate Democratic leaders, responded to Gov. Tate Reeves’ Jan. 30 of the State address.

Below is the statement from Johnson and Simmons.

Editor’s note: This transcript was submitted by the leaders’ staff and has not been formatted to match Mississippi Today’s style.

READ MORE: Gov. Reeves claims ‘best year in state history.’ His 2023 challenger says he’s moved state in ‘wrong direction’


The Mississippi described in today’s State of the State is not the Mississippi lived in by the vast majority of our state’s families. It is a fantasy — a mythical Mississippi that we all wish we lived in. A booming ; well-funded and high-performing schools; accessible, high-quality ; economic opportunity for all; functioning infrastructure – it sounds pretty magical. 

And it might as well have started with “once upon a time.”

As much as we’d like to believe in this fairy tale, for the rest of us, our Mississippi is a much different story.For many , the reality is that our state isn’t working for us, it’s working against us. And far too often it feels like this place that we love so much doesn’t love us back. What’s most frustrating, though, is that not only do state leaders refuse to acknowledge your concerns and do their part to improve your lives — they’re ignoring our state’s issues outright, while telling us over and over again just how great everything is.

According to the most recent census, Mississippi was one of only three states that lost population over the last ten years — a decade that saw Gov. Reeves running the state Senate for two terms as lieutenant governor, where he decided on spending and slashing and what would be prioritized or ignored. But as we watched our kids and grandkids flee, our colleagues and friends leave for greener pastures, we listened to state leaders — including Tate Reeves — tell us that Mississippi was on fire, the state’s coffers were filling up, and that brain drain was just a figment of our collective imagination.

Tonight, again, we heard those same refrains and the same downplaying of the realities of life here in our state.

Since last year’s State of the State address, the healthcare crisis has reached a critical point. But while we have sounded the alarm, Republicans have neglected to extend postpartum coverage for new moms; refused to prioritize sending money to rural hospitals; and continued to ignore the pleas of voters, advocates, policy experts, hospital leaders, and business leaders to expand Medicaid. We’ve been warned by the Department of Health there’s a growing area of the state in which there is no hospital to deliver a baby and we are navigating a severe nursing shortage.

Thirty-eight rural hospitals are in danger of imminent closure — that’s 54% of Mississippi’s rural hospitals. More than 200,000 working Mississippians are without healthcare. One in six women of childbearing age is uninsured. 46,000 Mississippi children are uninsured. The only neonatal intensive care unit in the Delta closed this year, where there is one pediatrician for every 4,000 children. We are number one in the nation for babies born with low birthweight. We have the nation’s highest fetal mortality rate. Our preterm birth rate rose to 15% from 14.2% the year prior. And just in case you thought this was an issue that only affected one portion of the state, you should know that preterm birth rates worsened in , Rankin County, Jackson County, and Madison County.

Meanwhile, while they continue to insist there’s “more to being pro-life than anti-abortion” the governor and the party he leads have only made excuses for their inaction and vague promises that we have no reason to believe they will ever deliver on.

Gov. Reeves also continues to say that he’ll keep fighting to eliminate the income tax. The revenue from the state income tax accounts for a third of our general fund — the portion of the budget that takes care of the most basic services you expect the government to handle. Things like education funding and money for roads and bridges come from this portion of the budget.

Tonight, the governor told us, again, that “Mississippi continues to be in the best financial shape in its history.” And yet, 30% of Mississippi children are living in poverty. The Department of Mental Health’s workforce has decreased by nearly 4,000 since 2009. State employees – the men and women who keep our state running – are, on average, paid thousands of dollars less than their counterparts in all of our surrounding states. Our state’s schools have been underfunded by over $3 billion since 2007.Our long-neglected roadways continue to cost Mississippians, on average, $800 in vehicle damage annually.

If Mississippi has never been in better financial shape, how do you explain how many Mississippians are struggling to make ends meet? How are our schools still struggling to provide the basics for our students? How did our capital city go without water for weeks this year?How is our healthcare system on the brink of total collapse?

The fact is, it is not a lack of available funds that stops leadership from keeping its promise to the citizens they pledged to serve; it is a lack of interest. Slashing the budget and limiting government spending does, in fact, come at a cost. A human cost. Democrats are often criticized for just wanting to throw money at a problem, but that’s not what we’re doing here. There has to be a shift in the way we think about funding government services. It’s not just about spending money. It’s about investing in Mississippi, in Mississippians – and in the future of our state.

House and Senate Democrats have long offered up concrete ideas and common-sense solutions to move Mississippi forward. Year after year, we’ve authored legislation to address the increasingly dangerous healthcare crisis, raise the minimum wage, fix our state’s crumbling infrastructure, fully fund public education, make easier and more convenient, increase transparency in government, ensure equity in economic development so that all corners of our state have the opportunity to flourish, and now we’re working to restore the ballot initiative. We also led the charge on increasing teacher pay and a raise for state employees year after year — and not just when it was politically beneficial to do so. Today’s speech, like most of what comes out of the governor’s mouth, was not reflective of what it’s like outside the gates of the Governor’s Mansion; it was yet another audition to be someone’s running mate. He’s continued not to take his cues from what he’s hearing from you; but from what he knows will remind the producers at Fox that he’s always available for a booking.

We wish that we could go along with the fairytale spun about the state of our state, but the truth is far more complicated than everyone living happily ever after. We have real work to do. The good news is, we know how to get started on making things better for all of us.

Mississippians share more values and principles than not. We care about what happens to our neighbors because that’s just who we are. We want our families to prosper and for our kids to have a better future and more opportunities than we did. But actions speak louder than words, and it seems that Tate Reeves only wants you to believe that he shares those values.

Our state is in desperate need of a leader who sees all of that and governs based on it — someone who brings people together, someone who will acknowledge the problems we face and try to understand the causes of them. We need a governor who has respect for his fellow Mississippian, someone who will lead with honesty and empathy and compassion, and who can make the best decisions for everyone, not just a select few. We need someone who can not only hear people but listen to them. We need someone who will wake up every single morning and get to work on improving this state.

Most of all, we need someone with the guts to stand up and say, “Enough is enough, it’s time to make Mississippi a better place. For everyone.”

We can do better. And if we want our kids and grandkids to have a fighting chance, we’re going to have to.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

Lumumba on bills aimed at Jackson: ‘It reminds me of apartheid’

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Lumumba on bills aimed at Jackson: ‘It reminds me of apartheid’

Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba on Monday lambasted lawmakers’ ongoing attempts to strong-arm city leadership through legislation that would local control over judicial and drinking water systems.

In the current legislative session, lawmakers have introduced the following bills:

  • HB 1020, which would create a new court to oversee cases within Jackson’s Capital. Complex Improvement District with judges appointed by the state Supreme Court and prosecutors appointed by the state .
  • HB 696, which would expand the boundaries of the the district.
  • SB 2889, which would put the long-term control of Jackson’s drinking water system under a board mostly appointed by the governor and lieutenant governor.
  • SB 2338, which would prevent cities from charging for water based on property value, a plan Jackson’s new third-party manager is proposing as a way to lower the cost burden on poorer residents.

The mayor spoke to the pattern of recent attempts to remove control over issues in Jackson from the 83% Black, majority Democrat city, and put it in the hands of state leaders; all of Mississippi’s statewide elected officials are white Republicans.

“It reminds me of apartheid,” Lumumba said Monday. “They are looking to colonize Jackson, not only in terms of them putting their military force over Jackson, but also dictating who has province over decision-making.

“They put this military force over us, and we’re just supposed to pay taxes to the king.”

Lumumba also called out HB 370, which would allow voters to recall municipal elected officials. Critics of the bill argue it was aimed at removing Jackson leadership, although the bill’s author, Rep. Shanda Yates, said she didn’t introduce it with the city in mind.

The mayor has frequently criticized the role of state leaders over the past year. Last April, Lumumba called the “paternalistic” and “racist” after a dispute over the appropriation of federal funds from the . In their handling of the funds, lawmakers attached extra oversight over Jackson’s spending of infrastructure money that wasn’t required for other cities in the state.

Last fall, after a combination of and broken pumps shut down the capital city’s drinking water system, Gov. Tate Reeves announced that the state was taking over Jackson’s water operations. After both initially said that the city and state were working together, Reeves and Lumumba spent weeks launching public attacks against each other.

Following the U.S. Department of Justice’s November order to put the water system into the hands of a third-party manager, Reeves said it was “excellent ” that Lumumba would no longer have authority over the utility.

Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves, left, and Jackson Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba discuss elements of a coordinated response with federal agencies, that they believe will help deal with the city’s long-standing water problems, during a Wednesday news briefing, Sept. 7, 2022, in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)

The federal government recently appropriated $600 million to directly assist Jackson’s water system; that money is part of a total $814 million in federal funds that will go towards the city’s water and sewer projects.

Lumumba said Monday there has never been an investment like this before, referencing that Flint received $100 million in federal funds to aid its lead crisis. He said Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann expressed doubts that Jackson could secure such funding without the state’s help.

“(Hosemann) said that I needed to look at a possible relationship with the state, because what did I think, Biden was going to write me a check?” Lumumba said. “I recently told (Hosemann): ‘I do, and he did it.'”

Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba (left) and water system’s third-party administrator Ted Henifin, answer questions regarding the current state of the city’s water system during a town hall meeting held at Forest Hill High School, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2022.

Mayor hasn’t seen proposal yet, appointing new public works director

Asked about last week’s proposal from the city’s new water manager, Ted Henifin, Lumumba said he hasn’t yet reviewed the plan, and couldn’t speak to specific ideas in the plan, such as charging customers based on property values or creating a nonprofit to govern the system long term.

Lumumba did say the city was getting ready to announce a new interim public works director; the previous interim director, Jordan Hillman, is now working for Henifin’s organization, JXN Water.

The mayor said the city is hiring a recruiting firm to find a permanent director, and added that the new director will no longer be handling the city’s drinking water.

Asked if management of the drinking water system would remain with a separate entity long-term, Lumumba said “it’s too early to say.”

“I will say my interest is not just to (the water system) and operate it for the sake of running and operating it,” the mayor said.

Lumumba will host a town hall to discuss the latest around federal funding and Henifin’s role on Wednesday at 6 p.m. at Forest Hill High School.

This article first on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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