The Commonwealth of Greenwood. January 4, 2022.
Editorial: Spending for the long term
Mississippi lawmakers are expected to be very busy over the next three months. The 2022 legislative session, which begins Tuesday, is about as laden with important – or significantly embarrassing – topics as any in recent memory.
Some of the things lawmakers should address include legalizing medical marijuana; restore the power of voters to initiate constitutional amendments; redraw the voting lines for the four members of Congress from Mississippi and 174 members of the Legislative Assembly; and give teachers another pay raise.
Expect there to also be a debate – albeit less sure of action – about reducing or trading taxes; ban public schools from teaching critical race theory (which they already do not); and the expansion of Medicaid.
But arguably the most important task lawmakers face this session is deciding how to spend the $ 1.8 billion the state receives from the federal government in coronavirus relief funding.
There will be a lot of interests wanting a slice of this US bailout money – most likely from cities and counties, hospitals and other health care providers, broadband providers, government agencies. law enforcement and public bodies that provide health and social services to people. impacted by the pandemic. Most of them will have great merit in their arguments.
Hospitals, for example, are severely affected by a shortage of nurses and other skilled workers. They are looking for immediate help in an attempt to attract these workers again with incentives that could be financed, at least in part, by government funds.
What lawmakers must decide is to use this federal manna for short-term or long-term problems. There is unlikely to be enough to effectively tackle both, a figure as high as $ 1.8 billion. In fact, in a series of meetings held in the latter part of 2021, funding requests totaled around $ 7 billion, almost four times what is available.
That’s why Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann was right when he said months ago that Mississippi needed to spend most of its coronavirus relief money on making improvements that will not only benefit that state. for the moment but for several generations. This means investing the funds in long-term capital projects that have been overlooked for lack of resources, including improving water and sewers.
Hosemann’s idea is to pair state money with more than $ 900 million that will go directly to the county and city governments of the US bailout.
Add in the additional $ 2.3 billion Mississippi is expected to receive from the massive infrastructure package passed by Congress this year, and this state has the rare opportunity to dramatically improve the roads and bridges we travel, and repair or to replace the pipes used to bring water to our homes and to remove waste.
But this can only be done if we resist the temptation to worry only about the here and now. This is the mistake this state made in the past, letting roads and bridges deteriorate because it didn’t have the foresight to realize that what the state built would not last s ‘he did not invest to maintain the infrastructure.
Mississippi can improve this condition in the long term with relief money from the coronavirus. The legislature should spend it accordingly.
The Dispatch (Columbus). December 29, 2021.
Editorial:: three pieces of legislation to watch
The Mississippi Legislature will meet in Jackson on Tuesday for its 2022 session.
While there are always new issues and bills emerging from the ether – who could have predicted a pecan theft bill in last year’s session, for example? – there are three major bills which are likely to dominate the session.
Lieutenant Governor Delbert Hosemann, who chairs the Senate, said medical marijuana would be one of the first pieces of legislation passed at the start of the session.
The road to a medical marijuana program has been a long and frustrating journey.
After years in which the legislature failed to advance any out-of-committee medical marijuana program, voters took matters into their own hands, passing an amendment to the state’s constitution in November 2020 that would have created a medical marijuana which was supposed to have been put into use in August. The measure was passed by a margin of nearly 3 to 1, but was overturned by the Mississippi Supreme Court, which declared the Mississippi election initiative invalid due to a technical problem with the redistribution in 2010.
Restoring the people’s right to petition the government through the initiative process will also be a priority, at least that’s what lawmakers – including the entire Golden Triangle delegation – have said. immediately after the Supreme Court ruling in May.
In response to the ruling, Senate and House negotiators agreed on a new medical marijuana bill and called on Gov. Tate Reeves to call a special session to have the draft law can be voted on and adopted. Reeves refused and expressed his opposition to the legislation. He said he would seek the support of a sufficient number of lawmakers to ensure that the bill approved in this session is not veto proof.
Lawmakers have a choice between following the governor’s orders or respecting the overwhelming will of the people, as well as staying true to their previous promises to pass medical marijuana legislation.
The same is true of legislation restoring the initiative process, something that meets no opposition in the House, Senate or the governor’s office, at least not on the surface.
But the devil is in the details. We know that in private lawmakers despise the initiative process and believe it is usurping their role in drafting legislation. Therefore, the wording of the Voters’ Initiative Bill needs careful consideration. Any legislation that seriously prevents voters from taking action when their legislators refuse to act creates the simple illusion of voter initiative.
Finally, Hosemann said he intends to advocate for the expansion of Medicaid, legislation that would provide health insurance to up to 300,000 people in working families. Mississippi is currently one of 12 states that have not extended Medicaid since it was proposed under the Affordable Care Act (aka Obamacare) in 2010, although 90-95% of costs are covered by federal funds.
Beyond providing essential health services to 10 percent of the state’s population currently without health insurance, many believe the expansion of Medicaid would be a boon to rural hospitals that are in financial jeopardy due to the crisis. makes residents of rural areas of the state less likely to be covered by private insurance. Rural hospitals provide health services to uninsured patients for which they cannot be reimbursed. The Mississippi Hospital Association, as well as many health care advocacy groups, support expanding Medicaid coverage for this reason.
As is the case with medical marijuana, polls show Mississippians favor expanding the benefits of Medicaid by a health margin.
We believe that the medical marijuana legislation, the expansion of Medicaid, and a legitimate voter initiative process deserve the support of our legislative delegation.
We intend to let voters know if our delegation is in agreement as these bills move through the process.
Vicksburg Post. December 30, 2021.
Editorial: Safe Neighborhoods Project Will Benefit Everyone in County Warren
It is undeniable: we have a crime problem in Vicksburg and Warren County.
Fortunately, our local law enforcement agencies are partnering with state and federal agencies to ensure the maximum sentence for repeat offenders in the region. Joining other communities like Natchez, Meridian and Jackson, the Vicksburg Police Department, the Warren County Sheriff’s Office and the District Attorney’s Office launched the Safe Neighborhoods in Our Area project.
The joint task force will specifically target those who commit violent crimes, drug offenses or firearms offenses.
According to District Attorney Ricky Smith Jr., this is a chance to ensure the maximum possible prison sentence for those convicted.
Our field officers routinely address drug trafficking, illegal possession and use of firearms and other crimes. Often these offenders are young people who think this lifestyle is cool or offers some sort of credibility.
Hopefully, the threat of serving a significant prison sentence will keep potential offenders from coming into conflict with the law.
As Smith said this week, “I don’t think you can be too hard on them” when it comes to those who traffic large amounts of drugs in the community or commit violent offenses.
Serving a more adequate sentence for the crimes committed may also deter repeat offenders – of course, their last offense may have only resulted in a few years of effective sentence, but the next offense could carry a federal sentence and mean more. of time spent behind bars.
As an additional way to fight crime, it doesn’t get much better than this.
The Safe Neighborhoods Project has proven to be effective in other communities across the country, and citizens of
Warren County should be optimistic about the arrival of the program in our area.
We had three gunshot deaths in Warren County in 2021. As the New Year approaches, let’s work together to prevent violence and senseless deaths.
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