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Eminent domain sure to be hot campaign topic

September 14th, 2010 25 comments

Mississippi Farm Bureau President David Waide has told a couple Mississippi media outlets the past few days that supporters of an eminent domain initiative are getting really close to gathering enough signatures to put the issue on the 2011 ballot.

With Waide telling a newspaper in Tupelo that enough signatures have been gleaned from three of the four required Congressional districts, it would be a surprise at this point if organizers did not meet the Oct. 6 deadline to submit their documents to the secretary of state’s office.

The notion that government can use eminent domain to benefit a private enterprise is one of the most contentious political issues Magnolia Marketplace has covered. It is a near certainty that it will be a major talking point for statewide candidates next year.

The most interesting dynamic will likely play out on the Republican side of the field. Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant, who will run for governor in 2011, did not strongly commit one way or another on the issue during the 2009 session, when the Senate narrowly upheld Gov. Barbour’s veto of a bill that would have restricted the use of eminent domain to projects of public interest, like roads and utilities. It would have been really interesting if the sustain/override vote in the Senate would have required Bryant to break a tie. He’s probably glad it didn’t.

Barbour spent many hours and a lot of energy lobbying lawmakers after he vetoed the legislation, which originally passed both chambers easily. It didn’t garner a single nay in the Senate, clearing that body 52-0. The crux of Barbour’s argument was that things like Toyota and Nissan would not be here if the state were not allowed to use eminent domain during the development of each.

Waide told the Mississippi Business Journal earlier in the summer that he expected enough signatures to arrive some time in September, and that timeline looks like it will be met. Voters will most likely decide the issue next fall. This is one of those issues where candidates will have to go all in or all out. There is no comfortable middle ground. The landowners’ rights lobby and economic development groups both have deep pockets and big voting blocs. Alienating either is never a good campaign strategy, so candidates have a tough decision to make.

MEC Transformation Tour comes to Jackson

December 2nd, 2009 No comments

The Mississippi Economic Council’s annual Transformation Tour stopped in Jackson this morning at the Hilton on County Line Road.

A few hundred folks crammed into one of the hotel’s ballrooms to hear a handful of elected officials offer their take on the upcoming legislative session.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant touted the Commission for a New Mississippi’s recommendations to overhaul the state’s budgeting system. Bryant unveiled the plan Monday, and used the same arguments today as he did then.

Bryant said the state desperately needs to develop a strategic plan and tie the allocation of state funds to agencies to the components of that plan. The performance-based budgeting concept is a big part of the Commission’s goals.

“If nobody’s monitoring your level of success you’re probably not going to get much accomplished,” Bryant said. Magnolia Marketplace is writing a story for next week’s MBJ that will take a long look at the Commission’s report and try to gauge how it will play when lawmakers convene in January. Here’s a hint: Some parts of the plan stand a better chance at becoming reality than others.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann touted the new Blue Book and warned against the inclination some legislators may have for diverting 16th Section revenue from school districts to the general fund. Hosemann’s legislative agenda includes reforming the state’s LLC, trademark, tradename and uniform commercial code laws.

Institutions of Higher Learning Commissioner Dr. Hank Bounds and State Board of Community and Junior Colleges Executive Director Dr. Eric Clark both said that their respective levels of education were Mississippi’s key to properly emerging from the recession. New State Superintendent of Education Dr. Tom Burnham, who just started his second stint in that seat, echoed Bounds and Clark.

The Transformation Tour started Nov. 9 in Greenwood and will end Dec. 10 in Gulfport. In all, 12 cities across the state will host or have already hosted the event.

The Blue Book is here!

December 1st, 2009 No comments

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann just wrapped a press conference at his Capitol office, in which he unveiled the 2008-2012 Official and Statistical Register of the State of Mississippi, or the Blue Book.

The 768 pages provide almost everything there is to know about counties, municipalities, state agencies, boards and commissions. For the first time, this edition of the Blue Book has municipal election returns.

Hosemann said he wanted this version, the first printed since he took office, to provide a glimpse of where the state is headed, and not just a historical rundown of where the state has been.

“You see a very different Mississippi than 10 or 20 years ago,” Hosemann said, noting how the state’s economy has expanding beyond its agrarian heritage to include things like the Nissan plant in Canton and the Severstal steel mill in Columbus. Data pertaining to Mississippi’s workforce and its largest employers is included.

Hederman Brothers Printing of Ridgeland printed the Blue Book, at a cost to the state of just under $10 per copy. Libraries, schools and public officials will be among those who receive one of the 11,000 copies printed.

The Blue Book is available to the general public on Hosemann’s Web site. Hard copies are free and can be had by calling (601) 359-6344 or by visiting the Secretary of State’s office at 700 North Street in Jackson.

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Hosemann releases 2009 Municipal Elections Report

September 14th, 2009 No comments

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann released the 2009 Municipal Elections Report late this morning.

Essentially, the report outlines the questions, complaints and allegations Hosemann’s office received about the elections in Mississippi’s municipalities.

According to the report, the two biggest complaints voters had were precinct changes and their names not being on the voter rolls. Those issues accounted for nearly 25 percent of calls to the elections hotline Hosemann’s office had set up.

The runner-up behind precincts and voter rolls were allegations that candidates or their representatives were campaigning within 150 feet of a polling place, which is a no-no.

Neither of those is going to cause any great headache for Hosemann.

But this probably will: The report lists allegations of voter fraud in New Albany in a couple different forms. One accuses New Albany police officers of delivering absentee ballots to people’s homes and ¬†instructing them how to vote. An addendum to that complaint says that absentee ballots marked for one particular candidate were given to New Albany cops to return to the voter with instructions to switch their vote.

Another claims the New Albany city clerk endorsed a candidate — though the report did not name who the candidate was or what office he/she was seeking — before handing over an absentee ballot to folks who had asked for one.

Obviously, Hosemann, attorney general Jim Hood and/or their agents either have already spent some time or will spend some time in Union County.

There could be other towns on the travel itinerary.

Similar stories from Macon and Canton are listed in the report, along with an array of other issues from across the state. The full report can be read here.

Categories: Delbert Hosemann, Elections, News, Politics Tags: