Mississippi lawmakers return to Capitol for 3-month session

(Craig Ford)

Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is proposing a teacher pay raise as Mississippi legislators begin their three-month session.

Posted: Jan 8, 2019 10:48 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Republican Gov. Phil Bryant is proposing a teacher pay raise as Mississippi legislators begin their three-month session.

House and Senate leaders say they also would like to consider raises for state employees. But it will be late March or early April before budget decisions are made.

Legislators convene at noon Tuesday. Here are some issues and events for the first several days:

LEADERSHIP QUESTIONS

The president pro tempore of the Mississippi Senate, Republican Terry Burton of Newton, and the speaker pro tempore of the House, Greg Snowden of Meridian, are facing questions about their leadership roles after each was charged with drunken driving.

Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves urged Burton to resign as Senate pro tem on Dec. 21, two days after Burton was arrested in Starkville. Burton was charged with second- offense DUI, although it was his third arrest on a drunken-driving charge. Burton said the arrest was a "personal shortcoming." He added that it is "no reflection on my colleagues but is strictly on me."

Burton pleaded guilty after a 2014 DUI arrest in Brandon. He was acquitted after a 2016 DUI arrest in Scott County when a judge ruled that cough syrup and breath spray that Burton said he used right after an accident must have caused a false positive on a breath test.

House Speaker Philip Gunn told reporters in December that the House Ethics Committee would look at Snowden's DUI arrest. Snowden pleaded no contest Nov. 19 to first-offense DUI. He was not convicted but was put into a diversion program for first-time offenders. Snowden's driver's license is suspended for 120 days, but he can drive using an interlock device which measures alcohol on starting a vehicle.

Snowden was arrested in September after refusing to take a DUI test after rear-ending another vehicle at a traffic signal. Snowden claimed at the time he wasn't drunk and hit the car while he was texting and looking on his phone at news about the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court nomination hearings in Washington.

HOUSE VACANCIES

Three seats are vacant in the 122-member House because lawmakers were elected to judgeships, and Gov. Phil Bryant has set March 12 special elections to fill them.

Former Rep. Willie Perkins of Greenwood is now a chancery judge. He represented House District 32 in Leflore County. Former Rep. Adrienne Wooten of Jackson is now a circuit judge. She represented House District 71 in Hinds County. Former Rep. Brad Touchstone of Hattiesburg is now a county and youth court judge in Lamar County. He represented District 101 in Lamar County.

Perkins and Wooten served in the House as Democrats and Touchstone as a Republican. They won nonpartisan judicial races.

With the vacancies, the House has 73 Republicans and 46 Democrats.

There are no vacancies in the Senate, which has 33 Republicans and 19 Democrats.

PEOPLE (AND SHRIMP) TO SEE

The Mississippi Municipal League expects about 600 people for its midwinter conference Tuesday through Thursday. Mayors and others are planning to go to the Capitol on Wednesday.

One of the biggest social events of the session — the Gulf Coast Legislative Reception, which features a bounty of shrimp — is Wednesday evening at the Mississippi Trade Mart in Jackson, according to the state Senate social calendar on the legislative website.

The state chamber of commerce, the Mississippi Economic Council, has its Capital Day on Thursday, with hundreds of business people and others.

STATE OF THE STATE

Bryant is scheduled to give his State of the State address at 5 p.m. Jan. 15. Bryant is expected to discuss his policy priorities as he enters his eighth and final year as governor. The speech will be in the Mississippi House chamber and carried by Mississippi Public Broadcasting.

ELECTION YEAR

Candidates have started qualifying for statewide, regional and county offices and legislative seats in Mississippi. All 122 seats in the state House and all 52 in the state Senate are up for election. Candidates' qualifying deadline for all offices is March 1. Party primaries are in August, and the general election is in November.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 540083

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798481529
Mobile41283809
Madison35157506
Tuscaloosa25925455
Shelby25302249
Montgomery24723593
Baldwin21411310
Lee15993172
Calhoun14574319
Morgan14425280
Etowah13925353
Marshall12280225
Houston10648282
Elmore10158206
Limestone10070151
St. Clair9948245
Cullman9768194
Lauderdale9460243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8341176
Walker7261278
Autauga7005108
Jackson6840112
Blount6773139
Colbert6322135
Coffee5581118
Dale4877113
Russell445738
Chilton4373113
Franklin426382
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394877
Chambers3596123
Dallas3569153
Clarke351561
Marion3140101
Pike312077
Lawrence303098
Winston275873
Bibb264764
Geneva254178
Marengo249865
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale224078
Butler219169
Fayette212862
Henry189943
Cherokee184845
Randolph182542
Monroe178141
Washington167839
Macon161350
Clay157257
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143336
Lowndes140653
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter105032
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 79° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 75°
Columbus
Partly Cloudy
75° wxIcon
Hi: 81° Lo: 62°
Feels Like: 75°
Oxford
Cloudy
66° wxIcon
Hi: 77° Lo: 63°
Feels Like: 66°
Starkville
Cloudy
68° wxIcon
Hi: 78° Lo: 61°
Feels Like: 68°
Low pressure off to the west of our area and high pressure to the east over the next few days. In between, in our area the battle will linger some scattered showers and isolated thunderstorms for a few more days.
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