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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: 149940

Reported Deaths: 3779
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto10097104
Hinds9984199
Harrison7116110
Jackson6360119
Rankin5588103
Lee509195
Madison4799106
Forrest383186
Jones357688
Lauderdale3496147
Lafayette326051
Washington3179107
Lamar291550
Oktibbeha245462
Bolivar241384
Lowndes237364
Panola222350
Neshoba2206118
Marshall217250
Leflore205590
Pontotoc199928
Monroe198177
Sunflower191655
Lincoln190865
Warren176857
Tate169851
Union167325
Copiah164140
Pike162658
Yazoo156039
Scott154829
Itawamba152935
Pearl River152167
Alcorn151328
Coahoma150543
Simpson148353
Prentiss146230
Adams141950
Grenada140945
Leake134944
Holmes130861
George125524
Tippah125230
Covington123439
Winston122224
Hancock121139
Wayne117923
Marion116646
Attala113034
Tishomingo109442
Chickasaw107632
Newton105629
Tallahatchie97027
Clay91327
Clarke90553
Jasper82822
Stone77014
Walthall76928
Calhoun75513
Montgomery74525
Carroll72415
Lawrence71814
Smith71316
Yalobusha71327
Noxubee71017
Perry67026
Tunica61019
Greene60322
Claiborne58616
Jefferson Davis57017
Amite54014
Humphreys53619
Benton49318
Quitman4927
Webster44314
Kemper43618
Wilkinson39822
Jefferson35211
Franklin3395
Choctaw3357
Sharkey30917
Issaquena1164
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 244993

Reported Deaths: 3572
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson32314500
Mobile19859361
Madison13223148
Tuscaloosa13049154
Montgomery12342236
Shelby1031577
Baldwin873398
Lee775766
Morgan662650
Calhoun6301119
Etowah627666
Marshall627255
Houston525638
DeKalb485536
Cullman439442
Limestone425145
St. Clair419555
Lauderdale407854
Elmore406864
Walker3657111
Talladega351454
Jackson320423
Colbert311942
Blount292240
Autauga273542
Franklin252633
Coffee245415
Dale232654
Dallas226232
Chilton223438
Russell22193
Covington218934
Escambia198331
Chambers176850
Tallapoosa176391
Pike158614
Clarke158419
Marion140236
Winston133023
Lawrence127936
Pickens123518
Geneva12218
Marengo121524
Bibb117917
Barbour117310
Butler116541
Randolph102921
Cherokee102224
Hale97031
Clay91924
Fayette91616
Washington91219
Henry8546
Lowndes79929
Monroe78911
Cleburne77214
Macon73722
Crenshaw71130
Bullock69619
Perry6886
Conecuh68414
Lamar6798
Wilcox63518
Sumter58122
Greene42618
Choctaw42213
Coosa3444
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