Topping news in Mississippi this week:
- A panel of three judges from the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that Mississippi’s controversial so called religious freedom law can go into effect. In Thursday’s ruling, the judges determined that the plaintiffs hadn’t shown injury from the law so none had standing. The law prevents government from punishing people who have “sincerely held religious beliefs or moral objections” it outlines sparked protests last year. U.S. District Court Judge Carlton Reeves ruled the law unconstitutional before Governor Phil Bryant appealed his decision. Although the ruling has come down, it isn’t law yet. The plaintiffs have two weeks to ask the court to reconsider.
- Budget cuts, staff reductions, tuition increases and other cost saving plans are coming to Mississippi’s largest community college. This news comes right after Hinds Community College’s accreditor gave the school a warning about its financial stability. The state’s community college system is also set to receive more than 10 percent less funding for the upcoming fiscal year that starts July 1st.
- State utility regulators have told Mississippi Power to ditch coal and run as a natural gas facility at the company’s $7.5 billion Kemper County power plant. Years of missed deadlines and cost increases from building its one-of-a-kind lignite coal plant led to this decision. Wednesday, the Mississippi Public Service Commission voted unanimously to have its lawyers put together a proposal to solve the facilities’ problems before the commission’s July meeting. Commissioners added that any settlement proposed shouldn’t include an increase for Mississippi power’s rate payers.