Governor’s attorneys file arguments defending HB 1523 with Supreme Court

Attorneys for Gov. Phil Bryant filed arguments to the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday  defending a state law that lets government workers and private business people cite religious beliefs to deny services to LGBT people, according to the Associated Press. They wrote that the law protects people from being penalized for refusing to participate in activities they consider “immoral,” such as same-sex marriage. The law, known as HB 1523 and the “religious freedom” law, took effect last month. Multiple court challenges followed. The law protects three beliefs: marriage is only between a man and a woman, sex should only occur in such a marriage and a person’s gender is determined at birth and cannot be altered.

State Treasurer to teach politics course at Millsaps College

State Treasurer Lynn Fitch will join the faculty of Millsaps College next semester as an adjunct professor in the Political Science Department, teaching a course titled, “Women in Politics.”

“I am very excited to have this opportunity to teach at Millsaps,” Fitch said in a press release.  “We are living in such an interesting time for women in politics, in Mississippi, the nation, and even abroad, and I am excited to work with students trying to navigate the ever-changing landscape.” “As one of only four women elected to statewide office in Mississippi’s two-hundred-year history, I want to share with them not only what I have learned, but also what I have experienced,” said Fitch, who is in the middle of her second four-year term as state Treasurer. At her state office, Fitch uses a desk formerly used by Evelyn Gandy, who in 1959 became the first woman elected to statewide office in Mississippi when she was selected by voters to be state Treasurer. Gandy later held office as state Insurance Commissioner and Lieutenant Governor. “This is a tremendous opportunity for the students at Millsaps College to study with one of the state’s great political leaders,” said Dr. Robert W. Pearigen, president of Millsaps.

Millsaps College breaks ground for Visual Arts Center

A groundbreaking ceremony for the Windgate Visual Arts Center on the west side of the Millsaps College campus will begin at 11 a.m. Friday, Nov. 10

Funded in significant part by the Windgate Foundation, the center will expand the studio art offerings at Millsaps as well as create new gallery and classroom space for the art and art history departments. A new entrance on West Street – the original front door of campus – will allow access to activities associated with the new Visual Arts Center, the chapel, the Else School and 1 Campus 1 Community. Construction of the Visual Arts Center and new West Gate entrance is expected to take 14 months to complete. Dr. Robert W. Pearigen, president of Millsaps College, will be joined by members of the Board of Trustees and other guests at the groundbreaking ceremony, which is open to the public.

State revenue collection slowed in October

Bobby Harrison, the Tupelo Daily Journal Capitol reporter and dogged state budget tracker, reports that state revenue collections slowed in October, bringing overall collections back to almost exactly what had been projected for the first four months of the year. That is disappointing — but not unexpected — news after state revenue collections ran ahead of projections for the first three months of FY 2018. Harrison notes that State Economist Darrin Webb warned state leaders last week that the collections for the first few months had been inflated by special circumstances and could not be expected to continue. Meeting the revenue projections is important for the state budgeting process. In recent years, Gov. Phil Bryant has had to make mid-year budget cuts to state agencies when revenue fell significantly below projections.

Sen. Wicker, Steve Bannon mingle at D.C. fundraising event

U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker was seen Wednesday night in Washington, D.C., mingling with former White House strategist Steve Bannon, The Clarion-Ledger noted. Bannon has targeted Wicker as an establishment Republican senator who should be sent packing from Congress.  The moment came during a fundraising event for Roy Moore, the GOP candidate for U.S. Senate in Alabama. Read the story here. 


No call list app now available in Mississippi

A smart phone app that will allow users to register their landline and cell phones on the Mississippi No Call List was unveiled Wednesday by the state Public Service Commission. The “MS No-Call” App, available for both Apple and Android devices, also allows individuals to file complaints against illegal callers directly from their phone at no cost. “We want to empower people by placing a tool literally in their hands to help us get at these predatory telemarketers,” PSC Chairman Brandon Presley said. “This free app was a long time coming, and I know it will revolutionize the way we track down the lawbreakers and shut their call operations down.”

The commission began development of the app last year to create a faster, up-to-date way to sign up and file complaints. It’s goal was that the app be free to all customers to use.