Mississippi Edition

2/26/2021

2/26/21 - Jackson Water Crisis | Rental Assistance | MEC Responds to Tax Bill

Residents of the capital city continue to face water outages following last week’s winter storm.Then, a Mississippi agency assigned to distribute millions in federal pandemic relief funds is under pressure to get the program going or risk losing the money.Plus, the Mississippi Economic Council responds to the House’s fast-tracked tax plan.Segment 1:The Mississippi National Guard has stationing tanker trucks outside several Jackson schools distributing non-potable water for residents in need. Parts of the city have not had running water for more than a week following last week's severe winter storm.The Guard has partnered with the City of Jackson and the Emergency Management Agency to supply the water through several large tanker trucks. Colonel Bobby Ginn is in charge of logistics.He shares more on the response with our Kobee Vance.Residents Carol Green and Estell Green express their frustrations.Segment 2:A Mississippi agency assigned to distribute millions in federal pandemic relief funds is under pressure to get the program going or risk losing the money.Mississippi Home Corporation says it has a waiting list of more than 3,000 people seeking emergency rental assistance.Executive Director Scott Spivey tells the Senate Housing Committee, the agency has $186 million in pandemic relief funds for the program, but a narrow timeframe in which to distribute the money.Segment 3:A tax overall championed by House Republicans has not yet received the endorsement of the Mississippi Economic Council.The Mississippi Tax Freedom Act was introduced and passed in the House earlier this week.The tax reform bill would - among other things - phase out the state income tax, reduce the grocery tax, and raise the sales tax.But, Scott Waller, President and CEO of the MEC, tells our Michael Guidry the Council still has to assess the potential impact of the plan.
2/25/2021

2/25/21 - Pink Tax Elimination Bill | Medicaid for Parolees | Story State | Book Club: Bill Ferris

Lawmakers in the House introduce legislation to eliminate the Pink tax.And, one leader from the hospital association weighs in on the debate on expanding Medicaid.Then, Mississippi State University recognizes the power of storytellers.Plus, in our Book Club: “I AM A MAN: Civil Rights Photographs in the American South, 1960–1970.”Segment 1:House Bill 1238 wouldexempt baby formula, diapers, feminine care and contraceptive products from the state’s 7 percent sales tax. Democratic Representative John Hines of Greenville authored the bill.He says a woman brought the issue to his attention, saying the products are a growing expense for low-income families.He tells our Desare Frazier his personal experience growing up with his mom and sisters helps inform his advocacy on this issue.----------------------------------------------A bill out of the Senate Medicaid committee is making its way to the House after passing the the chamber earlier this month.Senate Bill 2252, passed by the Senate on February 3rd, expands Medicaid for parolees and authorizes the construction of a special care facility for paroled inmates. Richard Roberson is the General Counsel for the Mississippi Hospital Association.He shares more about the potential legislation, and how it fits with the greater debate to expand Medicaid in Mississippi.Segment 2:The Communications Department at Mississippi State University is celebrating a new era of storytelling in the state."Story State: Fostering Innovative Storytelling" will feature more than a dozen storytellers - working in different genres - sharing their tips, experiences, and stories virtually today.Josh Foreman, chairman of the 2021 Story State planning committee, says everyone knows about Faulkner, Welty, Elvis and Robert Johnson.But as he shares with us, there are a whole lot of other great storytellers in Mississippi.Segment 3:William R. Ferris is a Mississippi native, author and scholar and former chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities.He was commissioned to curate an exhibit and write the catalog for a collection of photos covering the civil rights movement from 1960 to 1970. The exhibit called, “I Am a Man,” recently opened at the two Mississippi Museums in Jackson after a record attending show in France.The catalog takes form in a hardbound book featuring the images of twelve photographers. We close out Black History Month with this book, about which Ferris says … “The photographs capture the quiet determination of elders and the angry commitment of the young, and they also remind us how far we have to go.”
2/24/2021

2/24/21 - MS Tax Freedom Act | Vaccines for Teachers & First Responders | Southern Remedy Health Minute | Racial Reconciliation: Part 2

The House passes a reformative tax bill that could eliminate the personal income tax while raising other use taxesThen, the Governor announces expanded coronavirus vaccine eligibility to teachers and first responders.Plus, after a Southern Remedy Health Minute, the Winter Institute uses an art contest to engage the state's youth in the racial reconciliation movement.Segment 1:Mississippians could see their income tax eliminated if a bill that’s making its way through the legislature is passed by the Senate.Yesterday the House passed the Mississippi Tax Freedom Act - a plan to phase out the state income tax - with bi-partisan support.Prior to the vote Republican Speaker of the House Philip Gunn called it a historic day for policy in Mississippi.Segment 2:Teachers, school employees, and first responders can now schedule a coronavirus vaccine appointment in Mississippi reguardless of age or health condition.Governer Tate Reeves announced the expanded vaccine eligibility requirements yesterday.Reeves commended teachers for returning to the classroom in August and keeping schools opened.Segment 3:Southern Remedy Health MinuteSegment 4:When former Governor William Winter passed away late last year, he was remembered and revered by many of his colleagues for his endless pursuit of racial reconciliation in a state with a complex and often harrowing history of race relations.His namesake organization, the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation is conducting an art contest to engage youth in the reconciliation movement.In part two of our conversation with Von Gordon, he discusses the pandemic's role in recognizing the need for change and the mission of the art contest.
2/23/2021

2/23/21 - Ant-hazing Bill Goes to Senate | Power Restoration | Racial Reconciliation: Part 1

Lawmakers draft legislation to clarify the definition of hazing and stipulate penalties for institutions failing to report violations.Then, restoration of power across the state is nearly complete following last-week's generational winter storm.We hear from Entergy Mississippi on the storm's impact and the recovery process.Plus, the William Winter Institute continues its pursuit for racial reconciliation.Segment 1:Legislators in the Mississippi House of Representatives are tackling the issue of hazing.Two bills on the matter, drafted and approved by members of the House, are now headed to the Senate.House Bill 6 requires the Mississippi College Board create a uniform hazing policy for all universities. The bill defines hazing as any reckless act that causes physical or emotional harm directed against another person. Another bill heading to the Senate, House Bill 5, stipulates an organization failing to report know violations would be assessed a $10,000 fine and lose any public funds it receives.House Democrat Gregory Holloway of Hazlehurst serves on the universities and colleges committee.He shares more with our Desare Frazier.Segment 2:Restoration of electrical services is nearly complete statewide following last week's severe winter storm.Plunging temperatures and heavy accumulations of ice caused downed lines and strains on the grid, resulting in widespread outages.Mara Hartmann, spokesperson with Entergy Mississippi, says crews have been working 16-hour shifts for several days to repair damaged power lines, broken poles, and transformers.She recaps the recovery effort with our Kobee Vance.Segment 3:When former Governor William Winter passed away late last year, he was remembered and revered by many of his colleagues for his endless pursuit of racial reconciliation in a state with a complex and often harrowing history of race relations.His namesake organization, the Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation is continuing that calling through commitment to youth and community.Von Gordon is the Youth Engagement Manager for the Winter Institute.In part one of our conversation, he discusses the importance of empowering youth in search for reconciliation.
2/22/2021

2/22/21 - Capital City Water Issues | Vaccine Hesitancy in Black Community | Society of MS Archivists

The mayor of the Capital city assesses the city’s infrastructure and water challenges following a week-long winter storm.Then, vaccine hesitancy continues to be prominent within the Black community - including health care workers.Plus, the Society of Archivists responds to a bill designed to restructure of the board of Archives and History.Segment 1:Parts of Mississippi are still under a boil water advisory nearly a week since the winter storm started. Temperatures in much of the state rose well above freezing over the weekend, allowing much of the accumulated ice to melt.But in the state's capital city, crews are working to restore water, and deliver bottled water to the city's most vulnerable.Mayor Chokwe Antar Lumumba says the city was not built to sustain an event like last week's storm.He shares more with our Becca Schimmel.Segment 2:While many people are clamoring to get a coronavirus vaccine, some are choosing not to get it right now. Vaccine hesitancy appears to be happening more within the Black community AND among Black health care workers. Shalina Chatlani with the Gulf States Newsroom, talked with Black women in the health care field about what’s guiding their choices.Segment 3:Quietly last week, the Mississippi Senate passed SB 2727 - a bill proposing a restructuring of the board of the Mississippi Department of Archives and History.Founded in 1902, MDAH is the second-oldest agency of its kind.As currently designed, new board members are nominated from within the existing board, and then confirmed by the Senate.According to the bill, board members will become political appointees of the Governor and Lt. Governor.Some, like the Society of Mississippi Archivists, see this as a move to politicize a traditionally non-partisan agency.Jessica Perkins Smith is President of the Society.She fears the the change would jeopardize how the agency honestly shares the state's complex history.
2/22/2021

2/19/22 - Road Conditions | Continued Power Outages | Rep. Thompson Lawsuit

A week of snow, ice and frigid temperatures made commuting hazardous.We check in with MDOT for the latest on how Mississippi’s roadways are faring.Then, Wednesday night’s wave of winter precipitation resulted in power outages across the state.We hear from the public service commission on the effort to restore electricity.Plus,Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson shares more on his lawsuit against former President Trump, and his pursuit of accountability for the failed January insurrection.Segment 1:A week-long winter storm is having lasting impacts on Mississippi’s motorways.Starting Sunday, wintery precipitation and frigid temperatures moved into the state, icing over roads and bridges.The Mississippi Department of Transportation began work early, salting roads and running plows.But, sub-freezing temperatures have not allowed the accumulations of ice to melt away, causing logjams on the highways and over 1,100 reported motor vehicle accidents.Jason Smith is Deputy Director of Public of Public Affairs at MDOT.He shares more on the status of Mississippi’s highways.Segment 2:Thousands of Mississippians are without electricity as layers of ice and falling limbs have downed power lines across the state.More than 170 thousand homes and businesses in Mississippi have gone without power this week, with the majority of outages occurring in central areas of the state. On Tuesday, some residents faced scheduled outages b y energy providers to save the power grid from prolonged failure. Energy providers are working to bring power back into homes, but as Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley tells our Kobee Vance, it could take several days.Segment 3:Mississippi Congressman Bennie Thompson is using a Reconstruction-era act as a foundation for a federal lawsuit against Donald Trump and the former President’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.Thompson, who filed the suit with the NAACP, says the Ku Klux Klan Act was passed in the years following the Civil War to ensure outside parties did not interfere with newly elected Southern Congressmen’s ability to perform their duties.Now he is using it in an attempt to hold Trump, Giuliani, and extremists groups accountable for the January 6th insurrection.In part two of our conversation, Thompson shares more on his experience that day, and his goals for the suit.
2/18/2021

2/18//21 - Second Wave of Winter Precipitation | MS Congressman Sues Trump, Giuliani | Book Club: Eudora Welty, Pictures

A second wave of ice and snow swept through the central and northern parts of theyesterday.We visit with the National Weather Service on the outlook for the days ahead.Then,a Mississippi Congressman useslegislation from 1871 as grounds to sue former President Trump.Plus,in our Book Club, "Eudora Welty: Photographs."Segment 1:A second wave of winter precipitation swept through much of the state yesterday – prolonging hazardous road conditions and shutdowns another day, and causing extensive power outages.Highs today could creep into mid thirties, but sub-freezing temperatures are expected to return at night.For more on the latest we are joined by Daniel Lamb with the National Weather Service in Jackson.Segment 2:A Mississippi Congressman is citing a Reconstruction-era act in a federal lawsuit against Donald Trump and the former President’s personal attorney Rudy Giuliani.Representative Bennie Thompson says the Ku Klux Klan Act was passed in the years following the Civil War to ensure outside parties did not interfere with newly elected Southern Congressmen’s ability to perform their duties.Now he is using the act in an attempt to hold Trump, Giuliani, and extremists groups accountable for the January 6th insurrection.In part one of his conversations with MPB’s Karen Brown, Thompson explains the 1871 legislation that is the foundation of the suit, and why he felt it was a necessary action against the former President.Segment 3:Eudora Welty is, without a doubt, one of Mississippi's greatest writers but she had an equal passion and talent for photography.In 1989, a book of her photos was released by the University Press of Mississippi. It has been their biggest selling book ever since. After thirty years, a new edition was released in 2020. Simply called, "Eudora Welty: Photographs,"her niece, Mary Alice White, tells MPB’s Karen Brown about Welty's view behind the lens.
2/17/2021

2/17/21 - More Winter Precipitation Ahead | Hazardous Roadways | Conserving Energy

Some of this week’s ice and snow have begun to slowly melt away, but more freezing temperatures and precipitation could be on the way.We hear from the national weather service.Then, Mississippi’s roadways have been hazardous as a result of the generational winter storm.We talk to the highway patrol.Plus, with frigid temperatures expecting to remain throughout the week, Mississippi’s energy providers are urging consumers to cut back.Segment 1:Sunshine and clear skies melted away some ice and snow in parts of the state yesterday.But with sub freezing temperatures and another round of precipitation expected throughout the day and into the night, the wintery conditions could linger longer. For more on the latest we are joined by Joanne Culin with the National Weather Service in Jackson.Segment 2:Law enforcement officers are asking Mississippians to stay off the roads as the state continues to face a severe winter storm that has created ice on roadways.Monday, a winter storm swept through state, leaving behind dangerous snow and ice accumulations on Mississippi’s motorways.The result – over 750 reported highway incidents since Sunday.Major Johnny Polus is with the Mississippi Highway Patrol.He shares more with our Kobee Vance.Segment 3:Days of freezing temperatures across Mississippi have increased demand for gas and electricity.To keep up, some utility companies in Mississippi are urging customers to reduce their utility.Residents are being asked to keep thermostats at 68, close vents in unused rooms and limit using appliances to help conserve energy.Our Desare Frazier, talks to Entergy and Atmos.
2/16/2021

2/16/21 - Winter Weather Continues | MEMA Response | SBA & PPP

The sleet and snow have moved out, but the frigid air remains.We check in with the National Weather Service on how long it will stay and if more wintery precipitation is on the way.Then,this week’s winter storm has left Mississippi’s roads icy and has created other hazardous conditions.We hear from MEMA on the state’s response.Plus, the Small Business Administration advises Mississippians on second draw PPP loans.Segment 1:Parts of the state are waking up to single-digit temperatures this morning after a winter storm bringing freezing rain and snow moved through yesterday.The precipitation is gone for now, but the accumulated ice and snow might not be going anywhere yet - as temperatures are expected to remain below freezing for most of central and northern Mississippi.For the latest on the wintery conditions we are joined by Logan Poole of the National Weather Service in Jackson.Segment 2:Yesterday’s winter weather left Mississippi’s roadways blanketed in ice and snow – creating dangerous driving conditions.The cold temperatures and accumulating precipitation is also presenting threats of power outages in heavily impacted areas.Malary White is Director of External Affairs at the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.She shares more about MEMA’s response to this week’s massive winter storm.Segment 3:Second draw loans for small businesses recovering from the economic hardships of the coronavirus pandemic are now available.The Small Business Administration is providing guidance related to the federal Paycheck Protection Program.The first draw loans from the PPP were quickly depleted last year, requiring Congress to replenish the coffers.Janita [JAN-eeta] Stewart is District Director of the SBA for state of Mississippi.She shares more on second round of loans with our Michael Guidry – beginning with how this draw differs from the first.