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11/16/20 - Rising COVID Transmission | State Party Chairs on Election | Schools Switch to Virtual

As the holiday season nears, state health leaders evaluate the rising trends in coronavirus cases and hospitalizations.

 Then, with the election in the rear view mirror, we hear from the state chairmen from both major parties on the lessons learned and next steps forward.

 Plus, heightened community COVID-19 transmission is compelling more schools to switch to distance learning. We talk to one district about its decision to shift one of its largest schools to virtual.

Segment 1:

Health officials continue to sound the alarm as coronavirus cases in Mississippi surge. For the majority of last week, the seven-day rolling average remained around 1,000 new coronavirus cases per day. Hospitalizations and ICU occupancy also continue to rise. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says during this time of heightened transmission, the threat of infection is closer than many would assume. Increased community spread of the virus has led to transmission in school classrooms, causing some schools to return to virtual education. Health officials fear the increased transmission is a result of out-of-balance priorities.

Segment 2:

It has been nearly two weeks since the 2020 General Election, but the tremors from the contentious national contest are still being felt. President Donald Trump has refused to concede to challenger Joe Biden, and has leveled unsubstantiated claims of fraud against the election process in a number of key states. The races in Mississippi, however, are settled and the President's party maintains its stronghold on the state's Congressional seats. All of the GOP's incumbents won re-lection, and the state went strongly for the Trump-Pence ticket. State GOP Chair Frank Bordeaux shares the lessons the party learned from this election.

For the state's Democrat Party, 2020 signaled an opportunity to shift the state "purple" - picking up a key Senate seat. But for the second time in as many years, challenger Mike Espy was not able to win against Republican Cindy Hyde-Smith. Retired Judge Tyree Irving is chair of the state party. He reflects on the hard fought campaign.  

Segment 3:

More and more schools across the state are shifting to virtual learning as transmission of the coronavirus soars. While state health officials attribute the rising numbers to community spread, Dr. Thomas Dobbs says they're starting to trace some infections to schools. He is encouraging schools to consider the virtual option. One school shifting to a virtual learning is Germantown High School in Madison County. Gene Wright is Director of Communications for Madison County Schools. She says the decision is a result of the protocols put in place before students reported to campus in September.

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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.