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1/5/21 - COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout Changes | Legislative Preview

State leaders move to make the coronavirus vaccine more accessible to older residents as COVID-19 transmission and hospitalizations continue to soar.

Plus, on the opening day of the new legislative session, we preview the major issues like teacher salaries and the state income tax with our analysts.

Segment 1:

State leaders in Mississippi are deviating from CDC recommendations to make the coronavirus vaccine more accessible to the state's older residents. Governor Tate Reeves says the state and the nation is beyond the point of using the hand of government to restrict individuals, and should focus its efforts on vaccine distribution. During a press briefing yesterday, Reeves indicated getting vaccine to the most in need is the best way to prevent hospital strain and death.  Mississippi, like much of the nation, is experiencing a slower roll-out of the vaccine than originally anticipated. Reeves suggests this is a result of navigating CDC guidelines, and is expanding initial vaccine eligibility to older residents.

The amended vaccine distribution plan comes as the state experiences its highest levels of COVID-19 related hospitalizations and ICU occupancy. State Health Officer Dr. Dobbs fears another surge is imminent following the holiday season.

Segment 2:

With transmission of the coronavirus at an alarming rate, lawmakers are considering how to approach business this session. Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann has been publicly vocal about suspending the majority of the session until March 1st. House leadership has not shown signs of being receptive to the idea. Austin Barbour is a Republican strategist. Brandon Jones is a former Democratic legislator. They share their analysis on the upcoming session and the issues on the table. Barbour begins by suggesting the recent death of a former lawmaker may influence how leadership considers how it conducts business.

Segment 3:

As lawmakers return to the state capital for the new legislative session today, they will be doing so following a year in which a number of state agencies were rocked by scandals. We continue our preview by examining lawmakers' role in oversight, and what issues our analysts believe should receive top priority.

More Episodes

4/16/2021

4/16/21 - Parole Eligibility Bill Waits | Initiative 65 Hearing: Underlying Factors | Poetry Out Loud 2021

Community leaders urge Governor Reeves to sign a parole eligibility bill that’s been sitting on his desk since the end of the legislative session.Then, while the arguments in the case against Initiative 65 focus on process, under the surface the subject of the matter - medical marijuana - is playing a significant role.Plus, this year’s Poetry Out Loud competition might look different, but the result is familiar.Segment 1:A bill to expand parole eligibility in Mississippi is waiting to be signed into law by the Governor.It's a measure advocates say could reduce prison overcrowding, reduce corrections spending, and help reconnect families.Yet, since being passed with bi-partisan in the legislature weeks ago, the bill has remained in limbo awaiting a signature.Pastor C. J. Rhodes of Mount Helm Baptist Church in Jackson advocates for prison reform in Mississippi. He tells our Kobee Vance the bill provides the opportunity to restore families. Russ Latino, President of Empower Mississippi, says the bill would ease overcrowding, and free up needed resources to focus on those who actually pose a danger to communities.Segment 2:Initiative 65 - the constitutional amendment ballot referendum establishing a medical marijuana program in Mississippi - hangs in the balance following a Supreme Court hearing this month.It is one of many ballot referendums - some successful, some not - that have gone through the same process outlined by the Mississippi Constitution.Mississippi's Voter ID law passed the same way.Others - like the personhood amendment or Initiative 42 to fully fund the MAEP - failed but made it to the ballot in similar fashion.But 65 - with the controversial subject of medical marijuana lying under the surface - drawing the eye of scrutiny over the initiative process.Matt Steffey is a professor of Constitutional Law at the Mississippi College School of Law.In part two of his conversation with our Michael Guidry, Steffey argues once you look past the narrow argument of constructionist interpretation, the underlying factors behind the case rise to the surface.Segment 3:This year's Poetry Out Loud competition had a different feel to it due to the coronavirus pandemic.Contestants, who usually compete together in regional and state finals, presented their recitations alone - in front of cameras.But, rising to the top of a crowded field of 947 students was a familiar name and voice to the Mississippi Poetry Out Loud community - Morgan Love, who you just heard.The senior from the Mississippi School for the Arts followed her 2020 win by capturing this year's title.She shares more on her experience and what lies ahead with our Michael Guidry.
4/15/2021

4/15/21 - Clinics Adjust to CDC Pause of JnJ | Initiative 65 Hearing: Legal Arguments | Book Club: No Common Ground

Clinics adjust to the temporary pause in the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.We examine how the new CDC guidance could effect the vaccination effort in the Magnolia State.Then, the fate of medical marijuana is in the hands of the Mississippi Supreme Court following yesterday's oral arguments.We break down each side of the debate.Plus, in today's Book Club, a historian lays out the history and motives behind erecting monuments in homage to the Confederacy.Segment 1:Clinics across Mississippi are adjusting their coronavirus vaccination plans as the state puts a temporary pause on the use of the Johnson and Johnson vaccine.Health officials say nearly 42 thousand doses of the single shot JnJ vaccine have been given in Mississippi, - that's around 3 percent of the nearly 1.5 million doses administered in the state.The pause is due to a number of JnJ recipients developing a rare form of blood clots.At the Healthworks Immunization Clinic in Hattiesburg, Dr. Rambod Rouhbakhsh says the clots need to be fully investigated. He tells our Kobee Vance, the pause will effect health providers' vaccination efforts differently, and the CDC's decision is an example of the robust monitoring all the vaccines are receiving.Segment 2:The fate of Initiative 65 - the constitutional amendment ballot referendum establishing a medical marijuana program in Mississippi - rests in the hands of the Mississippi Supreme Court.And while the subject of the widely used plant may be controversial, the debate over 65 boils down to a legal argument over constitutional language. To better understand yesterday's hearing, our Michael Guidry joins Matt Steffey - professor of Constitutional Law at the Mississippi College School of Law.In part one of their two part conversation, they break down the legal arguments presented to court.Segment 3:Before Confederate monuments began coming down in recent years,to the consternation of some and the jubilation of others, the history of when they began to go up is long.In her book, "No Common Ground," Karen L. Cox talks about heritage versus history and how women took the lead to erect the largest number of monuments before the turn of the 20th century.
4/14/2021

4/14/21 - J&J Vaccine Pause | Your Vote, Your Voice: Part Three | Supreme Court Hears Initiative 65 Case

Health officials call for a pause on the Johnson & Johnson vaccine following a change in CDC guidelines.Then, in the third installment of Your Vote, Your Voice, we examine both past and existing barriers to ballot.Plus, the fate of medical marijuana possible hangs in the balance as the Mississippi Supreme Court hears oral arguments challenging the legitimacy of Initiative 65.Segment 1:Mississippi vaccine providers are pausing Johnson and Johnson coronavirus vaccinations in the state while the CDC investigates siz related cases of blood clots.No cases of the rare blood clot associated with the Johnson and Johnson vaccine have been identified in Mississippi. But health officials in say they are erring on the side of caution until the CDC has finished it's investigation. State Health Officer Dr. Thomas Dobbs says the risk of someone getting this type of blood clot from the J&J vaccine is extremely rare. Around 53,000 doses of the Johnson and Johnson coronavirus vaccine are at clinics, pharmacies and hospitals across Mississippi. State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers says those doses will likely not go to waste in that time.Segment 2:Throughout American history, access to the ballot has been a dynamically controversial issue.When the nation was founded, voting was limited to white landowners.Efforts to expand the right to vote over the centuries were often met with resistance.And even after the 15th, 19th and 26th amendment removed federal restrictions based race, color, previous condition of servitude and sex - and reduced the legal age to 18 - many communities still face barriers to voting.Aside from voting rights secured through constitutional amendments, the federal government currently exhibits little power over elections.The power to manage and administer elections belongs to the states, and it is where some barriers can still be found. We examine the history of voting laws and practices designed to create roadblocks to the ballot with Christy Wheeler, co-President of the Mississippi League of Women Voters and Pauline Rogers of the RECH Foundation.Segment 3:Mississippi Supreme Court justices will hear oral arguments today challenging signature collections for Initiative 65.The constitutional amendment - approved by over 70 percent of Mississippi voters last November - makes medical marijuana legal in the state.But the mayor of the City of Madison is challenging the initiative, claiming signature collections for the ballot referendum are unconstitutional. The Mississippi constitution requires an equal number of signatures from five congressional districts.The state lost a seat after the 2000 Census, but the constitution hasn’t been updated to four districts to change the process. Ken Newburger is with the Mississippi Medical Marijuana Association.He says signatures gathered during the initiative process were legitimate.