Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Happy Founders Day

Today is Founders Day for The University of Southern Mississippi. On this day in 1910, Governor Edmund Favour Noel signed the bill that created Mississippi Normal College, which would go on to be known as State Teachers College, then Mississippi Southern College, and finally The University of Southern Mississippi.

Just as a reminder on how far we've come from the humble beginnings of our early days, I'm reposting a resolution I authored with other Southern Miss alums in the House last year, when we celebrated our Centennial. Southern Miss to the top!



WHEREAS, March 30, 2010, marks the one hundredth anniversary
of the founding of the University of Southern Mississippi; and
WHEREAS, the University of Southern Mississippi began as
Mississippi Normal College through the passage of House Bill No.
204, which was introduced by State Representative Marshall
McCullough of Lincoln County, then passed by the Mississippi House
of Representatives on March 16, 1910, approved by the Senate a
week later and signed into law by Governor Edmond Favor Noel on
March 30, 1910, with no state appropriation; and
WHEREAS, during the search for a location for the college,
Hattiesburg residents, Dr. T.E. Ross, Mr. H.A. Camp and Mr. A.A.
Montague, saw the tremendous opportunity for their city and state,
and donated 120 acres of land on a stretch of wilderness a few
miles west of downtown Hattiesburg, thus enabling Hattiesburg to
be chosen over Jackson and Laurel as the site for the new college;
WHEREAS, leaders of the City of Hattiesburg and Forrest
County took the bold and courageous step of selling bonds to raise
the needed money to build the first buildings on the new college's
campus; and
WHEREAS, the first classes began at Mississippi Normal
College on September 18, 1912, under the leadership of its first
president, Dr. David Anderson Cook, with the education and
training of new teachers to serve the people of Mississippi as the
college's mission; and
WHEREAS, since its inception, this noble institution has
built a reputation of persevering and succeeding in both good and
tumultuous times, surviving several politically motivated
dismissals of presidents and even attempts by the Mississippi
Legislature to close its doors; and
WHEREAS, this determination to succeed, advance and "do more
with less" pushed the institution to greater heights, as its
mission expanded and its name changed from Mississippi Normal
College to State Teachers College (1924), Mississippi Southern
College (1940) and, ultimately, the University of Southern
Mississippi (1962); and
WHEREAS, under the vision and leadership of nine different
presidents, the University of Southern Mississippi's breadth and
depth of academic programs have evolved from its humble beginnings
of solely training teachers to its current status as an
internationally recognized pioneer in areas such as nursing,
economic development, language disorders, marine research, gifted
education, athletics, the arts and polymer science; and
WHEREAS, the University of Southern Mississippi has graduated
over 125,000 alumni, counting among its ranks statesmen, scholars,
entertainers, educators, athletes and artists; and
WHEREAS, the same desire to survive and succeed continues to
mold and motivate its students, faculty, staff, administration and
alumni, thus ensuring the University of Southern Mississippi's
second century will be all the more prosperous than the first; and
WHEREAS, it is the policy of the House of Representatives to
commend 100 years of service to the State of Mississippi by such
an outstanding institution as the University of Southern
commend the students, faculty, staff, administration, alumni and
friends of the University of Southern Mississippi, both past and
present, on one century of loyalty and excellence, and express
best wishes on guiding the university to greater heights in the
next century.

Why We're Not Extending the Session Right Away

Here's an excellent analysis on why House Republicans will not rubber stamp a vote to extend the 2011 legislative session. So instead of trying to reinvent the wheel, I'll just link you to Rep. Greg Snowden's (R-Meridian) blog.

Friday, March 18, 2011

How the Constitution Says Redistricting Should Work

Here's how the Mississippi Constitution spells out the redistricting process:

ARTICLE 13. APPORTIONMENT; SECTION 254. Senatorial and representative districts.

“The legislature shall at its regular session in the second year following the 1980 decennial census and every ten (10) years thereafter, and may, at any other time, by joint resolution, by majority vote of all members of each house, apportion the state in accordance with the constitution of the state and of the United States into consecutively numbered senatorial and representative districts of contiguous territory. The senate shall consist of not more than fifty-two (52) senators, and the house of representatives shall consist of not more than one hundred twenty-two (122) representatives, the number of members of each house to be determined by the legislature. Should the legislature adjourn, without apportioning itself as required hereby, the governor by proclamation shall reconvene the legislature within thirty (30) days in special apportionment session which shall not exceed thirty (30) consecutive days, during which no other business shall be transacted, and it shall be the mandatory duty of the legislature to adopt a joint resolution of apportionment. Should a special apportionment session not adopt a joint resolution of apportionment as required hereby, a five-member commission consisting of the chief justice of the supreme court as chairman, the attorney general, the secretary of state, the speaker of the house of representatives and the president pro tempore of the senate shall immediately convene and within one hundred eighty (180) days of the adjournment of such special apportionment session apportion the legislature, which apportionment shall be final upon filing with the office of the secretary of state. Each apportionment shall be effective for the next regularly scheduled elections of members of the legislature.”

Speaker McCoy's Statement Preceding the Senate Concur/Nonconcur Vote

Here's the statement from Speaker Billy McCoy made on Wednesday before the Senate's vote to invite conference on Thursday.

“In adopting JR 201, the Mississippi House of Representatives has approved the plan for the redistricting of its members (for a second time), as well as included in the resolution the plan sent to the House for the redistricting of the members of the Senate (without changes). As far as I am concerned, the matter is settled. The Senate has approved its plan, and the House has approved its plan.

For the 50 years that the Mississippi Legislature has been conforming its district lines to meet the demands of one-person, one-vote and the Voting Rights Act, the Legislature has conducted this business with one overriding tradition in mind – that neither house will interfere with the districts of the other house. We have maintained this tradition for half a century, it has served the state well, and I have no intention of changing that tradition for as long as I am speaker.

This year the Mississippi Legislature has passed fair redistricting plans after sixteen (16) public hearings, approved unanimously by the bi-partisan Joint Legislative Committee on Legislative Redistricting, and vigorous floor debate.

Should the Senate choose to invite conference on JR 201, I will not entertain that request nor will I appoint conferees. In addition, the House will immediately transmit JR 201 to the Department of Justice and seek preclearance of the plan for use in the upcoming elections. We will ask the Department of Justice to work with us in adopting this plan to prevent the taxpayers from having to pay for two sets of legislative elections and from having to pay for the expensive cost of litigation. There is no reason whatsoever that the Legislature should incur these unnecessary costs at the same time we are cutting education, Medicaid and mental health.”

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Tuesday 3/8; Redistricting, Visitors

So, here's how it went down yesterday (this is 2nd hand information and from Twitter)...

1. House plan went to Senate Apportionment & Elections Committee...Senator McDaniel moved to table and the Senate committee voted to table, thus killing JR 1 (the House plan).

2. Senate plan came up in the Senate Apportionment & Elections Committee...Senator Joey Fillingane moved to adopt a strike-all amendment which did away with the majority-minority district in Hattiesburg, and this strike-all passed.

3. On Wednesday (today), it will be interesting to see which plan Chairman Terry Burton presents to the entire Senate, and if the Hattiesburg delegation will have the votes to amend the plan on the floor, as he did in committee.

Also on Tuesday, we were lucky enough to have the Hattiesburg Chamber Orchestra play in the Capitol rotunda during the lunch hour. For the second straight year, these incredible musicians dazzled everyone there. I can't tell you how proud it makes me when they come to visit. It solidifies Hattiesburg's place as the center of culture and the arts in this state. And a lot of folks can say negative things about our school district, but no one can touch us in many of the arts programs. After their performance, Chairman Watson and I were able to meet with them in the Ways & Means Committee room to discuss what we do in the Legislature. Then they were able to watch the ATV safety bill debate. It was also good to see Steve, Margie and Taylor Willis, who were visiting with the group.

And to close out yesterday, I send a happy belated birthday wish to my former roommate Isaac Gardner, who's now an accomplished actor and musician in New York City...and ditto for Theresa Erickson, who's pretty much changing the world in Hattiesburg by leading the Pine Belt Community Foundation.