Wednesday, February 22, 2006

PRESS CLIPPINGS: Wednesday, February 22, 2006

1. The House and Senate have grocery tax bills that essentially differ only in how much the tobacco tax would be raised.
Cigarette-grocery tax bills pass - The Clarion-Ledger:
The House and Senate on Tuesday passed competing bills aimed at appeasing critics of a vetoed proposal to shift taxes from groceries to cigarettes.

After eight hours of contentious debate, the Senate passed a new cigarette-grocery tax bill, 30-17, shortly after 6 p.m.Senate Bill 3084 would raise the cigarette tax to 80 cents per pack and cut the 7 percent grocery tax in half.

The House, with little debate, approved a similar bill that would raise the tax on cigarettes to $1 per pack and cut the grocery tax in half.
2. SOS Clark says the $6 million from the Legislature will allow his office to purchase 2,000 more voting machines.
Miss. can buy another 2,000 voting machines - The Clarion-Ledger:
Secretary of State Eric Clark says Mississippi will be able to buy 2,000 additional new voting machines, under a bill signed into law Tuesday.

"It's going to mean shorter lines. It's going to mean quicker, more convenient voting," Clark said.

The new law, House Bill 562, took effect as soon as it was signed by Gov. Haley Barbour. It allows the state to issue $6 million in bonds to help buy new machines.
3. Salter tees off on Barbour and his opposition to the grocery tax cut bill. Salter's conclusion is particularly telling.
New sales tax cut, cigarette tax hike plotted - The Clarion-Ledger:
So here we go again, folks. Is Gov. Barbour really going to address the people of Mississippi once more with a straight face and tell us that low cigarette taxes are more advantageous to Mississippi's future than giving the working poor a small tax break on their groceries?

This fight has never been about what was good for average Mississippi taxpayers. It's been a mean, spiteful little political fight that ignored the poor.
4. The Greenwood Commonwealth puts the responsibility on the Senate to pass campaign finance reform, something the House has already done. The bill would make political donations more transparent. Anyone remember the governor running on a platform that included more transparency in government spending? Guess that same kind of honesty doesn't extend into Barbour's brand of politics.
Greenwood Commonwealth - Opinion - 02/21/2006 - Another opportunity for Tuck to lead:
For the second straight year, the House has agreed to a comprehensive plan - pushed by Secretary of State Eric Clark, Attorney General Jim Hood and good government groups - to make the money trail in Mississippi elections transparent. And for the second straight year, the effort is meeting resistance in the Senate.

The House bill would require that special-interest groups which buy political ads designed to effect a Mississippi election disclosed the sources of their funds. It would also mandate that candidates in the bigger state races file their campaign finance reports electronically, thus making it easier for the public to track who is giving to whom. The bill also clarifies that all loans to candidates must be disclosed - an issue that Tuck tripped on during a prior election.

The Senate only wants to do the loan disclosure, taking its marching orders from Gov. Haley Barbour, Mississippi's unmatched king of fund-raising.
5. The AG and the House have stood up to protect policy holders from confusion and misunderstanding, but the Senate chairmen are stalling. One of those stalling is Sen. Dean Kirby, who is expected to be the next Republican candidate for Insurance Commissioner. Do we really want someone who is in the back pocket of the insurance industry regulating that industry?
The Sun Herald | 02/22/2006 | Hood prods for action on insurers:
Attorney General Jim Hood urged the state Senate on Tuesday to pass two hurricane-related bills he says are imperative to helping South Mississippi recover.

The bills passed the House with wide voting margins but Hood said during a news conference at the state Capitol that Senate committee chairs have failed to act.

One of the insurance bills would mandate that insurance companies offer a storm-surge waiver so property owners know whether or not they have flood coverage. The other calls for interest to be charged on claims not paid in a timely manner.


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