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From the Desk of the Chairwoman

Greetings!

As we get back to work this week, I’m excited to provide this review of what happened in your State Capitol last week.

In this review, you’ll learn more about some very important bills that are headed to the Senate for a vote. You’ll also learn about some of the important TANF reforms that are in the works, thanks in part to Caucus member Representative Jarvis Dortch.

We also welcomed members of The Links, Incorporated to our Caucus Meeting to discuss legislative priorities and how we may partner in the future.

Share this newsletter with members of your community each time you receive it. This information is important and needs to be seen by our constituents.

We also want to hear from you! Be sure to connect with us via FacebookTwitter and Instagram. Give us a follow and share our updates with your personal network.

Thank you for allowing us to serve you!

Senator Angela Turner Ford
Chair, Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus

Weekly Updates

From the Senate

This week, the Senate passed a Rules calendar and presented resolutions and proclamations honoring various Mississippians. Behind the scenes, the Senate continued committee meetings and bills being referred to committees.

Senators entertained Future Farmers of America members from across the state and honored Super Bowl LIV Champions Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Damien Wilson (Gloster, MS) and Cornerback Charvarius Ward (McComb, MS) with Senate Concurrent Resolutions 541 and 542.

The Senate also honored Juanita Floyd with a Senate Proclamation praising her work, dedication and legacy of helping those in need. Floyd has served with the CREATE Foundation for 35 years where she is Vice President of Finance and Administration, overseeing all financial aspects of the largest community foundation in Mississippi.

Others honored included:

  • McKenzie Jones of Saltillo was presented a Mississippi Senate Proclamation for being 2019 Junior Civitan International Club Officer of the Year.

  • NASA Astronaut and retired U.S. Army Colonel Douglas H. Wheelock was presented Senate Resolution 10 for Stennis Space Center Capitol Day.

From the House:

After being held on a motion to reconsider last week, House Bill 756 came before the House again:

  • The bill would require the Department of Finance and Administration to:  ascertain cost estimates of repairs at the Walnut Grove Correctional Facility.
  • Amendment 1 to HB 756 was introduced and passed on a voice vote.
  • The bill passed as amended and has been sent to the Senate for consideration.

House Bill 851 saw major discussion both in committee and before the House this week.

  • The bill adds an additional member appointed by the governor to the Corrections and Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force.
  • The new member will act as an advocate for offenders and families who have been directly affected by the criminal justice system.
  • The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 117-1 and has been transmitted to the Senate.

House Bill 412 also saw discussion both in committee and before the House this week.

  • The bill would authorize the State Veterans Affairs Board to sell or dispose of surplus property of veterans’ nursing homes and cemeteries.
  • HB 412 passed unanimously in the House and has been sent to the Senate.

House Bill 97 passed on a vote of 108-8, and has been held on a motion to reconsider.

  • This bill would prohibit the selling, transferring or marketing of urine, most notably used for manipulating drug tests.

Visitors at the Capitol this week included:

  • The Madison County Business League
  • The Mississippi Aquarium
  • The Epilepsy Foundation of Mississippi
  • The Mississippi Chapter of Links, Inc.,
  • The Stennis Space Center
  • Future Farmers of America students
  • The Mississippi Poultry Association
  • The Mississippi Egg Marketing Board.

On the Issues

Please review the request that caucus member, Representative Jarvis Dortch, presented for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) Reform:

1. Provides for $500,000 appropriation to the Office of the State Auditor to fund a forensic audit of the DHS’s TANF expenditures Between January 2015 and January 2020.

2. Mandate PEER to conduct an annual review of TANF expenditures (including contracts and grantees) as well as an audit of the eligibility and enrollment procedures and statistics.

3. Mandate DHS to increase monthly cash benefits from $170 to $250 (The state has not increased the cash benefit since 2000).

4. Reauthorize a subsidized employment program for unemployed parents. DHS shall annually designate $15 million a year in TANF funds to subsidize jobs that offer between 20 and 40 hours and pays a minimum wage. Priority to shall be given to subsidizing jobs in Mississippi’s 22 counties with the highest rate of poverty.

5.Mandate that TANF transfers the maximum amount allowable under federal law to the childcare block grant program for the express purpose of providing additional child care slots.

6. Mandate that if DHS fails to obligate more than $5 million in TANF funds over a fiscal year, the agency shall provide to the legislature written explanation for why the funds were not spent, including the agency’s recommendations or plans to utilize those funds within 5 years.

Your Caucus in Action

We hosted the members of the The Links, Incorporated during our Caucus meeting last week. They shared important information with us and we look forward to more partnership and collaboration!

Senator Juan Barnett addresses a group of visitors at the Capitol.
Representatives Zakiya SummersRickey ThompsonCheikh Taylor chat after a session.
On Sunday, February 23, Representative Bryant Clark served as the keynote speaker for the Mount Vernon M.B. Church (Yazoo City) Black History program.
Representative John G. Faulkner served as guest speaker for the “Unity in the Community” Black History Program at Bibleway Outreach Fellowship on February 23.

MLBC In the News

Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus Presents 2020 Agenda
Turner-Ford introduces bill to restore voting rights to certain felons 
Reform By Any Other Name 

Caucus Members of the Week

Senator Barbara BlackmonSenator Blackmon is a member of Mississippi State Bar, New York State Bar, Magnolia Bar Association, Life Member NAACP, & Mississippi Association of County Board Attorneys.

Senator Blackmon was born December 7, 1955. She is married to Edward Blackmon, Jr. They have two sons, Madison Edward Blackmon and Bradford Jerome Blackmon. They have two granddaughters, Enyla Chenise and Summer Rae. Senator Blackmon is of the Baptist faith

Senate Committee Appointment:

  • Housing – Chair
  • Judiciary, Division B – Vice-Chair
  • Finance
  • Highways and Transportation
  • Insurance
  • Judiciary, Division A
  • Local and Private
  • Medicaid
Representative Edward Blackmon, Jr.

Representative Blackmon is affiliated with the NAACP, the Magnolia and American Bar Associations, and the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association.

Representative Blackmon was born in Canton and is married to the former Barbara Martin. He is of the Baptist faith.

House Committee Membership:

  • Congressional Redistricting
  • Judiciary A
  • Judiciary En Banc
  • Legislative Reapportionment
  • Municipalities
  • Rules
  • Ways and Means

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