Hosemann Sues Corps to Protect Coast from Spillway Releases

Gulfport, Miss. (Mississippi Business Journal) – Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann on Monday filed a lawsuit against the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers and the Mississippi River Commission because of the extended release of fresh water into the saltwater Mississippi Sound from the extended opening of the Bonnet Carré Spillway.

The lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for South Mississippi seeks a temporary injunction to order the corps to operate the Bonnet Carré in conjunction with the Morganza Spillway and to mitigate damage to the Mississippi Gulf Coast.
The Morganza Spillway diverts water from the Mississippi River into the Atchafalaya Basin and River in Louisiana.

“As state land Commissioner and trustee of the Public Trust Lands, it is my duty to protect Mississippi’s land, its water and its resources,” Hosemann said in Gulfport in a news release. The infiltration of fresh water into the Mississippi Sound as a result of solely opening the Bonnet Carré caused devastating effects across the Mississippi Gulf Coast.

“This lawsuit does not address the monetary loss to the State and the Coast. This could be addressed in future litigation.”

The lawsuit further alleges the extended release was taken without the benefit of an up-to-date Environmental Impact Statement (EIS), giving no consideration of the environmental impact to the Mississippi Sound and Mississippi’s Public Trust Tidelands.

Thus Hosemann is seeking to compel the defendants to perform a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement as well as to utilize the Morganza Spillway to mitigate the freshwater inundation of the Mississippi Sound in the future.
In July, Hosemann asked the Corps and the Commision to: 1.) conduct an immediate study of the operating manuals and procedures for both the Morganza Floodway and the Bonnet Carré Spillway and 2.) include as part of the study, the ecological effects and economic impacts of freshwater intrusion into the Mississippi Sound as a result of the current operating procedures.

The freshwater intrusion into the Mississippi Sound from the Bonnet Carré Spillway negatively impacted oyster, shrimp, blue crab, and fish harvests and caused devastating losses to commercial fisherman, charter boat operators, and the tourism industry.

In August, Hosemann requested additional modeling of the opening of the Morganza Floodway in varying amounts and later in the month testified before the commission on the annual low-water inspection trip in Vicksburg where he reiterated all of these requests. Additionally, Hosemann, alongside the Department of Marine Resources, requested an Environmental Impact Study.

The Bonnet Carré Spillway has been opened five times since 2011 and was opened twice this year for a total of 123 days, while the Morganza Floodway has been opened twice – in 1973 and 2011.

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Analysis: Hosemann Says He is Ready to Get to Work as New Lt. Gov.

Jackson, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi’s incoming lieutenant governor is setting an ambitious agenda for his first year in office.

Republican Delbert Hosemann will be sworn in Jan. 9, along with most of the other statewide elected officials. That’s two days after the legislative session begins and five days before the current lieutenant governor, Republican Tate Reeves, will be inaugurated as governor.

Hosemann is wrapping up his third term as secretary of state.

He told reporters last week that the morning after the Nov. 5 election, he started working on the transition to becoming lieutenant governor.

“We got instructions from the voters to go to work, and so we did,” Hosemann said.

The governor is the top elected official in the state, but the lieutenant governor has more power. Each of those officials is elected independently of the other; they do not run as a ticket.

The lieutenant governor presides over the 52-member Mississippi Senate, appoints senators to committees and names the committee leaders. The lieutenant governor decides which committees consider which bills, and that alone can determine whether any particular bill will live or die.

While the governor signs budget bills, the lieutenant governor and the House speaker shape the budget-writing process.

The lieutenant governor and the speaker serve on the 14-member Joint Legislative Budget Committee, alternating years as chairman of the group. The committee does the first round of vetting budget requests from state agencies, and it sets a broad outline of a spending plan for other members of the Legislature to consider. In the final days of budget writing at the end of each session, the lieutenant governor and the speaker also typically wield considerable influence over the final decisions about how money will be spent.

Hosemann said during the campaign this year that he wants the Legislature to give teachers another pay raise and to put more money into prekindergarten programs. In the interview last week, he said he intends to follow through with those things during the 2020 session, though he did not yet have suggested spending levels.

Hosemann also said legislators should consider pay raises for state workers, including people who make close to the $7.25 an hour minimum wage as custodians in mental health hospitals — about $15,000 a year. He also mentioned people who make $26,000 or $27,000 as guards in state prisons.

He said he wants to expand access to health care, although he said he’s not ready to jump into expanding Medicaid. Hosemann said he has been looking at steps taken by some expansion states, including Arkansas, Indiana and Louisiana.

“It’s a billion-dollar issue,” Hosemann said of Medicaid expansion. “A mistake would be catastrophic to Mississippi. We don’t have a chance for a mistake.”

He also said the Legislature will need to look at ways to improve community-based mental health services. After hearing weeks of testimony earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Carlton Reeves found in September that Mississippi is violating the both the Americans with Disabilities Act and a 1999 U.S. Supreme Court decision that said “unjustified” mental hospital confinement is illegal.

Judge Reeves — no relation to the incoming governor — wrote that testimony showed dozens of examples of people who “were unnecessarily hospitalized or hospitalized too long because they were excluded from community-based services.”

Hosemann said he has met with all of the senators to discuss their specific interests in public policy. He said he intends to name committee members and chairmen on Jan. 10, the first Friday of the four-month session and of the four-year term.

Women comprise 51% of Mississippi’s population and a much smaller percentage of the state Senate. Asked if women will be assigned to committees handling significant responsibilities, Hosemann said, simply: “Yes.”

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Hosemann Offers Guidance on Giving After Holiday Tornadoes

Jackson, Miss. (WJTV) – American Red Cross as well as many faith based organizations are asking for donations after this passed Monday’s storms.

We encourage you to contribute, but there is a science when it comes to donating after natural disasters.

You can give the most by giving less.

You might be quick to donate something practical like food or clothing or cleaning supplies but that might not be as useful as you’d think it’d be, and it can end up being a hassle.

Every situation in every household is different, meaning every household’s needs are different and you do not know exactly who will receive your donation.

Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann has a recommendation that will work for anyone in any situation: a gift card.

“That allows them to go to Walmart and get what they really need,” Hosemann said. “They may need clothes and you gave them a bucket… but a gift card, a $25, $50 gift card is a wonderful thing to give to someone. They can then use that for their basic necessities they may need to get them through this process.”

Hosemann said that another good donation to make is toiletries.

Hosemann said that he and all of his coworkers have been working tirelessly to aid those who have been affected by the tornadoes… but that the goverment relies on us to fill in any gaps, and encourages everybody to donate.

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Lt. Gov.-Elect Discusses Prep for 2020 Legislative Session

Jackson, Miss. (WLBT) – The leaders you elected to be your voice in statewide offices are preparing for the start of their four year terms.

Delbert Hosemann is putting in the work before he’s sworn in. He’s been meeting with all 52 senators and prepping for committee assignments.

“I’ve got an agenda for transportation,” said Hosemann. “I’ve got an agenda for healthcare. I’ve got an agenda for education, public health, Medicaid.”
He’s also been meeting with various groups and state agencies related to those to form the agendas.

Among the issues he’s ready to tackle is healthcare. Here’s what Hosemann said regarding the controversial question of what will happen, if anything, with Medicaid expansion:

“The appetite is for healthcare,” he said. “We’ve been in consultation even as recently as the last week with Arkansas about how they expanded, Indiana, Louisiana and others on how they increased their availability of healthcare. Some of which they stepped in ditches and wished they hadn’t.”

Hosemann says he won’t rush the decision and would first look at other options to improve affordability and accessibility of healthcare.

“It’s too big a decision to be made on the fly and this won’t be solely made by me,” added Hosemann.

On the topic of teacher pay, the Southeastern average was a popular phrase used by several candidates during the campaign season. Hosmeann doesn’t have a number he’s targeting but did make this note.

“Why do we have to be average? Why can’t we be above? When we get to a point that our teachers are not making an economic decision whether to teach or not… then I’ll have gotten there,” Hosemann explained.

On the issue of a gas tax, Hosemann says he’s not in favor of a statewide gas tax, but would consider a local option tax that allows counties to vote whether they want to increase the tax that’s earmarked for specific infrastructure projects.
Hosemann will be sworn in as the next Lt. Governor on January 9th.

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Lt. Governor-Elect Hosemann Visit Storm-Damaged Areas in Guntown

Guntown, Miss. (Daily Journal) – Lt. Gov.-elect Delbert Hosemann toured a storm-battered section of Northeast Mississippi on Wednesday to survey damaged homes and speak with residents in the area.

Hosemann told the Daily Journal after his visit to Guntown that he typically has traveled to storm-damaged areas and wants to speak with the homeowners in the area and listen to their concerns. He even sat down with one homeowner to just ask “How’s it going?”

“People just want to know you care about them,” Hosemann said.

Many residents sustained damage to their homes from a tornado that swept through the area on Monday, but Hosemann said most of the people he spoke with were overwhelmingly positive about the situation and were focused on rebuilding their homes.

“We’ve got a resiliency here that I just don’t see anywhere else really,” he said.

On Tuesday, Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant declared a state of emergency existed in several areas throughout the state, including Guntown. Hosemann, the current secretary of state, also signed off on the declaration.

Hosemann told the Daily Journal he didn’t think Guntown itself sustained enough damage to satisfy the threshold needed for a federal disaster declaration. However, he said federal officials are conducting a final, collective survey from all of the storm-damaged areas in the state to see if a federal declaration can be issued for all of the areas.

“This will probably take one to two weeks to do,” Hosemann said.

The incoming lieutenant governor said the faith community deserves a lot of credit for assisting with the aftermath of the storm. He added that the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency has done a good job of responding to the storm.

“We all need to be thankful it’s Christmas and that everyone who was affected is alive, and we’ll work on rebuilding Mississippi,” he said.

State Sen. Chad McMahan, a Republican from Guntown, joined Hosemann as he toured the area Tuesday.

Like Hosemann, McMahan praised the effort of the community to help those in need, including local churches, non-profits and business interests.

“The entire community has come together,” McMahan said.

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COLUMN: SOS, State Leaders Work Together on Land Deal for Public Use

Jackson, Miss. (Clarion Ledger) – Not a single dime of the state’s tax dollars was used to purchase the nearly 18,000 acres of iconic Mississippi Delta river bottoms now known as the Phil Bryant Wildlife Management Area.

As Lt. Governor-elect Delbert Hosemann said, “this is the way government, private, and non-profits ought to work.”

It worked like this: A federal grant administered through the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks (MDWFP) in combination with private funding from The Nature Conservancy in Mississippi (TNC) enabled the historic purchase.

And Mississippians can thank hunters from Mississippi and across the United States for the federal grant money that was used to help make this possible, as these funds are generated from a portion of all firearm and ammunition sales each year. These proceeds are directed into the Wildlife Restoration Trust, commonly referred to as the Pittman-Robertson Fund, which is annually apportioned to states for wildlife conservation efforts, hunter education programs as well as the operation of shooting ranges.

Since passage through Congress in 1937, the program has delivered over $7 billion for conservation efforts across the US. With the purchase of the Phil Bryant WMA, Mississippi will have now received over $146 million from that total allotment.

A lot of people may not be familiar with The Nature Conservancy, but this purchase in the Delta personifies who we are as an organization and the work we have been doing across Mississippi since the mid-70s. Our mission is to conserve land and water on which all life depends and we are honored to be a part of yet another effort in this great state that will conserve critical wildlife habitat unique to our part of the world.

This collaboration between the state, TNC, and the private sector means Mississippi has conserved one of the Delta’s last remaining blocks of “big woods”, while providing unprecedented recreational opportunities for years to come and it was at no cost to the taxpayers. It is easy to see why this will serve as one of the greatest conservation success stories in our state.

A purchase for hunters by hunters and to me that makes the Phil Bryant WMA pretty special.

SOS Says to Beware of Charity Scams This Holiday Season

Jackson, Miss. (WLBT) – The National Day of Giving is set for tomorrow and it’s a global generosity day set aside for people to give back to the community.

As people prepare to donate money to the charities of their choice, the Secretary of State’s office urges folks to beware of charity scams that could steal your money.

The Magnolia State is known to many as one of the most generous states in the country when it comes to helping those in need – especially around the holidays.

“Mississippi gives over a billion dollars a year to charity,” said Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann.

The Salvation Army and Red Cross are two nonprofits that welcome the donations.

“We have programs all the way up to seniors. We have feeding programs, arts education,” said Michelle Hartfield with the Salvation Army.

“We have several campaigns going on right now. We have a Holiday Giving Campaign on the way and tomorrow is Giving Tuesday. We’re collecting donations to support the mission of the American Red Cross, so it’s very important that we have several safeguards in place to protect the financial gifts of the general public,” said Tamica Smith, Director of Communications and Marketing Manager for the American Red Cross Mississippi.

While both organizations take extra steps to make sure their donations are going to the right place, Hosemann says there are a lot of phony charities that aim to scam people out of their Christmas cash so it’s important to research before you give.

“We encourage you to give local. We have our faith-based communities, we have more than 4,000 charities registered in the state that can take your money and spend it where we need to, here locally in Mississippi,” said Hosemann.

In fact, Hosemann says charities soliciting funds must be registered with the Secretary of State’s office.

“If you have any questions go to our website. We have a charity section and I will show you how much is used for the charitable purpose and how much is for management.”

Hosemann says you should always get receipts. Never give out personal or information such as your social and bank account numbers. Also, avoid pressure tactics.

“Most of time when they say we have to have this by 5 o’clock today or 10 o’clock tonight in order to fund charity with, they are really funding themselves, so don’t fall for that.”

For more information: www.sos.ms.gov or call 601-359-1599 (charities division).

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COLUMN: Focusing on Our Common Goal to Reach Miss.’s Full Potential

Jackson, Miss. – We were humbled the night of Nov. 5 to receive more than 60 percent of the vote for lieutenant governor — an instruction from Mississippians to move forward with our plans to grow our economy, provide every child with quality public educational opportunities, make healthcare more accessible, and shore up our roads and bridges.

The morning of Nov. 6, the hard work began to put these plans into action.

My first objective was to set up personal meetings with each and every one of our 52 senators, Republicans and Democrats. Forty-five meetings in, I am so encouraged by our discussions. I’ve learned a lot about my new colleagues’ professional and personal backgrounds, the needs in their districts, their preference on committee assignments, and their individual legislative goals.

I’ve also learned no matter our political differences, we all have a common goal: seeing Mississippi rise to its fullest potential.

During this transition period, we are also making headway on fulfilling a primary platform promise by increasing transparency at the state Capitol. In partnership with the Legislative Budget Office and Mississippi Public Broadcasting, we are working on piloting a program on the Senate side to webcast committee meetings in addition to floor debate. This will be the first time ever Senate committees have been available by webcast.

Our Capitol may be physically located in Jackson, but we serve the entire state. Taxpayers deserve to know and observe how we are working together to solve challenges facing Mississippi without traveling a great distance.

Finally, we are in the process of identifying the policy initiatives we can immediately garner support for in the coming months. Some issues, like the gradual reorganization of government, will take contemplation and consensus-building during the break after the legislative session. Others, such as another much-needed pay raise for our teachers and other hard-working State employees, are immediately on our priority list in January.

Our public school teachers deserve our monetary support, as well as our respect — and we will be demonstrating both this Legislation Session.

The holiday season is about celebrating our faith, spending time with our families, and giving thanks for our blessings. This year, I am so grateful for the opportunity Mississippians in every corner of our state have given us. And I’m looking forward, as your next lieutenant governor, to working with all of you to make Mississippi an even better place for our children and grandchildren.

Delbert Hosemann is lieutenant governor-elect of Mississippi.

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Lt. Gov.-Elect Talks Workforce Development at Tech Conference

Jackson, Miss. (WAPT) – Several Mississippi entrepreneurs and innovators took advantage of a huge two-day technology conference.

The 20th annual Innovate Mississippi’s Conference on Technology Innovation was held this week at the Westin in Jackson. The event included investor panel discussions about cybersecurity and learning about different technology businesses. The conference showcased startups that Mississippi entrepreneurs have launched.

“(There are) a few different vendors here with really cool concepts,” said attendee Taylor Nicholas. “We’ve got a virtual reality concept for education (that) I think is really interesting.”

The conference also allowed Mississippi entrepreneurs to gain some exposure for their venture while making valuable connections.

Those attending the conference said the state needs innovation.

“They need to be able to help young entrepreneurs that have the capital to go build these ideas and really create solutions that can fix major problems in the U.S. but ultimately bring capital, bring jobs and keep people in the state,” said Stephen Daigle, Bidmoni cofounder.

Secretary of State and Lt. Gov.-elect Delbert Hosemann, who spoke at the conference, said he wants more people working in Mississippi.

“I want them to take someone, one young man and one young woman, (and) mentor them. Have them at work on Friday and show them what you’re doing. I told them, ‘Your workforce is sitting in the senior class in high school,’” Hosemann said.

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Vicksburg’s Hosemann is Elected Next Lieutenant Governor

Vicksburg, Miss. (AP) – Vicksburg native Delbert Hosemann has defeated upstart Democrat Jay Hughes to become Mississippi’s next lieutenant governor.

Hosemann, after three terms as secretary of state, rode the self-deprecating campaign style he built there to the powerful office that oversees the state Senate.

He beat Hughes, an Oxford businessman who ran a campaign centered on support for public schools and teachers. Hosemann sounded some similar themes as Hughes, pledging a teacher pay raise every year, increased state funding for special education and full build-out of Mississippi’s state-paid preschool program for 4-year-olds.

Hosemann supports much of a proposal by Mississippi’s hospitals to expand coverage to poor adults under the Medicaid program, with hospitals and insured people paying the state’s contribution. Hosemann also wants to let counties raise fuel taxes to repair local roads and bridges.

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