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Mississippi’s Nov. 3 ballot initiatives: What you need to know

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The flag is only one of three initiatives on this year's ballot.

The Mississippi Secretary of State has released a sample ballot for the upcoming General Election on Nov. 3.

In addition to voting for politicians and judges, Mississippians have the opportunity to make their voices heard on three ballot measures: medical marijuana, how governors are elected and the new state flag.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

Ballot measure one pits Initiative 65 against 65A on the issue of medical marijuana. Although they sound similar, the differences are huge.

Initiative 65 would allow the doctors to prescribe the herb to patients with any of 22 debilitating medical conditions. Mississippians for Compassionate Care gathered more than 228,000 signatures to get 65 on the ballot.

The competing Initiative 65A, written by the state Legislature, limits the use of medical marijuana to terminally ill patients only. It also says the herb must be “pharmaceutical quality” without defining what that means.

Beyond the confusing language making the two sound nearly the same — some say deliberately confusing on the part of the Legislature — there’s another quirk to voting for either of the initiatives: You must mark the ballot in two places.

First, you must make your intentions known to vote for or against either measure. To vote for either one, select the first option: “FOR APPROVAL OF EITHER…” Then, vote for one of the initiatives. A vote for an initiative won’t count without first making your intention known to vote for an initiative.

It’s hard to imagine making it any more confusing.

Read more about the issue here and here.

Click on the image to enlarge.

Ballot measure two will determine how votes are counted for the statewide offices. Mississippi law says that a candidate must carry the majority of the state’s 122 house districts, not just get a majority of votes. Critics say the law dates to the bad old Jim Crow days and is designed to disenfranchise African American voters in majority Black districts. If no candidate leaps over both hurdles, the Mississippi House of Representatives gets to decide the winner.

Vote yes to eliminate this odd rule and allow majority voting with runoffs if necessary, or vote no to let it stand.

Ballot measure three is perhaps the least confusing.

Click on the image to enlarge it.

It’s a straight yes or no vote on the one design selected by the nine-member Commission to Redesign the Mississippi State Flag. If you like it, vote yes. If you don’t, vote no.

If the majority of voters say no to the design, the selection process — and the rancor that has come along with the process — starts over for another vote in 2021.

See the full sample ballot below. Note that not all selections will appear on every ballot, depending on location. Click on any image to enlarge it.

 

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Governor announces two MS Board of Ed appointments

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Gov. Tate Reeves announced two Mississippi State Board of Education appointments Tuesday: Angela Bass from Jackson and Glen East from Gulfport. The appointees reflect the Governor’s commitment to continuous improvement in education.

“Mississippi’s children deserve our steadfast commitment to improving education. We must continue to improve outcomes for these students without fear of upsetting the status quo. I am confident that Angela and Glen will serve with honor and represent the interest of parents, teachers and — most importantly — students. Their achievement has to be our top priority,” Reeves said in a statement.

Dr. Angela Bass served as a Teach for America corps member and studied education policy and management at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, later becoming a teacher in both the Tunica and Desoto County school districts and an administrator at the KIPP Memphis Collegiate High School. She currently serves as the Executive Director of the Mississippi Early Learning Alliance.

Mr. Glen East serves as the Superintendent of the Gulfport School District. The district represents 10 schools and approximately 5,800 students. It has been designated an Excellence for All School District.

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MS Dept. of Agriculture offering organic certification cost-share program

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The Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce is offering a cost-share program for Mississippi organic producers and handlers receiving certification or continuation of certification by a United States Department of Agriculture accredited certifying agent, Commissioner Andy Gipson announced Tuesday.

“This is a great opportunity for farmers that have received the USDA Organic Certification in the past year to help offset some of the costs associated with this certification,” Gipson said in a statement, “I am glad that we are able to offer this program again for 2020, and I encourage our farmers to take advantage of this opportunity during these unprecedented times.”

Funding is available for those who received the certification between Oct. 1, 2019, and Sept. 30, 2020. Individual organic operators are eligible for reimbursement of 50% of their fiscal year 2020 certification costs up to a maximum of $500 per category of certification. The National Organic Certification Cost-Share Program currently recognizes the following categories of certification eligible for reimbursement: crops, wild crops, livestock and handler.

To be eligible for reimbursement, the following must be provided to MDAC by applicants: proof of certification issued by a USDA accredited certifying agent, a reimbursement form, an itemized invoice for certification-related expenses, an IRS W-9 form and documentation of the payment in the form of a canceled check. Applicants must be Mississippi organic producers and handlers located within the State of Mississippi. Funds are available on a first-come, first-serve basis until the funds are depleted. Operations may receive one reimbursement per year. The deadline to submit applications is Dec. 15, 2020.

For more information about this program or to obtain an application, visit the MDAC website or contact Susan Lawrence at [email protected] or 601-213-7542.

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Flaggs asks judges to assist in curbing crime

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Mayor George Flaggs Jr. in a May 15, 2020 interview with the Vicksburg Daily News. (Photo via video screen grab. Video by David Day)

In a letter sent to Vicksburg and Warren County judges Monday, Mayor George Flaggs Jr. asked for help to curb crime in the River City.

Flaggs wrote that crime is “running rampant” in Vicksburg, and he “prayerfully and humbly” requested the judges consider adding two criteria to bails for anyone arrested on firearm-related offenses: GPS monitoring devices and a 7 p.m. curfew.

“I believe the only exceptions to the curfew should be for travel to or from work or to seek necessary medical treatment,” the mayor wrote. “These conditions of bail will help in protecting the public from future violence and assist our law enforcement officers in reducing and preventing crimes in our city.”

He added that he believes the measures are “imperative for the safety and future of our city.”

Read the entire letter below.

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