First Legislative Page
This was a special week for me because I got to invest time into a kid from the Mississippi Delta town of Shelby, Mississippi where I reside. I had my first Legislative Page, Zeminskis Dotstry, who is a Shelby Broadstreet Senior to work at the Capitol. I have high hopes for him and I pray the exposure made him want to improve Mississippi and the Mississippi Delta. This year, I decided to use only one of my page slots. Because I am a freshman legislator, I want to focus on learning the process so I can be an effective public servant. In the future, I will announce the position so other #msdelta youth in District 29 can be afforded this opportunity to serve, learn, and grow.

Week of January 23rd - 27th, 2017

As Tuesday's deadline to have House Bills out of their corresponding committees quickly approaches, committees met frequently during the fourth week of the 2017 legislative session. After Tuesday, January 31st, no additional bills will be added to the House calendar for consideration, and members of the House will begin meeting as a whole for longer hours to discuss the bills that made it out of committees. I am eager to learn more about this phase of the process. I expect there will be much discussion and debate about the education formula, statewide road & bridge investment, and agency spending. 
While most work was done in committee meetings this week, a few bills were introduced to the House floor on last Tuesday and Wednesday for discussion. House Bill 555
, which initially failed last week by a vote of 58-60, was reintroduced to the floor after a motion to reconsider kept the bill on the calendar. This time the legislation passed by another close vote of 63-56. If enacted, the law would require a three-member committee - consisting of the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Secretary of State - to approve the Attorney General's use of outside attorneys in legal cases. Based upon my knowledge of the issue,  I voted NO for this bill because personally I feel like the Attorney General should have the autonomy to work without being slowed down by another layer of government. Government is already complicated enough and to infuse another layer does not seem in the best interest of Mississippi and its citizens. 

Members of the House Drug Policy Committee introduced House Bill 515 to the floor. This law would enhance the penalty for the illegal sale of controlled substances within close proximity to drug or alcohol rehabilitation facilities. The bill has been set aside for the Speaker to review how this measure might coincide with previous laws on drug penalties, but it should come up again for a vote within the next week.

Every issue in the legislature is not contentious. For example, the House voted unanimously in favor of House Bill 680, which would rename the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality Building in Jackson, Mississippi as the "Patrick Alan Nunnelee Building" in honor of the late Mississippi Congressman. 

A number of bills were introduced regarding the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration. These bills aim to clarify and update inventory of state real properties, authorize the sale of certain state owned real property, and require a report on the department's monetary needs.

The bill dubbed Blue Lives Matter overwhelmingly passed on the Senate floor with a vote of 37 to 13. The House has a bill that will possibly be introduced as well. In the current form, I don't plan to vote against either bill from the respective chambers. While I do believe that we should protect law enforcement, I also think it is important to realize that this issue didn't start until the Black Lives Matter movement got widespread media attention. I am hopeful my fellow House legislators do not get caught up in partisanship. It is obvious this is a attempt to take attention off the primary issue which is blacks being unequally treated.

Mississippi cannot endure more mounting negative attention in the media as we transition into being a international tourist attraction. As Mississippi prepares for its 200 year anniversary, I think it is no coincidence that the Emmett Till case has come back to the forefront. This incident turned the attention of the nation on Mississippi in the summer of 1955. In a Tallahatchie County courtroom, two white men were found not guilty of killing a 14 year old black boy because a white woman said  he inappropriately advanced at her. Last week, it was reported in the news that the woman's claims were false against young, innocent Emmett. Mississippi cannot follow national partisan trends and expect the same results because in Mississippi every racial issue is examined through a unique lens that encourages others to look at our past. 

I know many people associate the state I love with racism and bigotry. And while we have had a contested history, I have a believe the best is yet to come for My Mississippi. We all, including me, have to take a step back and evaluate our motives to ensure that we create an environment that fosters opportunities for every man, woman, and child no matter their race, locale, or economic status. Then, we can be an example first to other Southern states, and then to the  nation as it relates to  social justice.

Among the groups visiting the Capitol this week were members of the Mississippi Optometric Association, the Mississippi Association of Community and Junior Colleges, the Mississippi Tourism Association, the Mississippi Nurses Association and the National Guard Association of Mississippi. 

What's Going On?
Although she is being renovated, this is such a majestic photo of the Mississippi Capitol that I had to include it in this newsletter. I feel so honored to have been voted into the Mississippi House as the state turns 200 years old later this year. #historic

Here I am pictured with Dr. Elaine Baker and Patricia Bradshaw Ross from the Mississippi Delta who were visiting for Delta Sigma Theta Day at the Capitol. My wife is also a member of this sorority. #greeklife

Before leaving the Capitol this week, Representative Chris Johnson told me both he and his son, Brennan, would be in the Mississippi Delta for the weekend to hunt. He text me early Sunday morning and we met for a filling and delicious breakfast at DeRita's Soul Food in Shelby, Mississippi. (DeRita, the owner, is pictured with the three of us.) #goodfood

Thanks to the Bolivar County Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Incorporated for honoring me this past Saturday with a Community Trailblazer Award for Political Awareness and Involvement. Here I am pictured with my daughter and another beautiful young lady. #youth

Senator Hob Bryan (who represents Itawamba, Lee, and Monroe County) is a staunch advocate for public education. I spent some time talking with him after the public education hearing and press conference on last Friday to discuss ways to get people informed about why we must fully fund education via the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. #education

My Legislative Page, Zeminskis Dotstry, and other youth are being given three tips that Representative Greg Haney voluntarily provides every week to each new class. One, listen to the head pages. Two, smile at legislators. Three, get to know each other & have fun. #GregsOrientation

Last Monday, Mississippi Farm Bureau and Mississippi State University Alumni had a legislative reception. It was good meeting some guys from the Mississippi Delta. #msdeltaboys

Thursday, I attended the Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus 31st Annual Blackmon, Ellis, Fredrick, and Young Banquet. My table was full of young minds, and I learned a lot as I listened to their innovative ideas about public education and other important topics we face as a State. #conversation

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    Representative Abe M. Hudson, Jr. |