Feature Photo

In this photograph, I am with the 2018 Miss Mississippi
Asya Branch. She visited the Capitol during the 2018 Extraordinary Session . She is a poised young woman who represents the Magnolia State well. I wish her ALL THE BEST as she prepares for competition. Asya  will compete for the title of Miss America 2019 on  September 9, 2018  in Atlantic City, New Jersey. Mississippi let's tune in and cheer her to victory!!!

Newsletter Outline
Thank you for reading the newsletter below. My goal is to keep constituents informed as I navigate the legislative process. You can skip through or read each section of the newsletter.  Please review the outline below:

*Special Session Snippet
*Internet Sales Tax Diversion
*BP Settlement Funds
*No Perfect Bill (Opinion)
*Policy Explanations (3 Bills)
*How to Contact Legislators

***Click blue links to view bills and other pertinent information.

Special Session Snippet
This was my second special session. Last year, we had one that lasted 1 day. This year, the 2018 extraordinary session lasted 5 business days.
The collective goal of this legislature was to come away with a viable plan to address the crumbling road and bridge issues and determine a logical and fair distribution of the British Petroleum (BP) settlement. Though the floor action and committee meetings felt rushed, the result of the 2018 special session was as follows: The Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act, The Alyce Clarke Lottery Act, and the BP oil spill settlement distribution measure.  Nonetheless, I do feel there were some strides made during the session, but not as much as I had personally hoped or desired for my part of the Mississippi Delta.

Internet Sales Tax Diversion
The legislature voted to send funds to counties for road and bridge, repair. Bolivar County and Sunflower County will respectively receive $720,000 and $626,000 from use tax (internet sales tax) diversion. Below are the anticipated diversion dollars from use tax (internet sales tax) for the municipalities in Bolivar and Sunflower Counties where I serve:

Alligator - $13,612
Benoit - $19,510
Beulah - $15,749
Duncan - $17,058
Cleveland - $410,117
Gunnison - $17,727
Merigold - $21,689
Mound Bayou - $36,810
Pace - $14,710
Renova - $21,956
Rosedale - $46,630
Shelby - $51,656
Winstonville - $13,227
Drew - $45,544 (closest Sunflower County town/city)

***Below in the Policy Explanations section, you can read more about House Bill 1. It describes how the above figures are derived. The municipalities can use the above funds for road, bridge, sewer, and water repairs.

BP Settlement Funds
Thanks to Senator Willie Simmons and Senator Buck Clarke for their leadership in garnering funds for Bolivar County from the $111 million BP dispersement . Bolivar County received $1 million for Highway 8 & Highway 61 repairs. Though I would have liked to see more funds go towards rural communities in Bolivar County, I understand this is a primary vein for Bolivar County traffic. The entire project will cost $3 million to $4 million. Also, Bolivar County received another $1 million for a boat landing dock near the Mississippi River (details are still in progress) . This would entice more people to visit our part of the Mississippi Delta via riverboat and other water vessels. Rosedale, Mississippi is the nearest town and I hope they can benefit from the additional travelers visiting close to the town. Lastly, Drew, MS will receive $300,000 to complete the Park Avenue project. I was glad to see a small town receive funds for a needy project. Again, this legislation started in the Senate Chamber, and not the House Chamber. I voted to to send 75% of the funds to the Mississippi Gulf Coast and the remaining 25% for projects around the state of Mississippi.

*** Click Here to see how much your respective area received from the $111 million dispersement around the state.

No Perfect Bill
There are problems with each of the 3 bills we passed. For example, the lottery will be run by a corporation that has virtually unlimited authority to pay its director and employees undisclosed salaries. There was a bipartisan effort to make the corporation subject to public record requests - something that unbelievably was prohibited in the original bill. Administrative costs are capped at 15 percent of the total revenue from the lottery. That amount is projected to be at least $80 million per year. Fifteen percent of $80 million? You do the math.

Nonetheless, I am satisfied with the fact the state has committed to invest in infrastructure needs. Compromise is all a part of the legislative process.

In this photograph, Governor Bryant signed the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act into law on Wednesday afternoon following the adjournment (Sine Die). Several legislative colleagues and I joined him for the bill signing. He is also expected to sign the Representative Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Law, and BP Funds Bill into law as well.

I am not on the House Ways and Means  Committee. However, I attended the meeting so I could better understand the legislation before coming to the House Chamber.

The House Gaming  Committee has always fascinated me. I attended the meeting after the lottery passed the Senate. Unfortunately, there were no amendments by legislators allowed in the House Gaming Committee Meeting. I had never seen this before, but it was allowed. You learn something every single day during the legislative process. 

Representative Shane Barnett looks like he could be in high school, but don't let that fool you. He is a young energetic guy I have enjoyed serving with the last few years. Representative Barnett represents Greene, Perry, and Wayne Counties.

While in Jackson, Mississippi during special session, I met a constituent. Chief Nakita Johnson is the Chief of Police for the town of Gunnison, Mississippi.

Friday night, I saw Thomas "Tiger" Rogers in Jackson, Mississippi after a dope set at The Westin. I have always appreciated his musicianship through saxophone. 

While recycling in Cleveland, Mississippi, I met Sam Short. I have thought long and hard about what things I can do to help contribute to preserving the earth. I think being an example is a good place to start. Please RECYCLE!!!

Bolivar County has always paid respect to Aretha Franklin. This Mississippi Blues Trail Marker is in Cleveland, Mississippi.

It's always good for me to hear what's going on from the perspective of Mayors. They understand the towns and cities they represent much better than anyone else.

Beulah - Mayor Bertha Thomas (Top)
Cleveland - Mayor Billy Nowell (Far Left)
Gunnison - Mayor Frances Ward (Bottom Right)
Rosedale -Mayor Carey Estes  (Bottom Right)
Shelby - Mayor Peggy Mengarelli  (Bottom Right)

I am excited about the upcoming school year for Northside High School. This is the first year for this newly consolidated high school in Shelby, Mississippi.

Because I was elected during a special session, there are only 4 of us that are part of our legislative class. Representative John Corley is one of my classmates. Though from time to time we differ on perspective, I am thankful we can always come back to the table to talk. Mississippi, we are changing - One relationship at a time. 

Policy Explanations
On Tuesday, August 21, Governor Phil Bryant called a special session of the Legislature for Thursday, August 23, 2018.  Upon gaveling in at 10 a.m. on Thursday, House Ways and Means Chairman Jeff Smith called a meeting of the Ways and Means Committee to discuss House Bill 1, also known as the Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act
. This legislation appropriates funding towards repairing infrastructure problems around the state. The funds come from use tax (internet sales tax), sports betting, hybrid and electric vehicle fees, Gaming Sinking Fund bonds and the Mississippi Groundwater Protection Fund.
House Bill 1 also further expanded the funds from use taxes. Mississippi is estimated to receive $338 million in use taxes in the 2018 fiscal year. The legislation proposed using 35% of the $338 million to use for infrastructure. 15% of the $338 million (approximately $50 million) will be divided among every city and town in the state. The first $3 million would be divided equally among the 300 cities and towns; the remaining $47 million will be distributed based on sales tax diversion and population. The next 15% of the $338 million (approximately $50 million) would be distributed to all 82 counties based on a formula: one-third of the funds will be distributed evenly among all counties, one-third of the funds will be based on population and one-third of the funds would be based on rural road miles. The final 5% of the $338 million (approximately $10-20 million) will go into the Local System Bridge Replacement and Rehabilitation Program.  
$300 million in revenue bonds will be issued under House Bill 1. $250 million of the revenue bonds will be applied to the Emergency Road and Bridge Repair Fund, and the other $50 million will go to the 2018 Transportation and Infrastructure Fund with spending to be determined by the Legislature. Funds will also be collected from electric and hybrid vehicle fees, from the revenue from sports betting and from the Mississippi Groundwater Protection Fund.
The bill left the committee with no adopted amendments and was brought before the House. Several amendments to House Bill 1 were introduced in the House including one that removed specific projects from the bill. Only four amendments were adopted by the House chamber and did not make any major changes to the bill. The bill passed the House with a bipartisan vote of 109-5. The bill was then sent to the Senate where a few changes were made. The House concurred with the Senate's changes. Initially, I voted against this bill but I later voted to concur with the Senate changes. I am glad we passed an infrastructure bill.
Discussion ensued when Senate Bill 2001 was brought before the House. This legislation creates a state lottery system that sells paper and instant tickets. The funds collected from the lottery will go towards infrastructure needs as laid out in House Bill 1. The Gaming Committee introduced Amendment One, which was a strike-all amendment that added conforming language and deleted duplicative provisions throughout the bill. Nine other amendments were then introduced into the House.   The most significant amendment to the lottery bill was Amendment Four. It called for any funds collected by the lottery exceeding $80 million will go toward preschool education and the classroom supply fund. Amendment Eight called for a renaming of the bill the "Alyce G. Clarke Mississippi Lottery Law," in honor of Representative Alyce Clarke's efforts to give Mississippi a lottery in previous years. Initially on Monday, the bill failed with a vote of 60-54. However, a motion to reconsider was entered, and the House voted again on Tuesday. The bill passed with a vote of 58-54. I voted no in hopes that a bipartisan group could help divert some funds to education after a possible bill rewrite.
On Tuesday, Governor Bryant added the distribution of the BP oil spill settlement funds to the special session call. These funds are compensation for economic damage to the state and will bring in $40 million a year for 15 years to the state. The BP Bill, or Senate Bill 2002, made its way to the House on Wednesday. The three counties on the Mississippi Gulf Coast and portions of the three counties north of the coast counties will receive a majority of the funds, and the other 25% will be used in the rest of the state. The bill creates the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund for the funds for the coastal zone counties and creates an advisory board to provide advice to the Mississippi Development Authority when reviewing applications for assistance. A significant portion of the bill is dedicated to special projects around the state totaling more than $111 million. Every amendment brought forth in the House was tabled, except for Amendment Five which lost. The bill passed the House by a bipartisan vote of 99-11.

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    Representative Abe M. Hudson, Jr. |