Please scroll down to the bottom 
to view photographs from the first week of session. Also, I have included some December 2017 activity from Mississippi House District 29.

Week 1 Mississippi Legislative Session (2018)

On January 2, 2018, the 132nd Mississippi State Legislature began the third session in its four-year term. As I enter my second year as Mississippi State Representative for House District 29 (Bolivar and Sunflower counties), I am filled with hope about our state on several different fronts. Until I see the desired outcomes, I plan to use my vote to positively impact my constituents and shed attention on important topics. 

During the first week of session, there were a couple of bills passed through committees and introduced on the House floor. All of the bills deal with the maintenance and repair of roads and bridges. Please click the bill links below to view the bill in it's entirety.

One measure introduced was House Bill 354, which aims to set aside any state revenue growth of more than two percent for the repair and reconstruction of state, county and municipal roads and bridges. This measure passed by a vote of 119-1. I was the only no vote for the Appropriation bill. Appropriations Chair John Read cordially and inquisitively asked me why I voted no. I told him "I voted no because I believe we can do more to solve the critical infrastructure issue." He respected my position and then asked me about my family.

Another was House Bill 357, legislation that would authorize the issuance of $50 million in bonds to cities and counties for bridge improvements. This passed by a vote of 116-4. I voted yes on this bill because it is a realistic goal to garner the funds from a potential bond bill. This particular bill came through Ways and Means.

Finally, House Bill 359 would prohibit the construction of any new roads that have not already acquired right-of-way. The bill passed by a vote of 71-42. This bill originated in the Transportation Committee. Though I respect Transportation Chairman Charles Busby, I couldn't support this bill so I voted against it both in committee and on the House floor. Supporters of the bill say this will help the state maintain the roads it already has before starting any new projects. In it's current form, the legislation states that if road or bridge construction is not happening at the time the bill goes into effect, no funds will be allocated towards the project. A caveat of the bill is that new construction can be considered if it is deemed a economic development project. I believe this would further stall economic development in rural parts of the state like the Mississippi Delta while other areas continue to flourish.

***Important Note: All three bills were held on a motion to reconsider, which means they will be brought up again in the future.

Economic Outlook 

In a July 2017 article in Mississippi Today, State Economist Darrin Webb was quoted:  "Long term, it doesn't look very positive for revenues," Webb said. "We should show slight revenue growth, but the slow national economy is hard on us. The tax cuts make it even harder." Instead of looking for ways to decrease government's influence, the legislature should look to generate more income to support necessary Mississippi agencies and their programs. 

This was also a comment from the article: When the corporate income and corporate franchise phase-outs begin starting Jan. 1, 2018, Mississippi stands to lose $46.5 million in fiscal year 2019. By fiscal year 2022, the tax cuts are projected to reduce state revenue by $70.8 million each fiscal year. By fiscal year 2028, the scheduled completion of the phase-out, the state will be losing $415 million per year in revenue from the tax cuts.  I don't know about you, but I think those dollars could be better used by Mississippi agencies and their beneficial programs.

Economic Alternatives

After having several town hall meetings and polling others in my community, I suggest we examine these future funding mechanisms:

*I think increasing the gas tax is a good idea. The money should go into a special roads and bridges fund to EXCLUSIVE be used for infrastructure improvements. 

*After polling my constituents, I support a state lottery. Though Mississippi missed first mover advantage, we can still generate funds by being late adopters of the lottery. ALL of the funds, if instituted, should go towards K-12 public education. 

*Lastly, I think raising the cigarette tax a $1.50 is a good idea. Not only would "some" people smoke less, but the state could put ALL the new revenue towards K-12 public education.

Chairmanships Announced

The Speaker also announced new chairmanships of several House Committees:

* Education Chairman: Richard Bennett (District 120, R-Long Beach)
* Gaming Chairman: Casey Eure (District 116, R-Saucier)
* Interstate Cooperation Chairman: Tracy Arnold (District 3, R-Booneville)
* Marine Resources Chairman: Timmy Ladner (District 93, R-Poplarville)
* Ports Harbors and Airports Chairman: Jeff Guice (District 114, R-Ocean Springs)
* State Libraries: Greg Haney (District 118, R-Gulfport)

New Legislators

Also, four new members joined the House of Representatives this past year as a result of special elections. Stacey Wilkes, R-Picayune; Missy McGee, R-Hattiesburg; Cheikh Taylor, D-Starkville and Kevin Ford, R-Vicksburg joined the roster of representatives for the 2018 Legislative Session. I have personally welcomed each of them to the chamber and extended the opportunity to collaborate whenever possible. Over the next few weeks, I plan to introduce them to you via this newsletter.

Other Announcements

Since the last legislative session, Mississippi celebrated its 200th year of statehood with the opening of the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum and Mississippi History Museum in downtown Jackson. Renovations to the Capitol are also wrapping up with the start of the New Year. Please remember, visitors are welcome to come to the Capitol City to visit their legislators and witness the legislative process.

In conclusion, I am  optimistic honorable policy and beneficial legislation will come out of this session. That is the purpose for which I am here.

Abe M. Hudson, Jr.

  Representative Jay Hughes was taking forever to drop his bills in the wooden box. I jokingly told him to hurry up. He finally moved along and I got to submit mine. We literally have to resubmit our bills to the Speaker's office via this process.

Representative Stacey Wilkes is a new legislator from Picayune, Mississippi. I met her on the House floor in late December preparing for her first year. It appears she is getting off to a good start. 

Attorney Julian Miller grew up in Winstonville, Mississippi. Currently, he works at Butler Snow in Jackson, Mississippi. I hope many other young Mississippians follow his lead of getting an education and moving back home. Thanks for being a trendsetter. Attorney Miller's educational background is as follows: Mississippi School for Mathematics & Science (03'), Harvard College (A.B. in Government, 07'); and Law school at Ole Miss Law ('12). 

Congratulations to Heart of Hospice new business opening. In this photo, I am pictured with Carla Davis, CEO, and Tonya Rogers, Regional Vice President of Operations. A few weeks ago, they were both in town for the grand opening. Heart of Hospice services the following areas: Bolivar, Carroll, Coahoma, Grenada, Holmes, Humphreys, Leflore, Panola, Quitman, Sharkey, Sunflower, Tallahatchie, Washington and Yalobusha counties.

I cordially interrupted Gary Bouse and Damien Shaw's conversation to say "Hello". They are both committed to higher education in the Mississippi Delta. Gary works at Delta State University and Damien is employed at Valley State University. I was happy to see them both at the Mississippi Economic Council Capitol Day.

Matt McWilliams caught my attention when he told me his team was one of the contractors for the Two Museums Project in Jackson, Mississippi. When he told me he was from Indianola, the conversation really got fun as we discussed the Mississippi Delta.

In December, I had two town hall meetings in the Mississippi Delta. One was in Mound Bayou and the other was in Rosedale. My format was to briefly share my thoughts on certain topics, allow for feedback about my points of view, and listen to constituent issues. Some of the topics discussed were as follows: Tourism, PERS, Gas Tax, Cigarette Tax, Lottery, Great River Road Park, MAEP Formula, Certified Teachers, Prison System, Infrastructure (Water & Sewage) and Alcorn State Extension Center. I left feeling enlightened and empowered. Thanks to all constituents who attended.
While I was driving thru Arkansas to visit a relative, I stopped for gas and I took this photograph. I am hopeful the Mississippi legislature gets to vote on a lottery this session. Provided that the bulk of the money is invested into K-12 public education, I am a yes vote. 

A few weeks ago, Life Help Region 6 Mental Health Center had their Legislative Luncheon in Greenwood, Mississippi. It provides an opportunity for legislators, community members, and other stakeholders to see the value of each dollar the Department of Mental Health receives for the Mississippi Delta. Region 6 covers 12 Mississippi Delta counties and employs 148 people. During FY 2016, 11,464 clients were served in the area. To put it into perspective, the two counties I represent respectively serviced 1205 clients (Bolivar) and 1001 clients (Sunflower) during this funding year. 

In December, Hayes Cooper Center Principal Renee LaMastus and her staff at in Merigold, MS gave me a tour of their school. I was impressed by their past accomplishments. During our conversation, we talked about how it is important for individual schools to not only focus on "proficiency" but to also manage "growth." It is a challenge for schools that have performed well, because it is harder to advance children who have consistently performed well. Here lies a complex dilemma in education as it relates to continuous improvement.

I have been a member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity since Fall 1995. When I was asked to introduce Southern Region Vice President (SRVP) Kelsey Rushing at my graduate chapter (Epsilon Xi Lambda) founder's day program in Cleveland, Mississippi, I immediately said yes. Both SRVP Rushing and I attended the University of Southern Mississippi (Mu Xi Chapter) where we both became Alphamen. I was proud to introduce a real servant of the brotherhood.

Here are some photos from the grand opening of the two new museums in Mississippi. One is the Museum of Mississippi History and the other is the Mississippi Civil Rights Museum. I must admit, I spent most of my time in the Civil Rights Museum. I look forward to going back with my daughter. Please click the link to read more:

***If you missed the December 2017 grand opening for any reason, you should attend the alternate grand opening for the Civil Rights Museum to be held in February 2018 during black history month. Mississippi Legislative Black Caucus Chairwoman Sonya Williams Barnes is one of the Co-Chairs for the event. It doesn't matter when you go, just make sure you visit this thoughtful museum that narrates Mississippi's complex history!!!

Two New Museums Grand Opening

Here, I am photographed with Representative Kathy Sykes and Mike Espy. Mike Espy is a former U.S. Congressman and Secretary of Agriculture. Representative Sykes is a staunch advocate for changing the Mississippi State flag. I was proud to spend a moment with them at the museum opening.

As Adrienne and I were leaving the Civil Rights Museum, we bumped into Darryl and Beverly Johnson who seemed to be enjoying the exhibits. They own a business and lead a ministry in Mound Bayou, Mississippi.

Here, I am photographed with Representative Ashley Henley's son. He is a nice kid I've had pleasure of talking to numerous times at the Capitol while visiting his mom. 

In this photo, I am pictured with Juanita Jones Sawyer. She has family roots that connect her to Mound Bayou, Mississippi. Though I am sure she enjoyed the entire Civil Rights Museum, she said she visited the museum just to see that Mississippi Delta themed part of the exhibit.

Stay in Touch With Social Media

You can stay in touch with Abe by using social media. Follow him on InstagramFacebook, and Twitter. Please click the links below and be a part of what's going on in the Mississippi Delta.
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    Representative Abe M. Hudson, Jr. |