Health

“George Washington” of the Mississippi Republican Party, Wirt Yerger, Jr., passed away

Yerger established the Republican Party in Mississippi, serving as State Chairman of the MSGOP from 1956 to 1966.
On Monday, Wirt Yerger, Jr., founding Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party, passed away. In 2020, the Mississippi Top 50 announced Yerger as one of three honorees in the 2020 Hall of Fame.

Yerger received a Bachelor of Business Administration degree from the University of Mississippi and served as First Lieutenant in the U.S. Air Force’s Strategic Air Command from 1952 to 1954.
“In 1954 Wirt joined Ross & Yerger, Inc., Mississippi’s first insurance agency, founded in 1860.  During his forty-eight years of leadership, the agency grew from three employees to fifty-three.  In February 2002, Ross & Yerger became employee-owned, and Wirt continued to serve as Chairman Emeritus.  He was the first insurance agent in Mississippi to hold both the CPCU and CLU designations and was the first Mississippian invited to be an underwriting Name at Lloyd’s of London.  He also served as President of the Mississippi Association of Insurance Agents,” the obituary states.

Yerger was past president of Metropolitan Boys Club, Metropolitan YMCA and Jackson Rotary Club. He received the Jackson Junior Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award in 1956 and 1960.
He also served as President of the Mississippi Association of Insurance Agents and was a former director of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, the Mississippi Insurance Council, and the Community Foundation for Mississippi.
“Wirt gave unselfishly and generously to his community. He was a past president of Metropolitan Boys Club, Metropolitan YMCA and Jackson Rotary Club.  He received the Jackson Junior Chamber of Commerce Distinguished Service Award in 1956 and 1960.  He founded both the Metropolitan Crime Commission and Fondren Renaissance Foundation.  He was a former director of the Jackson Chamber of Commerce, the Mississippi Insurance Council, and the Community Foundation for Mississippi, establishing one of their first donor advised funds. He was a founding trustee of Jackson Preparatory School and a member of First Presbyterian Church, where he served as a Deacon,” the obituary continued.

Yerger was the leader in establishing the Republican Party in Mississippi, serving as State Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party from 1956 to 1966. He was also the Chairman of the Southern Association of Republican State Chairmen.
His obituary states that in May 2009, he was honored as Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Emeritus for his work in building a two-party political system in Mississippi. He ended his speech by saying, “The best advice I give to you is always choose principles over pragmatism and power. Standing on principles is not easy, you get tired and discouraged, but the satisfaction of accomplishing all you can for a better nation is worth it all.”
Visitation be in Miller Hall at First Presbyterian Church on Tuesday, May 3rd from 3:30-6:00 p.m. A family burial service will be at Greenwood Cemetery on Wednesday, May 4th at 10:00 a.m., followed by a memorial service at 11:00 a.m. at First Presbyterian Church.
Mississippi GOP Chairman Frank Bordeaux stated that Chairman Wirt Yerger led the way for the modern-day Mississippi Republican Party.
“He brought the organization home, for the first time putting responsibility for the party’s management into the hands of those who lived, worked, and raised their families in Mississippi,” Bordeaux said in a statement. “A man of service to his core, Mr. Yerger also served his country in the U.S. military and his family as a loving husband and father. In losing him, Mississippi has lost an unwavering advocate, a strong conservative, and a friend. My prayers are with Mary and their three children, as they mourn the loss of this Mississippi icon.”
You can read the full obituary here.  […]

Health

BECKER: Russia may be just getting started in Eastern Europe

Submitted by Dr. Matthew Becker
“It is my belief that Russia will not stop at Transnistria if Moscow is successful,” Dr. Becker writes.
On April 22, General Rustam Minnekayev, of Russia’s Central Military District, stated that the “second phase” of the war is to expand beyond the Donbas and create a land bridge to Transnistria, which is a breakaway region of Moldova that shares a land border with Ukraine. Specifically, General Minnekayev said that “control over the south of Ukraine is another way out to Transnistria, where there is oppression of the Russian-speaking population.”
An attempt to legitimize control of occupied territories in Ukraine is to have referendums on independence in these oblasts, of which the outcomes are already known.
Transnistria has been de facto independent from Moldova since 1992 and is willing to be absorbed; Russian “peacekeepers” have also been present there since the Transnistrian War ended with a ceasefire.

On April 25-26, a radio tower and the building of the Transnistrian Ministry of State Security were attacked with grenades – false-flag attacks designed in an attempt to draw Transnistria and Moldova into renewed conflict. Overall, this points towards more brutal fighting ahead.
It is my belief that Russia will not stop at Transnistria if Moscow is successful, and the Western world loses interest in Ukraine as the war drags on.
The potential “third phase” would be a drive to connect the Russian exclave of Kaliningrad Oblast, which borders NATO members Poland and Lithuania. This action would entail the Russian military seizing the Suwalki Gap, which is the border between Poland and Lithuania – with Kaliningrad Oblast and Belarus on the two endpoints.

The Suwalki Gap is a mere 65 miles end-to-end. Those 65 miles between the exclave and Belarus (which Moscow is using as a staging area for its invasion of Ukraine) is NATO territory.
On April 25, U.S Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin stated after a visit to Kyiv that the U.S. goal in Ukraine is to “see Russia weakened to the degree that it can’t do the kinds of things that it has done in invading Ukraine.” For me, this statement is a tacit recognition that we are in a proxy war in the defense of the Baltic States and Poland.
We must therefore provide everything the Ukrainians ask for – including tanks, additional heavy artillery, and fighter aircraft. If we do not, we truly do risk a wider European war – specifically an attack on two NATO member-states, plus drawing in non-member Moldova.
As part of the defense of the Suwalki Gap, we must also heed the calls of Estonian Prime Minister Kaja Kallas, who has advocated for the U.S. to establish a permanent military base in her country. Estonia shares a land border with Russia and has a minority Russian-speaking population that may need “liberation” if Russia is not expelled from Ukraine.
I ask readers to contact your representatives to express your continued support to arm Ukraine as well as support of our Eastern flank NATO allies. Let’s provide the Ukrainians with the tools they need to defend the free world and expel Russia. Let’s defend NATO and democracy by defending Ukraine – otherwise, the Suwalki Gap will trigger Article V of the North Atlantic Treaty.
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Submitted by Dr. Matthew Becker. He teaches on politics and security issues in Eastern Europe at the University of Mississippi. He has a doctorate in Political Science from Ole Miss and a master’s in International Affairs from Florida State University. The views expressed are his own and do not reflect those of the university. He has visited Moldova and Transnistria. He may be reached at: [email protected] […]

Health

MCRAE: Lock in today’s tuition rates

Treasurer David McRae
By: Treasurer David McRae

Open enrollment in Mississippi’s pre-pay college affordability plan ends May 31.

College costs have increased 160 percent since 1980. Today, between tuition, room and board, books, and other expenses, a college education typically costs families around $27,000 annually for a public, in-state university and $55,000 annually for a private education, according to a 2021 College Board report. As a result, most rely on hefty loans that take years – if not decades – to pay back.

This year, seven of Mississippi’s eight public colleges are looking to increase tuition costs, with the only exception being Jackson State University. With a few exceptions, these annual tuition hikes are the norm, leading the U.S. News and World Report to predict that by 2030, annual public school tuition costs could reach $44,000.

Earlier this year, we asked Mississippians if they knew they could lock in today’s tuition rates, insulate themselves from future price hikes, and begin pre-paying their child’s tuition. Two out of every three Mississippians were unaware. That means, we still have work to do.

The Mississippi Prepaid Affordable College Tuition (MPACT) program has saved hundreds of Mississippi families thousands of dollars on tuition. Perhaps even more importantly, it has put an affordable college experience into the hands of many members of our future workforce.

You can enroll in the MPACT program at any time, but the earlier you start, the cheaper your monthly payments will be. Enrollment in the program, however, is limited. You must sign up by May 31, 2022 to secure today’s rates. Another open enrollment period will begin in September, but rates are expected to rise next season. To learn more, please visit Treasury.MS.gov/MPACT or call my office at (601) 359-3600.

The average Mississippi student graduates with $30,000 worth of debt. By enrolling in MPACT, you can dramatically reduce – and likely eliminate – that decades-long burden on your child or grandchild. I encourage you to explore this program before the open enrollment period ends on May 31 to lock in the best possible rates. Our office is here to help, if you have any questions. […]

Health

Hyde-Smith shows support for chronic wasting disease research

In a bipartisan move by the U.S. Senate, the legislation would allow state and tribal governments to address and prevent CWD outbreaks. 
Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith has backed a bill that would increase research and management of CWD in the state of Mississippi. This disease has been show to negatively affect recreational hunting, outdoor tourism, local business, farms and ecosystems in the state.
CWD is a neurological disorder, similar to “mad cow disease,” which is contagious within each species and always fatal.  As of 2021, CWD has been discovered among deer, elk, and moose (cervids) in 26 states, including Mississippi.
She joins U.S. Senator John Hoeven (R-N.D.) in proposing the Chronic Wasting Disease Research and Management Act (S.4111).

The bill allows for a five year CWD research program to be conducted by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). The work will be carried out with state and tribal agencies as well as the Ag department.
The bill would also allow for those agencies to develop education materials to inform the public on CWD.
“The spread of chronic wasting disease, which has a presence in Mississippi, is a major cause for concern.  We must dedicate more resources to understanding all we can about the cause, spread, management and control of this always-fatal disease,” Hyde-Smith said.  “I am pleased to support Senator Hoeven’s legislation to give the USDA more resources to focus on this problem.”

“CWD is a growing threat to both wildlife and livestock, impacting sportsmen, ranchers and the local ecology of regions across the U.S.,” said Hoeven.  “Our legislation would empower state and tribal governments to better manage and prevent outbreaks of this deadly disease, while also advancing new methods for detecting CWD and limiting its spread.”
There are roughly 1.75 million whitetail deer in Mississippi. Deer hunting encompasses the state’s largest outdoor/hunting industry and helps fund the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
S.4111 would authorize funds for the following priorities:
Research

Methods to effectively detect CWD in live cervids and the environment.
Testing methods for non-live cervids.
Genetic resistance to CWD.
Sustainable cervid harvest management practices to reduce CWD occurrence.
Factors contributing to local emergence of CWD.

Management

Areas with the highest incidence of CWD.
Jurisdictions demonstrating the greatest financial commitment to managing, monitoring, surveying, and researching chronic CWD.
Efforts to develop comprehensive CWD management policies and programs.
Areas showing the greatest risk of an initial occurrence of CWD.
Areas responding to new outbreaks of CWD.

In addition to Hyde-Smith, additional original cosponsors include Senators Martin Heinrich (D-N.M.), Steve Daines (R-Mont.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-Kan.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), and Cory Booker (D-N.J.). […]

Health

WICKER: Ukraine will need U.S. help for the long haul

Submitted by Senator Roger Wicker
“We need to give Ukraine the tools they need to defeat Russia even if it takes months or years,” Wicker writes.
Vladimir Putin thought he could seize the capital of Ukraine in three days. Yet after two months of bloody fighting, Ukrainian troops have staved off defeat. Russia has lost over 15,000 troops and is now regrouping for a major offensive in eastern Ukraine. In their wake, they have left a devastating trail of murder, torture, and shattered lives. Evidence of war crimes against civilians has shocked the world, and cities like Mariupol, once vibrant, are now leveled, with men, women, and children buried under rubble. Putin’s atrocities are among the worst since World War II.
Ukrainian troops have fought heroically. Despite being outnumbered and outgunned, they have destroyed roughly 1,000 Russian tanks, 4,000 ground vehicles, and more than 300 manned aircraft according to Ukrainian reports. Russia has lost potentially a quarter of its initial invasion force, its elite paratroopers have been mostly wiped out, and the pride of its navy fleet, the Moskva, is no more, having been sunk by Ukrainian missiles. In addition, Putin has lost nine generals and has placed his war effort under new command. Yet the Russians still hold the advantage in numbers and artillery, making the outcome of this war uncertain.
In his recent Easter address, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy showed the strength of heart that has sustained his people throughout the war. He vowed that no “wickedness” would ever destroy Ukraine and offered a prayer for endurance: “Let us not lose our longing for freedom. Let us not lose our zeal for a righteous fight.” Such resolve has rallied the entire free world to Ukraine’s cause.

U.S. Prepares More Aid for Ukraine
With the war entering a second phase, members of Congress are preparing a new military aid package for Ukraine. Congress had already approved $6.5 billion in defense aid in March, which will soon run out. President Biden is now seeking a $33 billion aid package. As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I am working to ensure this bill provides much-needed helicopters and drones, as well as the anti-tank and anti-air missiles that have been so decisive in repelling the Russians.
Despite these funding efforts, it is still taking too long to get weapons into Ukrainian hands. As I had requested, President Biden recently appointed Terry Wolff, a retired general, to coordinate the delivery of aid, which should help speed up the process. Even so, the Administration has resisted Ukraine’s request for certain assets like MiG fighter jets. President Zelenskyy recently met with Biden officials and renewed his request for these jets, as well as tanks, armored vehicles, artillery, and missiles.

Putin Must Lose This War
President Reagan once called the Soviet Union “the focus of evil in the modern world.” After two months of unprovoked brutality, it is obvious that the Kremlin remains one of the chief forces for evil in our world. For all his recent failures, President Biden did the right thing in calling Putin’s war what it is: an attempt at “genocide” and an effort to “wipe out the idea of being Ukrainian.” Yet with this moral clarity comes a solemn obligation to help the Ukrainian people achieve victory.
Russia is now preparing more bloodshed and a long-term occupation in eastern Ukraine. We need to give Ukraine the tools they need to defeat Russia even if it takes months or years. Like West Germany during the Cold War, Ukraine has become the front line in the contest between freedom and despotism. They will need our help for the long haul.
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Submitted by Senator Roger Wicker […]

Health

Secretary of State Watson takes issue with Governor Reeves’ veto of campaign finance enforcement change

SB 2306 had unanimous support in both the Mississippi House and Senate. 
On April 21, 2022, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves vetoed Senate Bill 2306, which sought to transfer the authority of the Mississippi Ethics Commission to assess a civil penalty against any candidate or political committee for failure to file a report to the Secretary of State.
Authored by State Senator Jeff Tate, Senate Bill 2306 would have also deleted the provisions that provide for a hearing for a candidate or political committee before the State Board of Election Commissioners. The bill allowed for an appeal procedure for those candidates who are assessed a civil penalty by the Secretary of State.
In the past, the authority to assess campaign finance civil penalties has rested with the Secretary of State’s Office. In 2017, the Mississippi Legislature transferred the penalty assessment authority to the Ethics Commission.

Secretary of State Michael Watson said that while this was done with the best intentions, the transfer of authority has created more problems than solutions.
Beginning in 2017, the Elections Division of the Secretary of State’s Office has documented hundreds of candidates and elected officials who failed to comply with campaign finance laws, resulting in more than $100,000 of unpaid fees.
“Given the lack of compliance from candidates, coupled with the disjointed nature of the entire assessment and collection process, we, and others, specifically the Ethics Commission, believed Senate Bill 2306 would serve as a remedy. The legislation would have shifted the penalty assessment authority back to our office,” Secretary Watson said. 

Watson said that if Governor Reeves had consulted with the Ethics Commission or his office before vetoing this legislation, he would have understood the need for revisions.
“I believe we should return the penalty assessment power back to an elected official accountable to the public on Election Day, not an administrative body. I commend Senator Jeff Tate, the Ethics Commission, and leadership in both chambers for working diligently on this legislation and hope it will be revisited in the next session,” Watson stated.
You can read the full text of S.B. 2306 below.
Senate Bill 2036 by yallpolitics on Scribd […]

Health

Governor signs bill requiring Dept. of Human Services investigators to report fraud to State Auditor

SB 2338 was signed by Governor Reeves last week.
Last week, Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves approved Senate Bill 2338. It requires the Department of Human Services (DHS) Fraud Investigation Unit to report to the State Auditor any suspected civil or criminal violations relating to program fraud, embezzlement, or related crimes.
State Auditor Shad White announced the signing of this bill a day after Nancy and Zach New plead guilty to charges of wire fraud, fraud against the government, and charges of bribery of a public official in Mississippi’s welfare fraud case, the state’s largest ever public embezzlement case.
The legislation states:
In order to carry out the responsibilities of the Fraud Investigation Unit, the investigators may request and receive assistance from all state and local agencies, boards, commissions, and bureaus, including, without limitation, the Department of Revenue, the Department of Public Safety, and all public and private agencies maintaining data banks, criminal or other records that would enable the investigators to make verification of fraud or abuse in violation state or federal statutes.

All records and information shall be confidential and shall be available only to the Fraud Investigation Unit, district or county attorneys, the State Auditor, the Attorney General, and courts having jurisdiction in criminal proceedings. 
Auditor White said the Legislature and Governor Reeves knew this bill was a “common-sense idea.”
“I want to thank Gov. Reeves and legislative leadership, along with Senator Brice Wiggins and Representative Angela Cockerham, who handled the bill. Their hard work ensures that the State Auditor’s office can continue to stop misuse of taxpayers’ money, as we did in the case of the News,” White said.

State Senator Brice Wiggins was one of the lawmakers who played a key role in getting the legislation passed.
“Fighting corruption has always been the name of the game for me. Authoring this bill was appreciated,” Senator Wiggins said.

Fighting corruption has always been the name of the game for me. Authoring this bill was appreciated. TY @tatereeves for signing. https://t.co/kxso8e0YuQ
— Brice Wiggins for Congress (@bricewigginsMS) April 28, 2022

The legislation will take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2022.
You can view the full text of S.B. 2338 below.
Senate Bill 2338 by yallpolitics on Scribd […]