Political Party leaders Rickey Cole and Joe Nosef to address August 4 Forum

Mississippi Democratic Party Chairman Rickey Cole and Mississippi Republican Party Chairman Joe Nosef will appear jointly at the Monday, August 4, 2014 Stennis-Capitol Press Forum, which will be held at The Capital Club, 125 South Congress Street, 19th Floor, Jackson, Mississippi.

The event is open to the public, however pre-registration by noon Friday, August 1, is required. Cost to attend is $20, payable at the door (Make checks payable to Stennis Institute). To pre-register send an email to phil.hardwick@msstate.edu indicating your attendance.


On August 29, 2011, Rickey Cole was appointed Executive Director of the Mississippi Democratic Party. On June 30, 2012, Cole was elected to a four year term as Chairman of the Mississippi Democratic Party. Since that time, he has served as the full-time chief executive officer of the state party, with primary responsibility for the administration and development of the Democratic Party in Mississippi. On January 22, 2013, Rickey was unanimously elected to represent the Southern Region on the Executive Committee of the Association of State Democratic Chairs.

A seventh generation Mississippian, Rickey Cole has spent most of his adult life marketing Mississippi agricultural products, organizing grassroots networks, and serving as a leader, spokesman, administrator, advocate, advisor and strategist in Democratic politics. He attended Mississippi State University and studied political science on a John C. Stennis scholarship

Cole was elected Chairman of the Democratic Party of the State of Mississippi on August 18, 2001, serving until July 29, 2004. During his tenure, the state party renovated its headquarters, launched a state party website and a toll free phone hotline, upgraded office technology, secured party ownership of an updated 1.6 million name voter file, gave long overdue tribute to Fannie Lou Hamer by re-naming its signature annual event the Jefferson-Jackson-Hamer Dinner, settled a seven-year outstanding lawsuit, raised and spent over 1.2 million dollars, and successfully retained Democratic majorities in both houses of the Mississippi legislature. In December of 2005 the Young Democrats of Mississippi named their Legislative Internship stipend the “Rickey L. Cole Scholarship”.

NosefJoeOn January 11, 2012 the Mississippi Republican Party’s Executive Committee unanimously voted to elect Joe Nosef as Chairman of the Mississippi Republican Party. He was then elected to a full four-year term at the State Convention on May 19, 2012.

Joe grew up in Clarksdale, Mississippi, where he graduated from Lee Academy in 1987. He attended Ole Miss earning both undergraduate and master’s degrees in accounting. He graduated from Ole Miss law school and also obtained an LL.M. degree in taxation from the University of Florida at Gainesville.

Joe has practiced law in the Jackson area for over fifteen years. During this time, he has served on boards of various charitable organizations in the metro area, including The Salvation Army, the Metro Jackson YMCA, Young Business Leaders of Jackson (inter-denominational businessmen’s Christian ministry), Jackson Young Lawyers Association, SafeCity Initiative, Ballet Mississippi and the Hinds County Economic Development District Board of Trustees. He is also a member of the board of directors of the Marsha Barbour Community Center located on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Joe graduated from the Mississippi Economic Council’s Leadership Mississippi program in 1999 and was recognized in 2001 by the Mississippi Business Journal as one of the “Top 40 Under 40” businessmen in Mississippi. Joe was a member of the Commission for a New Mississippi, having been appointed in early 2009 by Lieutenant Governor Phil Bryant. He is a reader member of The Clarion-Ledger editorial board where he authors a guest column several times a year.


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Agriculture & Commerce Commissioner Cindy Hyde-Smith to address June 2 Forum

Mississippi Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Cindy Hyde-Smith will address the June 2, 2014 Stennis-Capitol Press Forum, which will be held from Noon-1:00 p.m. at The Capital Club, 125 South Congress Street, 19th floor, Jackson, Mississippi. The event is open to the public. Cost to attend is $20, payable at the door (make check payable to Stennis Institute). Pre-registration is required by noon, May 30. To register send an email to phil.hardwick@msstate.edu indicating your attendance.

Commissioner Hyde-Smith was elected to her present post in November 2011, following a 12-year career as a Mississippi State Senator for District 39. With her election, Hyde-Smith made Mississippi history as the first woman to ever be elected to the statewide position. She succeeds longtime Commissioner, Dr. Lester Spell, Jr., who did not seek re-election for a fifth term in office.

Elected to the Mississippi State Senate in 1999, Hyde-Smith quickly became known as a passionate advocate of farmers and ranchers in Mississippi , serving as the Chairman of the Agriculture Committee for eight years and as an influential member of numerous other committees. During her time in office, Hyde-Smith authored legislation and supported efforts to promote and protect all facets of the agriculture industry, defending private property rights, endorsing Right to Farm legislation, and working to increase Country-of-Origin labeling requirements. Also, Hyde-Smith earned the highest grade for a strong pro-business and fiscally conservative voting record from the Business and Industry Political Education Committee.

Hyde-Smith previously received numerous awards and honors for her work as a legislator and champion of agriculture, including the Agriculture Legislator of the Year Award from the Mississippi Association of Conservation Districts, the Ambassador Award from the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation, the Achievement Award from Delta Council, and the Outstanding Service to Small Farmers Award from Alcorn State University .

She is a graduate of Copiah-Lincoln Community College and the University of Southern Mississippi and maintains close affiliations with the Mississippi Cattlemen’s Association, Lincoln County Forestry Association, Lincoln County Livestock Association, and the Mississippi Nursery and Landscape Association.

Hyde-Smith and her husband Mike are the proud parents of Anna-Michael, the family’s fifth generation farmer. Together, they raise beef cattle and are partners in Lincoln County Livestock, the local stockyard auction market in Brookhaven, which has held a live cattle auction every Tuesday since 1942. She and her family currently reside in Brookhaven and are active members of Macedonia Baptist Church .

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Notes from May 5, 2014 Forum: Tort Reform, 10 Years Later

Representative Jeff Smith and former Senators Neely Carlton and Charlie Ross discussed the before, during and after of tort reform legislation in Mississippi at the May 5 Stennis-Capitol Press Forum. Below are summaries and links to media coverage of the event.


(NE MS DAILY JOURNAL)  The old gang is getting back together for a 10-year anniversary/celebratory mass back-slapping event. The gang that pushed changes through the Legislature to make it harder to sue a business in Mississippi is holding events to look back and forward as it relates to the state’s civil justice system. Last week key legislators who pushed the changes through in a special session in 2004 called by then-Gov. Haley Barbour spoke to the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute/capitol press corps luncheon. the Mississippi Economic Council, a key player in the tort changes, will hold an event today to hear from those key legislators, Barbour and others. Read more…

(MS BUSINESS JOURNAL)  A lengthy special-session rumble at the Mississippi Capitol in late spring 2004 gave the state a civil justice revamp the Wall Street Journal called “the most comprehensive tort reform law” any state had passed…  Carlton, a former state senator and current counsel to the Mississippi State Medical Association, told the Stennis luncheon audience it is a bogus retelling of history to say a medical crisis did not exist in Mississippi leading up to the 2004 special session. More… 

(MS PUBLIC BROADCASTING) Supporters of a large overhaul of Mississippi’s civil justice system are claiming the changes are still benefiting the state ten years after they were approved. MPB’s Jeffrey Hess reports some say the 2004 tort reform law say it brought economic growth while others insist that it has not delivered promised benefits. – More…

(newsMS)  You may have heard of Mississippi being called sue city, or being the home of jackpot justice ten years ago. In 2004, tort reform put a $500,000 cap on damage awards for medical malpractice. Monday, the Stennis Institute and the Capitol Press Corps to held a discussion tort reform’s passage in Mississippi. – More… 


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Carlton, Ross & Smith to Discuss Tort Reform at May 5 Forum

It’s been 10 years since the Mississippi Legislature passed sweeping tort reform legislation.

At the May 5, 2014 Forum former Senator Neely Carlton will share news about an upcoming event to recognize the occasion, former Senator Charlie Ross will discuss how the tort reform bill came to pass the Mississippi Senate and Representative Jeff Smith will share the story of its passage in the Mississippi House of Representatives.

This Forum event is open to the public, however advance registration is required by noon, Friday, May 2, 2014. Click on the “Register for Upcoming Forum” tab above for complete registration information and cost to attend.  The current list of registrants can also be found at an above tab.  We look forward to seeing you at the Stennis-Capitol Press Forum on Monday, April 7, 2014 at noon at The Capital Club, 125 South Congress Street, 19th floor, Jackson, Mississippi.

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Apil 21: “Capitol Gang” reflects and reports re 2014 Legislative Session

The next meeting of the Forum will be held on Monday, April 21, 2014 when Bobby Harrison of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, Geoff Pender of The Clarion-Ledger and Jeffrey Hess of Mississippi Public Broadcasting, aka The Capitol Gang, take a look back at the 2014 session of the Mississippi Legislature through the eyes of the journalist. The panel discussion format will be used; Phil Hardwick will serve as moderator.

The audience will also be invited to submit questions. No doubt the gang will be asked questions about upcoming political races and state politics, in general. It promises to be an enlightening event.

TCL Pender Column 0413.IMG

Geoff Pender

12121308 Bobby Harrison

Bobby Harrison


Jeffrey Hess

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Notes from April 7 Forum with Sen. David Blount and Rep. Andy Gipson

Below are links to media coverage of the Monday, April 7, 2014 Stennis-Capitol Press Forum featuring Democrat Senator David Bount and Republican Representative Andy Gipson.

(NE MS DAILY JOURNAL) State Sen. David Blount, D-Jackson, and Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, agreed Monday on what many say were the two biggest issues of the just completed legislative session – changes to the criminal justice system and a teacher pay raise – but differed sharply on Medicaid expansion. Blount, House Public Property Committee chairman, and Gibson, House Judiciary B chairman, provided a recap to the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute/Capitol press corps luncheon of the just completed legislative session. Blount questioned the wisdom of refusing billions in federal funds under the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid to cover people earning up to 138 percent of the federal poverty level or about $15,000 per year. Gipson again reiterated, “Obamacare has fallen apart at the seams” and said the state is wise not to participate. MORE… 

(BRIAN PERRY column in NESHOBA DEMOCRAT) The Stennis Institute & Capitol Press Corps luncheon Monday featured state Sen. David Blount (D-Jackson) and state Rep. Andy Gipson (R-Braxton) and their review and recap of the just completed legislative session. They talked criminal justice reform, Medicaid expansion, teacher pay raises and other issues.  MORE…

(CLARION-LEDGER) Two key lawmakers with different political affiliations agreed Monday that the sweeping corrections and criminal justice reform bill and a teacher pay raise were the two main highlights of the 2014 Legislature. But the Democrat and Republican had vastly different views on the controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act that passed. MORE...

(JACKSON FREE PRESS) Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, said Monday that the 20 weeks will be determined and regulated “as in accordance with accepted medical practice in the community.” … “That means a sonogram, an ultrasound, and that’s actually used by the Department of Health in other contexts as well,” he told the Jackson Free Press at the Stennis-Capitol Press Forum. “So I think that was an issue that was already addressed in the bill and will be the best way for anyone to know the gestational age of the child.” MORE…

(MS PUBLIC BROADCASTING) Mississippi lawmakers have mixed emotions about the 2014 legislative session. MPB’s Paul Boger reports. MORE…


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Senator Bount and Representative Gipson to review legislative session at April 7 Forum

Senator David Blount,  Chairman of the Senate Public Property Committee, and Representative Andy Gipson, Chairman of House Judiciary B, return to the Stennis-Capitol Press Forum to review and comment on the 2014 Session of  the Mississippi Legislature, which is scheduled to adjourn sine die on April 6. The two members appeared together at the Forum following the conclusion of the 2013 legislative session and presented an informative inside look at the lawmaking activities under the Capitol dome.

Advance registration is required by noon, Friday, April 4, 2014. Click on the “Register for Upcoming Forum” tab above for complete registration information and cost to attend.  The current list of registrants can also be found at an above tab.  We look forward to seeing you at the Stennis-Capitol Press Forum on Monday, April 7, 2014 at noon at The Capital Club, 125 South Congress Street, 19th floor, Jackson, Mississippi.

David Blount

Sen. David Bount

Andy Gipson

Rep. Andy Gipson

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