New Forum Changes Coming Soon

Stennis Institute Research Associate Frank Riley will be coordinating the Stennis-Capitol Press Forum effective September 1, 2014. He can be contacted at To be added to the email distribution list, contact him at the above email address.

For updates and more information about the Stennis Institute of Government & Community Development click here.



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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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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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Coverage of March 3 Forum with Senator Kenneth Wayne Jones

Jones, Kenneth Wayne(AP)  Medicaid expansion is one of the biggest issues Mississippi lawmakers are failing to address this year, the chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus said Monday.

Sen. Kenny Wayne Jones, D-Canton, said he doesn’t expect a last-minute push to add more people to the government health insurance program.

With just more than a month left in the session, Jones said debating Medicaid expansion would take too long.

“You open up that can, it’s going to take a long time before you close it again,” he said.

He spoke at a forum sponsored by the Mississippi State University’s Stennis Institute of Government and the Capitol press corps.

.. Link to article…

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Notes from Feb 3 Forum with Rep. Bobby Moak

Below is a sample of media reports from the Monday, February 3, 2014 Stennis-Capitol Press Forum with Representative Bobby Moak.


(Clarion-Ledger) – The ranking Democrat in the state House, Rep. Bobby Moak, said today that approving a teacher pay raise is a huge issue. “The Speaker of the House came out and said he was for an across-the-board pay raise,” Moak said in a speech to the Stennis-Capitol Press Corps luncheon in Jackson. MORE…  (includes video)

(MPB) – Democrats in the Mississippi Legislature continue their push to expand Medicaid in the state under the Affordable Care Act. MPB’s Lawayne Childrey reports an estimated 162 thousand uninsured Mississippians could benefit from the expansion. During the Stennis Press Luncheon in Jackson yesterday, House Minority Leader, Bobby Moak, a democrat from Bogue Chitto focused on some of the benefits of accepting federal dollars to expand the state’s Medicaid program. MORE … 

(Daily Journal) – … Rep. Bobby Moak of Bogue Chitto, who is the House minority leader, pointed out Democrats tried to pass a $5,000 across-the-board raise for teachers last year. Speaking at the Mississippi State University Stennis Institute/Capitol press corps luncheon Monday, Moak indicated that Democrats might offer their own proposal on the House floor. MORE … 

(NEWMS.) House Minority Leader Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, said democrats favor an across the board pay raise for educators.  Teachers haven’t had a raise in seven years, he pointed out during a Monday forum in Jackson that was sponsored by the Stennis Institute of Government and journalists who work at the Capital. “I think it is something that should be fought throughout the legislative session unless it is dealt with quickly, but I don’t think that will happen.”  Getting that raise, he said will likely come down to the numbers. “Democrats are now at $5,000, and the republicans are where?” –  MORE … 

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