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Magnolia Mornings: January 5, 2024

Magnolia Mornings: January 5, 2024

By: Magnolia Tribune - January 5, 2024

Magnolia morning

Important state and national stories, market and business news, sports and entertainment, delivered in quick-hit fashion to start your day informed.

In Mississippi

1. George County Deputy killed in traffic stop

According to the Mississippi Department of Public Safety, a George County Sheriff’s Deputy initiated a traffic stop with a subject at a location on Highway 98 in Lucedale, Mississippi. While the deputy was approaching the vehicle, the subject fatally shot the deputy and fled the scene. Multiple agencies were made aware of this incident and began to respond.

The Mississippi Highway Patrol and George County Sheriff’s Department engaged the subject near Beaumont, Mississippi, where multiple rounds were fired. The subject received fatal injuries at this location.

MBI is currently assessing this critical incident and gathering evidence. Upon completing the
investigation, agents will share their findings with the Attorney General’s Office.

2. Former Congressman Espy re-appointed as Madison County Board Attorney

Mike Espy

Despite efforts by newly elected District 1 Supervisor Casey Brannon and returning District 2 Supervisor Trey Baxter to find a new Board Attorney, Madison County Supervisors have voted 3-2 to re-appoint former Congressman Mike Espy to the position.

“During the prior administration, Mike Espy was paid over a million dollars,” Brannon said, as reported by WLBT. “His billing is exorbitant, and I think we need to reevaluate his contract and make sure there are limits to the billing.”

Baxter pushed for the county to do an RFQ for the board attorney.

WLBT reported that Brannon asked the board to hold off on approving Espy’s contract until it could be reviewed.

“Instead, the board voted 3-2 to approve the contract as it was presented,” the TV outlet noted.

Espy, a former U.S. Agriculture Secretary, has also twice ran unsuccessfully for the U.S. Senate in Mississippi.

3. Embattled Jackson City Attorney resigns

The Jackson Mayor’s office confirmed Thursday that City Attorney Catoria Martin would step down effective January 12, 2024.

The news comes as the City Council in the capital city has publicly discussed eliminating the internal city attorney office and outsourcing the duties.

WJTV reported receiving the following statement from Mayor Chokwe Lumumba:

For weeks, we’ve known that our City Attorney was heading to a new position with the Federal Government. The administration was proud to offer it’s recommendation for Attorney Martin. It’s no surprise that her fights on behalf of the City of Jackson attracted the likes of Washington, D.C. Once her appointment was official last year, she spoke with us at length about her plans. It’s with a heavy heart that we accepted her resignation, because Attorney Martin has done incredible things for the City of Jackson. Through her leadership, we’ve seen the City Attorney’s Office settle more cases than ever before. Attorney Martin was instrumental in the negotiations surrounding our Water and Sewer systems. She’s also fought diligently to help resolve numerous issues within the city. We are grateful for her service and were honored to be a part of the process that led to this appointment.

4. MSDH: Mass retesting of medical cannabis products underway

The Mississippi Department of Health said on Thursday that mass re-testing of certain medical cannabis products placed on an administrative hold began Wednesday, January 3rd.  MSDH and the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Program anticipate cleared products will be back on dispensary shelves soon.  

The re-testing process for all products under the administrative hold is expected to take two to three weeks, MSDH said. Cleared batches of products will be released each Friday until all products are re-tested. The priority for re-testing starts withflower/bud, whichserves as the base for many products, followed by concentrates and then infused products.     

An administrative hold was placed on a large number of products on December 21, 2023, after the Mississippi Medical Cannabis Program (MMCP) found discrepancies during an audit of Certificates of Analysis (COA) surrounding original test results for pesticides and mycotoxins completed by Rapid Analytics. An investigation into the discrepancies is ongoing. The Mississippi Medical Cannabis Program is covering the cost for all re-testing of products, according to the MSDH statement.

National News & Foreign Policy

1. Iowa school shooting occurs on first day back from holiday break

A shooting Thursday morning at Perry High School in the suburbs of Des Moines, Iowa has left at least one person dead and others injured, according to law enforcement officials on the scene. It is unclear as to how many were wounded in the shooting that began around 7:30 a.m.

The shooter, who officials say has been identified, is also dead, presumably from a self-inflicted gun shot.

Officials said the shooting began before the school day started. It was the first day back from the holiday break.

Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds said in a statement released on social media, “Our hearts are broken by this senseless tragedy. Our prayers are with the students, teachers & families of the Perry Community.”

2. Report from House Democrats says Trump took millions from foreign governments while President

Congressman Jamie Raskin (D)

On Thursday, Democrats in the U.S. House Oversight Committee released a new staff report and new documents produced by former President Donald Trump’s former accounting firm, Mazars USA LLC, establishing that while Trump was in office, he received at least $7.8 million from 20 governments, including the governments of China, Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Kuwait, and Malaysia, through his businesses.

According the Democrats on the committee, the figure reflects payments to four of the more than 500 entities Trump owned while he was in office: Trump International Hotel in Washington, D.C., Trump International Hotel in Las Vegas, Trump Tower on Fifth Avenue in New York, and Trump World Tower at 845 United Nations Plaza in New York.

The U.S. Supreme Court dismissed lawsuits against Trump in 2021 that alleged that the former President profited while in office, noting then that he was no longer in office.

“After promising ‘the greatest infomercial in political history,’ former President Donald Trump repeatedly and willfully violated the U.S. Constitution by failing to divest from his business empire and allowing his businesses to accept millions of dollars in payments from some of the most corrupt nations on earth,” Rep. Jamie Raskin, Ranking Democratic Member of the Committee on Oversight and Accountability, said in a statement. “The limited records that the Committee obtained show that while Donald Trump was in office, he received more than $5.5 million from the Chinese government and Chinese state-owned enterprises, as well as millions more from 19 other foreign governments, including Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, and Malaysia through just four of the more than 500 entities he owned.  The governments making these payments sought specific foreign policy outcomes from President Trump and his Administration.  Each dollar former President Trump accepted violated the Constitution’s strict prohibition on payments from foreign governments, which the Founders enacted to prevent presidents from selling out U.S. foreign policy to foreign leaders.”

Sports & Entertainment

Four-star wide receiver picks Mississippi State

(Photo from Braylon Burnside on X)

New Mississippi State Head Coach Jeff Lebby has picked up the commitment of four-star Starkville wide receiver Braylon Burnside.

The senior announced his decision at the Under Armour All-America Game.

Burnside is ranked at the 10th best athlete nationally in the 2024 class

Markets & Business

1. IRS raises tax brackets

The IRS has raised income tax brackets over 5% for the new year for both individual and married joint filers. This means income tax payers will have less withheld from their paychecks.

The top tax rate of $609,350 remains in place with a rate of 37%.

The IRS also changed the standard deduction, raising it to $29,000, or 5.4%, up from $27,000 for married joint filers. Individuals taxpayers will see an increase to $14,600, up from $13,850.

2. Customers of Verizon can opt in to $100 million settlement

If you have or had a Verizon post-paid wireless plan you may be entitled to a payment from a $100 million class action settlement.

According to the settlement website, Verizon customers claimed in a class action lawsuit that Verizon has charged its post-paid individual consumer wireless service account holders a monthly Administrative Charge and/or Administrative and Telco Recovery Charge that was unfair and not adequately disclosed.

“Verizon has denied and continues to deny that it did anything wrong and that the lawsuit has any merit. The customers and Verizon have reached a proposed settlement to resolve the lawsuit on a class action basis, as described below,” the company states.

Customers impacted by the charge have until April 15, 2024 to file a claim. If they do so, they give up the right to sue Verizon about the issues in the lawsuit that prompted the settlement. However, if they opt-out and receive no payment from the settlement by February 20th, they retain any right they may have to sue Verizon at a later time.

Learn more here.

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Magnolia Tribune

This article was produced by Magnolia Tribune staff.