Mississippi Edition


ME 2/28/29 - Coronavirus Preparations | New ESA Bill | 2020 Poetry Out Loud Champion

With new documented cases of the coronavirus emerging in the United States, Mississippi officials make preparations.

Then, a bill to renew the Education Scholarship account gets debated in the Senate.

Plus, the 2020 Poetry Out Loud State Champion.

Segment 1:

Health officials in Mississippi are preparing for an outbreak of COVID-19: the disease caused by the new coronavirus. Currently there are no known cases of the coronavirus in Mississippi. MPB's Kobee Vance talks with State Epidemiologist Dr. Paul Byers and Dr. Bhagyashri Navekele, the Medical Director of the Office of Infection Prevention at UMMC.

Segment 2:

Mississippi lawmakers are in the first stages of rewriting the states special needs voucher program. Educational Scholarship Accounts or ESAs provide about $6,500 to help students with private schools tuition or services. A state oversight agency found there was little accountability. Republican Senator Dennis DeBar of Leakesville chairs the Education Committee. He shares some of the new bill's revisions with MPB's Desare Frazier, and we hear from Chief of Government Relations and Communication Pete Smith.

Segment 3:

Morgan Love left her home school of Murrah in Jackson to attend the Mississippi School of the Arts in Brookhaven. This week she returned to the capital city for the state Poetry Out Loud Finals, and walked away a champion. She shares her experience with MPB's Michael Guidry.

More Episodes


9/22/20 - Supreme Court Vacancy & MS Abortion Rights | Speaker Gunn | State of Obesity

The passing of Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg is re-energizing the issue of women’s reproductive rights.We examine the fate of Mississippi’s 15-week abortion ban following her death.Then, the Speaker of the House lays out his priorities for the final days of an unorthodox session.Plus, Trust for America’s Health releases it’s annual State of Obesity report.We look at how Mississippi fares.Segment 1:Mississippi’s 15 week abortion ban is one of a number of cases that's on the docket to be reviewed by the U.S.Supreme Court.But, the death of U.S. Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg will delay hearing the case and is re-energizing the debate over reproductive rights at the federal level. We hear from Staci Fox of Planned Parenthood of the Southeast, Laura Duran of Pro-Life Mississippi, and Senator Angela HillSegment 2:The Mississippi legislature is expected to reconvene in the next couple of weeks to complete the session and assess how the state is spending more than one billion dollars in federal coronavirus relief.Speaking virtually to reporters during the Stennis Press Forum, House Speaker Philip Gunn says lawmakers want to ensure those funds are spent before they expire.Segment 3:Mississippi again has the highest adult obesity rate in the country at 40.8 percent - that's according to The State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier America. The seventeenth annual report from Trust for America's Health provides state-by-state rankings of adult obesity rates, information on trends by region, age, gender and ethnicity.Rhea Farberman is the Trust's Communications Director.

9/21/20 - Yazoo Backwater Pumps | Absentee Voting Ruling | COVID Post-Labor Day & State Fair

The Army Corps of Engineers evaluates plans for the Yazoo Backwater Pump Project.Then, the Mississippi Supreme Court rules against further expanding absentee voting, while an injunction in federal court requests an immediate ruling in a similar suit.Plus, state officials say Mississippi is faring better in the battle against coronavirus transmission than it did following the Fourth of July.Segment 1:Damage Assessments are being sent to the Army Corps of Engineers to show how a flood prevention system could have made an impact in last year's historic flooding in the Mississippi Delta.Plans for the Yazoo Backwater Pump Project are being evaluated by the Corps of Engineers after months of damage assessment.In a press briefing Friday, Governor Tate Reeves was flanked by Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith and Commissioner of Agriculture and Commerce Andy Gipson to express their support for the project.Segment 2:Lawyers for the Mississippi Center for Justice argue absentee voting should be expanded in the state during the pandemic - granting eligibility to voters who wish to avoid crowded poll sites in adherence to public health guidelines.But late last week, the Mississippi Supreme Court struck down that argument while clarifying what conditions do allow a person to vote absentee.Attorney Robert McDuff of the Mississippi Center for Justice explains the ruling with our Desare Frazier.Segment 3:Mississippi's Health Officer says data indicates the state is not yet seeing a spike in cases following the Labor Day holiday.The state's COVID numbers sharply rose in July following Independence Day.Widespread transmission led Governor Tate Reeves to issue a statewide mask mandate in August.Dr. Thomas Dobbs says he's glad to see the state is not repeating the trends from earlier this summer. Governor Tate Reeves credits Mississippians for the state's progress but says the decline in cases could be sharper - noting a suspected flattening last week.

9/18/20 - Operation Pheonecia | AT&T Subpoenas | Student Leadership During COVID

A Mississippi U.S. Attorney announces a new campaign against domestic violence.Then, the Public Service Commission subpoenas telecom giant AT&T over questions regarding broadband expansion in the state.Plus, how student leaders at two of Mississippi's public universities are serving as liaisons between administration and the student body in the effort to keep campus safe during a pandemic.Segment 1:Families are staying home more during the coronavirus pandemic, and officials say this has led to a rise in domestic violence. In 2019, more than 10,000 calls were made to Mississippi law enforcement to report cases of domestic violence. U.S. Attorney of Mississippi's Southern District, Mike Hurst says domestic violence continues to be an area of concern that has risen during the coronavirus pandemic."Operation Pheonecia", which will work towards removing guns from the hands of abusers, is named after Pheonecia Ratliff of Canton, who was killed by her ex boyfriend after reporting him for domestic violence.Her mother, Suzanne Ratliff, offers advice to people facing domestic violence with our Kobee Vance.Segment 2:Major telecommunications conglomerate AT&T has agreed to provide the state of Mississippi records detailing how it used the almost $284 million it was paid by the federal government to expand internet access in the state. Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley said AT&T initially denied requests last week for records related to work it completed in the state to provide fixed wireless service access through the Connect America Fund.Earlier this week he spoke with our Desare Frazier, saying his office is charged with ensuring the work is done.Segment 3:A close eye is being turned to college campuses this fall as students are resuming in-person learning.College students usually exhibit a level of independence and freedom often not reserved for their K-12 peers, which has led to concerns from health officials over the potential for widespread community transmission of COVID-19 on university campuses.They worry the social element of college life could lead to behaviors and practices that could cause outbreaks. To combat this, university administrators are leaning on student leadership to develop and communicate safety plans. We talk to Sarah Helen Skelton of Mississippi State and Joshua Mannery of the University of Mississippi.