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Arielle Dreher

Stories by Arielle

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Governor Vetoes Opioid, Crime Reforms After Signing Reentry Law

Gov. Phil Bryant has blocked an effort to help wean those addicted to opioids off the drugs with medication, as well as assisted indigent prisoners.

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Roadblocks for Road Plans?

The Republican supermajority in the Mississippi Legislature has ignored the state chamber of commerce's calls to increase state funding for roads and bridges for three legislative sessions in a row.

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JPS Set to Start Clearing Standards in Corrective Action Plan

The Jackson Public School District has a new 400-page corrective action plan to begin work on, and it is already asking the Mississippi Department of Education to approve its efforts one some of the required criteria.

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As 83 Bridges Close, Speaker Gunn Unveils Revamped Funding Proposal

As the Mississippi Department of Transportation begins to close the 83 bridges Gov. Phil Bryant ordered closed on Tuesday, House Speaker Philip Gunn announced a nearly 60-page proposal to divert funding to the state's infrastructure.

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Disenfranchised for Life? No Changes, Yet

Stanley Barnes of Claiborne County was convicted of murder in 1990 and received a life sentence, but was paroled in 2000. He is still on unsupervised parole. Sen. Albert Butler, D-Port Gibson, introduced a bill this session to restore Barnes' voting rights.

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State to Reauthorize, Monitor Visitors Bureau

Pending Gov. Phil Bryant's signature, the State of Mississippi is reauthorizing the Jackson Convention and Visitors Bureau for another year, but with added strings attached.

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JPS: School Bond Issue to Go Before Jackson Voters this Summer

District leaders and school board members are preparing to bring a bond issue to Jackson voters, likely in June, to keep Jackson Public Schools' current millage rate—and tax rate for Jacksonians—at the same level.

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'Yes, Dr. King, How Can I Help You?': Black Rights Leaders Recall MLK


Flonzie Brown-Wright, Charles McLaurin and James Meredith spoke at the 2 Mississippi Museums on Wednesday to commemorate the 50th anniversary of King's death and reflect on how his work affected them personally.

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Women, Whiskey, Watchdogs (and Dead Bills) at Session's End

Late in the 2018 legislative session, Rep. Jeff Smith, R-Columbus, talked about a night that his son broke curfew. His boy had spent his father's money on "whiskey, women and wasted the rest," Smith described.

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Mississippi Outs Legal Immigrants on Drivers' Licenses

Abigail Pina Mandujano had to start carrying her visa with her when she drives because her license is not enough to fend off questions from law-enforcement officials at roadblocks, she says.

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Public Will Have Input on JPS Superintendent Search, Board Says

The Jackson Public Schools Board of Trustees wants the community's input as they work to hire a new superintendent this spring.

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Report: Low-performing Districts Test Students More in State

Mississippi students spend less than 1 percent of a school year on state testing, a new Mississippi First study shows.

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Dead or Alive: What Bills Survived, Or Didn't, in the 2018 Legislative Session

While the budget is intact, many other Republican priorities and proposals died this session. Here is a short list of what survived and what did not.

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$6 Billion Budget, But No Roads, Bridges Funds

State revenues are higher than expected, and lawmakers set aside about $112 million, or 2 percent, of the state budget for its rainy day fund, as they worked several late nights at the Mississippi Legislature to pass a roughly $6-billion budget to fund state agencies starting in July.

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Mississippians Sue to Get Voting Rights Restored After Serving Time

Wayne Kuhn completed his sentence for a grand larceny charge in the 1980s more than 25 years ago. He even got his record expunged—and yet he still cannot vote in Mississippi.

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Medicaid Funding in Flux as Lawmakers Work on $6 Billion Budget

Over the weekend, lawmakers worked to pass a roughly $6-billion budget to fund state agencies beginning in July. They have until Monday night to complete passing the state budget, with 10 budget bills left by press time.

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‘All That Is Dead’: Roads and Bridges Funding Dies at Legislature

Efforts to provide additional funding for roads and bridges are dead in the 2018 legislative session after Senate and House leaders could not come to an agreement on exactly how to divert more funding to the state’s infrastructure on Friday.

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Alcorn State President Named New IHL Commissioner

The Institutions of Higher Learning board named Alfred Rankins Jr. the new commissioner of higher education for Mississippi on Friday, March 23.

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Governor Defends Choice of Cindy Hyde-Smith to U.S. Senate Seat

Gov. Phil Bryant made history on Wednesday, March 21, when he named Cindy Hyde-Smith to take Sen. Thad Cochran's seat, which he will vacate on April 1. Mississippi has never sent a woman to Congress.

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Lawmakers Turn to Budgets; Re-Entry Reforms on Governor’s Desk

It's crunch time at the Mississippi Capitol. This week lawmakers will have to finalize the state budget, predominantly behind closed doors, before passing a slim fiscal-year 2019 budget.

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UPDATED: ‘Galactic Trouble’ for Foster Care Ahead?

Jess Dickinson likes to use an ancient maxim he heard in a film, "The Bourne Ultimatum," to illustrate where he sits currently as the commissioner of Mississippi's foster-care system. "Hope for the best; plan for the worst," Dickinson says.

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Judge Blocks Newly Signed 15-Week Abortion Ban for 10 Days

It took less than 24 hours for Mississippi's 15-week abortion ban to become law and then be stopped from taking effect.

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'One Lake' Project Could Go to Public for Comment Next Month

Engineers are pumping water at both Pearl River stations after a weekend of storms. The river reached a crest of 21 feet this weekend but is projected to drop down to lower levels later this week.

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Indigent Defendants Denied Counsel, Speedy Trials in 10 Counties

Mississippians accused of felonies who cannot afford their own representation have the right to counsel and a speedy trial under the 6th Amendment, but a new report found that access to adequate representation across 10 Mississippi counties is lacking and far from consistent.

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Black, Male, Arrested: Madison County Case May Go Class Action

Attorneys argue that Madison County's policing program violates black residents' rights outlined in the Fourth Amendment, the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment and Title VI of the Civil Rights Act. The ACLU of Mississippi released data found during discovery at a press conference Wednesday.

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Criminal Justice Reform Law Headed to Governor's Desk

If Gov. Phil Bryant signs House Bill 387 into law, Mississippians will not automatically go to prison or jail if they do not pay fines or court fees.

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Who's on the Ballot in Mississippi in 2018?

This year will be an entertaining ride for Mississippi voters, who will have elect all four congressional representatives as well as two senators to represent the state in Washington, D.C.

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Reversing 'Roe'; Outside Group Uses Mississippi as 'Bait' to End Abortion

The State of Mississippi's Republican legislative leadership may have just decided to end all abortions after 15 weeks, but they used a template developed outside the state. The legislation is designed to "bait" abortion-rights proponents into a fight over ending abortion outright, the bill's architect group admits.

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Sabotage, Death, Danger: Private Prison on Trial

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Prison Project of the ACLU and two other law firms brought a class-action lawsuit against the Mississippi Department of Corrections back in 2013 due to conditions at EMCF.

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Not 'Soft on Crime': Clergy Want Prison Reforms to Become Law

The Mississippi Legislature could approve two re-entry and criminal-justice reform measures this session, which are still alive.

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JPS Closing Four Elementary Schools Due to Funding, Costly Repairs

Four elementary schools will close at the end of this school year in Jackson Public Schools.

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Senate's 'School Safety Act' Tightens Teacher Gun Training, Carry Laws

Schools, colleges and universities around Mississippi could create school-safety programs, designating certain licensed firearm owners who complete approved training courses to carry a concealed gun for the explicit purpose of resisting violent intruders on campus.

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Mutiny at the Senate: Bi-partisan Death of New Ed Formula

Twenty-six senators joined Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, to kill the Republican-driven proposal to scrap MAEP, which would have replaced it with a weights-based student funding formula, which EdBuild developed and GOP leaders cherry-picked.

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Jacksonians Value JPS and Teachers, Poll Finds

The local community supports both Jackson Public Schools and the teachers in a stronger way than in many communities, a poll of 500 local residents in January found.

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Private Prison Trial Starts Today Over Alleged Squalor, Rats, Deaths

Inmates housed at the East Mississippi Correctional Facility alleged squalor conditions, solitary confinement practices, lack of medical and mental health care, and an overall unsafe environment. Five years later, the case goes to trial before U.S. District Judge William Barbour today.

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Bipartisan Vote Kills New Education Funding Formula Proposal

Sen. Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, thought he had the votes to pass the Republican proposal to replace the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, when he stepped up to the speaker well in the Senate chamber Thursday afternoon.

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UPDATED: Senate Takes Up New Ed Funding Formula Proposal Today

The push to re-write the State's education-funding formula, the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, is in the Senate waiting on a full vote.

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The Racist Roots of Disenfranchising Voters

Mississippi is one of 12 states with disenfranchisement laws that can affect people for life. The list of 22 disenfranchising crimes means an estimated 218,181 people in the state are unable to vote, a new study from the Sentencing Project, One Voice and the Mississippi NAACP, shows.

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JPS Board Pushes Supe Search Forward

Jackson Public Schools could have a new superintendent by July if the Board of Trustees gets its way. Earlier this month, the board finalized its top two superintendent search firm candidates: McPherson & Jacobsen LLC and Hazard Young Attea Associates.

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'One Lake' Bond Bill Passes House By Slim Margin After Questions

Proponents of the "One Lake" project along the Pearl River through Jackson got a financial boost when the Mississippi House of Representatives passed a nearly $100-million bond and loan measure by a three-vote margin on Thursday.

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Hood Joins Net Neutrality Fight

Attorney General Jim Hood will challenge the Federal Communications Commission's decision earlier this year to repeal net neutrality regulations.

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Equal Pay Amendment 'Harmful' to Mississippi Workers, Advocates Say

Equal-pay advocates say that an amendment the Mississippi House of Representatives passed to guarantee that women are paid as much as men is actually harmful because it exempts many employees from the protection.

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Budgets, Infrastructure Funding and What’s Still to Come

It's halftime in the Mississippi legislative session, and the heavy lifting for lawmakers trying to pass a balanced budget is just beginning.

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Judge: Charter School Funding Constitutional

Mississippi's charter-school law does not violate the state's Constitution, Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Dewayne Thomas ruled almost a year after getting the case.

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Better Together Commission Hires Contractor for JPS Study

The Better Together Commission, an independent group of community leaders and stakeholders tasked with soliciting input from Jackson Public Schools families, hired Insight Education Group to complete an in-depth study of the school district.

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'Brain Drain' Tax Credit Legislation Passes Mississippi House

The Mississippi House of Representatives wants young people to stay in Mississippi. It unanimously passed a measure Wednesday to offer tax breaks to recent college graduates who stay in Mississippi and work in the state, immediately after graduation from a four-year college or university.

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Gang Bill Could Increase Prison Costs, Disparately Affect African Americans

Proposed legislation to crack down on gangs statewide could lead to increased prison costs, a move that would counteract the state's progress in decreasing the number of inmates—and taxpayer dollars used to incarcerate those inmates—since 2014.

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Medicaid and Guns Bills Live, Vouchers Die

Rep. Jason White, R-West, who is largely responsible for writing the House's Medicaid bill, supported Rep. Cheikh Taylor's amendment to the House Medicaid legislation and asked the House to vote for it.

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Re-Entry Reforms Still Alive in Legislature

Mississippi can begin to look at justice reinvestment, and it should be a priority, Andre de Gruy, the state public defender who is also on the state's Corrections and Criminal Justice Oversight Task Force, told the re-entry council earlier this month.

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Proposed School Board Election Changes Dead by Bipartisan Vote

In a bipartisan shutdown, Sen. Kevin Blackwell's bill to change school-board elections statewide died in the Mississippi Legislature on Monday.

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