Measure would ease Miss. school takeover rules
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Requirements for the Mississippi Department of Education to take over dozens of struggling schools would be eased under a proposal moving forward in the Legislature.
The state Senate approved an amended version of House Bill 455 Tuesday, sending it back to the House for more work.
Today, the state would be required to take over as many as 52 failing schools if they rated F at the end of this school year. The bill makes such takeovers of individual schools optional. It also says that the state would restart counting how many years a school must be rated F, with two consecutive F years before a takeover required starting in 2014-2015.
The measure also removes a requirement that the head of the state charter school board also be a lawyer.
Miss. Senate passes amended 20-week abortion ban
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi House and Senate members must work out differences on a bill to ban abortion after 20 weeks' gestation.
The Senate passed House Bill 1400 unanimously Tuesday, changing the bill to require more work.
Senators rejected an exemption for terminating pregnancies that occurred through rape or incest.
Twenty weeks is halfway through a full-term pregnancy of 40 weeks. Exceptions to the 20-week ban would be made to prevent permanent physical damage or death of a pregnant woman, or in cases of several fetal abnormalities.
Health Department statistics show 2,176 abortions in Mississippi in 2012. Two were reported at 21 weeks or later, and 382 were listed as unknown gestational age.
Diane Derzis owns Mississippi's only abortion clinic and says abortions stop there after 16 weeks.
Byrd sentenced in federal court
MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - Former Jackson County, Miss., Sheriff Mike Byrd has been sentenced to six months of home confinement, followed by six months of probation in federal court in Mobile, Ala.
Last December, Byrd pleaded guilty to misleading conduct toward another person with intent to prevent communication to a federal law enforcement officer.
The move was part of a federal plea deal stemming from the June 19, 2012, arrest of John Mark Stahl.
Byrd faced a maximum 20 years. U.S. District Judge William H. Steele adopted the sentence recommendation from federal prosecutors on Tuesday.
Byrd admitted to kicking Stahl while he was restrained and to subsequently misleading an officer about the incident, court records said.
Byrd also admits to having a deputy erase dashboard camera video of the arrest.
Coliseum asks for access to $7 million trust fund
BILOXI, Miss. (AP) - Mississippi Coast Coliseum & Convention Center officials are looking for a way to fund its continued expansion.
Executive director Bill Holmes and commission member C.T. Switzer appeared before the Harrison County Board of Supervisors on Monday to ask for access to the $7 million trust fund for capital improvements.
The Sun Herald reports those improvements include purchasing nearby homes to make way for more parking and future development.
The commission has already purchased all but two end-pieces of property along Oakwood Drive to the northwest to make way for a 357-space parking lot.
The supervisors approved the request, with a stipulation that projects using the money must be brought before the Board to inform the public.
Trial set in reading program investigation
OXFORD, Miss. (AP) - A federal judge has rejected a plea agreement for Georgia businesswoman Edna Goble, who was indicted for bribing a former Greenville Public Schools superintendent to use her reading program for children.
Goble, who owned Teach Them To Read in Conyers, Ga., was scheduled for sentencing this past week. The Delta Democrat Times reports that U.S. District Michael Mills rejected a recommendation from prosecutors that she serve six months' house arrest.
Goble had pleaded guilty to one count last fall. Mills set a trial date of June 16 in Oxford.
Authorities say Goble paid bribes to former superintendent Harvey Franklin for him to influence the school board to use the $1.4 million reading program.
Franklin pleaded guilty in August 2012. He's serving more than six years in prison.
House passes marine resources agency restructuring
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A plan to reorganize the scandal-plagued Department of Marine Resources and require that it be audited every year is moving forward.
House members passed an amended version of Senate Bill 2579 Tuesday, returning it to the Senate for more work.
Rep. David Baria, a Bay St. Louis Democrat, persuaded House members to amend the bill, taking out a provision that would have removed Marine Resources employees from civil service protection for one year.
Supporters, including Rep. Jeffrey Guice, R-Ocean Springs, say allowing leaders to freely reassign or fire employees would speed reorganization. Baria, though, says current managers shouldn't be trusted with that authority, considering past mismanagement.
Former DMR Executive Director Bill Walker pleaded guilty Monday in U.S. District Court to a charge of conspiring to defraud the federal government.
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