Some of our top stories from this Jan 25th edition of "Gulf Coast Mornings with Kelly Bennett and Uncle Henry":
Pascagoula Mayor Dane Maxwell delivered his State of the City speech last night, and promised to cut taxes next time budget hearings come up.
A lot of money will be flowing back into the state's piggy bank. Attorney General Jim Hood announced yesterday that his office has recovered more than 26-million-dollars following the settlement of nearly a dozen civil lawsuits against government contractors linked to the bribery scandal involving former Mississippi Department of Corrections commissioner Christopher Epps. The contractors were accused of using pseudo consultants to bribe and provide kickbacks to Epps so they would be awarded or retain MDOC contracts. Epps was sentenced in 2017 to nearly 20 years in prison for his role in the scandal.
Teenagers in Mississippi already need parental consent before going to a tanning salon. And there's another push at the State Capitol this year to prohibit those businesses from serving anyone under the age of 18. Cancer survivors and health groups rallied at the Capitol yesterday in support of a law aimed at reducing the skin cancers that kill about 80 Mississippians each year.
A Florida official's portrayal of a Hurricane Katrina victim is coming back to haunt him. Secretary of State Michael Ertel resigned effective immediately yesterday after photos of him in black face were published in the "Tallahassee Democrat." He wore the costume at a Halloween party in 2005, just two months after Katrina devastated areas of Louisiana and Mississippi, killing more than a thousand and leaving 80-percent of New Orleans flooded due to levee failures, many of the displaced victims African-American.
At least two state agencies in Mississippi are warning of possible furloughs should the partial federal government shutdown continue. Officials with the state's Department of Human Services and Child Protection Services say their workers could be sent home without pay due to a lack of federal funding. While a spokesperson for CPS tells WLBT-TV that furloughs likely won't happen until May, DHS head John Davis told state lawmakers he may have to furlough employees as early as March.
Mississippi is not going unscathed by the partial federal government shutdown when it comes to screeners employed by the Transportation Security Administration. Many, who haven't received a paycheck in over a month, have called in sick nationwide, including an unspecified number who work at the Hattiesburg-Laurel Regional Airport in Jones County. However, the airport's executive director tells WDAM-TV it's not become a big problem yet since only a few have called in sick and passenger boardings are at an historic low.