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Tollison Not Running for Re-election After 24 Years in MS Senate

By Alyssa Schnugg
News editor

Video by Talbert Toole

Sen. Gray Tollison announced Monday during the annual Eggs and Issues Legislative Breakfast that he will not be seeking re-election to retain his District 9 seat in the Mississippi Senate.

Tollison has served in the Senate since 1996. This coming session will be his 24th.

“This will be my last session in the State Senate,” Tollison said during the breakfast meeting held at the Marriott Courtyard where representatives gathered with local governmental, community and business leaders to discuss the upcoming session and how it might affect the LOU community.

Tollison said he has enjoyed his time in the Senate and appreciates the support he’s had from voters over the last six elections.

“I will still continue (to serve) in some capacity, but I’m just not sure what that is yet,” he said. “I’m proud of what I’ve done. I’ve tried to make a difference in the county, city and state.”

Tollison, who serves as the chairman on the Education Committee, touted hurdles the state has climbed over since 2010 when the state Legislators passed higher standards for K-12 schools.

Proficiency in reading and math has grown significantly since 2013, he said; however, Mississippi is still behind the national average.

“We’re not quite there yet but we’re going in the right direction,” he said. “We’re just six points from the national average.”

Also attending the breakfast was Rep. Jim Beckett, Rep. Jay Hughes and Rep. Steve Massengill.

Beckett represents District 23 that includes Calhoun, Grenada, Lafayette and Webster counties. He serves as chair of the Public Utilities committee. On Monday, he told those at the Egg and Issues breakfast that his committee will be looking at ways to stop robocalls and spoofing phone calls as well as increasing the availability of broadband to rural Mississippians.

“There won’t be a silver bullet,” he said. “No matter what we do, everyone won’t have broadband tomorrow. It takes time … But we are looking at it and appreciate any ideas on how to solve this problem.”

Hughes suggested that all Mississippi citizens keep track of what goes on during the Legislative Session by watching what happens to the numerous bills they may care about via the internet at www.legislature.ms.gov.

“It’s important for people to stay in tuned with what happens in Jackson,” he said.

Hughes said he hopes to see the Legislators tackle issues that he’s found were important to Mississippians by using internet analytics on his social media sites. The top three things he claims resonated with his followers included having less standardized testing in public schools, stabilizing PERS and allowing electrical power associations to provide internet service to increase the availability of broadband internet.

Massengill discussed some of what occurred during the special session in August that included passing a state lottery and sports betting. Profits are supposed to go towards infrastructure and education.

“We need people to buy tickets (once the lottery is established) so we can build some roads,” Massengill said.

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