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Bill would end sales tax, lower grocery tax

Legislation to eliminate the state income tax and lower taxes on groceries has come alive in the Mississippi House.

Authored by Speaker Phillip Gunn, House Bill 1439 known as the Mississippi Tax Freedom Act of 2021 passed out of the House Ways and Means Committee on Monday.

The bill would phase out the state income tax for all residents over a 10 year period. All Individuals earning less than $50,000 a year and all married couples making under $100,000 a year would see their income tax eliminated in 2022. Taxes on groceries would also get cut from 7 percent to 4 percent beginning this summer and reduced to 3.5 percent by 2027.

Republican Reps. Nick Bain of Corinth and Bubba Carpenter of Burnsville, who both serve on the Ways and Means Committee, voted to pass the bill.

“This is good government policy and is a transformative piece of legislation,” said Bain, who shared information about the bill with the Daily Corinthian following the late afternoon meeting. “When fully phased in, this act would put $1.9 billion of income and grocery tax back into the pockets of Mississippi tax payers.”

To offset the tax cuts, sales tax in the state would increase from 7 percent to 9.5 percent.

Bain said such an increase is ideal and much fairer for all Mississippians.

“Currently not everyone pays income tax, but everyone pays sales tax. With the policy, the state’s pool of taxpayers will increase as people from other states pay sales tax when they shop and eat in our cities,” the lawmaker added. “Most importantly this would put more money in the pockets of Mississippians and give them more control over the amount of tax they pay.”

Before becoming law, the bill must be passed by the full House. Bain expects that to happen fast saying it could come this week. After the House approves the bill, it would move to the Senate for more debate before being sent to Republican Gov. Tate Reeves to sign into law.

In his State of the State address last month, Reeves asked lawmakers to work on legislation to eliminate the sales tax.

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Returning classic
Plans set for a live, safe 10K run

Plans for the spring’s Corinth Coca-Cola Classic 10K, to be held in live form, are off and running.

The goal is for a live 10K on May 1, with appropriate precautions, to mark the 40th installment of the race. It will be “not the normal Coke 10K, but one that people are going to be safe with,” Coke President and CEO Kenneth Williams told the Corinth Board of Mayor and Aldermen in a Monday morning meeting.

Registration is now open for the event, which will have a virtual option.

“There won’t be any pre-race or post-race festivities,” said Race Director Mona Lisa Grady. “Nothing where people will have the reason or the need to have to gather or congregate in one area and not be socially distanced.”

As it will be a live race during the challenges of COVID-19, it is hoped the run will give a boost to the racing community.

“That is what we are most excited about, because the running industry has had a long dry spell, and people are really anxious,” said Grady.

Organizers are encouraging the community to get involved and burn some pent-up energy from the slow times of the pandemic.

“Physical exercise is just one great way for people to be able to release some of the stresses and give them something positive to train for and look forward to,” she said.

The plan encompasses all safety precautions and has been reviewed by the hospital, said Grady.

The race will use the new certified start line on Foote Street and will have a rolling start open for 30 minutes.

“People will just walk up socially distanced, and nobody will have to feel like they’ve got to be at the front of the line and get across the line in a big hurry,” said Grady.

Participants will have two hours to finish, as usual, with the course closing at 10 a.m. The start line will open at 7:30 a.m.

The largest consecutively run foot race in Mississippi, it began in 1982 as a fundraiser for the Kidney Foundation of Mississippi. The track is certified by U.S.A. Track & Field.

Businesses provide school staff with lunch

With the help of The Alliance, over a dozen local businesses are joining together to give back to Corinth and Alcorn County teachers and support staff.

The Alliance Community Development Director Lane Yoder said all staff members of the Corinth School District and Alcorn School District will receive a free lunch soon after money was raised by local businesses and The Alliance.

“In wanting to show all of our city and county teachers and school employees how much our community appreciates them and their efforts to go above and beyond during the pandemic, The Alliance has been able to organize lunch for every employee in both districts, thanks to many generous contributions,” Yoder told the Daily Corinthian. “I’m sure we speak for the entire Corinth-Alcorn County community in saying thank you to all educators for all they have done for our students.”

Meals were scheduled in the county district to be served on Feb. 15, but due to the winter storms, the lunch was postponed until a later date.

“We are very grateful and excited by this act of kindness our local business leaders are showing to our teachers and staff,” said Alcorn County’s Interim Superintendent Brandon Quinn. “I publicly want to thank all the businesses who contributed, along with Lane Yoder and The Alliance for their work and their efforts in putting this together.”

Businesses contributing financially to help make the lunches possible include Caterpillar, Balfour, OfficePro, Albright Storage Company, Bailey Williams Real Estate, Commerce Bank, Kimberly-Clark, Langley Wealth Management, Long Distribution, NESCO, Refreshments, Inc. and Renasant Insurance. Corinth Coca-Cola Bottling Works contributed financially in addition to donating all drinks needed in each district.

Half a million dead in US, confirming virus’s tragic reach

For weeks after Cindy Pollock began planting tiny flags across her yard – one for each of the more than 1,800 Idahoans killed by COVID-19 – the toll was mostly a number. Until two women she had never met rang her doorbell in tears, seeking a place to mourn the husband and father they had just lost.

Then Pollock knew her tribute, however heartfelt, would never begin to convey the grief of a pandemic that has now claimed 500,000 lives in the U.S. and counting.

“I just wanted to hug them,” she said. “Because that was all I could do.”

After a year that has darkened doorways across the U.S., the pandemic surpassed a milestone Monday that once seemed unimaginable, a stark confirmation of the virus’s reach into all corners of the country and communities of every size and makeup.

“It’s very hard for me to imagine an American who doesn’t know someone who has died or have a family member who has died,” said Ali Mokdad, a professor of health metrics at the University of Washington in Seattle. “We haven’t really fully understood how bad it is, how devastating it is, for all of us.”

Experts warn that about 90,000 more deaths are likely in the next few months, despite a massive campaign to vaccinate people. Meanwhile, the nation’s trauma continues to accrue in a way unparalleled in recent American life, said Donna Schuurman of the Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families in Portland, Oregon.

At other moments of epic loss, like the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Americans have pulled together to confront crisis and console survivors. But this time, the nation is deeply divided. Staggering numbers of families are dealing with death, serious illness and financial hardship. And many are left to cope in isolation, unable even to hold funerals.

“In a way, we’re all grieving,” said Schuurman, who has counseled the families of those killed in terrorist attacks, natural disasters and school shootings.

In recent weeks, virus deaths have fallen from more than 4,000 reported on some days in January to an average of fewer than 1,900 per day.

Still, at half a million, the toll recorded by Johns Hopkins University is already greater than the population of Miami or Kansas City, Missouri. It is roughly equal to the number of Americans killed in World War II, the Korean War and the Vietnam War combined. It is akin to a 9/11 every day for nearly six months.

“The people we lost were extraordinary,” President Joe Biden said Monday, urging Americans to remember the individual lives claimed by the virus, rather than be numbed by the enormity of the toll.

“Just like that,” he said, “so many of them took their final breath alone in America.”

The toll, accounting for 1 in 5 deaths reported worldwide, has far exceeded early projections, which assumed that federal and state governments would marshal a comprehensive and sustained response and individual Americans would heed warnings.

Instead, a push to reopen the economy last spring and the refusal by many to maintain social distancing and wear face masks fueled the spread.

The figures alone do not come close to capturing the heartbreak.

“I never once doubted that he was not going to make it. ... I so believed in him and my faith,” said Nancy Espinoza, whose husband, Antonio, was hospitalized with COVID-19 last month.

The couple from Riverside County, California, had been together since high school. They pursued parallel nursing careers and started a family. Then, on Jan. 25, Nancy was called to Antonio’s bedside just before his heart beat its last. He was 36 and left behind a 3-year-old son.

“Today it’s us. And tomorrow it could be anybody,” Nancy Espinoza said.

By late last fall, 54 percent of Americans reported knowing someone who had died of COVID-19 or had been hospitalized with it, according to a Pew Research Center poll. The grieving was even more widespread among Black Americans, Hispanics and other minorities.