Friday, January 19, 2007
I apologize for the delay in starting up the blog again for this session. We have been off and running since day one, when the Conservative Caucus stopped us from taking up bills on the first day. In talking with Gov. Barbour the next day, he said that he was not comfortable in voting for 80 percent of the budget, some $3.5 billion, on the first day of the session, hence the word went forth. I voted to suspend the rules, for there was a precedent for voting for the education budget before the rest of the budget was hammered out. As a matter of fact, it was the last time the Mississippi Adequate Education Program was fully funded in 2003.
Since that first day, the House has passed a teacher pay raise, from Kindergarten teachers to university professors. We passed a minimum wage increase bill, even though it was severely damaged by an amendment from Rep. Joey Hudson, D-Monticello, which exempted high school and college students from receiving the increase. We fully funded MAEP and extended the repealer on the Department of Health for two years, along with a host of other bills and resolutions. Meanwhile, the Senate has not sent us anything but some commending resolutions. Hopefully, the committees over there are least looking at bills.
Also, we have been working with heavy hearts as the sudden death of Rep. Leonard Morris, D-Batesville, has had a great impact on all of us. Rep. Dirk Dedeaux, D-Perkinston, will replace Morris as the chair of the Medicaid Committee, but nobody can replace the "Gentleman from Panola" as an epitome of class and dedication to public service.
On the political front, we will have the majority of the members of the Legislature running for re-election, but we are guaranteed to see some new faces in the Legislature come January of 2008. As vacancies emerge for the Central District Public Service Commissioner and the State Auditor offices, look for a number of legislators to vie for those seats, as well as a few members who are finally opting to retire from this level of public service.
On Monday, I will post our House summaries for the time we have been in session to get everyone caught up and then on a weekly basis, post that week's summary on Fridays, along with some timely editorials.