2013 Legislative Session OpensBy Jeffrey Hess | Published 08 Jan 2013 05:39pm |
The 2013 Mississippi legislative session is now underway at the capitol in Jackson. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports lawmakers have a number of issues to tackle in the 90 day session.
A choir sings 'America The Beautiful' shortly after the Mississippi Senate gaveled in its session.
Both chambers are fully in session for the next three months which is shorter than the 120 day session last year.
Republican Representative Mark Barker of Brandon says that means lawmakers are going to need to be more focused on moving legislation.
"There is going to be a focused agenda and then we are going to look at everything else on an as needed basis. For example from Jud A, if we don't have a leadership agenda item in the committee we are probably not going to bring something like that out this year," Baker said.
Leading republicans including the Governor, Lt. Governor and speaker of the House have all indicated their desire to expand Mississippi's charter school law.
Democratic Senator Hob Bryan of Amory says the focus on charter schools misses the point about education in Mississippi.
"The same people that are fighting funding of public schools now want to come up with this charter school system. A parallel system of schools. Another school system with their own school board. With their own rules or lack there of. And they want to take money away from the public schools and send over to these charter schools. I just think it is a very, very bad idea," Bryan said.
State lawmakers will also have to pass a balanced budget and consider whether or not to expand the Medicaid program, a debate that Democrats are promising to force.
A new member joined the legislature when the speaker of the house swore in Representative Bill Kincaid of Byhalia.
"I suppose I should have been nervous with this process. The election is more nerve wracking than this. This is the part of the process that I really embrace and look forward to. I am overwhelmed with gratitude," Kincaid said.
There are a number of vacancies in the legislature.
Two Senate seats are open due to death.
Also on the first day Representative David Gibbs, a Democrat from West Point, resigned immediately after the session opened because of poor health.
The governor will set a special election to fill his seat.
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