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House Speaker Gunn Names Committee Chairs

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 20 Jan 2012 05:28pm | comments
House Speaker Phillip Gunn

Mississippi's House of Representatives can now begin the months long process of turning thousands of bills into laws. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that the house speaker has named chairmen for the more than 40 house committees.

Speaker of the house Phillip Gunn says he waited until the end of the third week of the legislative session to make sure he was appointing the best representatives to each committee.

"I think I have got a team here that is had working. I think I have a team that is going to be diligent. They are capable. I am very proud, I am especially pleased with the ones selected today on these committees," Gunn said.

Gunn put Republicans in charge of most of the committees, including major committees like appropriations, ways and means, and education.

Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson of Poplarville has served on the committee for more than a decade and says he will approach his new role with an eye toward job creation.

"In Mississippi the most important thing that government can do is help the private sector create jobs. Now what role the appropriations committee will play in that is yet to be seen. But that is extremely important that we find ways to help create private sector jobs," Frierson said.

During the last four years under democratic house leadership, there were zero republican chairmen.

Some democrats say that Speaker Gunn has taken experienced law makers off key committees and that could hurt the process.

Representative Tyrone Ellis of Starkville chaired the Public Utilities committee for two decades, and is not on the committee this term.

"Experience makes a big difference. When you have a committee with that type of impact on the community, on the state, on the economy you need experience. And I think it will prove itself out in the long run," Ellis said.

Gunn defends his committee assignments saying voters choose to give Republicans a majority in the house, and having Republicans run the majority of the committees is necessary for them to pursue their political agenda.

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House Speaker Phillip Gunn


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