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‘Repealers’ Could Be A Suprise Political Fight

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 07 Feb 2014 05:16pm | comments

Democrats and Republicans in the Mississippi legislature are having a series of battles over an arcane legislative rule known as Repealers. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that Democrats feel that the Republican majority is attempting to wrestle more legislative power....

Repealers are language in bills that put an end date on state agencies or programs.

Bills in both chambers have been filed to remove about two dozen of these so-called repealers on everything from tax cuts, to agriculture lending programs, to the authority to regulate deer enclosures.

Speaking from the house floor...Democrats, like Representative Bo Eaton of Tayorsville, see this move as an attack that will eliminate the legislature's ability to respond to issues because there will be no threat of the program or agency ending.

"Now if you want to pay honmage to the senate and the governor's office and all that. And people hold you accountible and responsible, these repealers are for you so you can address issues that face your people," Eaton said.

Eaton also sees the move as an attempt to limit minority party power.

That's a line of thought Republican Ways and Means Committee Chairman Jeff Smith of Columbus says is ridiculous because he says members can always bring issues forward with or without repealers.

"I don't care if you are Democrat, Republican, Independent and I have been all three of them. Sometimes I don't know what the heck I am. I don't care if you are communist. If you have a bill I want to hear it," Smith said.

The house rejected a couple of bills intended to remove the sunset dates.

But the senate is also looking at eliminating repealers and recently passed a bill that removes one over the objection of members of both parties.

Senator Tommy Gollott of Biloxi, a Republican in his 47th session, warned that losing repealers would give away legislative control.

"If we don't, you'll never see this repealed or anything of this legislation ever again," Gollot said.

Many of the bills are still pending before the legislature, so the fight over the programs and their repealers will continue ahead of another big deadline this week.

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