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The New Legislative Session Begins, Brings Big Changes

By Jeffrey Hess | Published 03 Jan 2012 07:07pm | comments

Mississippi's 174 lawmakers are officially back in session. MPB's Jeffrey Hess reports that legislators gaveled in their four month session and elected a new House Speaker in Jackson yesterday.

"Congratulations ladies and gentlemen and members of the 2012 House of Representatives,"

Secretary of State Delbert Hoseman welcomes the 122 House members at the Capitol in Jackson after they recited the oath of office Tuesday at noon.

The legislature is set to have an extended four month session...instead of the normal three month term...to give the new legislators, governor and lt. governor time to adjust.

Republicans control both chambers for the first time since reconstruction, and used their majority to elected Clinton Representative Phillip Gunn as speaker.

"My priorities to be fair and to create a house where, hopefully, we can move forward in unity and get a lot accomplished for the state," Gunn said.

House Democrats are now the minority party for the first time in over a century, but Democrat Tyrone Ellis of Starkeville says Republicans will have to work with them if they want to get legislation passed.

"We have 58 solid votes right now. And those 58 solid votes can either cooperate or they can antagonize, they can block, or they can be obstructionist for that matter and refuse to cooperate and allow them to govern in the way they should," Ellis said.

In the Senate, Governor-elect Phil Bryant opened the session...Lt. Governor-elect Tate Reeves will be sworn in tomorrow.

Bryant says Republican majorities in both chambers will make it easier on Reeves and Republicans to pass their agenda.

"Looking at the budget for example, rainy day fund, how we maintain that, how we move forward together incentivizing business in Mississippi. A lot of those things, I think, will be passed like the "Smart Budget Act" that was killed in the house before," Bryant said.

Democratic Senator John Horne of Jackson says Republicans will still need to attract democratic support for major issues like spending or constitutional amendments.

"With regard to revenue measures we are going to have to work together because they don't have the numbers to pass revenue measures without our votes as well. Any bill that requires a 3/5 majority will have to have bi-partisan support," Horne said.

In addition to new republican majorities in both chambers, there are 47 freshman representatives....32 house members and 15 senators.



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