|May 21, 2012||Belated recognition of unique minister||no comments|
|May 03, 2012||Corinth split again, but this time no complaints||no comments|
|April 27, 2012||Bigbee Fork to vote in Monroe House district||3 comments|
|April 13, 2012||Reeves gets same result by voting or not||no comments|
|April 05, 2012||Flaggs says he can't support current charter plan||4 comments|
|April 02, 2012||Charter schools highlight Republican divide||2 comments|
|March 23, 2012||House, Senate already close on budget numbers||no comments|
|March 14, 2012||Computer program reads for House||1 comments|
|March 09, 2012||Romney praises Mississippi||9 comments|
|February 27, 2012||Tollison hit by extensive questioning||1 comments|
JACKSON -- This is a little late, but I was saddened to learn of the death of South African Methodist minister Ross Olivier earlier this month.
Olivier served a stint at minister of Galloway United Methodist Church in downtown Jackson and was a treat to converse with or to listen to from the pulpit.
Mac Gordon, former state House information officer and before then a political reporter, first introduced me to Olivier in 2004. The new Galloway minister was slated to preach the funeral of former Gov. Kirk Fordice.
Olivier had met with Fordice in his final days of illness, but wanted insight on the life of the former governor.
To borrow a phrase, I tried to provide "a fair and balanced" interpretation of the life of the first Mississippi governor to ever serve consecutive terms.
The eulogy Olivier gave sounded as if it came from a man who had known Fordice all his life -- not because of the information I gave him, but because Olivier was a rare preacher, but more important he was an even more unique minister.
We are not members of Galloway, but often on a Wednesday night I would leave my state Capitol office and sneak over to Galloway to listen to his lessons. I was always impressed.
Ross Olivier, who fought apartheid in South Africa and later ministered to the rich and powerful of Galloway and the downtrodden who can be found in the downtown area near the church, was in many ways a unique man.
JACKSON -- In 2011 when Democrats controlled the Mississippi House and attempted redistricting, their effort created a firestorm of protest in Corinth.
The Corinth Board of Aldermen passed a resolution urging the Republican-controlled state Senate to reject the House redistricting plan because it divided the city into two House districts. Corinth had traditionally been solely in District 2, which for years was represented by Democrat Harvey Moss, who is now retired.
The plan the House Democrats proposed in 2011 and that was roundly criticized by the Corinth Board would have divided Corinth between Moss's District 2 and District 1, which is represented by Lester "Bubba" Carpenter, R-Burnsville.
That redistricting effort eventually stalled because of partisan bickering over such issues as the division of Corinth.
This session, the House, under Republican control, also passed a redistricting plan that split Corinth between districts 1 and 2.
But this time around, there was nary a pique from Corinth government.
Redistricting is a political exercise where both sides try to gain an advantage. The issues in Corinth highlight that in a major way.
JACKSON -- District 20 under the new House redistricting plan includes most of northern Monroe County, a tiny fraction of southern Lee County and the tiniest southwest corner of Itawamba County.
Under the plan developed by the House Republican majority, there are 142 people in part of the Bigbee Fork precinct of Itawamba that will be placed in District 20 that is represented by Chris Brown, R-Aberdeen.
Nobody can say for sure why those people, who are currently in District 21, represented by Donnie Bell, R-Fulton, are being moved.
Redrawing 122 House districts to match population shifts in order to keep all districts close to equal in population is like putting together a big jigsaw puzzle.
And then, federal mandates must be followed, such as ensuring African American voter strength is not diluted while trying to not split geographic lines, such as those of cities and counties.
All in all, it is a difficult process than can make for some unusual districts.
Still, despite all those above-mentioned redistricting obstacles, the Bigbee Fork move is hard to understand.
By the way, 2,445 people in Nettleton and Petersburg precincts in Lee County will move into the primarily Monroe County-based District 20.
JACKSON -- The lieutenant governor, as presiding officer of the Senate, gets to vote only to break ties in the 52-member chamber.
Republican Tate Reeves, who is in his first year as lieutenant governor, got to cast a vote earlier this week. Reeves voted against a motion to return to committee a bill that mandates school cannot start until the third Monday in August.
The motion was deadlocked 25-25. Reeves voted against the motion to recommit, which was a motion that would have killed the bill.
In reality, Reeves did not need to vote. On a tie vote, the motion was defeated.
In a sense, Reeves' vote would have been meaningful only if he had voted for the motion to recommit. But Reeves was able to go on record in support of mandating a later start for school -- a position supported by Gulf Coast tourism groups.
In reality whether Reeves voted or not, the outcome of the legislation rested in his hands. So if he supported the legislation, it made sense for him to vote as he did.
JACKSON-- The plan to get charter schools passed by amending a bill in the Senate to include the charter school language and then the House concurring will not have the support of Rep. George Flaggs, D-Vicksburg.
Flaggs has been viewed as a likely vote for charter schools. And with the vote expected to be close in the House, his vote could be crucial. But he said his is against circumventing the process, which he said would be done by amending a bill in the Senate and asking the House to concur.
He said the charter school concept needs to be fully debated in a conference committee.
The only problem is that if the bill that the Senate is considering amending goes to conference it is probably dead in the House because it would not withstand a point of order. If the vote is to concur and to send the bill to the governor, it would not be subject to a point of order
True, legislative rules can be confusing.
JACKSON -- The fact that it is questionable whether charter school legislation will pass this year illustrates the growing number of legislative Republicans from pro education areas that might differ from their leadership on education issues.
The Republican leadership of the House and Senate, as well as Republican Gov. Phil Bryant, have voiced strong support for charter school legislation. Yet Republicans from DeSoto County, a strong pro pubic education county, as well as other Republicans in similar counties, are blocking the proposal in the House Education Committee.
Because education proponents in their districts do not believe charter schools are good for public education.
Charter schools might be or might not be good for public education. That is not the issue.
The issue is that people in their districts perceive charter schools not to be good for public education. And legislators are listening to those people more than the leadership on this issue.
But the leadership is working hard to change hearts and minds. And in the legislative process, the leadership can be persuasive.
JACKSON -- The House and Senate are currently working on parallel paths to develop budget proposals for funding Mississippi state government. In late April, House and Senate leaders will meet in conference committee to try to hammer out the differences the two chambers have on their budget proposals.
That should not be that divisive a process this year. With Republicans in control of both chambers, it should not be that much of a surprise to see the two sides are not that far apart and the budgeting process is just beginning.
And with the rules change, that says a rank and file member can only offer an amendment to the full chamber to increase funding for an agency by taking money from another agency, it will be hard for anyone except for a few members of the House and Senate Appropriations committees to have a significant impact on the process.
The rules change members voted in at the behest of Speaker Philip Gunn and Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves essentially took away any power they as rank-and-file legislators had in the process.
JACKSON -- The state Constitution gives each member of the Legislature the right to have a bill read before final passage.
Members usually have bills read as a way to slow the process or as a sign of protest. Members of the House staff normally undertake the task of reading the lengthy bills.
But this week, when some Democrats started having bills read to protest what they believed were unfair treatment by the Republican leadership, it was not staff reading the legislation.
It was a computer program, which the House purchased for less than $30. Last year the then-Democratic leadership tried to use the program, but there was significant protest.
This year there was no protest.
The program can be set for various voices and speeds. The bills were being read at 90 seconds per page in a female voice.
JACKSON -- Give Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney credit.
Normally, the state, because of the high numbers of bad categories where we are first, such as highest poverty rate, highest obesity rate, highest teen pregnancy rate, highest infant mortality rate and so many more, we often must endure ridicule from snobs from other parts of the country.
But during a visit to the Gulf Coast in advance of Tuesday's party primary elections in Mississippi, Romney said, "If the federal government were run more like the government here in Mississippi, the whole country would be a lot better off."
JACKSON -- The Senate debated the charter school legislation for more than four and one-half hours last week before finally passing it.
For a bulk of that about 275 minutes, Education Chair Gray Tollison, R-Oxford, was in the well of the Senate explaining the legislation and answering questions.
People can have differing opinions about the legislation, but I do not recall a committee chair standing before the Senate on any one bill for a longer period of time.
During the debate, Tollison kept the Senate pages busy refilling his water glass.