Capitol Elvis celebration put on hold

By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal

JACKSON – People at the state Capitol will have to wait until Tuesday to get their fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
The plan to honor Tupelo native Elvis Presley today on the 75th anniversary of his birth was postponed after both the House and Senate decided to go home on Thursday because of ice and snow in north Mississippi.
“Elvis will have to celebrate his 75th birthday without us,” said Rep. Steve Holland, D-Plantersville, one of the primary sponsors of the event. “We still love Elvis, but because of the weather the hunka-hunka burning love will have to chill at this point.”
Holland said the celebration will be rescheduled for Tuesday, with the menu featuring one of Elvis’ favorite dishes: fried peanut butter and banana sandwiches.
The event is designed to build state support for enhancements to the Elvis Presley Birthplace in Tupelo.
Otherwise, the legislative session, which started Tuesday, should not be affected much by the weather-related early departure.
During the first week of the session, few bills are normally taken up. Most of the time is spent organizing and preparing bills for consideration.
The House Democratic leadership had planned to take up legislation Thursday afternoon to exempt certain items from the budget cuts Gov. Haley Barbour has said he needs to make.
But House Appropriations Committee Chairman Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, said Thursday afternoon he had decided not to take up the legislation.
“The Republicans don’t want the bill,” Stringer said. “Now I am hearing second thoughts from the Democrats. We are in a kind of Catch-22 now.
“If I don’t have support for it, I am not going to call it back up. Apparently, only a handful of people want to do that.”
A Barbour spokesman said the bill did not provide the governor enough flexibility in making the cuts.
Stringer acknowledged that budget cuts need to be made soon so agencies can spread them over the final six months of the fiscal year instead of dealing with them in a shorter time frame.
The governor already has cut $225 million and has said an additional $215 million in cuts are needed. Stringer said he believes less than an additional $200 million needs to be cut.
Tax collections for the current year are about 8 percent below projections.
In addition to the Elvis celebration next week, legislators will hear Barbour’s State of the State address Tuesday night.