House panel OKs bill to change attorney contracts

By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press

JACKSON — Mississippi House Republicans are moving forward with efforts to limit the attorney general’s power to hire private attorneys to file lawsuits for the state.

Attorney General Jim Hood is the only Democrat in statewide elected office.

The House Judiciary A Committee voted along partisan lines Monday — Republicans for and Democrats against — to pass House Bill 211. It goes to the full House.

The bill says any statewide elected official or appointed agency head could hire private attorneys if they think the attorney general’s office can’t provide sufficient legal representation. It also says agency heads must approve any lawsuits filed on behalf of their programs.

Hood says the proposal could cost the state $11 million a year.

Auditor Stacey Pickering, a Republican, says there should be no new cost.