By Bobby Harrison/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – The state House worked late into the night Tuesday as angry members used constitutional procedures to slow the process as a key deadline approaches.
Tuesday was the most divisive day of the 2012 session, which is the first for Republicans as the majority party since Reconstruction.
And it came as the House faces a Thursday deadline to take up bills originating in that chamber. With scores of bills still remaining to be taken up, the process was slowed to almost a crawl Tuesday after black lawmakers requested all bills be read before the final vote.
That procedure, which is a constitutional right by any member, occurred after an apparent rift between Rep. Willie Bailey, D-Greenville, and Speaker Pro Tem Greg Snowden, R-Meridian, who was presiding at the time.
As the House debated and eventually passed a bill requiring abortion doctors in the state to be obstetricians/gynecologists and to have hospital privileges, Bailey asked for a point of personal privilege, which under the House rules a member has the right to request at any time. Snowden told Bailey he was not going to recognize him for that.
Eventually, after numerous Democrats stood in support of Bailey, Snowden recognized him.
Earlier, while asking questions of Public Health Chair Sam Mims, R-McComb, Bailey said Snowden said he was out of line and told him to sit down.
“I was not doing anything wrong, not to tell me to sit down like a boy,” Bailey said “I am not a boy.”
Later Snowden said the issue “was an internal House” issue and he had spoken with Bailey “to clear the air and to move forward.”
Still, members requested that each bill be read.
When Speaker Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, was asked why members were requesting bills be read, he said he did not know.
Rep. Tyrone Ellis, D-Starvkille, said, when asked about the bill reading, said, “If you are going to govern, you govern with an even hand.” He added, if each member “is treated with respect and dignity, then we will be able to get along.”