Stay in session or go home and save money?

JACKSON — Some House Republicans apparently still are complaining that Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, adjourned the House Wednesday, sending them home for about a month or until he and Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant agree to call them back.

Granted, it appeared on the voice vote that those opposed to adjourning were louder and several members stood up asking for a recorded roll call. The proper thing for the speaker to have done would have been to have a recorded vote.

He was wrong. But many members were yelling not to adjourn as an April Fools’ Day joke They told me as much.

Some members, though, were serious They wanted to stay to work on a way to replenish a fund that provides money to local governments to hold down the cost of tag tags.

True, if nothing is done, in July the cost of car tags will go up statewide — nearly double in costs in some counties.

The car tag issue is caught up in the inability of the House and Senate negotiators to agree on how much to increase the cigarette tax. While the Legislature is out of session, those members who are negotiating a cigarette tax agreement can still work on a compromise.

What would have happened if the Legislature did not go home Wednesday? A vast majority of the 174 members — probably about 160 — would have had nothing to do, but sit around drawing $109 per day in expense money while a handful of negotiators tried to reach a settlement. That’s nearly $19,000 per day in costs.

By going home, the members save the state money and hopefully an agreement can be worked out by the time they come back. And besides, it would do members good to return home and see their constituents — instead of the lobbyists and the journalists who permeate the halls of the Capitol.

It was interesting to contrast the two chambers Wednesday. Republican Bryant, who presides over the Senate, and McCoy agreed the members should go home while work on a proposed compromise is done.

In the Senate, both Democrats and Republicans agreed with Bryant and uttered nary a protest.

In the House, many of the Republicans did not agree with McCoy and there were protests.

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