JACKSON -- A new rural caucus has been formed in the Mississippi House.
The group consists of more than 30 members and of both Democrats and Republicans representing rural areas of the state.
"We formed this group so that those of us who represent Mississippians living in rural areas will have a strong voice on behalf of our citizens," said Rep. Preston Sullivan, D-Okolona, who along with Willie Bailey, D-Greenville. and Bill Pigott, R-Tylertown, are the co-chairs of the group.
"We know that the interests and issues facing Mississippi's rural communities are important to the welfare of our state," Sullivan added.
It is yet to be determined how effective the new group will be in the 122-member House under the chamber's Republican leadership.
JACKSON -- It appears that charter school legislation is heading to conference where leaders from the House and Senate will try to hammer out their differences near the end of the session.
The Senate Education Committee has inserted its charter school language in the House charter school bill. If the House Education Committee takes up the Senate bill, it is expected to return the favor by placing its language in the Senate bill.
Groups such as the Parents Campaign have endorsed the House proposal while supporters of a more expansive charter school law have endorsed the Senate plan.
If they choose to, the groups supporting the House bill could try to lobby the full Senate to adopt the more restrictive House version when the bill is brought up for a vote before the full chamber.
If they were successful, the proposal would go straight to Gov. Phil Bryant for his signature.
That appears unlikely, especially considering Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves' mastery of the Senate and the likelihood he wants to go to conference to try to garner more concessions from the House resulting in a more expansive charter school program.
JACKSON -- Eric Clark, former secretary of state, somehow had missed the mini national controversy caused by the fact that Mississippi just recently ratified the 13th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution banning slavery.
As everyone knows by now, the Legislature finally got around to approving a resolution ratifying the 13th Amendment in 1995, but that resolution never was filed with the proper federal authorities.
That oversight apparently was made by the office of former Secretary of State Dick Molpus. Current Secretary of State Delbert Hosemann filed the paperwork recently when the oversight was brought to his attention.
Clark followed Molpus as secretary of state in 1996 and served two terms, and voted for the ratification prior to that as a member of the state House in 1995.
Clark, a historian and current executive director of the state Community College Board, said in hindsight he was surprised that Mississippi had not ratified the 13th Amendment as a condition of re-entering the Union after the Civil War.
And on another point for someone to think Molpus or someone in his office purposefully did not filed the resolution has little knowledge of Mississippi politics. Molpus has probably done more in terms of racial reconciliation than any Mississippi politician other than former Gov. Williiam Winter. Molpus did those things knowing at the time they put his political career in peril.
For those efforts he should be praised instead of lambasted because of an honest oversight by his office.
JACKSON -- Philip Gunn, R-Clinton, is proving that as speaker of the Mississippi House he is not afraid to exercise the power of his office to the fullest.
Late last year he removed Linda Whittington, D-Schlater, from Education to place a pro charter school legislator the key Committee.
And then last week he sent a Medicaid re-authorization bill to the Rules Committee to ensure its death to block the full House from having an opportunity to vote on the expansion of Medicaid. In the past, the measure would have gone to the Medicaid or Public Health committees.
Those two actions are perfectly within the speaker's power, but such power has seldom if ever been exercised by a speaker in recent memory.