*Each day's House Business is provided in the hyperlinks below.
Monday, January 18th
My family got up bright and early this morning and headed to the Gale Center
in Hernando, for the first annual Martin Luther King prayer breakfast being hosted and organized by Mike Smith and the African American History Symposium. It was a wonderful time, and beautiful moment of community between brothers and sisters in Christ. I was given the honor of praying for our county, state, and country, and for racial reconciliation. The event ended with the group locking arm and arm and heading out to walk the newly named Martin Luther King Drive there in Hernando. It was a befitting end to the event, and one that I feel honors the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King. It was a very cold morning, with light snow. I had forgotten my overcoat, as had my family, in our rush to get out the door on time. It was a small price to pay though, in honoring the heavy cost paid by so many who paved the way for equal rights.
You can read an article about the event at the following link:
Tuesday, January 19th
We began the day with a Mississippi Legislature Conservative Coalition Meeting, which meets every Tuesday for lunch, and then flows right into our general caucus meeting. We gaveled in at 2, took care of necessary business, then adjourned. I received my state issued Ipad for bill reading and communications. I chose the Ipad since I already own a laptop, and wanted something smaller and lighter that I could carry back and forth to the Capital each day. One of our tech guy for the House side is Benjamin Eubanks. I haven’t met many Eubanks in my life that I wasn’t related to, so we spent some time trying to figure out if we had any connections. That evening many of the Desoto Reps went to dinner with the Mississippi Beverage Association, namely AB and Clark Distributors. It was a very informative evening in learning how Mississippi’s liquor laws and distribution channels are set up. Unknown to me, alcohol manufacturers aren’t allowed to sell directly to retailers. This was set up years ago to protect us from companies that could come in and drive competition out of business through various marketing techniques, basically an anti-monopoly set up. So simply put, all retail of alcohol has to have a middle man (a distributor) to operate between the manufacturer and retailer. Manufacturers and Distributors in the state can’t retail. There are private distribution companies that retail Malt Beverages, but the state is in the business of distributing all liquor and wine. Don’t know what I think about the state actually being involved in a “for profit business” and thus being the monopoly for distribution like this, but I will get back to everyone once I find out more and figure out where I stand on the issue. On a side note, if you have ever wanted to do one of the wine of the month clubs that you find online, and always wondered why Mississippi is excluded...well there you go. Wine has to be distributed through ABC, the state run distribution center.
Wednesday, January 20th
We began with another caucus meeting where we went over the results of the special committee and hearings for the Eaton/Tullos contested race. We were given full disclosure and had the opportunity to ask questions and voice our opinions and concerns. Many of the republican representatives are good friends with the long time democrat incumbent Bo Eaton, so you can imagine the strain that this decision in the house was going to have on all of them. We broke and then convened on the House floor, where the Committee’s findings were shared, opinion given, and then the next 4 hours followed with a heated debate.
What transpired was all manner of accusations by the Democrats as to wrongdoing, as well as being selective as to enforcing the voter laws on which affidavit ballots were counted. When it was all said and done, and vote was finally to be cast, it fell almost completely down party lines. I felt very conflicted about the whole situation as it really seemed to be a battle of head versus heart. I had considered that I might just vote present. During the debate, I even made a trip to the water cooler in the lobby to confer with two of my fellow Desoto County Reps and get their take. In the end, it really didn’t come down to party lines for me. I swore to uphold the Mississippi Constitution and its laws, and had to fight my inclination to vote based on feelings (which was the primary argument by the Democrats, including Eaton himself). If I were to vote based on feelings, I would be no better than these activist judges that are destroying our country a little at a time through their disregard to law. Pandering to feelings is a very dangerous slope to be on when it comes to government. The facts: It came down to one vote out of the 9000 cast...a vote that put the Republican Challenger in the lead. If election law states that one must update their address with the clerk's office when they move more than 30 days before an election, then that is what I must uphold. The law is there for a reason, even if the intent of the voter isn’t malicious. I hate to disregard any vote, especially when a person unknowingly is in contridiction to the law, but without law, you have chaos and annarchy. I hated that out of so many votes, it had to come down to such a slim margin, actually the slimmest possible. I didn’t really have a dog in this hunt, other than upholding the law to the best of my ability. The people of district 25 didn’t elect me to vote present, but to make decisions. I voted for Tullos.
That night most of the Desoto reps headed to dinner with a representative from Southern Electric. It was good to be able to talk to an industry insider about a subject that I am passionate about and that is renewable energy, primarily in this situation the subject of Net Metering. For those who produce their own power (via solar, hydro, or wind generation) and are hooked up to the electrical grid (grid-tied), they should be compensated for any excess (or net) power that they produce for the grid. Primarily because this excess (net) power is sold to other power company customers. I had to agree with our host in the sense that any net producer shouldn’t be paid at the full retail rate, a topic that is debated by some folks with solar arrays. Reason being, the net producing customer doesn’t have to maintain the power company’s infrastructure or personnel.
Thursday, January 21st
The whole Desoto coalition (Reps and Senators) had breakfast with Desoto County’s own North Mississippi Electric. It was a very informative meeting. I had no idea that Mississippi had so many Electric Cooperatives, or that they were owned by the customers that they serve. We were given a history of the development of our electric producers and grid system in Mississippi. The coops were formed for the more rural areas through grants and low interest loans decades ago, when the big corporate energy companies had no desire to set up service there. Over the years, many have combined, and most buy their power from bigger for profit companies like TVA, Entergy, and Southern. Steve Hopkins and I had lunch with the Mississippi Homemaker Volunteers, and learned all about the thousands of man hours and dollars they give and raise within our state for so many noble causes. It was a real honor for me to thank and encourage their club president and many of their ladies for making both Mississippi and the world a better place. After lunch, we convened on the floor, where we took care of necessary business. It was suggested that a special election be called for the Eaton/Tollos race, to which it was then tabled. Due to the impending snow storm that was bearing down on the south, the House adjourned a day early so that all of the reps who have to travel far north could get home to their families before it hit.