*Each day's House Business is provided in the hyperlinks below.
Monday, January 25th
I headed down to Jackson, where we convened, took care of the day’s business, and then adjourned. I went to Legislative Services, and spoke to one of the lawyers about a couple of my bills. There has been much talk about shortening the session this year by 21 days. On a side note, the state saves $34,000 a day when the legislature doesn’t meet. If we do shave those days off, apart from saving the state a lot of money, it would move the cut off to get a bill in the pipeline to this Tuesday. I told him that I would get back to him tomorrow with my final outlines. I will discuss my bills in depth, via video blog, once they are completed and dropped. Most of us reps headed to the Mississippi Farm Bureau Federation reception at the Farmer's Market for dinner and enjoyed the company of many of our Farm Bureau agents back home. After dinner, I went back to the trailer and worked on my bill research and drafts, as well as my blog and website. Worked till about 1AM, then regretted it in the morning for early bible study.
Tuesday, January 26th
Woke and headed out to our weekly Legislative Prayer and Bible study time. I am very encouraged by the amount of legislators that make it a priority to get up and start their legislative week off right with prayer and devotion. Sat down with one of our lawyers to discuss a couple of my bills, then headed off to my desk
on the floor to catch up on some reading. Went to lunch at the Mississippi Association of Community Colleges Luncheon, where all of Mississippi’s wonderful Community Colleges and their Culinary programs were represented. Did you know that Mississippi’s Community Colleges rank number one in the nation? Go Mississippi! Great food! Spent some time talking to our own Northwest Mississippi Community College’s President Dr. Gary Lee Spears. Headed over to our Legislative Conservative Coalition meeting, and then Republican Caucus Meeting. We gaveled in at 2 and began deliberations on the approval of Joint Rules. These are the Rules that will govern joint efforts for both the Senate and House. After a short debate, the vote was taken and Rules were adopted. We took care of the rest of our business, then adjourned.
Wednesday, January 27th
This morning I had a legislative choir meeting for the next day’s Speaker and Lt. Governor’s Prayer Breakfast. There I was tasked with recruiting more House singers. One thing I found out by day’s end...there aren’t very many folks who like to sing in choirs. Headed to lunch with much of the Desoto House Delegation for lunch at the Mississippi Manufacturers Association. There were many different groups represented there besides the Manufacturers (Egg and Poultry Producers, Realtors, Car Dealers, Independent Insurance Associations, and Banks). Headed back, we gaveled in, and began deliberations on the adoption of Permanent House Rules. There was quite a bit of debate, as I believe that some of the democrat Representatives felt that there might be some sneaky or underhanded things that were being changed or added since the previous term. The few changes that came were mostly just housekeeping, in order to keep up with previous and undocumented procedures. Two of the changes/additions that got the most discussion was the confidentiality clause that was extended to all House employees, and not just Legislative Services, as well as the additional scope and power of the newly formed Performance Based Budgeting Committee. This committee will more than likely have to meet regularly throughout the year due to its scope and responsibility. Ultimately the new Rules were accepted and passed. Later, I headed out for dinner with the Railroad Associations Executive Director where we talked about how the state’s railroad system is set up and run. Contrary to my original beliefs about Lobbyist (that they were slimy, corrupt individuals that grease the wheels of democracy for their own purposes) Association's Members and Lobbyist serve a very important function (at least the ones I have met so far at the state level, probably not so in D.C....LOL). These folks not only represent industry, but specific people groups that make up our constituency (aka Mississippi Residents). They tend to be experts in their field, and can be a good resource for education and existing policy. All of that though, is taken with the understanding that they do have an agenda. However, if one of them lies to a legislator, they will damage their credibility and ultimately lose any real influence. With no influence, the lobbyist will lose their client base. That is not to say that there aren’t seedy lobbyist or association presidents, only that there are a vast majority who are good and decent folks. Of course the verdict is always out, and time will tell. And everything that I take in, I remind myself that the source can be very biased. More times than not, I am told that some of the less respected ones merely don’t tell you everything. For that reason, I try to always seek out the alternative view. Often, if asked or prodded, the lobbyist will tell you those as well. The vast majority of things they represent and positions they hold are not controversial.
Thursday, January 28th
Had to get an early start at the Speaker and Lt. Governor’s Prayers Breakfast. The joint legislative choir had to practice. It was a wonderful breakfast/service. So many clergy from so many different denominations showed up. Both Speaker Gunn and Lt. Governor Reeves spoke, and then were prayed for individually by members of the clergy. Each state leader was prayed for (including the governor), as well as the House and Senate as a whole. I am so proud to be a Mississippian, where the majority of our legislators and leaders still include God in the process. I pray that never changes. After, the breakfast I had a little time, and came back to construct a flag pole for my trailer. The guys on either side of me, have the U.S. flag and
State Flag covered, but we were still lacking on the Christian flag. A few dollars and a trip to Lowes later, I had constructed a flag pole of my own (but on the cheap). I proudly fly the Christian Flag, and a small Mississippi flag now over my trailer. I pray that God will cover our state with His protection, draw it to Him in the process, and then blessit beyond measure. I pray he uses us as a beacon of His faithfulness to our morally collapsing nation. He always likes to use the weak and base things to confound the mighty, and Mississippi fits the bill. Regardless of what anyone believes, there are many things that Mississippi is doing right. My flag pole is really nothing more than a visible prayer of mine. That prayer being that our Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ (represented by the big flag), would cover our dear state with his love, protection, and faithfulness (represented by the little one). I worked on this blog for a bit, then headed in for the afternoon session. There was a big hope that we would get our committee assignment now that Permanent Rules were adopted and the contested race was
over. We were not so lucky. For dinner, much of the Desoto Reps headed to the Certified Nurse Anesthetist Reception, where I had the opportunity to talk to the Association President and Vice President about their desires for the members and the Nurse Practitioner industry in Mississippi. After returning to Desoto County South (the Trailer Caucus), one of the guys had a fire pit going and we all sat around fellowshipping until midnight.
Friday, January 29th
Attended the Freshman Rules Class taught by the Speaker first thing this morning. Gaveled in at 9, and all of us were given our Committee assignments for the next four years. It was pretty exciting. It is the Speaker that makes all of the assignments. It begins with every house member filling out a committee preference sheet. There we list ten committees that we would like to serve on, plus either Appropriations or Ways and Means. Freshman usually never get either Appropriations or Ways and Means since it is seniority based. The Speaker is obliged to give us at least 2 of our 10. The Speaker also sets committee chairs, this is also something that Freshmen do not get. When it was all said and done, I got every committee that I wanted. I felt very relieved and very happy! Not only that, but I was made a Committee Vice-Chair on one of the new committees that I was already very excited about being on. Was not expecting that at all. One of the coolest things, all of our Desoto Freshmen were given Committee Vice-Chairs, and our most senior Desoto Rep, Bill Kinkade, got Chairman of Corrections. It was a good day for me and Desoto County!
Performance Based Budgeting - Vice Chairman
Public Health and Human Services