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Local lawmakers prepare bills, committee schedules

With new state officials in office, legislators are preparingbills for introduction and getting ready for committee work, saidLincoln County lawmakers.

“We’re getting committees organized,” said Dist. 92 Rep. Dr. JimBarnett, vice-chairman of the Ports, Harbors and Airportscommittee.

Dist. 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, chairman of Agriculturecommittee, said chairmen are coordinating standing committeemeeting times in an effort to make sure they do not overlap.

“The chairmen are doing a good bit of work this week,”Hyde-Smith said.

Legislators contemplating new laws have been busy requesting thedrafting of general bills and constitutional amendments. Thursday,Feb. 19, is the deadline to request drafting of general bills andconstitutional amendments and Monday, Feb. 23, is the deadline fortheir introduction.

“We’re seeing a lot of bills introduced,” Barnett said.

Barnett indicated that many of the proposals are familiar onesthat have died in sessions past.

“Some of them are the same ones we’ve seen for the last 10-to-12years,” Barnett said.

Barnett was working on several legislative proposals. Among themwas a bill to allow an open primary voting system in the state.

“That’s something we really need,” Barnett said.

Dist. 52 Rep. Bobby Moak has introduced approximately 70 bills,dealing with a variety of subjects. He said a lot of them are onethat constituents had asked him to introduce.

“A goodly number of them are ones I try to introduce each andevery year,” Moak said.

Moak said the list has changed some as laws were passed or billwas introduced by another lawmakers. One example of a repeatintroduction that Moak mentioned was a sales tax amnesty day,possibly to be held around Christmas or during back to schooltimes.

“They’re not huge issues, but they’re ones that affect all ofus,” Moak said.

Hyde-Smith said she has stack of bills on her desk waiting to beintroduced. She said she was checking with constituents to ensurethe bill’s language would achieve the intended goal.

Hyde-Smith has been busy in recent days serving on a SelectCommittee to make a recommendation in the disputed Dist. 29 Senaterace. In that race, Democratic challenger Dewayne Thomas defeatedincumbent Richard White, although White has cited ballotirregularities in challenging the outcome.

On Monday, the committee voted to recommend that the full Senatedeclare a revote in the district. Hyde-Smith said the full Senatewas expected to vote today on the new election issue.

“Hopefully, the will of the people will decide,” Hyde-Smithsaid.