Lawmakers eye swift special session

Published 5:00 am Thursday, July 14, 2005

Unlike contentious special sessions in recent months, LincolnCounty representatives anticipate quick resolution when lawmakersconvene Friday to deal with an economic development project for aDelta community.

Gov. Haley Barbour has called lawmakers back to Jackson toapprove a bond bill for improvements for Baxter Healthcare inCleveland. Friday’s will be fourth special session this year.

“I really believe, for the first time, we’ll have a shortsession – maybe one day,” said District 92 Rep. Dr. Jim Barnett,R-Brookhaven.

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District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak, D-Bogue Chitto, agreed.

“I think we’ll go up there, do that one project, and leave,”Moak said.

Barbour’s $14 million two-year proposal consists of $6 millionin a grant and $8 million in loans to upgrade technology at Baxter.The proposal would allow Baxter to maintain its current 800-memberwork force.

The Baxter project and a $56 million project for NorthrupGrumman on the coast have failed during previous special sessionsthat became mired in controversy over various local projects addedto bond bills by House members. Barbour labeled some of theprojects as “pork.”

Leaders of the House and Senate have agreed to take up only theBaxter project Friday.

Barbour earlier this week suggested the Northrup Grumman projectcould be added to the special session’s agenda. Moak and Barnettvoiced concerns about taking up any measure other than Baxter.

“I think any additions in any way void out the agreement,” Moaksaid.

Barnett suggested Northrup Grumman could be addressed later,possibly during next year’s regular session.

“Grumman’s not in a financial bind,” Barnett said. “I’m fortaking care of Baxter and coming home.”