Legislators ready for busy year

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, January 15, 2008

After Speaker of the House Billy McCoy assigns committees andchairmanships this week, the House will get down to business.

Although area representatives are unsure what their committeepositions will be, all of them are aware of the issues facingMississippi in 2008 and beyond.

And, as always is the case in politics, everyone has a differentidea. One thing that is clear, however, is that each issue will becontested from start to finish.

“I think we’re probably gonna have a little dogfight about thefood tax decrease and tobacco tax increase,” said District 91 Rep.Bob Evans, D-Monticello.

Evans predicted there will be calls for studies on the issue, amove he believes is unnecessary.

“In my opinion, we don’t need to do all that, we know what willhappen,” he said. “But those of us who don’t want the grocery taxdecrease to happen are going to use studies and research as anexcuse to push it off until later.

“I think people need grocery tax relief, and I’m going to votefor it,” he continued. “We don’t have to have a study to see whattobacco tax increased would do – everyone knows that the statewould get more money.”

Evans also has strong feelings about the state of immigration inMississippi.

“Everyone is talking about immigration laws,” he said. “I thinkwe have plenty of immigration laws myself; we just need to have theguts to enforce the ones we have.”

Evans contend illegal immigration would be an easy fix.

“Do I mean put up a fence? No, I mean that every time you findimmigrants working illegally up here, charge the employers who hirethem,” he said. “The employers aren’t in that much danger nowbecause it’s not a criminal issue. If we make it a criminal issue,that might put a stop to it.”

While Evans named several of the “hot-button” issues the Housewill face this session, year and term, District 53 Rep. Bobby Moakhas a formula to help him see through all the “elements” of theissues and attack the core. The formula may come in handy for anyrepresentative, as Moak believes the session may heat up.

“Buckle up – It might be a bumpy ride,” said Moak, D-BogueChitto. “The state budget debate probably will be bad.”

Moak said legislation can be proposed and if it’s a good issue,people will support them. If it’s not, they won’t and it doesn’tdeserve to be passed.

“I don’t care if it’s a Republican issue or a Democrat issue,everyone can make a stand,” Moak said.

District 92 Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, thinks some of the”stands” on different issues will be so diverse, and possiblydivided, that the governor will have to step in.

“I foresee several special sessions for the year,” Currie said.”I think the chances are high. If we don’t get business done,especially concerning legislation that the governor wants to seecompleted, he may call a special session where he is in control ofthe agenda.”