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Moak downplays Speaker run talk

It’s been said in the papers. It’s been said on the radio. It’sbeen said in private circles.

Everyone has said District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak might run forSpeaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives next year -everyone but him.

“You won’t hear me saying I’m running for Speaker of the House,”said Moak, a Democrat from Bogue Chitto. “The stars line up forthat to happen. I’ve been there a little longer than everyone elseand I probably have a few more committee assignments and haveraised a little more money, but right now I’m just raising moneyfor the next election cycle.”

Moak fielded that direct question Monday morning at theBrookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce’s legislativebreakfast, where District 39 Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith, R-Brookhaven,and District 92 Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, joined him to givean account of representing Southwest Mississippi in theLegislature.

The three local lawmakers hit briefly on a wide range of topicsduring the hour-long address, most notably redistricting. The10-year redrawing of the state’s House and Senate districts hasbegun, and the process continues to be contentious as SenateRepublicans swear to review both chambers’ new maps and HouseDemocrats insist the Senate will have no say in House plans.

Moak pointed out new district maps are not established by bills,but by resolutions, which do not transfer to the opposite chamberfor a vote.

“It’s a resolution, so the governor doesn’t have to sign it, thelieutenant governor won’t vote on it,” he said.

Little effort has been made in the House to bring the twoparties together, Currie said.

“Republicans and Democrats are having some line issues in theHouse,” Currie said. “We’re drawing ours and they’re drawingtheirs.”

Budget matters took up little time during Monday’s talk, thoughsome spending issues were discussed. Hyde-Smith said a bill thatwould raise the pay of the state’s Supreme Court justices isimportant, but she doesn’t believe it will live through topassage.

“It has been decades since they’ve had one. They are so farbehind judges in surrounding states, probably two-thirds of thenation,” she said. “They make important decisions, and you alwayswant very good, qualified candidates in that decision.”

Hyde-Smith, who is leaving the Senate to run for Commissioner ofAgriculture and Commerce, said she would attempt to pass acertificate of need for the transfer of about 20 unused nursingbeds from Adams County to Brookhaven to help establish a plannedassisted living facility being built by Gayle Evans. A specificbill she wrote for the purpose died on deadline, so she’ll try toinclude the facility in an overall CON bill in the comingweeks.

“You cannot build a facility without those beds,” Hyde-Smithsaid.