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Local lawmakers pleased with legislative panel assignments

House Speaker Phillip Gunn announcedcommittee assignments last week and Republican leadership in theHouse has reversed the fortunes of two local lawmakers.

    District 92 Rep. Becky Currie, R-Brookhaven, will enter her secondterm chairing a committee while District 53 Rep. Bobby Moak,D-Bogue Chitto, a 30-year member of the house, received no chairmanor vice chairman appointments. Moak had previously chaired theGaming committee.

    Currie will head up the Forestry committee, the first committeechair appointment she has received. She described it as anappropriate spot give the district she represents.

    “Forestry is probably one of the biggest industries in SouthwestMississippi,” Currie said. “I’m very happy to be named chair ofit.”

    Currie will also serve on the Apportionment and Elections,Appropriations, Education, Fees and Salaries of Public Officers,PEER and Public Health and Human Services committees.

    “I did pretty good,” Currie said.

    Currie expects that Fees and Salaries of Public Officers may havesome work to do.

    “We do have some salaries that are way off,” Currie said. “Thereare a ton of people that make way more than the governor.”

    Though he earned no chairman or vice chairman appointments, Moakwas named to serve on Banking and Finance, Insurance, Judiciary A,Public Health and Human Services and Ways and Means.

    Moak said he’s happy with his committee slate.

    “Those are all plum assignments,” Moak said.

    Moak said he’s the veteran on many of those committees.

    “I think there’s only three or four representatives more seniorthan me,” Moak said.

    In the Senate, whose committee assignments were made by Lt. Gov.Tate Reeves shortly after the session began, District 39’s freshmanSen. Sally Doty landed on the committees for Business and FinancialInstitutions, Drug Policy, Economic Development, Finance, JudiciaryDivision A, Judiciary Division B and Public Property.

    She will serve as vice chairman of Public Property.

    “I didn’t expect that,” Doty said of the vice chair appointment inher freshman term.

    Doty, R-Brookhaven, said the judicial committees were something shewas interested in and that her background prepared her for.

    “I practiced law for about 15 years,” Doty said. “That is where mybackground is best suited.”

    Though he didn’t get leadership of a committee, Moak was selectedDemocratic Caucus Leader by his fellow party members at thebeginning of the term.

    “That will be my voice,” Moak said.

    Currie said Gunn’s appointment of Democrats to committee chairsrepresents a different kind of leadership in the House.

    “I think he was very fair,” Currie said. “He gave Democrats acourtesy that Republicans did not get.”

    Moak disputes the idea that Gunn’s appointment of Republican andDemocratic chairs represents a bipartisan break from past practice.Rather, Moak described the appointment in 2008 of only Democrats tocommittee chairs by former Speaker Billy McCoy as an anomaly.

    “I’ve served with four speakers, and I’ve always seen theassignments spread out except for 2008 when there was such asplit,” Moak said.

    Moak pointed to a previous set of McCoy appointments as hewingcloser to the traditional mold.

    “This year they were spread around. That follows what occurred in2004 when Billy McCoy was first elected (Speaker),” Moak said. “Sothe assignments are more in that vein.”

    With assignments in hand, area lawmakers are ready to get down tothe work of drafting, passing and arguing about legislation.

    “It’s past time to get down to work,” Moak said. “We’re over threeweeks into the session.”

    Currie was optimistic about the remainder of the session.

    “I’m looking forward to a good year,” Currie said.