Roles change, but public service goal same for lawmakers

Published 7:00 pm Sunday, January 29, 2012

Like their colleagues from aroundMississippi, Lincoln County’s lawmakers are adjusting to a newpolitical dynamic at the state Capitol.

    Republican representatives like Brookhaven’s Becky Currie areacclimating themselves to being in the House majority for the firsttime in more than 200 years, while Democrats, including BogueChitto’s Bobby Moak, are finding themselves now in the minority. Inthe Senate, Brookhaven’s Sally Doty is a new face among the GOP-ledlegislative body.

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    Legislative activity so far has been minimal, as new Speaker of theHouse Rep. Phillip Gunn only recently finalized committeeassignments for that chamber. That said, the early weeks of a newlegislative session are typically slow.

    Lawmakers are eager to get started in their new roles.

    For Currie, that means chairing a committee for the first time.

    The second-term representative was appointed chairman of theForestry committee, an appropriate posting given that her areaincludes a considerable amount of forestland and more than a fewcitizens who make their living in jobs related to the timbertrade.

    Currie’s other assignments include Apportionment and Elections;Appropriations, Fees and Salaries of Public Officers; Education;PEER; and Public Health and Human Services. The representative’sexperience as a nurse will continue to serve her well on the healthpanel.

    Although no longer in the majority, Moak still considers all of hiscommittee assignments to be “plum” postings. Those include Bankingand Financial Services; Insurance; Judiciary A; Public Health andHuman Services; and Ways and Means.

    Moak, long a close ally of former Speaker of the House Billy McCoy,was removed from the Gaming committee that he chaired under theprevious regime.

    The Bogue Chitto lawmaker, who would have been a Speaker candidatehad Democrats maintained the majority, will now focus on being theparty’s caucus leader. He delivered the Democratic response toRepublican Gov. Phil Bryant’s State of the State addressTuesday.

    In the Senate, Doty’s legal background as an attorney will be putto use on both the Judiciary A and B committees. Her otherassignments include Business and Financial Institutions, DrugPolicy, Economic Development and Finance, along with PublicProperty, which she will serve as vice chairman.

    Regardless of their committee assignments, lawmakers have somedaunting tasks facing them, the most notable of which is crafting abudget during lean economic times.

    And regardless of who is in the majority and who is in theminority, lawmakers must work together to move Mississippi toward abetter tomorrow for all its citizens. That obligation has notchanged.