Republicans assigned to most top jobs in Mississippi House

Published 2:24 pm Thursday, January 23, 2020

JACKSON (AP) — Republicans will continue to hold most leadership positions during this four-year term in the Mississippi House, where the party has more than 60% of the seats.
House Speaker Philip Gunn, a Republican from Clinton, announced most committee assignments for the 122 representatives Thursday — the end of the third week of the four-month legislative session.
He had previously announced leaders and members of the two money committees. Republican Rep. John Read of Gautier remains as chairman of the budget-writing Appropriations Committee. Republican Rep. Trey Lamar of Senatobia is the new chairman of the Ways and Means Committee, which deals with taxes and borrowing.
Committees are the first places for legislators to consider issues, and chairman can decide which bills are debated and which die quietly.
Republican Rep. Richard Bennett of Long Beach remains as chairman of the Education Committee. Republican Rep. Mac Huddleston of Pontotoc is the new chairman of Universities and Colleges.
Rep. Angela Cockerham of Magnolia, an independent, also received a high-profile assignment as the new chairwoman of the Judiciary A Committee. She previously led the Judiciary B Committee. The new Judiciary B chairman is Republican Rep. Nick Bain of Corinth.
In previous years, Judiciary A handled civil justice legislation and Judiciary B handled criminal justice matters.
“I want to make sure that we enact good laws for the state of Mississippi,” Cockerham said Thursday.
The new chairman of the House Corrections Committee is Rep. Kevin Horan, an independent from Grenada. This is also a high-profile assignment because Mississippi’s prison system has been shaken by deadly violence in the past month. For years, health inspections have shown numerous problems at the Mississippi State Penitentiary at Parchman, including broken sinks and toilets, holes in cell walls and widespread mold and mildew in showers.
Cockeham, Bain and Horan all previously served in the House as Democrats. Bain switched to the Republican Party early last year. Cockerham dropped the party label and sought reelection in 2019 as an independent. And Horan dropped his party label when the current legislative session started.
Republican Rep. Sam Mims of McComb remains as chairman of the House Public Health Committee. Republican Rep. Joey Hood of Ackerman is the new chairman of the Medicaid Committee.
Gunn named one Democrat to lead a committee. Rep. Cedric Burnett of Tunica is the new chairman of Youth and Family Affairs.
Republican Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann announced Senate committee members and leaders Jan. 10. Republicans also control the 52-member Senate. Hosemann gave most of the high-profile assignments to Republicans, but he also named Democrats as chairmen of the Public Health Committee and the Corrections Committee.

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