Budget Writers Huddle

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All but six of Mississippi's 82 counties have their own emergency management director, nnd two of those are about to get their own.

Robert Latham, the director of the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, said that's a big improvement over the past four years.

Latham spoke Wednesday to members of the Joint Legislative Budget Committee in Jackson.

In 2000, only 43 counties had their own emergency director. Latham said it's vital for counties to be ready for everything from severe weather to terrorism, and having a local director makes the planning run more smoothly.

Meanwhile, House Speaker Billy McCoy said Wednesday that he plans to be back at work full steam once the legislative session starts in January.

The speaker stopped by the state budget hearings and did some work in his Capitol office.

McCoy is recovering after being hospitalized several weeks this summer. Surgeons removed part of his colon. McCoy said he had several strokes.