2004 Session Underway

The Mississippi legislature convened the 2004 session Tuesday. New members of the House and Senate were sworn-in for their four-year terms.

The first order of business in the House was to elect a new speaker, since Rep. Tim Ford did not seek re-election.

Rep. Billy McCoy of Rienzi was chosen by a unanimous vote.

"He is one of the real leaders of this state. He understands state government. He understands the needs of the people of Mississippi. He has absolute integrity and I think he will make a great speaker," said former Governor William Winter.

"I think we've got a winning team," said Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville. "He needs to appoint the committees where we can proceed to go to work."

On the third House roll call vote, J.P. Compretta of Bay, Saint Louis was elected to serve as the new speaker pro tempore. He defeated Rep. George Flaggs of Vicksburg

In the hours before the session opened, lawmakers socialized with outgoing Gov. Ronnie Musgrove and Governor-elect Haley Barbour, who takes office next week.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.