Two Versions of Tort Reform Pass

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Some of the lawmakers absent Wednesday made it to the Capitol Thursday. The vote was 64 to 53 to pass the bill. The initial measure died 52 to 63.

The bill that passed does not include caps on pain-and-suffering damages or provisions to protect so-called "innocent sellers'' of products.

Some House members who voted against the bill said they want something with caps and innocent seller protections. The Senate passed its own bill Wednesday with those provisions.

The two chambers eventually will try to work out a compromise on how much to limit civil lawsuits. But with people dug in on both sides, it's not clear if they can agree.

Lawmakers could be back at the capitol in another special session by July 1, if no other solution is found to keep the Mississippi Department of Human Services in business, according to Gov. Haley Barbour.

Barbour had said last week that he could run the agency by executive order for up to a year after lawmakers couldn't agree on continuing the agency during the just-ended 2004 regular session.

Attorney General Jim Hood said the governor doesn't have the authority to take charge of the agency. Barbour said he was surprised by Hood's opinion "since ten years ago the governor did, in fact, run the Department of Human Services."

At that time, former Gov. Kirk Fordice was ready to take over DHS after lawmakers failed to pass a funding bill for the agency. Instead, Fordice called lawmakers back in to a special session to address the issue.