Leadership Set for 2008 Legislature

By: Jon Kalahar Email
By: Jon Kalahar Email

The Mississippi Legislature opened Tuesday by electing its leadership. On the House side, the winner and loser were separated by just two votes.

Rep. Billy McCoy will return for a fifth year as Speaker of the House.
And Harrison County Sen. Billy Hewes will back up Phil Bryant in the Senate as Senate Pro Tem.

But despite party affiliations, both men spoke about passing a lot of the same legislation.

The honor of his re-election to the Speaker's chair in the House brought McCoy to tears. Surrounded by family and former governor William Winter, McCoy said Mississippi will no longer settle for the status quo.

"Mississippi is now competing with every other state, with any nation in the world," McCoy said.

McCoy was elected over fellow Democrat Jeff Smith by a two vote margin, 62 to 60. But despite the House division on Speaker, one representative sees a productive session ahead.

"I've never seen that go down to the wire like that before, but it was good," said Rep. Alyce Clark. "Nobody seemed to have gotten upset with anybody and I think everything went well."

McCoy pointed to education, transportation, and health care as important topics for the 2008 session.

On the senate side, Hewes said there's a long list of items over there as well.

"MAEP funding right off the block would be an obvious one," said Hewes. Right off the block, voter ID is another one that comes to mind."

And once all the ceremony is out of the way, both chambers want to hit the ground running and go about the business of making Mississippi better.

"We will continue to move forward. We will be progressive. We will compete and we can hold our heads high four years from now."

The state Senate also created three new committees, ethics, tourism, and housing. Hewes said it is a part of the new lieutenant governor's idea to put as many Senate members as possible in leadership roles.

Roll call for Speaker of the House:

Democrats (62)
Arinder, Morton; Bailey, Greenville; Banks, Jackson; Bell, Fulton; Blackmon, Canton; Broomfield, Moss Point; Brown, Jackson; Buck, Holly Springs; Burnett, Tunica; Calhoun, Jackson; K. Campbell, Jackson; Clark, Pickens; Clarke, Jackson; Cockerham, Magnolia; L. Coleman, Mound Bayou; M. Coleman, Jackson; Compretta, Bay St. Louis; Dedeaux, Perkinston; Dickson, Macon; Duvall, Mantachie; Eaton, Taylorsville; Ellis, Starkville; B. Evans, Monticello; J. Evans, Jackson; Flaggs, Vicksburg; Fredericks, Gulfport; Gardner, Batesville; Gibbs, D-West Point; Harrison, Columbus; Hines, Greenville; Holland, Plantersville; Holloway, Hazlehurst; R. Huddleston, Sumner; Jones, Pascagoula; Lane, Waynesboro; Malone, Carthage; Mayo, Clarksdale; Moak, Bogue Chitto; McBride, Courtland; McCoy, Rienzi; Middleton, Port Gibson; Moss, Corinth; Myers, McComb; Norquist, Cleveland; Peranich, Pass Christian; Perkins, Greenwood; Puckett, Hatley; Reynolds, Charleston; W. Robinson, Bolton; Scott, Laurel; F. Smith, Carthage; Sullivan, Okolona; Thomas, Indianola; Straughter, Belzoni; Walley, Leakesville; Warren, Mount Olive; Watson, Hattiesburg; Whittington, Schlater; Ward, Ripley; Stringer, Montrose; Wooten, Jackson; Young, Meridian.

Democrats (13)
Bondurant, Grenada; Bounds, Philadelphia; Espy, Clarksdale; Gadd, Hickory Flat; Johnson, Natchez; Nicholson, Little Rock; Nowell, Louisville; Parker, Lucedale; Patterson, Biloxi; M. Rogers, New Albany; Shows, Ellisville; J. Smith, Columbus; Stevens, West.
Republicans (47)
Akins, Oxford; Aldridge, Tupelo; L. Baker, Senatobia; M. Baker, Brandon; Barker, Hattiesburg; Beckett, Bruce; Bennett, Long Beach; Byrd, Petal; T. Campbell, Meridian; Carpenter, Burnsville; Chism, Columbus; Currie, Brookhaven; Denny, Jackson; Ellington, Raymond; Fillingane, Sumrall; Formby, Picayune; Frierson, Poplarville; Gipson, Braxton; Guice, Ocean Springs; Gunn, Clinton; E. Hamilton, Olive Branch; F. Hamilton, Hurley; Horne, Meridian; Howell, Kilmichael; M. Huddleston, Pontotoc; Ishee, Gulfport; Janus, Biloxi; Jennings, Southaven; Martinson, Madison; Mayhall, Southaven; McGee, Brandon; Mims, McComb; Monsour, Vicksburg; Moore, Brandon; Morgan, Morgantown; Palazzo, Biloxi; Pigott, Tylertown; Read, Gautier; Reed, Ackerman; R. Rogers, Pearl; Snowden, Meridian; Staples, Laurel; Turner, Baldwyn; Upshaw, Diamondhead; Weathersby, Florence; Woods, Byhalia; Zuber, Ocean Springs.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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