Last week, we lost a bill on Committee Deadline Day. The bill would have given an additional circuit judge to the Forrest/Perry Circuit District. We lost because of a dispute between representatives of a separate circuit district that was also included in the bill.
Over the last few days, we knew our options were limited in continuing the effort to get this judgeship. One idea was to do a suspended resolution. This resolution would have suspended the deadline rules so both legislative bodies could have considered the judge bill further. The odds of successfully passing this are remote, because you have to get a majority vote in the Rules Committee and a two-thirds vote in both the House and the Senate. I liken a suspended resolution to throwing a hail mary pass at the end of the game.
However, I felt it was worth a shot, because so many counties were affected. It would have been hard to pull off. Luckily, there was another option.
A separate bill (SB 2751) regarding assistant district attorneys and criminal investigators (which also affected Forrest/Perry counties) passed committee and was on the House calendar. The only other option was to amend this related bill. However, this could also backfire and be subject to a point of order, because the exact code sections were not in the district attorney bill.
We prepared an amendment to this bill, and Percy Watson introduced it on the floor yesterday. It passed. Other circuit/chancery districts suddenly got the same idea and also amended the same bill. The final bill then passed.
The more I go through this process, it reminds me of a really long football game. After all of your set plays that have been practiced and drawn up for months are stopped, in the end, you end up just running the ball up the middle and doing what it takes to move the ball across the line. It's hard and smash-mouth and ugly, but you try and get it done.
So the circuit judge bill makes it to the next step in the process. The bill now goes to conference, and hopefully, the circuit judge for the 12th Circuit District will survive. However, I've been told you never let up until the Governor's ink is scratched across the page to sign the bill into law.