Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Sine Die

Friday, we adjourned sine die, which is a fancy phrase for the legislative session being over. We'll be back sometime in May to try and figure out Medicaid.

There’s a tinge of sadness. I suppose I expected it but was so eager to have it all done with that I didn’t really notice during the week. But most things are wrapped up. I finished getting everyone’s signature in my legislative picture book, except for Danny Guice, whom I'll have to wait and see in the special session. Maybe the signed book will be worth something one day- though I doubt any of us, with the exception of maybe Norquist, Janus, Brandon or Jessica Upshaw, will ever be elected to statewide office. But I’m glad to have a piece of Mississippi history of my own making.

The tomato plants were out. Chairman Charles Young, still effective despite some health problems, said the opening prayer. Both of those occurrences, the prayer by Young and the tomato plants for all the members, signal the last day. There were the handshakes and promises to visit around the state over the summer. I introduced my college friend-now-Lt. Governor's office staffer Adam Buckalew in the gallery. I called Kate to let her know there would be thunderstorms that afternoon, so I told her get on the road, even if we couldn’t meet in Meridian.

I suppose you try to think about all the lessons you learned your first term and make sense of them, in hopes of doing even better next year. As I prepare to wrap up my freshman year, I think of the more prevalent things I know now. Always tell the truth to your fellow member. Don’t get too emotionally involved on any one issue. Don’t get too upset if your bill doesn’t fly the first time- you’ll have three or four opportunities to add your stuff later. Always vote how you want, as if it’s your last day, your last week, your last term in office- and let the chips fall where they may, despite the threats and promises of future retribution. Try not get too discouraged, if in the end, your bill doesn’t fly the first year (thought that’s a really hard one). Finally, know that revenge cometh quickly.

I learned to vote my district (thanks Jessica, Forrest, Wanda and Ray). I learned the art of building consensus amongst people who see things differently (thanks Preston, Mark and Greg Ward). I learned how to handle myself on the floor (thanks Percy). I learned to pick my battles (thanks Philip and Johnny). I learned that Mississippi's future is still bright (thanks to my freshman class).

It was not the most spectacular freshman year imaginable. But it was okay, probably better than some expected of me. The ADEPT School is going to get a good bit of funding. The DuBard School’s funding is up $100,000. The Children’s Center got an increase of $70,000. Southern Miss, in a bad budget year, scored well in bond money. The assistant DAs, legal assistants and criminal investigators for the Forrest/Perry County circuit district, and the Lamar County circuit district, survived. We did not get our judge, and that was a downer. But in the end, I did get a major piece of legislation through- the Mississippi Taxpayer Transparency Act, even if my name wasn't on the final product. So- not a bad year.

My days will now consist of finding a job for the rest of the year, finishing my house, doing long overdue yard work (apologies to my Parkhaven neighbors) and being able to hang out with Kate and other friends on a much-more regular basis. It's going to be hard to defuse myself from the legislative mindset. But in the end, I'll appreciate walking around without having to think about tough votes or the status of my bills. I'll enjoy waking up on Monday morning knowing that I don't have to drive to Jackson. I'll be satisfied just being home- well, at least for a little while.

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