Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Day 1: $59,895 for 3 bills

We ended up not getting much of anything done today.

There were 11 items on the Governor's call for special session. The House took up three of these items, and an attempt was made to take up a fourth.

1. MDES (Mississippi Department of Employment Security) was reauthorized for one year. It gives the House a year to further study the whole advertising oversight thing. That may sound good, but if you're going to grill one agency over its choice of advertising mediums, you could probably have a field day with the rest of them as well.

The problem with the bill is that the Senate will pass a different version of the bill, which will most likely delete the repealer on the agency altogether, so they would not have to come to the legislature for renewal. I sort of see both sides to it. I have a few questions about the quality of MDES's customer service to the businesses it exists to serve, but I don't think holding the agency's existence hostage in order to answer those questions is the only, or the best, way to handle things.

2. The toll road bill passed the House. This bill has a great deal of potential to help Hattiesburg.

3. We paid ourselves for our two-plus hours of work. But the bill was held on a motion to reconsider, so we'll see what happens with that. The sad irony was that while I was listening to the proceedings in the Senate chamber after the House had adjourned, the main parliamentary inquiry one senator had was whether or not he was going to get paid.

4. There was a clever attempt to attach voter ID to our pay for the special session, and surprisingly, it only failed by a 8-vote margin, which equates to 5-person spread. Mark Baker and Philip Gunn were the architects of this near-successful attempt at getting an actual vote on voter ID.

The House adjourned Sine Die just after 2 p.m. The Senate is still in session and will probably work tomorrow as well. We'll be called back in Tuesday for an additional special session.

My one hope is that maybe, just maybe (and I know it's a long shot), but it would be so great if the House, Senate and Governor's Office could actually talk and come to some consensus on what we will or will not take up. Each day they don't costs you anywhere between $39,420 and $59,895.

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