Many apologies for not already blogging by the third day of the 2011 session. Twitter makes it so easy to just send short updates...which by the way, you can follow me on Twitter at @toby_barker. This year, I'll also be continuing my weekly email updates (we've grown our constituent list to nearly 500 people in District 102!). To be on the email list, shoot an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
We gaveled in Tuesday, January 4 at noon, and most of the Hattiesburg delegation was hard-pressed to make it by then. We had a briefing in Hattiesburg at 9 a.m., where the Mississippi Development Authority filled in the remaining details on the new solar panel facility that is coming to Hattiesburg. Then a few of us stayed for the announcement at 10 a.m., but we had to leave 20 minutes into it to trek up to the Capitol. I managed to make it first with Reps. Larry Byrd and Harvey Fillingane just on my heels.
For our delegation, Tuesday was not the relaxed first day we had known in previous years. A bill had been drafted (HB 403) to authorize the state incentives for the Stion plant, and we had to work both the members of the Ways & Means Committee in the House and the Finance Committee in the Senate, as well as our colleagues on the floor to ensure passage. Around 3:20 p.m., HB 403 had cleared both houses of the legislature and now heads to the Governor Barbour's desk. Tuesday truly was a great day for the city of Hattiesburg, the Pine Belt and all of Mississippi.
Yesterday, House Republicans held off an attempt to override Governor Barbour's veto of HB 1642 from the 2010 session. We also had several hearings to attend. Today, several of Mississippi's Tea Party groups visited the Capitol.
I've noticed several announcements this week for candidates seeking statewide office. Phil Bryant announced on Monday for Governor, Billy Hewes announced at the Capitol on Wednesday for Lt. Governor and Max Phillips announced today.