By Rep. Tommy Reynolds
District 33 Representative
The 2008 Legislation Session began as provided for under our Mississippi Constitution on Tuesday, January 8, at noon when the House of Representatives was gavelled to order by Secretary of State Eric Clark. The first order of business was a selection of a temporary Speaker who then presided over the adoption of the temporary rules of the House and the election of a Speaker of the House.
This year. there was a very heated Speaker’s race between the current Speaker, Billy McCoy of Rienzi, and Jeff Smith of Columbus. Billy has served 28 years in the House and Jeff has served 16 years.
The race for temporary Speaker was settled by a 62-60 vote and the candidate aligned with Speaker McCoy was elected as temporary Speaker and shortly thereafter Speaker McCoy was reelected as permanent Speaker for the four year term.
During his terms in office, Billy McCoy has been instrumental in several key pieces of legislation which have been very important to the progress of our state in the last 25 years.
He supported, as did I, the passage in 1982 of the historic Education Reform Act which established kindergartens in the public schools of our state. This Act began progress in the improvement of public education in our state so that we can have a competitive workforce.
Representative McCoy was instrumental in legislation later providing for insurance for school teachers . He was one of the leaders in the effort to adopt the 1987 highway program known as the AHEAD program which has resulted in a significant increase in four lane highways in our state.
McCoy strongly supported efforts to promote the Wellspring site located in Union County which has attracted Toyota.
Although I have had a very good friendship with Jeff for many years, I supported Speaker McCoy in this election because I appreciated the leadership that he has provided for education, transportation, healthcare and economic development and felt that he would continue to do so in the future.
J.P. Compretta was elected Pro Tempore, the number two position of the House of Representatives, over Robert Johnson of Natchez who is beginning his second term in the House.
The Speaker will appoint committees of the House shortly and I look forward to the appointment of these committees so that consideration of legislation can begin in earnest. This year over 3,000 bills will likely be considered by the legislature.
I was very pleased to be elected by the members of the First Congressional District as one of their two Representatives on the House Management Committee.
For the last four years I had been elected by the members of the First Congressional District to serve on the Rules Committee. This term I sought election to the Management Committee and was elected.
It is my hope that we can have a good working relationship among all House members. My goal is to see that all House members are provided the necessary staff assistance and resources that they need to have their legislation considered and the needs of their constituents met.
I was pleased to be elected with support of both Democratic and Republicans members of the First Congressional District, and I am very pleased that we have good personal relations in our area between members regardless of their party affiliation.
Last week on Thursday in the House chamber the incoming Lieutenant Governor was sworn in as was Attorney General Jim Hood and State Auditor Stacey Pickering and other statewide elected officials except for the Governor. The Governor under our Constitution is scheduled to be sworn in the second week of the session.
It is very important that every day in the process of the 2008 session is used productively and I look forward to hearing any ideas concerning legislation in the upcoming session.
If I can be of any assistance to you please call on me. My phone number in Jackson during the session is (601) 359-3365. The phone number in my Charleston office is (662) 647-3203, and my residence phone number is (662) 473-2571.
I can also be contacted by writing me at my home address of 15 CR 429, Water Valley, MS 38965, or at my office address of P.O. Box 220, Charleston, MS 38921.