Session Started With Somber Moment To Honor Colleagues Lost During Last Year
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We returned to the Capitol on January 4 to begin the 2021 Legislative session. We all recognize that things are hardly as usual under the dome with special precautions in place due to the pandemic. While there has been some discussion about shortening or rescheduling the session as a protective measure, no such action is planned at this time.
Most of the activity last week was customary for opening a session. We acknowledged the loss of former colleagues over the course of the year and honored their memories. This is certainly a most somber time in our state, and the capitol family has not been spared.
One significant loss last month was that of former governor William Winter, who died at his home in Jackson on December 18.
As a freshman Representative, I was witness to one of the most important efforts ever undertaken by state government, and it was led by Governor Winter – the Education Reform Act of 1982. My deskmate was Rep. Guy Williams, a subcommittee Chair of Education. So, I had a front row seat for the legislative wrangling that resulted in public kindergartens for all, among other important, historic measures to improve public education. This act also helped assure air conditioning for public schools and other much needed improvements.
Here’s what I learned from the wise Governor Winter: You can accomplish a lot of good if you are willing to listen to others’ concerns and work together for solutions to problems. In the Legislature, it also helps to have a strong grasp on the rules that govern the schedules, protocols, and processes involved in passing legislation – especially controversial legislation. Those skills still yield positive results, and they are needed today perhaps more than ever.
It was my privilege to request that the House adjourn in memory of Governor Winter on Tuesday. It gave us an opportunity to honorably review some of the great achievements of his life, not only in the area of public education, but also in the area of preserving the history of all the people of our great state.
It is my sincere hope that we can continue to honor his legacy by strengthening our public school system, making sure no remnants of racial discrimination remain in our statutes, and practicing a congenial work atmosphere among all of us, no matter our political affiliations.
As Abraham Lincoln said over 150 years ago, “A house divided against itself cannot stand.”
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