By PAUL SIMS
District 37 State Rep. Gary Chism, R-Columbus, says Republicans may put forward a candidate for Mississippi House speaker next year if they see gains in the 2011 elections.
Chism spoke to those gathered for a Tea Party meeting in Starkville Saturday.
He walked through the process of drafting, supporting and guiding a bill through the legislature and how he says his eyes were opened as to how things are done in Jackson.
Republicans are in the minority in the Mississippi House of Representatives. Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, is the speaker.
Chism describes McCoy as “all-powerful. As long as he’s got 62 votes, he can do anything he wants to as we’ve learned,” Chism said.
In most cases, a committee chairman out in society just moderates a given meeting, Chism said.
“Not in the Legislature. The chairman is omnipotent,” he said.
He thought that a committee would sit around a table, consider every bill presented and vote to approve or disapprove it.
“How far from the truth is that?,” Chism said. A bill won’t happen if a chairman doesn’t want it, he said, “even if you passed it out on the House floor,” the chairman can hold a bill on a motion to reconsider.
“That bill is probably going to sit there until it’s over with. ... It’s not even going to make it over yonder to the senate,” Chism said.
If a bill makes it to the Senate, goes through a similar process and then is returned to the House if there is a change, he said. It can be considered for approval with the Senate amendment or taken to conference between the chambers, he said.
If a compromise is reached, then the bills go back to the Senate and House. If it is passed by both houses, the bills goes to the governor for his signature.
If the governor vetoes it, it goes back to both houses for override votes.
The chairman can decide to let the veto stand, Chism said.
Redistricting will be a major focus for the legislature this session. Chism’s district includes a portion of Oktibbeha County.
The first day of the legislative session next year, whether legislators are elected in the existing districts or in new ones if a redrawing plan can be reached, there will be an election for Speaker of the House, he said.
If Republicans get about 57 seats, they will run a Republican, he said.
“We may win. Of course again, we could be backbenchers for four more years,” Chism said.
Chism said after his appearance he does intend to run for re-election, having filed his paperwork on the first day of qualification.
Candidate makes pitch
The audience also heard from Lucien Smith, an intended Republican candidate for state treasurer.
He has ties to Starkville as both sets of his grandparents are from here. He says he intends to announce his candidacy formally until sometime in February.
He’s been a budget advisor to Gov. Haley Barbour.
“We’ve been fortunate the last eight years to have a governor who understands that you’ve got to manage the state’s finances well because doing that conservatively helps keep taxes low, helps get taxes lower and doing that helps get jobs,” Smith said.
The treasurer can have a direct impact on the way the state handles its debt as the person sits on the state Bond Commission, Smith said.
“The treasurer can step in and say we’re not going to do it,” he said.