I completed my first week as a member of the Mississippi House of Representatives. On Tuesday January 5th I was very proud to have my family with me while I took the oath of office. The House floor was unbelievably crowded with everyone's family with them, just my family consisted of 11 people, so imagine 122 House members each with several guests; the place was a mad house.
Once the oath of office was complete, family members cleared the floor and we got down to work, kind of. There were several votes that were required, mostly ceremonial, but from what I've learned nothing ever happens in the House easily.
One of the first orders of business was the election of a Speaker and a Speaker Pro Tempore. The only nomination for Speaker was Phillip Gunn and Pro Tempore was Greg Snowden, both of these men served in the same capacity last session, neither were opposed so the vote was unanimous in favor.
Each vote was a voice vote so we were asked to vote "Aye" if we favored Gunn for Speaker, a very loud AYE was heard throughout the chamber. Then we were asked that anyone against Gunn for Speaker should vote by saying "NO". One of the members 5 year old grandson had stayed on the floor for the vote and he yelled very loudly NO. I guess that was the first blooper of the 2016 session.
The rest of the week was spent choosing desk and parking spots for the next four years and learning my way around the capitol. We chose desk and parking spots based on seniority, my freshman class consist of 26 new members, so we drew for our order. Of course I drew number 26, so I got the last choice of desk. It did not work out too badly though, the Speaker had taken the worst desk so there were really no bad seats. Besides, my vote still counts the same whether I'm sitting on the front row or the last row.
My desk mates are Shane Aguirre from Lee County, also a freshman and Timmy Ladner from Hancock County who is serving his second term.
I've spent quite a bit of time getting to know other legislators and lobbyist and I want to tell you a little of what I've learned about lobbyist. I began this process believing that lobbyist were some of the worst people around, possibly even lower that politicians. But I'm learning that some of them are really just doing a job and there job is to educate the decision makers in government. That doesn't make them particularly bad, I just have to remember why they are there. They are not my friend or buddy, their job is to get to know me and find a way to convince me to vote their way, they are by-and-large good people who have been paid to promote a point of view.
What all of you, normal people, need to remember is that they don't have more of a voice or ability to persuade or influence than any one of you. Your calls, emails, or even visits to the capitol are very important and even though you may not have a paid lobbyist on staff to make your case, you can make your case yourself. Most of the politicians I've meet this week are more than willing to listen to you before they listen to any lobbyist. Your opinion carries far more weight than those of lobbyist.
For the next several weeks we will be busy preparing legislation for this session. I am working on four bills for this year.
- State universities required to fly state flag
- Parent's Bill of Rights
- Constitutional Carry Gun Bill
- Repeal Common Core (I may not be the sponsor of this bill but will be a co-sponsor)
Once I've completed the drafting process I will submit these bills and the process of helping these bills become law begins. I will need your help getting these bills through the committees and passed into law.