House Democratic Leader Gives Statement on Speaker Gunn’s Repeated Refusal
to Follow Bipartisan Agreement
(Jackson, MS) – House Democratic Caucus Leader David Baria issued the following statement regarding Speaker Philip Gunn’s refusal to adhere to agreed upon promises for debate and discussion in the chamber:
I want to clarify for the public 2 important points regarding the activities in the Mississippi House yesterday.
1. The reason that members of the Hinds County delegation were requesting that bills be read is very simple-- the Speaker broke his promise to them that the Jackson Airport takeover bill would be killed. I expect that bills will be read again today. The House Democratic Caucus supports the Hinds County delegation on this important issue.
2. The other point of clarification has to do with the rule on Points of Personal Privilege. As you are aware, we negotiated a deal with the Speaker to restore the rule with slight modifications. During the negotiations the Speaker came to me with a proposal to restore the rule, but only recognize members at the end of the day. I told him that we would not accept having to wait until the end of the day. After a few days in which he contemplated our position, he agreed and offered a 10-minute time limit instead. We agreed to the time limit and reached a deal on a new rule. The Speaker also represented to us that while we were removing language from the rule that made the personal privilege a precedent motion, he would not make members wait until the end of the day.
Yesterday, when a member sought recognition for a point of personal privilege the Speaker said he would not recognize him until the end of the day. When the member was recognized he questioned why he had to wait all day when the rule did not require it. The Speaker responded that because certain language had been removed from the rule he had the discretion to refuse to recognize a request for a point of personal privilege until the end of business. This is clearly a breach of our agreement reached only a week ago.
I have expressed my profound disappointment on these 2 issues to the Speaker in a personal letter. Unfortunately, his actions have made it much more difficult to work together as trust is such an important factor in conducting the business of the House.