Sunday, June 4, 2023

Bill Crawford: Voters Could Change Triumvurate

 Books, briefs, broadcasts, and blogs provide discourses galore on the growing concentration of wealth and power in America. Mississippi is not estranged from this trend. The transmogrification of the triumvirate of power that controls public policy and spending provides a good illustration.

The state constitution created this triumvirate by providing for a Governor, a House of Representatives, and a Senate. By design the Governor is a singular power. In contrast, the House and Senate were designed to have power distributed among all their elected members. 

Specifically, Section 38 provides that both the House and Senate “shall elect its own officers” and Section 55 provides that both “may determine rules of its own proceedings.” 

The constitution does not convey any significant legislative powers to the Lieutenant Governor, providing only that he or she serves as “president of the Senate.” The constitution also does not create the position of or convey significant legislative powers to the Speaker of the House. MS Code Section 5-1-11 does require the House to elect “a speaker.”

The concentration of power that we now see in the offices of the Speaker of the House and Lieutenant Governor has accrued over time through rules adopted by the members of the House and Senate. Those rules give the Speaker and Lieutenant Governor their mechanisms of power – authority to refer bills and appoint all committee chairs (except the President Pro Tempore chairs the Senate Rules Committee). 

We have had powerful Speakers and Lieutenant Governors who strongly influenced legislation in the past. But strong influence morphed into autocratic control during the reigns of Philip Gunn and Tate Reeves as party politics became dominant. That trend has continued for the most part through Delbert Hosemann’s term as Lieutenant Governor.

Thus, the triumvirate of power has essentially come to consist of three individuals, not one individual plus two bodies with distributed power. 

Getting to the point of all this, the triumvirate will change next year. 

We know the House Speaker will change. Philip Gunn did not seek re-election. His replacement will be elected by the House in January. State Rep. Jason White, currently the House Speaker Pro Tempore, is favored in that election.

This August, Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann faces a notable challenger in the Republican Primary in state Sen. Chris McDaniel. In the November general election, Gov. Tate Reeves will likely face a notable Democratic challenger in Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley.

The winners will wield immense power over state policy and spending if rank and file legislators continue to yield up that power.

 Voters should let legislative candidates know whether they are comfortable with such concentration of power or not. 

“Don’t be tyrants, but lead them by your good example” – 1 Peter 5:3.

Crawford, a former House member, is a syndicated columnist from Jackson. 


Anonymous said...

I refuse to read anything that opens with a sentence containing the words estranged, transmogrification and triumvirate.

If he's trying to compete with Salter, leave me out.

I have no time this morning for a garrulous sesquipedalian. They use big words trying to appear smart.

WISEOWL said...

Had to look up sesquipedalian. Thanks for the long word.

Anonymous said...

@Bill Crawford writes: "Voters should let legislative candidates know whether they are comfortable with such concentration of power or not."

Hello, then, legislative candidates. I'm Anonymous, and I want to let you know that I am not at all comfortable with the current concentration of power in the state House and Senate unless the loony lunatics of the left are about to assume those powerful positions. In that case, I'm steadfastly in favor of such concentration of power staying just the way it is now.

Anonymous said...

@ 9:45... true

Anonymous said...

Shocking new discovery!!! State power concentrated within state government. What a revelation.

Anonymous said...

Who was Speaker when Mr. Crawford served as a Rep? How powerful was that Speaker and what did Mr. Crawford do to affect said Speaker's power? I don't remember a time when the Speaker didn't have tons of power; both Republican or Democrat. I would put Billy McCoy's power up with anyone before or after.

Anonymous said...

Agreed! Billy McCoy would punish Republicans, the current House at least acts like the other side exist.

Anonymous said...

Great abridged rendition of Soggy Sweat.

Anonymous said...

Damn Crawford, does your aged memory not go back before the century turned with a beginning number of 2?

"But strong influence morphed into autocratic control during the reigns of Philip Gunn and Tate Reeves as party politics became dominant."

Do you not know of the eight years that Billy McCoy served as Speaker? Or, before that when Tim Ford was holding that gavel. Even more so, the almost two decades of Buddy Newman? Ever hear of Walter Sillers and his control of the House.

Granted, less so in the Senate, unless you include the decade of Brad DYe. But the difference there was except for Brad, the LG was always looking to run for Governor back in the days when the Governor was limited to one term. Since that change we did have the weak LG of Musgrove, but he too was looking to step up since he came in the second term of Fordice.

Neither Amy nor Phil were strong LGs but that was due to their innate weaknesses anyway, along with the fact that the Gov held the power in the Senate with the coalition of Senators that would support Barbour on any veto (which he never had to exercise.) So both those LGs had to genuflect to the top floor of the Sillers bldg.

But to think that this "power" of the legislative bodies only came about when the Republicans controlled all three sections speaks to your green shaded eyeglasses that now sees everything as a failure by Gov Reeves (who will not accept your beliefs on everything hospital/Medicaid). For those many decades that the Democrats controlled all three parts, the legislative leadership was every bit as autocratic as it has been the past ten years.

Anonymous said...

Were Republicans appointed as Committee Chairmen in the Senate when Democrats had the majority and there was a Republican minority?

Anonymous said...

738 - yes.

Except I guess if you go back to the 80s when there were only a handful of Republicans, the answer would be no.

But considering the number of committees in tge Senate, it's not possible to name all chairmen from the same party.

The issue (unstated in the political talk) is what committees have chairmen of the minority party - are those committees of any importance?

Anonymous said...

Nothing new here. If you want to see what concentrated political power looks like, read about the reign of Walter Sillers as Speaker of the House.

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Trollfest '09

Trollfest '07 was such a success that Jackson Jambalaya will once again host Trollfest '09. Catch this great event which will leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Othor Cain and his band, The Black Power Structure headline the night while Sonjay Poontang returns for an encore performance. Former Frank Melton bodyguard Marcus Wright makes his premier appearance at Trollfest singing "I'm a Sweet Transvestite" from "The Rocky Horror Picture Show." Kamikaze will sing his new hit, “How I sold out to da Man.” Robbie Bell again performs: “Mamas, don't let your babies grow up to be Bells” and “Any friend of Ed Peters is a friend of mine”. After the show, Ms. Bell will autograph copies of her mug shot photos. In a salute to “Dancing with the Stars”, Ms. Bell and Hinds County District Attorney Robert Smith will dance the Wango Tango.

Wrestling returns, except this time it will be a Battle Royal with Othor Cain, Ben Allen, Kim Wade, Haley Fisackerly, Alan Lange, and “Big Cat” Donna Ladd all in the ring at the same time. The Battle Royal will be in a steel cage, no time limit, no referee, and the losers must leave town. Marshand Crisler will be the honorary referee (as it gives him a title without actually having to do anything).

Meet KIM Waaaaaade at the Entergy Tent. For five pesos, Kim will sell you a chance to win a deed to a crack house on Ridgeway Street stuffed in the Howard Industries pinata. Don't worry if the pinata is beaten to shreds, as Mr. Wade has Jose, Emmanuel, and Carlos, all illegal immigrants, available as replacements for the it. Upon leaving the Entergy tent, fig leaves will be available in case Entergy literally takes everything you have as part of its Trollfest ticket price adjustment charge.

Donna Ladd of The Jackson Free Press will give several classes on learning how to write. Smearing, writing without factchecking, and reporting only one side of a story will be covered. A donation to pay their taxes will be accepted and she will be signing copies of their former federal tax liens. Ms. Ladd will give a dramatic reading of her two award-winning essays (They received The Jackson Free Press "Best Of" awards.) "Why everything is always about me" and "Why I cover murders better than anyone else in Jackson".

In the spirit of helping those who are less fortunate, Trollfest '09 adopts a cause for which a portion of the proceeds and donations will be donated: Keeping Frank Melton in his home. The “Keep Frank Melton From Being Homeless” booth will sell chances for five dollars to pin the tail on the jackass. John Reeves has graciously volunteered to be the jackass for this honorable excursion into saving Frank's ass. What's an ass between two friends after all? If Mr. Reeves is unable to um, perform, Speaker Billy McCoy has also volunteered as when the word “jackass” was mentioned he immediately ran as fast as he could to sign up.

In order to help clean up the legal profession, Adam Kilgore of the Mississippi Bar will be giving away free, round-trip plane tickets to the North Pole where they keep their bar complaint forms (which are NOT available online). If you don't want to go to the North Pole, you can enjoy Brant Brantley's (of the Mississippi Commission on Judicial Performance) free guided tours of the quicksand field over by High Street where all complaints against judges disappear. If for some reason you are unable to control yourself, never fear; Judge Houston Patton will operate his jail where no lawyers are needed or allowed as you just sit there for minutes... hours.... months...years until he decides he is tired of you sitting in his jail. Do not think Judge Patton is a bad judge however as he plans to serve free Mad Dog 20/20 to all inmates.

Trollfest '09 is a pet-friendly event as well. Feel free to bring your dog with you and do not worry if your pet gets hungry, as employees of the Jackson Zoo will be on hand to provide some of their animals as food when it gets to be feeding time for your little loved one.

Relax at the Fox News Tent. Since there are only three blonde reporters in Jackson (being blonde is a requirement for working at Fox News), Megan and Kathryn from WAPT and Wendy from WLBT will be on loan to Fox. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both and a torn-up Obama yard sign will entitle you to free drinks served by Megan, Wendy, and Kathryn. Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required. Just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '09 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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Trollfest '07

Jackson Jambalaya is the home of Trollfest '07. Catch this great event which promises to leave NE Jackson & Fondren in flames. Sonjay Poontang and his band headline the night with a special steel cage, no time limit "loser must leave town" bout between Alan Lange and "Big Cat"Donna Ladd following afterwards. Kamikaze will perform his new song F*** Bush, he's still a _____. Did I mention there was no referee? Dr. Heddy Matthias and Lori Gregory will face off in the undercard dueling with dangling participles and other um, devices. Robbie Bell will perform Her two latest songs: My Best Friends are in the Media and Mama's, Don't Let Your Babies Grow up to be George Bell. Sid Salter of The Clarion-Ledger will host "Pin the Tail on the Trial Lawyer", sponsored by State Farm.

There will be a hugging booth where in exchange for your young son, Frank Melton will give you a loooong hug. Trollfest will have a dunking booth where Muhammed the terrorist will curse you to Allah as you try to hit a target that will drop him into a vat of pig grease. However, in the true spirit of Separate But Equal, Don Imus and someone from NE Jackson will also sit in the dunking booth for an equal amount of time. Tom Head will give a reading for two hours on why he can't figure out who the hell he is. Cliff Cargill will give lessons with his .80 caliber desert eagle, using Frank Melton photos as targets. Tackleberry will be on hand for an autograph session. KIM Waaaaaade will be passing out free titles and deeds to crackhouses formerly owned by The Wood Street Players.

If you get tired come relax at the Fox News Tent. To gain admittance to the VIP section, bring either your Republican Party ID card or a Rebel Flag. Bringing both will entitle you to free drinks.Get your tickets now. Since this is an event for trolls, no ID is required, just bring the hate. Bring the family, Trollfest '07 is for EVERYONE!!!

This is definitely a Beaver production.

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