Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann announced the new committee assignments for Senators on Friday. The committees included several changes in chairmanships as well as bipartisan placements.
Chairing the Appropriations Committee is Sen. Briggs Hopson (R), with Vice-Chair Brice Wiggins (R). This committee was originally chaired by former Senator Buck Clarke who is now serving as Secretary of the Senate.
“I’m excited and looking forward to the challenge. I’m very grateful to the Lt. Governor for appointing me to chair an important committee such as Appropriations. It’s like I always say one of the most important things we do here at the state Capitol every year is to try to be good stewards of our tax payer dollars,” said Hopson.
He expects to quickly get to work on the teacher pay raise deficit bill (HB 1), just passed in the House. Hopson also anticipates seeing more legislation appropriating funds to another teacher pay raise, possibly taking a closer look at corrections and addressing workforce development.
Vice-Chairman Wiggins seconded what Hopson said, he plans to see an emphasis on mental health going into the 2020 Session. He hopes to bring his experience in dealing with the Medicaid and DHS budgets in the past to help him serve better as vice-chair of the committee.
“First of all, Chairman Hopson is going to be great. We’ve worked closely together since I’ve been in the Senate. I’m also proud for the Coast because it is Coast representation on an important appropriations committee,” said Wiggins.
Corrections will now be chaired by Juan Barnett (D) with Vice Chair Sen. Daniel Sparks (R). This committee could be quite active this year since the recent upsets in the MDOC system.
The Economic and Workforce Development Committee could come into play with a hefty emphasis on workforce development coming from the campaign trail. Senator David Parker (R) was named as chair with freshman Senator Jeremy England (R) as Vice Chairman.
With the departure of Sen. Tollison, former chair of Education at the end of the 2019, Sen. Dennis DeBar (R) was named Chairman with Sen. David Blount (D) as Vice-Chairman.
“I’m very pleased with my assignments from Lt. Governor Hosemann. I feel I’ve been treated very fairly. I’ve served on the Education Committee for the last 12 years and I’m happy to be in the new position of Vice-Chairman. I think Chairman Dennis DeBar is an excellent pick he has the commitment and he has the temperament. I think he’s going to be an excellent chairman,” said Senator Blount. Blount is also set to Chair Gaming, one of the two new committees in the Senate this year. He said he plans to lead with an open door policy.
Overseeing the Finance Committee will now be Senator Josh Harkins (R) with Vice Chair Sally Doty (R). This committee was previously chaired by Sen. Joey Fillingane (R). Fillingane has now been selected to chair the Highways and Transportation Committee with Rita Potts Parks (R) as his Vice Chair.
“I’m honored to serve on this important committee for our states infrastructure,” said Fillingane.
One of the two judiciary committees, Judiciary A, will be chaired by Senator Sally Doty (R) and Vice-Chair Sen. Jennifer Branning (R).
“We were very excited to get committees today and begin to get to work,” said Senator Sally Doty.”I was given the chairmanship of Jud. A which is, I think is a very important committee. It’s going to be interesting to see how he [Hosemann] uses these committees, every Lt. Governor is different.”
Another typically influential committee, Judiciary B, will be chaired by Senator Brice Wiggins (R) with Vice-Chair Barbara Blackmon (D). Under the last administration, Sen. Hob Bryan (D) who is now the longest serving member in the Senate was the Chairman. Bryan will now oversee the Public Health and Welfare committee with Vice-Chairman Sen. John Polk (R).
“Going into this Session I was a little surprised, but then when I really thought about it I wasn’t considering in my eight years here I’ve handled bills related to prosecutors, to criminal justice to dealing with the DA’s Youth Court and things like that,” said Wiggins. He also served as Vice-Chair to Senator Bryan at one time.
The second of the new two committees, Technology, will be chaired by incoming freshman senator Scott DeLano (R) who previously served in the House, with Vice-Chairman Sen. David Parker (R).
“Bringing the National Guard into the discussion of cyber security is incredibly important because it brings another realm of resources to the state that we can’t afford to pay full time, but to have our ‘weekend warriors’ come in and be able to help our state understand what the issues the private sector has seen is very important,” said DeLano. He plans to bring his position in the Technology committee as well as his Vice-Chairmanship on Veterans and Military Affairs together.
Before adjourning for the day, Hosemann told Senators to get lots of rest and get ready for some hard work come Monday.
You can view a full list of committee assignments below: