Conservative blogger and media activist Andrew Brietbart died suddenly on Thursday. He was known as a lightning rod in the conservative movement. He was an example that if a conservative draws the ire of the liberal world (which he often did) they are usually on the right track.

Republicans in the state house are similarly drawing the ire of the few remaining newspaper columnists and liberal bloggers. However, the leadership needs to keep their heads up with their eyes on the prize. This first session is where any political capital must be expended so as to positively and conservatively revolutionize Mississippi state government. Conservatives have asked for and received the mantle of leadership and will have to make the case for what they have accomplished four years hence.

Fortunately, they are off to an overall good start, and that’s with most of the legislative leadership having never had the opportunity to gain chamber leadership experience thanks to the practices of Democrats in the past.

As for specific legislation, here’s a little commentary as only YallPolitics can provide:

Charter Schools

The Senate has passed its version of charter school legislation and the House is set to take up another. The differences will most certainly be in scope and availability.

The public school lobby led by The Parents Campaign and state school superintendents is working to curb the reach of charter schools, ultimately giving parents less choice in an effort to protect their kingdoms. Don’t fool yourself – their argument is not based on what is best for students; their argument is based on what is best for their own pocketbooks.

This issue is headed to conference once it passes the House. Differences will be resolved and a final version adopted this session. If it is not, it will be a failure.

Illegal Immigration Reform

It’s hard to fathom that the average Mississippian, conservative and hard working in nature, would oppose a bill to address illegal immigration, an area that is a drain on their government. Most Mississippians would surely welcome the opportunity to ensure that illegal aliens are not milking our local and state governments while embracing legal immigrants with open arms.

This is a legal issue and one that government should address. It’s unfortunate that the federal government continues to refuse to act and properly enforce the laws of the land on this issue; states are left to fend for themselves and thus have drawn criticism for doing so. Such is the plight of being an elected official.

Despite the press conferences and push by conservative, immigration law supporting groups, I’m not yet sold that the Legislature will act on this. If Republicans are smart, they will pass some version of illegal immigration reform.

State Budget

The first time in some 140 years, Republicans hold the purse strings to state government. It’s time to rein in spending, end duplication of services, streamline the bureaucracies, and stop the “spend now, pray later” McCoy philosophy of state budgeting.

Governor Phil Bryant’s budget recommendations are overall a good starting point for the Legislature, but there is more that can be done.

We must think out of the box. One way Mississippi could revolutionize state budgeting is by moving to a two-year budget cycle, like Texas. The benefits of such a move would far outweigh the negatives.

School funding is always a hot topic thanks to MAEP, a shortsighted funding program that is both inadequate and impractical. Even when MAEP was fully funded, it still wasn’t adequate; there’s always more that’s desired and sought after. Legislators need to ask “What is the ‘all-in’ number for adequate education?” and “Why do we simply seek to be adequate?”. Also, we should ask the Department of Education to commit to specific metrics of achievement and then hold them to it or find someone else who can. I could ramble about MAEP for hours but for the sake of time and space, let’s just say there is a better way.

Republicans must not straddle a fence on state budgeting. Now is the time to right the ship and make a lasting impact. It won’t all be accomplished this session, but laying a firm foundation is a must in 2012.

Redistricting

Many are still wondering if there will be another election post-redistricting. Let us put that to bed right here, right now: there will not be another election this year.

No elected official wants to run again this year (or next) and will do all they can to prevent such a scenario. It’s not good for the state financially speaking and simply doesn’t make sense.

Both chambers will ultimately agree on a plan. Democrats will kick and scream, cry foul and disenfranchisement, even file a lawsuit or two, but at the end of the day, the plan will be adopted and submitted for approval.

The question here will be just how much stroke Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood and Democratic 2nd District Congressman Bennie Thompson has with the Obama Justice Department. If the Democrats aren’t happy with the Republican redistricting plan, and they won’t be, it will be Hood and Thompson that will attempt to influence the DOJ. Mississippi may soon see how much it matters to President Obama.

As always, YallPolitics will be watching and making note of what’s at play. For conservatives, this session is a make or break opportunity. Republicans must capitalize and stay focused. If they fight the good fight and run the race grounded in their core principles while listening to their constituencies, Mississippi will be better when they take their leave, and that’s ultimately all an elected official can hope for at the end of the day.