What was meant to be a special session to celebrate three economic development projects and promote thousands of new jobs turned into a debate on racial inequality and lack of focus on the Delta by some in the state House.
Democratic Delta representatives buoyed by their liberal colleagues took up trying to pay for a disparity/minority jobs study with the proposed borrowed money to the tune of $2 million. House Democrats have had trouble getting the study passed over the last 10 years, even though they controlled the House committees, so they decided to push it in today’s bill.
Some Democratic representatives spoke of blacks and minorities being “held back” and that Gov. Barbour hasn’t done “anything” to help bring jobs to the Delta. Recollections of slave ships and the old South ensued.
Republican Rep. John Moore attempted to amend the bill to take out the study arguing that the study should be funded out of normal appropriations next session if the legislature deemed it necessary, not by borrowing the money now.
After passionate pleas and calls of outrage by the Democrats, a motion to table was upheld by a party line vote of 58-56, effectively killing Moore’s attempt to remove the study from the bond bill.
The House then passed the full economic development bill 113-3, which included this extra $2 million for the minority study.
The bill now heads to the Senate for consideration. We’ll see if this is a sticking point there or not.
** UPDATE 1:
Senate Finance committee has pulled the study from consideration. Good to see at least one chamber is sane.
** UPDATE 2:
Senate has passed the Finance Committee version minus the study. Now the bill goes back to the House for concurrence or to invite conference.
Word is that Gov. Barbour would veto the bill if the study is included.
** UPDATE 3:
Elizabeth Crisp tweeted, House “Ways & Means has been advised it cannot add $2M study to the senate bill or would be a ‘point of order’.”
This should mean that the Senate version excluding the study should pass the House shortly.
** UPDATE 4:
House has now passed a clean version of the bill.