Geoff Pender: Tempers boil in House chamber

Lots of important, or at least interesting or bizarre, legislation was dealt with last week in the Mississippi Legislature, in the throes of its 128th Regular Session. But the “talker” was a near whoopin’ that occurred Thursday after a verbal altercation between Reps. Adrienne Wooten, D-Jackson, and Mark Baker, R-Brandon.

The two — both lawyers, with legislative philosophies that appear worlds apart — have verbally sparred often this session. They were at it again, over a bill that would allow Mississippi courts to sanction out-of-state attorneys for unethical or illegal behavior, particularly if they prey on victims after a natural disaster.

Baker, chairman of the Judiciary Committee handling the bill, appeared to get tired of Wooten’s interrogation of him and raised his voice as he said, “Don’t put words in my mouth! Ask a question if you want …”

Wooten said: “You will not raise your voice to me! I’ve told you that before!” She tossed down her microphone and charged down the aisle toward Baker at the podium. It appeared to this lowly scribe, who was slow on the draw with his phone’s video camera, that the lady from Hinds might be about to smack the chairman from Rankin.

But we’ll never know.

Clarion Ledger
2/9/13