Rules change ires Dems

Formby said the proposal would put in place for the entire Legislature the same rule that was followed in the House Appropriations Committee during past terms under Democratic leadership.

“It was basically called the McCoy Rule in committee,” said Formby, referring to former House Speaker Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi.

Rep. Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, former chairman of the Appropriations Committee, said such a rule did exist during his chairmanship, but said members had more options. He said all sources of funds, including reserves, were available to appropriate, if a majority approved spending the funds.

Stringer said, as he understands, with the new joint rule proposal only the funds actually budgeted for spending by the Appropriations Committee would be available to transfer from agency to agency. In other words, members could not debate whether to tap into other sources of money, like reserves, for additional spending.

“I have never seen anything like it,” Stringer said.

He added, “We might as well stay at the house. They can mail the budget to us. It’s pretty bad.”

Sen. Hob Bryan, D-Amory, said the rule “would concentrate the power in the hands of the speaker and a handful of his people.” He said the rules change would be going back to the 1980s when the House was controlled by a a small group of leaders.