The Legislature

In the old days, back when folks like Brad Dye and Buddie Newman ran the show, the Legislature would have never left town with major bills like funding Medicaid and reauthorizing the Department of Employment Security unresolved — for one simple reason. The Legislature would never have put themselves in the position of allowing the Governor to call a special session and thus dictate the terms under which the Legislature could consider those bills. Dye and Newman and their allies knew the only power, the only power, the Governor had to hold over the heads of legislators was the special session. In a regular session, the Legislature holds all the good cards; in a special session, the situation is reversed. In today’s world, with a Democratic House and a Republican Senate, we are likely to see more and more special sessions. The Senate can stall on anything coming from the House the GOP opposes, wait for the regular session to end, and then rely on the Governor to call a special session and tie the hands of legislators by placing restrictions on what legislators can and cannot consider. With Haley Barbour’s re-election and Republicans maintaining effective control of the Senate, the fight for political power is no longer defined as a battle between the Legislature and the Governor; it can now almost completely be defined as a contest between Republicans and Democrats. More than any one accomplishment of Gov. Barbour, that may be his longest lasting legacy.

Clarion Ledger