AP analysis: Rep. Andy Gipson, R-Braxton, wields influence in 2014 session

During the 2014 Mississippi legislative session, one of the most influential lawmakers was Rep. Andy Gipson, chairman of the House Judiciary B Committee.

The Republican from Braxton was a main sponsor of the session’s most complex legislation, House Bill 585, a package designed to make Mississippi’s criminal justice system more efficient and less expensive.

He also was a main sponsor of House Bill 1400, which would ban abortion at 20 weeks, the midpoint of full-term pregnancy.

Though not a sponsor, Gipson helped shepherd passage of another headline-grabber, Senate Bill 2681, called the Mississippi Religious Freedom Restoration Act. While supporters say it guarantees government won’t interfere with religious practices, opponents say it could allow people to cite religious beliefs to discriminate against gay people, women or those of different races or faiths.

Gipson was first elected to the House in November 2007, representing a mostly rural district in parts of Rankin, Simpson and Smith counties.

He’s a 37-year-old attorney, Baptist pastor and married father of four. He has an unapologetically conservative manner that some people find admirable and others find aggravating.