Changes in state government while old woes linger

While Bryant brings prior legislative experience in both the House and the Senate that Barbour didn’t possess and it’s true that the GOP now controls the House, Senate and the Governor’s Mansion, there is a clear expectation that the Legislature is seeking to reassert its constitutional role as the stronger branch of state government.

The 1890 Constitution provides a system that vests more power in the Legislature than in the state’s governor. Barbour turned that model on its head during his two terms in office, implementing Washington-style party discipline particularly in the state Senate and using that discipline to manipulate state government into a model that pitted Barbour and the Senate in many cases against the House to the benefit of Barbour’s position.

The dynamics of an all-Republican power structure, however, is likely to return the role of the governor to that which existed when the Democrats controlled the House, the Senate and the Governor’s Mansion. In that era, the governor enjoyed less power and the stronger figures in state government were the lieutenant governor and the House speaker.

Sid Salter
Hattiesburg American
12/30/11