House OKs wiretap power

Earlier this session, House Republicans helped defeat the same measure. On Wednesday, some criticized Hood for failing to bring charges against well-known attorney Richard “Dickie” Scruggs and others who have recently pleaded guilty to conspiring to bribe judges.

House Democrats said Hood didn’t have the power to wiretap, but if the bill is signed into law, it would go a long way to help law enforcement tackle white-collar crimes such as fraud and bribery. The House amended a Senate bill to give the attorney general the power to wiretap, so now the two bodies will have to work out their differences over what should be in the bill before it would be sent to Gov. Haley Barbour.

In other legislative action Wednesday:

• The House approved a bill that would allow early parole for certain nonviolent criminals in an effort to lessen jail overcrowding. One amendment in the bill also allows those who want to serve on the state parole board to give unlimited campaign contributions to the governor, who makes the appointments.

The amendment would repeal a 1992 state law that allows contributions to the governor’s campaign of up to $500. The House and Senate would have to agree which version of the bill to pass since it was amended in the House.

• The House also passed a bill that would allow elected and appointed school superintendents to be fired after their district is considered underperforming for two consecutive years.

The bill garnered contentious debate that lasted about two hours. House Education Chairman Cecil Brown, D-Jackson, made the presentation, and said many districts are struggling.

“We have some that are not doing their job, and we need to get rid of those people,” Brown said.

Sun Herald
3/20/8