After flirting with political gridlock last week, the Mississippi Legislature is scheduled to return to the Capitol on Tuesday to resume a special session.
Gov. Haley Barbour called the session last week to deal with unfinished business from the regular session, primarily reauthorizing the Mississippi Department of Employment Security and – while not in the call – funding the state Medicaid program.
Then the political jockeying began.
Barbour added several last-minute items to the agenda, including the controversial and racially charged voter ID proposal. It also included some important items such as fixing a toll road bill to get the Airport Parkway bridge project under way and attempting to salvage a copper theft bill Barbour had vetoed.
The House came into session, passed the Employment Security and toll road bills and went home, leaving issues up in the air. There was resentment in the House that voter ID had been added. Rep. Mark Baker, R-Brandon, threw gas on the fire by attempting to add an amendment to the routine legislative pay bill for the session that lawmakers could not be paid unless voter ID was also approved. That political stunt didn’t help. Meanwhile House members have been smarting over Senate refusal in the past to pass an unemployment benefit increase. (Mississippi has the lowest in the country for laid-off workers.)