While the Mississippi Legislature is set to gavel in next week, many Senate and House members are still in limbo, left to wonder where they will fit in this historic 2012 session and beyond.
No official announcements have been made at this point as to Senate and House leadership (pro tem, majority leader, etc.), chairmanships, vice chairmanships, committee assignments, and staff.
Just when a rumor of a chair or staff position seems plausible, it has quickly been squashed and more rumors surface.
Both Lt. Governor-elect Tate Reeves and Speaker-in-waiting Phillip Gunn have held committee assignments and staff hirings extremely close to the vest.
With a Republican supermajority in the Senate assured, one would have thought Reeves could have announced at least prominent players in short order, allowing the public a glimpse into a Reeves-led Senate and ending the discussion on just how much of a role he would play.
The scenario for Gunn is a little different in that he has to be elected by the full body even though the majority Republican conference tapped him as their nominee. But with Democrats like Steve Holland and George Flaggs announcing their support, Gunn could also begin to let his choices for prominent players in his leadership team leak out.
However, no one in either camp – Reeves or Gunn – is talking openly about their chamber’s structure and it doesn’t look as if that will change before next week, leaving legislators and the public left to wonder and prognosticate.
Further, no direct official legislative agenda communication has been presented to the public or to many in the incoming legislative body it would seem. Yes, individual legislators have been in their local news outlets discussing their ideas and most have shared these with Reeves and Gunn but there has been no Senate and House legislative plans of substance issued by Reeves or Gunn.
The lack of official legislative plans has given the media and the public reason to make assumptions and write their own narratives, something this new Republican majority cannot afford.
Reeves, Gunn and the leadership in both chambers will need to stay out front of the press and proactively tell their story. All eyes are fixed on this session; being silent isn’t an option.
Leaving the public in limbo will only hurt the conservative cause. There must be a consistent voice moving the cause forward in both chambers.
But for now it seems we’ll all have to wait and see how the 2012 legislative session shapes up next week. If you’re like me, having patience with politics can be difficult but I guess we’ll have to seek the virtue therein.
After posting the above Wednesday morning, an announcement went out that has now been confirmed that Reeves will seek to appoint State Sen. Terry Brown (SD 17) as Senate President Pro Tempore. Brown served in the Mississippi House of Representatives from 1988 to 2000 and has served in the Senate since 2004. Brown must first be voted on by the body when they convene next week.