OUR OPINION: Reeves sets tone for productive term
by NEMS Daily Journal
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Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, flanked by newly appointed committees chairmen and vice chairs, explains his hope for a bi-partisan and inclusive team that represents all areas of the state at a news conference at the Capitol in Jackson, Miss., Friday, Jan. 6, 2012. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis)
It's always encouraging when a politician does what he says he'll do, and newly inaugurated Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves followed through on a campaign promise last week when he announced his state Senate committee appointments.

Republicans now hold a solid 31-21 majority in that body, so a case could be made by partisans that the Republican Reeves should name all GOP committee chairs. That's the way it's done in Washington, after all. And four years ago when a Republican-propelled effort to oust Democrat Billy McCoy as House speaker fell just short, McCoy retaliated by shutting Republicans out of committee chairmanships.

But Reeves had pledged to appoint Democrats, as well as to be attuned to geographic, racial and gender diversity in his assignments, and he did that. Of the 39 committees in the Senate, 21 will be chaired by Republicans and 18 by Democrats.

Granted, the most powerful committees will be led by Republicans. Appropriations and Finance, the spending and taxing committees, Education, Public Health and Judiciary A all are prime appointments and they all went to Republican senators, which is hardly a surprise.

But Reeves named Democrats to several committees that are more than merely nominal chairmanships. He clearly intends to take advantage of the full range of knowledge and expertise in the Senate and, even more important, not to define the work of the Senate in a strictly partisan fashion.

The most significant committee chairmanship for a Northeast Mississippi senator went to Sen. Gray Tollison of Oxford, who will head Education. Tollison switched to the Republican Party after re-election as a Democrat last fall. For years he has been a staunch proponent of fully funding the Mississippi Adequate Education Program, and that isn't likely to change.

In addition to a bipartisan slate of committee assignments, Reeves last week urged a renewed commitment to education and work force training as the top priorities for creating a jobs-friendly environment and moving the state ahead.

This week, new House Speaker Philip Gunn of Clinton will announce his committee decisions. After an acrimonious four years of partisan division, Gunn could set the stage for a productive, cooperative term with his own inclusive appointments. His remarks after his election as speaker indicated a desire to see a new unity of purpose in the House.

For the first time since Reconstruction, Republicans control all of state government, but the new leadership can do the state a big favor by establishing a governing atmosphere that minimizes a lockstep partisan approach. Reeves' appointments last week were a good start.

Did Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves take the right approach in appointing both Democrats and Republicans to Senate committee chairs?

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January 09, 2012
Even mediocre progress would get Mississippi out of last place in just about everything.

But here is the fact. Mississippi leadership is the worst in the country as they try to squeeze more blood out of its citizens. What they created is an attitude that nothing matters as we will always lose what we work for so why even try.

You have to grow the turnips before you can squeeze the juice out of them.
January 09, 2012
Ok, Republicans, your wildest dreams have come true. Your prayers have been answered. Santa came to see you, and could barely fit all your goodies down the chimney. Y'all are now in lock solid control of the State. You have the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals, the Senate, the House, the Governor's Mansion.

Not only that, but you got all the tort reform anybody could ever want. Newly minted JD's are foaming Frappuccinos at Starbucks, insurance defense lawyers are taking government jobs, and plaintiff's lawyers are doing no fault divorces for pennies. You whipped 'em so bad that the Mississippi Trial Lawyers Association had to change their name (seriously, look it up). Now you have no Democrats to slow you down, and no trial lawyers to run off doctors and industry.

The glory is all yours.

But, so is the risk.

Now you have to actually govern. You've got to deliver. The people who voted for you will expect real results. Braying about who is the most pro-life, pro-gun, pro-business and anti-lawyer just won't cut it anymore. Now EVERYBODY in a position of power in the State is pro-life, pro-gun and anti-lawyer.

The good news is you have nowhere to go but up. Our state ranks at or near the bottom of the heap in every meaningful category that measures the quality of life for its weakest citizens. You have the keys to the truck now. Let's see how you drive it.