Thank Billy McCoy For Ed Blackmon
Rep. Ed Blackmon (D-Canton), an outspoken longtime state legislator from Madison County, has garnered his fair share of headlines recently and depending on your perspective that may or may not be a good thing.
About a week ago, Blackmon single handily killed legislation that would fine public officials who break open meetings laws. Clearing the House, which is no easy feat, the bill would have implemented a $1,000 fine against any public official who violates the open meetings laws. Right now, the public body- the taxpayer- gets the fine of up to $100 for violations.
After Blackmon’s committee stripped the penalty and moved it back to the public body, the full House voted to restore that. The final bill passed 97-22. That was until Blackmon held it on a motion to reconsider and killed the bill when he did not bring it back up.
Interestingly, Blackmon’s law firm is representing Canton Mayor William Truly who ordered a man to stop video tapping a Board of Alderman meeting- a violation of the Open Meetings Act. Conflict of interest?
And now Blackmon is at it again, this time killing a bill to strengthen penalties against those who unlawfully pass a school bus. The bill is referred to as “Nathan’s Law,” named after Nathan Key, a five-year-old who was killed this past December when a driver illegally passed a school bus.
Blackmon not only gutted “Nathan’s Law,” he weakened the current existing law, said Sen. Chris McDaniel (R-Ellisville), the chief proponent of the legislation. McDaniel blasted Blackmon, saying “I don’t ever believe he wanted the bill to pass to begin with,” and that “he knew good and well that he was killing Nathan’s Law.”
Lori Key, Nathan’s mother, went a step further saying this: “A man made a conscious decision to go around a stopped school bus and he hit and killed my child. We have one man in the Mississippi legislature that has killed a bill that may help to save the lives of other Mississippi children. This proves to us that Ed Blackmon does not care about children in the state of Mississippi and I urge his constituents to vote against him if someone runs against him in the next election.”
That, of course, is the problem. Blackmon does not have to answer to anyone. He sits in a safe, gerrymandered, majority-minority district. It is unlikely he will ever face any challenge.
The truth is the only person Blackmon is truly accountable to is Speaker Billy McCoy. If McCoy thought Blackmon’s recent actions were wrong (which he may or may not), he could remove Blackmon from his current post and the power that comes with being Judiciary A Chairman. And not only does Blackmon chair that particular committee, he sits on other powerful committees including Apportionment and Elections, Constitution, Legislative Reapportionment, Rules, and Ways and Means.
Blackmon is one of McCoy’s top allies, so removing him would seem pretty far fetched. Blackmon needs McCoy for his power, but the same could be said for McCoy needing Blackmon. Demoting Blackmon would infuriate the Black Caucus who make up the base of McCoy’s support and the majority of House Democrats. As long as Billy McCoy is Speaker of the House, Ed Blackmon will be a power-player in that body.