Yesterday we made a few brief observations on Philip Gunn’s committee assignments, but as we have read various media reports we have seen a few comments from Democrats on what they are thinking; and a lot of it makes sense and expands on what we talked about.
Billy McCoy’s closest allies were probably the most upset. They have gone from being the most powerful in the chamber to the least. Some who like to talk, such as Steve Holland, were quoted in various articles. After not being placed on Medicaid or Public Health he said he was disappointed, and would even say, “The one walking encyclopedia on health care has been barred from input except on the floor.” Holland has been named Vice Chair of Local and Private.
That’s better than some other Yellow Dogs, who were closest to McCoy and made the backbone of the old Democratic majority. The following longtime Democrats received neither a chair or vice chair: Cecil Brown, Bennett Malone, Bobby Moak, Tommy Reynolds, and Johnny Stringer. Holland also didn’t seem happy that he and former Appropriations Chair Johnny Stringer were moved from that committee to Ways and Means, one of the two money slots that were guaranteed because of seniority.
As a group, the Black Caucus did much better than the old RWDs with eight chairs and 15 vice chairs. The following received chairmanships: Earle Banks- Enrolled Bills, Ed Blackmon- Municipalities, Angela Cockerham- Energy, Chuck Espy- Investigative, George Flaggs- Corrections, Joe Gardner- Ethics, John Hines- Youth and Family Affairs, and Robert Johnson- Transportation. Hines was very pleased with his assignment. “I am humbled to be given such a large responsibility at a time when issues of youth and family are at an all-time high in importance,” he told the Clarion-Ledger.
The main Black Caucus member who has publicly expressed his displeasure was Tyrone Ellis. Ellis served as Majority Leader under McCoy, and feels that may have had something to do with his new assignments. “The former majority leader of the House…You have to punish him,” he said.
Flaggs is also on Banking and Finance, a committee he previously chaired, along with the Budget committee. He is one of two Democrats to get a slot there. The other is Preston Sullivan, who did well by being named chairman of Agriculture. The Okolona legislator is a cattleman. Joe Warren was the only other white Democrat to get a chair- he will head Local and Private.
Jason White probably did the best among freshman Democrats, getting the Vice Chair of Constitution. He is also on Elections and the redistricting committees.