Lost positions will make work harder

Published 6:28 pm Thursday, January 24, 2008

In the wake of a failed leadership fight, two chairman positions previously held by Pearl River County members of the Mississippi House of Representatives were lost, but work will continue in residents’ best interest, the two say.

Even with the announcement that Mississippi Rep. Mark Formby, R-Picayune, lost his position as chairman of the Insurance Committee, he will continue to work on the Wind Pool he was instrumental in implementing. Rep. Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville, lost his position as chairman of the Marine Resources in the aftermath of the leadership challenge as well.

Neither Formby nor Frierson were given chairmanships of other committees, they said.

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“The spoils go to the victor in a leadership fight. There are no spoils for the losers,” Frierson said.

Formby was a lead man in the formation of the State Wind Pool, which should not be affected by his loss of the chairmanship of that committee. His talks with the new chairman assure Formby that he will be able to continue his work with the wind pool thereby promoting consumer legislation.

About 47 representatives were involved in the leadership change attempt and most involved were striped of their chairman’s positions by House Speaker Billy McCoy when the effort to unseat him failed, Frierson said. The final vote was 62 to 60, Formby said.

“He enacted a scorched earth policy with the losers,” Frierson said.

Frierson is now serving on the Appropriations, Education, Universities and Colleges, and Conservation and Water Resources committees. Formby now serves on the Rules Committee and the Ways and Means and Appropriations committees.

Formby said he will continue to work to ensure that the murder tragedy that befell his family years ago will not be felt by others. Transportation issues also will be covered, such as the long awaited widening of U.S. 11. A problem with proceeding with the widening of the major thoroughfare in Picayune involves higher property values since Hurricane Katrina, which drove up costs by 50 percent. Those increases make it more expensive to secure rights of way to widen the highway, Formby said. Also a new bridge will be needed to provide four lanes on U. S. 11 over the Hobolochitto Creek, instead of simply adding another bridge along side the existing one.

New appointments with the failed leadership challenge involved appointment of 70 percent black representatives, 60 percent Democrat and zero percent conservative Democrat and Republican chairman appointments, Formby said.

That change leaves south Mississippi conservatives on the outside looking in, Frierson said.

The mass changes are reasons Frierson says gives him concerns about future processes inside the House of Representatives and the legislature. Even so, Formby and Frierson said they will be able to get things done, but more work will be needed to get them done since some rule changes were made to make things less democratic during sessions.

“We’re not hand tied, we will still be able to get things done,” Frierson said.

Still, Formby is about a liberal agenda passing into law, which would effectively hurt the predominately conservative population of Pearl River County, he said. Formby said he and like-minded representatives will continue to debate the passage of bills with which they disagree.