Formby plans to introduce more bills in new year
While traveling to the state capitol to begin the newest legislative session on Monday, State Rep. Mark Formby, who serves District 108 — Pearl River County, took the time to speak with the Item and discuss the importance of Republican control in the House as well as legislation he is proposing.
Formby, who has served in state government since 1993, is the chair of the Rules committee and also serves as the Republican Party Whip.
“This is really a historical time. Since Republicans have taken over the House, my party is in the majority for the first time in 22 years,” Formby said. “It is also important to note that this is the first time Republicans have held the House, speaker, pro tem and chaired the rules committee (which is a position I hold) in the history of the state. I am currently serving in the third ranking leadership position in both the House and party. The people have spoken and they wanted change.”
Formby explained the duties of both the Whip and Rules chair.
“As the House Republican Whip within the Republican party, my job is to know where votes are within both parties on a particular issue and try to convince my Republican members to vote for issues that are party platforms,” Formby said.
“The members of the Rules committee are all elected to the committee by a delegation,” Formby said. “Most members are tenured and have had leadership positions on committees. We are in charge of House calendar and we have jurisdiction over any bills that deal with memorial (urging the House to take specific action).
In addition to serving on the Rules Committee as Chair, he also serves on the Compilation, Revision and Publication, Energy, Insurance, Public Utilities, Transportation and Ways and Means. Formby is also the newest member of Education Committee.
His legislation radar holds a variety of important topics of concern to Pearl River County as well as the state of Mississippi.
Of top priority are:
The state budget— “This is always a priority. I do not sit on the Appropriations Committee, I sit on the Ways and Means Committee but I do vote on it. This subject is always on my radar screen.
“Second are those issues that come before committees on which I sit.”
Justice and judicial reform— “I get more and more contacts from both law enforcement, as well as my constituents, regarding people who are coming onto property and stealing marketable materials and scrap metal. I definitely plan to focus on petty theft this session.”
Drug testing for state assistance recipients— “One of the widespread complaints that I hear from my constituents is the frustration that as employees in the public works sector, they are required to submit to drug testing but people on government assistance programs do not,” Formby said.
“I am hearing that the public wants to help people in need, but do not feel obligated to support illegal drug activity, especially in cases where there are children in the home. I have pre-filed legislation in this matter, just as I filed last year.”
Another issue that is near and dear to Formby’s heart involves habitual violent offenders and repeated offenders of DUI and DWI.
“I am in full support of someone who has paid their dues to society, for a crime they have been convicted of, reentering society and being supported in their return for as long as they abide by the laws,” Formby said. “However, lifetime criminals that have proven themselves to be either unwilling or unable to rehabilitate should not be given repeated opportunities to show that.
“I have a bill that says if you are charged with your third violent felony that you will be tried without the opportunity to plea bargain as a habitual offender with a potential of life in prison.
“A lot of the print media has concentrated on the cost of incarceration. A habitual offender murdered my mother’s sister. An alleged habitual offender of DUI killed my niece. Others who refuse to abide by society’s laws affect everyday people’s lives. I believe the first offense of driving with a suspended license due to DUI or DWI an arrestable felony offense. I have met with the governor on these issues in the last few weeks. I believe that most of our society wants to pay for an education and wants habitual offenders out of circulation to repeat offenses.”
Gun control legislation that Formby has filed says that the state of Mississippi will not require state or local law enforcement officers to enforce any gun possession or carry laws that are not laws enacted by an elective body.
Formby plans to support all state and county efforts to attract industry.
“The government is extremely active in pursuing industry in this state,” Formby said. “I met with Brent Christianson, the director of Mississippi Development Authority and I am cautiously optimistic; it is an issue unto itself. Politicians always promise bigger and better jobs but the truth is that companies select from choices that they have narrowed down, before they even announce they are looking. At that time the states that have made their short list are usually notified and they are able to begin introductions and negotiations.