/Democrats lay out agenda; one tapped to lead key committee

Democrats lay out agenda; one tapped to lead key committee

Greg Snowden (R-Meridian), Speaker Pro Tem, announced that Rep. Angela Cockerham (D-Magnolia) would take over the House Judiciary B Committee’s chairmanship. Andy Gipson (former Rep.) was previously the chairman of the committee. He accepted a position as state agriculture commissioner. Gipson, a Republican hailing from Braxton, was the chairman of the committee. The committee, also known as Jud B by Capitol insiders and others, dealt with some of the most controversial legislation relating to the courts or law-enforcement. The committee has also dealt with bills that allowed domestic abuse victims to use such abuse as grounds for divorce. These included the 15-week abortion ban and religious freedom law. The Judiciary B Committee is headed by Sen. Hob Bryan, a Democrat. Cockerham is an attorney who has been a member of the Legislature since 2005. She is an ally of Speaker Philip Gunn (R-Clinton), and considered a centrist Democrat. However, she occasionally votes with the Republican majority in Congress. Together with Rep. Deborah Dixon (D-Raymond), she are the only Democrats to hold the chairmanships of the House. Rep. Gary Staples (R-Laurel) will assume the chairmanship of Energy Committee. Cockerham was previously the chair. The Democratic Caucus met Wednesday to discuss their legislative priorities and remind the public that they have supported many issues. Rep. David Baria (D-Bay St. Louis), who is also the House minority leader, said, “I believe politics factor into all that is done under the Capitol dome.” “But the bottom line, if it’s right for Mississippi, then these people around me and behind it are going to support it.” Democrats have stated that their 2019 priorities include legislation supporting public education, health care and infrastructure, as well as election reforms and criminal justice. “The fact that we have supported these issues for over a decade, and now that the governor is moving towards our position, it seems like something might happen on many of those topics…We believe that’s a positive for all Mississippians,” Baria stated.