Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Deadline day at the Capitol

It's committee deadline day at the Capitol, and many bills will see their lives end at midnight after not being considered by the committees to which they were assigned.  I will have a comprehensive look at the well-known bills that didn't make it and those that did after the deadlines pass, but for now, let's have a look at a couple that appear dead already.

First, a constitutional amendment that would prohibit the governor from pardoning certain violent criminals appears to be a goner.  Sen. Michael Watson (R - Pascagoula) wrote the bill, and it was double-referred to his committee (Constitution) and Judiciary B.  Watson didn't see fit to take up his own bill until yesterday evening.  As a result, Jud B Chairman Sen. Hob Bryan (D - Amory) will likely not bring the bill up at the Jud B committee hearing today.  This smacks of political posturing on Sen. Watson's part.  Not taking up your own constitutional amendment until sunset on the eve of committee deadline just gives you an "out" when it fails.  Taking up a constitutional amendment with that little time to study it isn't good policy, and Sen. Bryan is right to let this bill die.  (Sen. Watson apparently didn't bother to bring up his other two pardon-related constitutional amendments.  Find them here and here.)

The same can be said for Sen. Chris McDaniel's (R - Ellisville) constitutional amendment that would declare that fetuses have a right to life under the Mississippi Constitution of 1890.  This legislation was double-referred to Constitution and Jud B also.  Once again, Sen. Watson brought the bill out of his committee yesterday evening, leaving little time to consider it in Jud B.  I'm certainly not complaining about that, as the language in this proposed constitutional amendment creates more problems than it solves, which I imagine is Sen. McDaniel's intent.

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