Almost done – Senate adjourns; House has one more day

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Mississippi_State_Capitol_buildingA House Democrat used a procedural maneuver Wednesday to extend the legislative session by one more day – at least for House members.

Rep. Bryant Clark, D-Pickens, had asked the House to reconsider a bill to consolidate the Holmes County and Durant school districts, which he represents. When that effort failed – the House voted to table Clark’s motion – he held another bill on a motion to reconsider, requiring his colleagues to return to work on Thursday.

The Senate packed up and left, however, to raucous cheers and applause from the senators.

The House bill Clark held, known around the Capitol as the to-go-cup bill would allow municipalities and counties to create leisure and recreation districts in which people could carry containers with alcohol outside buildings.

Current state law does not allow people to carry open containers outside establishments with alcohol serving regulations in place. Other Southern cities like Birmingham, New Orleans and Memphis have adopted policies allowing open containers to be carried within certain entertainment districts.

Under House rules, Clark’s motion could not be tabled until the next legislative day.

Rep. Bryant Clark, D-Pickens.

Mississippi House of Representatives

Rep. Bryant Clark, D-Pickens

Clark said he wanted to send a message to the leadership to involve members on local issues. He said on the House floor that he was not consulted on the consolidation issue and his constituents do not support it.

“Every request I made fell on deaf ears,” Clark told reporters.

The Senate did end its work. The final day, sine die, which is akin to the last day of school in legislative parlance, was marked by ceremonial proclamations, adoption of a handful of conference reports, spirited debated on some bills and lots and lots of sitting around while leadership teams met behind the scenes.

Among the more substantive moves, a bill from Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood, to dismantle the current Jackson airport board and install a new, bigger board with more appointments from state leaders, moved on to Gov. Phil Bryant’s desk.

Another bill passed to prohibit Medicaid reimbursements to providers of non-therapeutic abortions, those where the mother’s life would not be threatened if the pregnancy were carried to term or when the pregnancy was not the result of rape or incest.

A bill to establish a Capitol complex for Jackson died when House and Senate members could not agree; a measure to add domestic violence as a grounds for divorce also failed to pass.

The House returns at 9 a.m. on Thursday to dispense with Clark’s motion.