Vicksburg’s Hopson named to key leadership position in state Senate

Published 10:50 am Friday, January 10, 2020

JACKSON (AP) — Mississippi’s new Republican lieutenant governor is putting together a bipartisan leadership team in the state Senate for the new four-year term.

Delbert Hosemann was inaugurated to the state’s second-highest office Thursday and announced committees of the 52-member Senate on Friday. He told senators to spend the weekend thinking about their priorities and to return to the Capitol next week ready to work.

Before revealing his committee list, Hosemann told them: “It will drive a lot of our work — most of your work — for the next four years.”

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Committees are the first place bills are discussed, and chairmen often have the power to decide which bills live and which die with little or no debate.

Hosemann named Republicans to lead the two money committees. Sen. Briggs Hopson of Vicksburg is the new chairman of the Appropriations Committee, which handles budgets. Sen. Josh Harkins of Flowood is the new chairman of the Finance Committee, which handles taxes and borrowing.

Hosemann named Republican Sen. Dennis DeBar of Leakesville to lead the Education Committee.

He named Republican Sen. Sally Doty of Brookhaven to lead the Judiciary A Committee and Republican Sen. Brice Wiggins of Pascagoula to lead the Judiciary B Committee.

The two judiciary committees once had a clear division of responsibility, with one handling criminal matters and the other handling civil matters. It’s unclear whether that division will remain during this term, though. Hosemann said Friday that bills will not necessarily be distributed among committees the way they have been in the past.

Hosemann chose Democratic Sen. Hob Bryan of Amory as chairman of the Public Health Committee, another of the top-tier assignments.

He also named Democratic Sen. Juan Barnett of Heidelberg as the new chairman of the Corrections Committee.

Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn is still working on assigning House members to committees and chairmanships.