Since Amy Tuck was elected the state’s second female lieutenant governor in November, political pundits have commented that the Democrat from Oktibbeha County has scurried nonstop in preparation for the 2000 legislative session.
Two weeks ago, the Mississippi Business Journal was among almost 200 calls that poured into her office requesting information.
In between moving into her new office, meeting with senators, making committee assignments and assembling an agenda, Tuck answered our request with the same aplomb, professionalism, preparedness and diligence she replied to our countless pre-election requests.
In our Q&A session, Tuck talked about effects of the delayed outcome of the governor’s race, how she determined committee assignments, short-term and long-range legislative agendas and the higher standard to which legislators are held.
Mississippi Business Journal: How did the governor’s race — and House vote to settle it — impact your transition and planning period?
Amy Tuck: Fortunately, the House vote for governor did not directly impact my transition period. I knew that I had to assemble my staff and make committee assignments. I started to work the day after the election.
MBJ: How would you have approached your job differently if the vote had swung the other way? What if Mike Parker, a Republican, was governor instead of Democrat Ronnie Musgrove
AT: I would have approached my job the same regardless of the outcome of the governor’s race. I said throughout my campaign that the people of Mississippi deserve a lieutenant governor who will work with the governor. Together, we can bring unity and progress to our state.
MBJ: How did you determine committee assignments? What methods went into the mix? Why so long on the announcements?
AT: Appointing chairpersons and committee members is one of the most difficult things that I have ever done. I can say without hesitation that I tried to be as fair as possible to all members of the Senate. When making committee assignments, there are several important factors such as seniority, ability, background, experience, work ethic, diversity, geography as well as many others. I also solicited and received input from the senators on where they might best serve. I am also proud of the fact that our committee assignments were made in a timely manner.
MBJ: What issues top your legislative agenda and why?
AT: Certainly, we must strive for excellence in education for the children of Mississippi and we must better compensate our teachers, provide smaller classes and maintain safe schools. I also want to consider legislation that will protect our senior citizens from abuse and punish those that harm them. Finally, I want to support efforts that provide more and better jobs for our people.
MBJ: What issues are back burner issues and when might we expect to see them surface?
AT: It is always difficult to predict when and what issues might surface during a legislative session. I can say that the Senate will be prepared to deal with whatever issues develop. The extended session will certainly allow more time for issues to surface.
MBJ: In your opinion, how responsible are legislators for their moral conduct and should they be allowed to continue to serve the public when they have pled guilty of charges ranging from DUI to spousal abuse?
AT: I definitely think legislators should be responsible for their moral conduct. When you represent the people, you are held to a higher standard. As a public servant, I have an opportunity to be a teacher again. For with everything we say and everything we do, we are teaching the children of our state something. May I teach those things that are good and beneficial to our young people and may their parents be proud to have them know about me.
Contact MBJ contributing writer Lynne Wilbanks Jeter at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.