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Mississippi lawmakers beginning 4-month session

JACKSON — Mississippi lawmakers are beginning their four-month session, and they will spend the first few days getting organized.

This is the first year of a four-year term, and about one-fourth of the legislators are new.

The session begins at noon Tuesday and is scheduled to end in early May. Legislators will do most of their work on a more than $6 billion budget during their final weeks at the Capitol. The new fiscal year begins July 1.

Senators are electing a new president pro tempore to succeed Republican Giles Ward of Louisville, who didn’t seek another term in the Legislature. The pro tem is the second-highest officer in the chamber and presides when Republican Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves is not available.

The House is dealing with contested elections for two seats, and the Senate must resolve a contest for one seat.

One of the contested House races is in District 79 in Smith and Jasper counties. The Nov. 3 general election ended in a tie between five-term Democratic Rep. Bo Eaton of Taylorsville and Republican challenger Mark Tullos of Raleigh. Eaton won a tiebreaker by drawing straws, but Tullos said the race should never have been tied because he believes some votes were improperly counted.

If the House decides to seat Tullos rather than Eaton, Republicans will gain a three-fifths supermajority in the chamber, which means the GOP could enact tax changes without consulting Democrats.

The other contested House race is in District 98 in Pike and Walthall counties. Tasha Dillon lost by 144 votes to five-term Rep. David Myers in the Aug. 4 Democratic primary, but she said voting irregularities should invalidate the primary results. Both are from McComb.

The contested Senate race is in District 37 in Adams, Amite, Franklin and Pike counties. Former Sen. Bob Dearing defeated one-term Republican Sen. Melanie Sojourner by 64 votes in the general election, but Sojourner said voting irregularities should invalidate Dearing’s victory. Both candidates are from Natchez.

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