Speaker Phillip Gunn said Monday afternoon that he was generally pleased with the bills the House sent to the Senate before last week’s deadline to do so.
Gunn was the speaker at the lunch meeting of the Stennis Capital Press Corps.
Gunn referred just more than 1,500 bills to House committees. Of those, 268 survived the committee deadline; about 150 survived the deadline for floor action and were sent to the Senate.
“We were able to get out of the House every bill that we wanted to,” Gunn said.
Not without controversy, though. Two days before last Thursday’s floor deadline, House Democrats began to request that a handful of bills be read aloud in the chamber before they were voted on. That caused a few late nights and early mornings before the disagreement among Democrats and Republicans was ironed out. Gunn did not provide details of what brought about the consternation, nor what was done to solve it.
Democrats were especially upset over bills involving illegal immigration reform, restrictions on abortion and the establishment of voter ID, to go with legislation curtailing Attorney General Jim Hood’s power to lead litigation on behalf of the state.
“Disagreement isn’t the problem,” said Gunn, in his first extended meeting with the media since he took over as Speaker in early January. “Not being able to reconcile those disagreements is a problem. We’re going to continue to have disagreements and spats, but as long as we can act like adults we’ll be fine.”
Gunn didn’t sound all that surprised at the sound and fury over the Republicans’ favored bills.
“There are a lot of policy issues Republicans have fought for that they couldn’t get to the floor (when Democrats controlled the House),” he said. Of the GOP takeover of the House, Gunn said, “I think it sends a signal that people want to see change.”
With the first few deadlines relating to general bills gone, leadership in both parties will soon turn their attention to the budget-writing process, something that hasn’t gone smoothly the past few sessions. The bill-reading maneuver Democrats employed is likely to be used again when it comes time to actually pass budget bills. With revenue bills requiring a three-fifths vote in each chamber to pass, there’ll have to be some serious deal-making going on.