State Politics

Hank Zuber wants a big change in way Legislature works

Rep. Hank Zuber told the Ocean Springs Lions Club the next big thing in his career will be a push to cut the number of have legislative sessions in half.

Just days after Gov. Phil Bryant signed a campaign-finance overhaul Zuber had championed for 13 years, he said he believed the Legislature could benefit from having a session to consider general legislation every other year.

“Up until the ’60s or early ’70s, a vast majority of states only had a general session every other year,” he said. “You still have a handful of states that have a bi-annual, or every two years, including Texas. Texas’ GDP is a lot larger than Mississippi’s.”

He said it would allow more time for serious debate and for legislators to read, research and investigate bills before voting.

“I think ... the number of bills will decrease,” he said. “I think the bills will be better. It will be a better product.”

He said legislators alsov will be less inclined toward knee-jerk reactions to national issues.

He said special sessions could be called to deal with natural disasters and economic-development projects that need immediate attention.

“That goes on now,” he said. “In the past few years, we’ve had special sessions on tornadoes and economic-development projects.

“That won’t change. We’ll still have that flexibility.”

He said he isn’t sure he would like to put the appropriations process on an every-other-year timetable, though.

“I have to do more research before I can say whether I would support that,” he said. “But the argument could be made that it would give more stability to these agencies.”

Paul Hampton: 228-284-7296, @JPaulHampton