Lawmakers are moving forward with plans to hear challenges on two legislative races. The fates of House District 79 and Senate District 37 are still up in the air.
The Mississippi Legislature has officially started a new four-year term when it began the 2016 session yesterday. The House of Representatives and Senate were gaveled into order at noon, and lawmakers both old and new were sworn-in. However, there are some legislative races that have yet to be resolved. House District 79, as well as Senate District 37, are still in dispute.
In order to address the contests, lawmakers from both House and Senate formed committees to listen to petitions in their respective chambers. Newly elected President Pro Tem of the Senate, Republican, Terry Burton of Newton says finalizing the races is his top priority.
“I don’t have an agenda at this point,” says Burton. “I mean, my main focus is the resolution the Senate passed today, and that is to get the contested Senate seat resolved.”
For the House, declaring the winner of the legislative contest may have more of an impact. The declared winner of the race, Bo Eaton of Taylorsville is the sole member democrat standing between Republicans and a three-fifths’ super-majority.
Republican Mark Baker of Brandon is the Chair of the special Committee looking into the challenge. He says the committee will look at the facts of the case.
“I would be disingenuous if I told you that I never had that thought,” Baker admits, “but it’s not part of our process. It’s my goal of this committee that we’re going to make a recommendation that is based on the information, the evidence, the testimony, the law that we have. Whatever it is.”
Lawmakers also had to deal with a challenge to House District 98, but the challenge is from a primary opponent and lawmakers are claiming that they had no jurisdiction in the matter.