Legislators Question Special Session Agenda - WLOX.com - The News for South Mississippi

08/30/02

Legislators Question Special Session Agenda

State legislators head back to Jackson for a special session next Thursday.

But there's some concern about whether they'll be able to address the tort reform issue.

Governor Ronnie Musgrove has made consideration of tort reform and medical malpractice contingent on lawmakers first revisiting a funding bill for private prisons. And some lawmakers have concerns about the governor's special session strategy.

"I am using the tools that are available to me. And the answer is if we don't address the first issue, we don't get to the second issue," said Governor Musgrove in defending that strategy.

Appearing on Newswatch This Week, two state representatives questioned the governor's tactics in dictating the special session agenda. They say forcing lawmakers to consider the prison bill before tort reform raises concerns.

"Lawmakers aren't going to be intimidated into voting for that bill. They didn't think it was a good idea the first time. Maybe it will be presented differently this time. I'm not going to predict if it passes or not. But I can assure you nobody's going to vote for that bill under the threat that they won't get to tort reform," said Rep. Jim Simpson from Long Beach.

Gulfport Rep. Frances Fredericks also questions the governor's directive.

"I think he is really stretching all points to have his way. So, I hope that he will kind of back up and see that we must negotiate. Everything can't be the way you see it," explained Rep. Fredericks.

Senator Billy Hewes is also concerned about the governor's agenda setting for the special session. He says even if tort reform is considered, there's no guarantee of a substantial solution.

"I am hopeful we'll pass something significant. But given the fact that we passed nothing this past session, I'm afraid we'll not go as far as we need to go with any particular act. I hope I'm proven wrong. But I'm afraid it may be window dressing," said Sen.Hewes.

Senator Hewes says there's no easy answer to tort reform. If lawmakers are allowed to tackle the issue, he predicts a rather lengthy special session.

You can watch the entire discussion on Newswatch This Week. The program airs Saturday night, following the late news.

By Steve Phillips

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