Wednesday, March 4, 2015

From Mississippi, One SEC Primary Bill Dead, Another Survives Deadline

Tuesday, March 3 marked the day in the Mississippi state legislature that bills passed in one chamber had to have made it through committee in the opposite chamber. Neither of the bills -- one from the House and one from the Senate -- affecting the date of the presidential primary in the Magnolia state had cleared that hurdle heading into Tuesday.

Once the dust had settled on the day, the state Senate-passed version of the bill (SB 2531) was reported favorably from the House Apportionment and Elections Committee while the House-passed version (HB 933) failed to navigate the Senate Rules Committee.

This was not an oversight. Recall that both bills started off in the same place -- with identical language -- but an amended version of the Senate bill passed the Senate and headed to the House.  The bill introduced in the House, however, pushed through the committee phase and consideration on the floor without amendment.

The state Senate, then, would have been motivated to support its amended version and not the unamended one the House passed and sent the upper chamber.

That is one interpretation of the move. But this likely is not a story of inter-chamber dispute. Rather, the Mississippi legislature only has to pass one of these bills. It could wrangle over two different bills or it could drop one and negotiated over the particulars of the other. Given the events of yesterday, it is clear legislators opted to take the latter path.

The House Apportionment and Elections Committee made some minor changes to SB 2531 and recommended that the bill "do pass" on the House floor. But if the bill passes the House it will have to return to the Senate for the upper chamber's approval of the changes made by the House committee (and floor if there are amendments made there).

The bottom line, though, is that the process to move the Mississippi presidential primary up a week on the presidential primary calendar -- to the proposed SEC primary slot -- moved forward Tuesday.

UPDATE (3/11/15): Amended Senate bill passes state House

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