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Moody running hard for reelection, Speaker

By By Buddy Bynum / editor
July 6, 2003
State Rep. Bobby Moody, D-Louisville, chairs the House committee whose work touches more Mississippians on a day-to-day basis than probably any other legislative panel.
He is chairman of the House Public Health and Welfare Committee, whose jurisdiction stretches across a broad array of public health, mental health and environmental issues, including oversight of the Department of Human Services and Medicaid. DHS deals with hundreds of millions of dollars and enough federal and state regulations to choke a horse.
When it comes to health matters, the personable Moody exerts more leadership than any of the 121 other members of the House, and has since his House service began in 1984.
Today, at 61, Moody is in another campaign for reelection to the House seat from District 43, which includes Kemper, Noxubee and Winston counties. And he is experienced enough to know that before he can achieve his next goal becoming Speaker of the House he must first win reelection.
So, despite what one might assume are the advantages of incumbency and the wealth of knowledge Moody has accumulated in chairing the key committee that oversees the state's multibillion-dollar public heath and welfare programs, he's campaigning hard for reelection with the voters of his district. Truth is, he always has.
Friends
Moody and House Ways and Means Committee chairman Billy McCoy, D-Rienzi, are close friends and, apparently, the leading contenders at the moment in the Speaker's race. Both are close to the retiring Speaker, Tim Ford, and Moody is close to the longtime chairman and main money man in state government, House Appropriations chairman Rep. Charlie Capps, D-Cleveland.
Moody and Ford shared a Jackson apartment during legislative sessions for seven years, helping them build a friendship that lasts to this day. As Moody now seeks the office from which Ford is retiring, he said it is important to build new kinds of coalitions in a state House that is more black, Republican and female than ever.
He said the very diversity of the House means no one person not even the Speaker can exert the ironclad control enjoyed by such characters as the late John Junkin and Buddie Newman.
Moody said he would not impose on his friendship with Ford to seek his blessing; he knows he must run his own race for Speaker.
And, while not presuming for a minute that the race is over, he was asked by reporters what he'd do differently should be win the Speaker's race.
Tax structure
If he were Speaker and if he could get the cooperation of the lieutenant governor who runs the Senate he'd like to see an in-depth analysis of of Mississippi's entire tax structure. This could include exemptions for economic development purposes, fees, sales taxes, income taxes, the whole gamut. While such a study is talked about from time to time, it's never really been done.
If it could be done, results could give lawmakers, the executive branch and the voting public a real eye-opener into how the state collects revenue and from whom. And such a study might lead to changes in the state's approach to taxing and spending.
But it's a big "if."
It strikes many legislative observers that Moody has the experience and leadership skills to make the House work more effectively.
For East Mississippi voters who've never had a House Speaker from their neck of the woods, Moody's elevation could be helpful. It could raise the profile of an area of the state that feels ignored lately.
What does the Speaker of the House do? Well, the House Speaker is one of three elected officials who really run state government. The other two are the governor and lieutenant governor, who presides over the state Senate.
But Moody looks at such a position not in terms of heavy-handed, slam dunk power, but in terms of the leadership opportunities if offers.
Moody believes he's the man for the job.
And the truth is that over his legislative career, Moody has demonstrated leadership in overseeing public health and welfare programs that directly affect real people.
It's a fine record for the man from East Mississippi who might become Speaker of the House.

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