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franklin county times

Moody eyes Speaker of the House post

By By Steve Gillespie / staff writer
July 14, 2003
State Rep. Bobby Moody, D-Louisville, has served in the Legislature since 1984. Since 1991, he has served as chairman of the House Public Health and Welfare Committee.
Moody, 61, is also seeking election to the Speaker of the House post. He talked about the future of East Central Mississippi in a recent interview with The Meridian Star's editorial board.
The Meridian Star: How does one campaign for Speaker of the House?
Bobby Moody: I think I've been campaigning for speaker for 20 years. It goes back to the things you've done over your career, how you looked at the different issues when they come up, how you handle controversial issues, what you have done as a leader in the House and your ability to get along with the governor and your counterparts on the Senate side.
The Star: What kind of reception have you received from the colleagues you have been talking with over the past few months?
Moody: It's all been positive. I think most of the members are more interested in their own elections. The membership that doesn't have opposition are probably as divided between those of us who are considered to be the front-runners in the speaker's race as it could possibly be right now.
The Star: What areas are covered by the Public Health and Welfare Committee you chair?
Moody: I have always felt that the Public Health and Welfare Committee probably touches more everyday lives than any other committee in the Mississippi Legislature.
It deals with everything that affects the health of the public nurses, doctors, dentists, all health care providers, waste water treatment, anything that has to do with the health and welfare of the citizens of the state.
The Star: You have two opponents in Democratic primary in District 43. How do you juggle running for speaker and re-election to the House?
Moody: Being re-elected to my district is my first objective. I realize I have to do that before I am a candidate for speaker. I'm out doing some kind of campaign work almost daily, even on weekends, making sure I cover my home bases.
The Star: Why are you running for Speaker of the House?
Moody: Because I feel I have something to offer this state. I think I have something to offer this part of the state, particularly, that I see maybe has been a little neglected.
Because of the dynamics of the Coast, it's had a lot of things go its way the past few years. Northeast Mississippi, with the speaker and president pro tem of the senate for the past four years has seen some things go to that area. It's an opportunity for us, in East Central Mississippi particularly, to be brought to the forefront.
The Star: Why do you think this part of the state has been in the shadows?
Moody: We just haven't had the clout other areas of the state have had. The chairman of appropriations for the last 16 years has been from Cleveland. A couple of the Ways and Means chairmen have been from that area.
Until you get into a position where you can control money, your clout in the Mississippi Legislature is just not there. You not only control the money of an agency, but you control a lot of money that goes into other members' districts. When you are able to do that, you are able to call on them for things that you need that will bring things to your area.
The Star: Why don't we have clusters of industry here like some other parts of the state do?
Moody: I don't think we've done as good a job of promoting our area as maybe we could have. I think a speakership from this part of the state could do more to enhance that than anything else. We don't have statewide elected officials from this area of the state.
The Star: What major issues affecting East Central Mississippi are on the horizon?
Moody: The sites of all of the spin-off industries from the Nissan plant to create secondary supplies have not been chosen yet. They will be adding on over the next four or five years as they get into the full phase of manufacturing everything that they anticipate manufacturing. What better place in the state to pull them than on Interstate 20 over here, or Highway 25 to Louisville?
Something else that's going to be really important is the four-laning of Highway 15.
The Coast is going to be pushing hard for 15 to be completed down that way as an escape route from storms and hurricanes. The north is going to push for it. The highest traffic count on Highway 15 right now is from Newton to Louisville. When Highway 15 is four-laned from the Gulf Coast to the Tennessee line, it will be the longest four-lane in the state of Mississippi and with the Jackson, Tennessee area, all the traffic and movement of goods out of the Port of Gulfport will go up that road.
The Star: Do you foresee a tax increase next year?
Moody: If I were the speaker and I could get the cooperation of the lieutenant governor, the first thing I would do would be to try to put together a blue-ribbon committee of legislators and even some folks outside the Legislature to do an in-depth study of the tax situation we have in the state. It's been piecemeal.
I think there are maybe some exemptions that need looking at, there are some fees out here that need looking at, but before I would say one particular entity needs taxes increased or reduced, I would want to look at the overall picture.

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