Representative Hood describes life in legislative session

By Amanda McBride
The Choctaw Plaindealer

JACKSON — The life of a Mississippi House representative is not much
different than most people’s, except while in legislative session.
For 90 days of the year, District 35 Rep. Joey Hood trades in his
small-town law office for the beautiful and historic state Capitol
building in Jackson.

“It’s one of the prettiest places that you could ever go to work at,”
said Hood about working in the Capitol.

“Walking up those steps of the Capitol, knowing the history, the
tradition and that people that have come before me. It’s an honor to
serve the people of District 35 in Jackson,” said Hood.

District 35 comprises Choctaw, Grenada, Oktibbeha and Webster counties.

Typical day
While in session, Hood usually spends four days a week at the
Capitol. A typical day for Hood depends on the legislative calendar
and what point of the session it is.

At the beginning of the session, Hood says he spends much time in
committee meetings. He said 1,500-2,000 bills will be filed and those
bills go through the committee process first.

He serves on these committees: Apportionment and Elections, Banking
and Financial Services, Judiciary B, Judiciary En Banc, Public Health
and Human Services, Public Utilities, and Universities and Colleges.

“Bills that make it out of committee make it to the general calendar.
Those are the ones we have a chance to vote on,” said Hood.

Now that the session is winding how, with the last day planned for
April 7, Hood says the Legislature is concurring or not concurring on
amendments.

“We (House of Representatives) have sent out our bills to the Senate
and they have sent theirs to us. Right now we are concurring or not
concurring on those amendments.”

Focus on budget
Next, the Legislature will vote on budget bills.

“At this point in the legislative session our focus is going to be
turned toward the budget. The Senate and the House are now meeting in
conference over the state’s $5.5 billion budget. That’s going to be
some of the major decisions coming up,” said Hood.

Much legislation has passed both the House and Senate, and continues
to be signed into law by the governor.

Second Amendment rights have been protected by the Mississippi
Legislature. Earlier in the session, the definition of concealed
carry was clarified and the names of concealed weapon permit carriers
were removed from the public information.

“I’m glad I was able to pay a part in protecting our Second
Amendment rights,” said Hood.

But he is disappointed the Mississippi Firearms Protections Act was
not passed this year.

“It’s part of the process. We will bring it back next year and
continue to fight for it,” said Hood.

‘Overview aspect’
He added that all decisions made impact in counties in District 35
and throughout the state.

“All decisions have an impact on our district, either directly or
indirectly. All decisions trickle down.”

Hood noted that some of the legislation passed would have a big
impact on Choctaw and Webster counties.

He mentioned the Mississippi Student Religious Liberties Act, the
Omnibus Education Bill, Second Amendment and driver’s license station.

Hood is serving in his second year as a representative and has
learned many things. One aspect he has learned the most is listening
to both sides of an argument.

“There are always two sides to each argument. It’s interesting to
hear both sides and to make a decision based on those arguments,”
said Hood.

“One of the neatest things being in the House is to hear both sides
of the arguments and making your decisions based on that.”

He has also learned an “overview aspect of the law of the state of
Mississippi and how that affects all the citizens thought the state”
and seeing the action and process of how lawmaking works.

Year-round job
When the legislative session ends, Hood’s days change.

“I get to go back home and be with my family and my children. That’s
always a good thing. But this job is 365 days a year,” said Hood.

While back in Ackerman, Hood works daily helping constituents.

“I receive a lot of calls from people needing assistance. And I try
to help my constituents out as much as I can.”

Hood said he comes back to the Capitol several days a month to work
on constituents’ issues.

“I enjoy having input from all of the citizens and I consider their
input before I make a decision,” said Hood.

Hood can be contacted at the Capitol at 601-359-3339. One may also
email him at jhood@house.ms.gov or visit his website,
www.joeyhoodmississippi.com.