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    State of Play

    Miss.: Fordice's State of State Could Be Shot in the Foot

    Friday, Jan. 22, 1999

    Relations between Gov. Kirk Fordice (R) and lawmakers hit a new low last week as Fordice used his State of the State address to blast legislators for a 1997 education spending bill, saying it wasted state money. None of the lawmakers – not even fellow Republicans – applauded the governor's remarks even once. As a result, expect Fordice's proposals to cut state income taxes by 10 percent and to eliminate certificates of need for hospitals are expected to be dead on arrival. Just last week Fordice criticized members of his own party at a private reception with their families for voting against him on a veto override.

    More State Political News From:
    Alabama | Florida | Idaho | Louisiana
    New Jersey | Tennessee | Texas

    Alabama: Senate Democrats in Power Play


    Lt. Gov. Steve Windom (R) lost his bid to organize the Senate and may end up with no real power over legislation this session. Instead, President Pro Tem Lowell Barron (D) will wield most of the influence in the upper chamber for the next four years, thanks to Gov. Don Siegelman (D). Siegelman, who was lieutenant governor until this week, presided over the Jan. 12 organizational session during which Senate Democrats rewrote rules that gave much of Windom's power to Barron. Barron can now make committee assignments, assign bills to committees and appoint an interim Senate president in the lieutenant governor's absence.

    Florida: Plans for High-Speed Train Derailed


    Gov. Jeb Bush (R) has pulled the plug on the state's proposed high-speed rail project. The $95 million "bullet train," which would have connected Miami, Tampa and Orlando, was set to receive some $20 million in state funding this year. Supporters felt the project would bring new technology and growth to South and Central Florida, but Bush has long been skeptical of the idea, reportedly fearing low participation and environmental stress on the Everglades.

    Idaho: Administration Appointments Rile Legislators


    Some legislators are unhappy with Gov. Dirk Kempthorne (R) for creating positions for policy advisers in his budget office, reportedly worth about $500,000, when he hasn't yet filled existing policy positions in state agencies. Legislators are specifically upset at Kempthorne for hiring former Cassia County School District Superintendent Tom Morley for $85,000 a year. Morley lost the Republican primary for superintendent of public instruction last spring, yet he now earns $10,000 more annually than Marilyn Howard, the Democrat who won the post in November.

    Louisiana: Business Opposes Ballot Box Issues


    Louisiana's top business lobby, the Louisiana Association of Business and Industry, has parted ways with Gov. Mike Foster (R) over his call for initiatives and referendums that would give voters more of a say in passing state laws. The governor is seeking a constitutional amendment to allow voters to put issues directly on the statewide ballot by petition and to allow the Legislature to use simple majority votes to put issues on the ballot. Foster said he wants the constitutional changes on ballots this fall. The LABI charged that initiatives usually are not the will of ordinary citizens but are promoted by special interests, which have cost businesses money in other states.

    New Jersey: Democratic Gubernatorial Nominee Still Hopeful


    Jim McGreevey (D), who narrowly lost the governor's race in 1997, is gearing up for another gubernatorial run in 2001. McGreevey, who has served in both the Assembly and Senate, is currently running for reelection as mayor of Woodbridge. Gov. Christie Whitman (R) is term-limited, and Assembly Speaker Jack Collins and Senate President Donald DiFrancesco are the leading Republicans for the nomination.

    Tennessee: House Leader Speaks Against Sundquist


    House Speaker Jimmy Naifeh (D) last week criticized the way the governor and his administration handled issues including transportation, TennCare and mental health services. Gov. Don Sundquist (R) refused to comment. The speaker told reporters the legislature would "keep an eye" on the executive branch this session, then announced a proposed $75 million new legislative office building, dubbed the "Tower of Power" by Nashville politicos, and bid to double legislative salaries. Legislators receive $16,500 in salary, plus a $121 per day stipend each day of the session.

    Texas: Democratic Appointee Claims Loyalty to Bush


    Gov. George W. Bush (R) shocked many of his fellow Republicans by naming former state insurance commissioner Elton Bomer as his secretary of state. Bomer, a former Democratic legislator, said he is currently uncertain whether he is a Republican or a Democrat, but he is sure of his loyalty to Bush.

    © Copyright 1999 The Washington Post Company

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