Local lawmakers have mostly extended their influence in the Mississippi House of Representatives, according to committee assignments announced by House Speaker Philip Gunn on Thursday.

Over the next four years, local lawmakers will be on the front lines of deliberation on a host of important issues surrounding schools, prisons, abortion, redistricting and Medicaid.

Here’s a look at the assignments:

Rep. Angela Cockerham

Cockerham, an independent from Magnolia, received a bounty of highly important assignments, preserving her place as one of Southwest Mississippi’s most influential lawmakers.

She’ll chair the Judiciary A Committee, which in the past has taken up civil justice matters. She chaired the Judiciary B Committee, which focused on criminal justice legislation, during the 2019 legislative session.

Additionally, Cockerham will retain her seat on the Joint Legislative Budget Committee, which outlines budget priorities ahead of the beginning of the legislative session for the coming fiscal year.

She’ll also serve on other highly relevant committees.

As a member of the Apportionment and Elections Committee, she’ll help draw new district lines based on 2020 Census data.

As a member of the Corrections Committee, she’ll be tasked with helping come up with solutions facing the state’s troubled prison system.

Cockerham also received assignments to the Education Committee, which will continue to consider evergreen issues from testing to teacher pay, and Appropriations, a key budgeting committee that determines how the state will spend its money.

Her other assignments include the Compilation, Revision and Publication; Energy; Ethics; and Management committees.

Rep. Sam Mims V

Mims, R-McComb, the area’s longest-serving lawmaker, retained his chairmanship to the House Public Health and Human Services Committee.

This will be Mims’ third term heading the committee.

The panel is sure to be busy tackling a variety of issues, including those facing cash-strapped rural hospitals after a report last year said the state has more than 30 that are in danger of closing.

The committee also is where much of the legislation concerning abortions is originated. A new state law that came from the 2019 Legislative session would have prevented women from getting an abortion once a fetal heartbeat is detected, or at about six weeks of pregnancy. A federal appeals court recently upheld a judge’s decision to block the law, setting up a possible U.S. Supreme Court challenge that could lead to a bigger debate about the landmark 1973 abortion ruling Roe V. Wade.

“Sam has continued to be a valued member of the leadership team in the House of Representatives, and his conservative values have proven to be very beneficial to the residents of our state,” Gunn said in a news release. “The public health sector in Mississippi has certainly benefited from his guidance and his professionalism, and I’m pleased to reappoint him to chair this important committee.”

 “It’s an honor to continue the chairmanship of Public Health and Human Services, and I appreciate the Speaker’s confidence in reappointing me,” Mims said. “I think we’ve really made progress in available quality health care over the past several years, and I look forward to continue to work with my colleagues in the House to improve the quality of life for all Mississippians.”

In addition to his public health chairmanship, Mims also will hold seats on the Enrolled Bills, Judiciary A, Medicaid and Appropriations committees.

Rep. Daryl Porter Jr.

As the area’s newest lawmaker — and a member of the political party opposite the House majority — Porter, D-Summit, unsurprisingly has the fewest amount of committee assignments.

However, he did receive seats on some important panels, including Education, Judiciary B and Medicaid, all of which will be very busy and closely watched.

Porter also will serve on the Municipalities and Public Utilities committees.

The freshman lawmaker replaced former Rep. David Myers, who decided not to seek reelection last year after serving since the mid-1990s.  

Rep. Vince Mangold

In his second term, Mangold, R-Brookhaven, picked up some new committee assignments.

He’ll keep his seat as vice chairman of the Agriculture Committee, as well as his old posts on the Conservation and Water Resources; Education; Ethics; Forestry; Transportation; and Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks committeess.

Mangold picked up a seat on the Appropriations Committee.

His other new assignments — Legislative Reapportionment and Congressional Redistricting — will be important during redistricting.

Rep. Bill Pigott

Pigott, R-Tylertown, retained his Agriculture Committee chairmanship, as well as his seats on the Conservation and Water Resources, Forestry and Interstate Cooperation committees.

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