Sitting in the House Chamber with 121 other people - less than six feet of separation - is a disaster waiting to happen when one is worried about germs being spread. So, on Tuesday, March 17, the Mississippi House of Representatives suspended the legislative session until April 1 at 2 p.m., or a date mutually agreed upon by Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, if necessary. This suspension is out of an abundance of caution for the members and staff due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
It seems as though this virus is not the only thing that is being spread. "Fear" is the real plague that is gripping our Nation. Did you know that fear and faith cannot reside in the same vessel? And speaking of vessels, the Legislature has a devotion every Tuesday morning at 8:30 for all Legislators, Lobbyist, and anyone that would like to attend. This past Tuesday, Representative Ronnie Crudup shared a scripture that was perfect for these uncertain times.
II Kings 4 teaches us that when the widow cried out for help to the prophet, Elisha, he gave her instructions on using the little that she had to accomplish a lot in the natural realm. The widow's only possession was a small amount of olive oil. She was to gather vessels from her neighbors, and not just a few vessels, but as many as she could. Then she was to take the small amount of olive oil that she possessed and pour it into the accumulated vessels. She literally ran out of vessels before she ran out of oil. Only in God's sovereignty can you take the little that you have and be left with more than you need. Throughout the Word of God, "olive oil" is a representation of the Holy Spirit. I want to believe that this is the perfect time for us to be searching for empty vessels to fill with the Spirit of the Living God. Let's not waste this opportunity. Pray for this pandemic to draw lost souls to a saving knowledge of Him. Easter is in just 25 days ... I am claiming that our churches will be packed full of empty vessels seeking the true Oil of the Spirit to replace their fear with faith.
Now, back to business: Before the House could adjourn yesterday, several items needed to be taken up in relation to the suspension. Because the general bill deadline has already passed, a resolution was needed to suspend the rules and allow for a general bill to be introduced. Senate Concurrent Resolution 561 called for a suspension of the rules and for the introduction of a bill to authorize leave with pay for local government and local school district employees. There is a statute that allows for state employees to receive benefits during certain circumstances, but the statute did not permit the same for local government employees. House Bill 1647 was then introduced authorizing local governmental entities and school districts to grant administrative leave with pay during certain emergencies. The bill passed with a bipartisan vote of 118-2 and was passed by the Senate earlier today. The second resolution taken up was House Concurrent Resolution 65. The resolution extends the session by 30 days, allows for reconvening on April 1 or upon determination by the House and Senate and adjusts the session deadlines to conform with the extended schedule. HC 65 passed by a vote of 82-38 and was passed earlier today by the Senate. So for now, the Legislature will take the next two weeks to "social distance" ourselves and get ready for the second half of the Session - hopefully we will be able to start back on April 1st ... cause we ain't got time to be "fooling around"!
During the last several weeks, I have had a tremendous amount of guests at the Capitol. Here are just a few I was able to snap pics with ... and the biggest honor was the day I was able to stand beside Deputy Brad Sullivan as he was presented with a House Resolution for his brave service. I love my job, in case you haven't noticed!