Legislation now filed at state capitol concerning pardons - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Legislation now filed at state capitol concerning pardons

JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Three bills are now making their way through the house chamber, filed by Representative David Baria of Bay St. Louis.

Each bill is different calling for a change to the state's pardon process.

"There's a greater likely hood on each individual issue if they're separated," said Baria, a Democrat.

The legislation comes after former Governor Haley Barbour issued a long list of pardons, including some for convicted murders.

Some of the legislation has been introduced by Baria before, but never made it into law.

This time, Rep. Baria hopes for a different outcome.

The first bill calls for a notice and hearing on any pardons handed out, a requirement Rep. Baria says should have been in place long ago.

"We want to give folks in the community where the crime occurred an opportunity to be heard before the governor issues a pardon," Rep. Baria said.

Baria is also going after who can be allowed to work as a trusty at the governor's mansion.

A separate bill would prevent anyone convicted of murder from being eligible.

Four of those pardons from Barbour were men in that very category, convicted murders working as trusties.

"Apparently it's become a path to a pardon to serve as serve as a trusty at the governor's mansion," Rep. Baria said.

The third bill would change the state constitution, preventing any governor from granting a pardon during the last ninety days of office.

That's the only one Baria says may be a little tough in getting passed.

"It requires a different vote and there's a whole different process that's involved with a constitutional amendment," Rep. Baria said.

Meanwhile, similar legislation is making it's way down the hall inside the senate chamber.

"None of us are for that," said Senator Joey Fillingane, a Republican from Sumrall.

Sen. Fillingane says while pardons are a governor's prerogative, there needs to be some type of legislative control.

"It's there for a reason, I just think it was abused obviously in this past couple of weeks," said Sen. Fillingane.

With support growing in both cambers and both parties, lawmakers expect an easy passage of the bills and say they're only trying to stop what they believe is too much pardon power.

"I'm not trying to eliminate the governor's right to pardon," Rep. Baria said. "I just think there ought to be some reasonable processes put in place."

When it comes to trusties working at the governor's mansion, a spokesman for current governor Phil Bryant says he is working towards phasing out the use of violent offenders.

Copyright 2012 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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