Lawmaker kicked off committee wants back on - - Jackson, MS

Lawmaker kicked off committee wants back on

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JACKSON, MS (Mississippi News Now) -

Representative Linda Whittington, a democrat from Schlater, has been on the House Education Committee since 2007 as a freshman lawmaker, but she won't be a member next year. That's because last month, Republican House Speaker Philip Gunn removed her.

"It kind of felt like I had been punched in the stomach," said Whittington.

Whittington says her removal was because she voted against a Charter School Bill which was being pushed by Speaker Gunn. Gunn says he moved Whittington to vice-chair of the tourism committee because another representative retired. Whittington says it's politics at play.

"I felt like I was on that committee with some of my other colleagues so that we could present the other side of the story to the charter school push that's going on," said Whittington.

Back in April a bipartisan coalition of 16 education committee members ultimately stopped the 2012 charter school bill from moving forward.

"So the vote was 16 to 15. So, removing me made it, you know," said Whittington.

Whittington has now sent a letter to Gunn asking to be reinstated on the committee since there's now an opening, thanks to the resignation of another representative. Whittington says she's not completely against charter schools but wants to make sure any potential bill is crafted by all parties and targets failing districts.

"If we're going to go down that road then I just think we need to have a very strong charter school bill that is negotiated on the front and cannot be negotiated on the back," said Whittington.

With lawmakers once again preparing to bring back a charter school bill, Whittington says her removal could very well be a sign of what's to come.

"It makes you ask well, is that going to happen every time a vote doesn't go the way they want it to go .Do I have to worry about speaking my mind, voting my constituents wishes," said Whittington.

At this point, Whittington says she has not heard from Speaker Gunn in regards to her request to be put back on the committee.

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