Ford says speakers conference in Biloxi might set records
By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON - Mississippi House Speaker Tim Ford will preside today over what may be the largest gathering ever of legislative presiding officers.
The sixth annual meeting of the National Speakers Conference is scheduled to open today in Biloxi and run through Sunday.
Ford, D-Tupelo, was elected president of the national organization this past year. He is in his third term as speaker of the Mississippi House.
Although an exact number of speakers attending was not available Wednesday afternoon, a news release from the National Speakers Conference said more than half of the nation's state House presiding officers would attend.
"It is a real honor for us to have these outstanding leaders here and also to have an opportunity to showcase one of the most dynamic communities in Mississippi and in the country," Ford said.
The Mississippi speaker said the presiding officers were looking forward to hearing from U.S. Senate Majority Leader Trent Lott, who will address the group at 3:30 p.m. Friday.
"This will be an invaluable chance for us to share with the senator some of our biggest concerns about the relationship between the federal government and the states," Ford said.
Other speakers - most being experts on various parts of state government - will address the group.
But Ford said the best part of the meeting is when the speakers meet by themselves to discuss the issue of how to preside.
"We talk about stuff that we cannot talk about with anyone else," Ford said.
As president, Ford has represented the National Speakers Conference on various trips throughout the country - and also on a trip to Italy.
The trips have been paid for by the National Speakers Conference, which is sponsored by the State Legislative Leaders Foundation, a nonpartisan and nonprofit organization that provides information for legislative leaders.
Funding comes from nearly 100 companies throughout the nation.