Former Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy, a Democrat known for supporting public education, has died at age 77

Former Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy, a Democrat known for supporting public education, has died at age 77
Former Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy, a Democrat known for supporting public education, has died at age 77 (Source: WLBT)

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - A longtime lawmaker says former Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy has died at age 77.

Rep. Steve Holland of Plantersville says McCoy died Tuesday at North Mississippi Medical Center in Tupelo, where he had been hospitalized for about two weeks. Holland is also a funeral director.

McCoy was a Democrat from the north Mississippi town of Rienzi. The farmer and former teacher was first elected to the state House in 1979 and served 28 years. He was speaker of the 122-member chamber from January 2004 until January 2012.

McCoy previously served as chairman of both the Education Committee and the tax-writing Ways and Means Committee.

He chose not to seek reelection to the House in 2011, and Republicans won a supermajority in the chamber that year.

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