Rep. Martinson retiring; Bomgar considers run

  |   News, Press Release

Longtime state Rep. Rita Martinson, R-Madison, says she won’t seek re-election next year, the end of her sixth term.

Martinson, current chair of the House Tourism Committee, said she wants to spend more time with her family and traveling. But she said she’ll be working “up to the last minute” in her final year.

House Speaker Philip Gunn said: “Rep. Martinson is a wonderful friend, and outstanding leader and a passionate champion for Mississippi tourism. Her leadership in the House will be missed, and I wish her well in her retirement.”

Martinson, longtime owner of nursery and garden center businesses, said she first ran 23 years ago to give small-business owners more of a voice in the Legislature.

She has been a longtime advocate of education reform, and spearheaded passage of the “Third Grade Reading Gate” bill providing more literacy coaching and requiring children to read at grade level before promotion to fourth grade.

As tourism chair since 2012, Martinson has pushed for more funding to market the state’s $6-billion industry and to promote the state’s film and entertainment markets.

In the coming year, Martinson said, studies she’s helped spearhead will likely result in legislation to help market and grow the state’s music and sports industries.

With Martinson leaving, Joel Bomgar, founder of a successful global software company, has expressed interest in running for the seat.

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