- Associated Press - Thursday, June 30, 2016

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The ever-quotable Rep. Steve Holland says he will remain in the Mississippi House, despite announcing to colleagues that he was planning to retire.

The Democrat from Plantersville said in a statement Thursday that he has received “literally hundreds of pleas” from people wanting him to stay.

Holland - at times crude, funny, and by his own admission, hot-headed - has been in the House 33 years. He surprised colleagues during a special session Wednesday by announcing he intended to resign at the close of business Thursday. Moments later, he told reporters he was only about 85 percent sure he’d leave.

His public musing about retirement came just more than a week after his father died, although he said the two events were not connected. Instead, he said he’s concerned about his 85-year-old mother, Lee County Justice Court Judge Sadie Holland, because she operates the family’s funeral business when he’s away.

In a statement first given to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal on Thursday, Holland said “the juggling act to be a Thomas Jefferson legislator and a fulltime, hands-on owner and operator of three funeral homes is a challenge.”

“However, there’s still work to do,” said Holland. “My passion is still extraordinary and my love for the least, last and most vulnerable amongst us is a part of my spiritual mission and journey.”

Northern District Public Service Commissioner Brandon Presley, a fellow Democrat who gave the eulogy at Holland’s father’s funeral, told The Associated Press that he went to the Sadie J Farm - named for Holland’s mother - and spoke with the lawmaker for more than an hour Wednesday night.

Presley said he and Holland had dinner at a fish house after Holland’s father died, and an 80-year-old woman cleared the dishes from their table. Presley said she told Holland not to leave the Legislature because “‘you’re about the only one we can count on down there that cares about us older folks.’” Presley said people like that matter to his friend.

“For all his colorfulness,” Presley said, “there’s a heart the size of Texas beating in that man.”

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Follow Emily Wagster Pettus on Twitter: http://twitter.com/EWagsterPettus .

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