/Analysis Could legislative contempt for Gov Tate Reeves create lasting bipartisanship at the Capitol

Analysis Could legislative contempt for Gov Tate Reeves create lasting bipartisanship at the Capitol

Gunn informed Johnson that he was ready to fight Gov. Tate Reeves was possible over what would be a $300 million relief package to small businesses that were affected by the coronavirus virus pandemic. He wanted Democrats at the table early in the process, in case a veto is necessary. “I laughed, and I’m not going to lie. Johnson shared his thoughts with Mississippi Today. Johnson said that Johnson thought, “This will only last one or two meetings and then it’ll fizzle and fall apart.” I told the speaker that if we are going to do it, it had to be real. They proved me wrong. They proved me wrong. The negotiating process was over and Democrats had added several items to their wish list. This included a $40 million relief fund for minority-owned companies. Johnson stated that both Republicans and Democrats felt great walking out of the room after the deal was completed. It’s how the Legislature should function. It’s more efficient when it’s about the people, not the party. Republican leaders have taken exceptional care over the past decade in order to remove Democrats from any influence they once had in Jackson. Gunn was the one who led the effort to exclude Democrats from the legislative process. Gunn did not offer any major committee chairships to Democrats. Split Democrats and Republicans on House chamber’s voting board, so that everyone could see clearly if Republicans were departing from the party line. Gunn even took over office space from Democrats. Gunn spoke in commanding 2015 Neshoba Country Fair speech about the rise and fall of the Mississippi Republican Party. Gunn’s speech was a reminder of how much has changed since then. Gunn didn’t have a Republican governor that publicly threatened to veto Republican policies. He didn’t have any Republican governor who said that “people would perish” because of Republican legislative actions. He didn’t have any Republican governor who suggested Republican legislators were disregarding the state Constitution or “trying” to steal spending authority from the executive. He does. While Republicans have a three-fifths supermajority but not a veto-proof two-thirds majority, Reeves could veto any bill passed by the Legislature, but Republican legislative leaders would need Democratic votes in order to override his veto. Gunn called Johnson last week, and Johnson and the Democratic caucus managed to win the rare victory. Mississippi Today heard this week from lawmakers representing both the House of Representatives and the Senate that there was one thing driving the partisan seachange last week: Reeves’ defeat. Johnson stated that almost all members of the House and Senate have had a personal experience with Tate Reeves. This makes them unable to desire to work with him. “We spent eighteen years together (as lieutenant governor), laying the law. It had to be his way. We now have the opportunity to be legislators, not dictated to. Democrats are present at the table as a result. Mississippi is in a better place because Tate Reeves has resigned.” Trey Lamar (Republican chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee and top lieutenant to Gunn), acknowledged that Democrats were brought to the table due to a possible veto. Long-time opponent of Reeves, Lamar also stated that some of the “public statements (Reeves), made about members of Congress” were what fueled the decision of reaching across the aisle. Lamar stated, “As far I’m concerned (Democrats), I expect them to have a place at the table regardless what the policy issue.” “When we get input from different groups, as we saw last week,” Lamar said, “the byproduct is often a better piece legislation.” “I welcome that, and I look forward to working together in the future,” Democratic and Republican leaders seem optimistic about their ability for cooperation moving forward. Gunn’s newfound goodwill in the House was balanced by Lt. Governor. Since his election last November, Delbert Hosemann has made efforts to include Democrats. Hosemann was able to offer several key Senate chairships to Democrats and has kept Democrats up-to-date about his discussions with the House leadership. Sen. Derrick Simmons (Democratic leader in the Senate) stated that the Senate Democrats have accomplished more under the current leadership in just three months than they did under (Reeves). “It starts by inclusion and respecting different perspectives… I’m optimistic about it being an exciting day in the Mississippi Legislature.” Gunn predicted that Reeves would not rule out the possibility of vetoing the small-business relief package. The bipartisan negotiation process has made the small business bill veto-proof. In the weeks ahead, however, lawmakers will be considering coronavirus relief packages instead of more contentious issues such as public education, corrections, health care and access to polls. These items have sparked more disagreement among party leaders over time. Johnson stated that until something changes, the party leaders will continue to work together as a team. We talk about the crisis but I believe Mississippi has been in crisis for at least 10+ years. It is absurd to talk about Republican versus Democrat in a state with the highest poverty rate, lowest income and highest unemployment. This is not only a problem for Democrats. These things transcend party and racial boundaries. This is a sentiment that I believe all of us share and I hope it keeps you going.