/Analysis Gov Reeves’ stance in 2016 ‘demon chipmunk’ case could conflict with his claims in fight over COVID-19 funds

Analysis Gov Reeves’ stance in 2016 ‘demon chipmunk’ case could conflict with his claims in fight over COVID-19 funds

Reeves has not denied that the issue could be brought to court. This is a contentious and high stakes battle between legislative and executive branches. The constitutional mandate that every legislator can read a bill before it is voted on in 2016 led to the “demon chipmunk case”. The House leadership used computer-reading software to meet this mandate. It was set to an intelligible high speed. Jay Hughes (D-Oxford), filed a lawsuit to stop it from being read at the demon-chipmunk speed. He claimed it was violating the constitutional mandate. Reeves, at the time lieutenant governor, filed a brief with Supreme Court, arguing that the judiciary was not authorized to decide whether the Legislature had followed its procedural rules. Reeves argued that it didn’t matter that the Constitution mandated the rules. Reeves cited an 1892 case to argue that “the constitution as merely rules of procedure prescribed to the Legislature is committed by the members individually and collectively.” Reeves believes that the bill that was sent to him last Friday may not have been properly before him to sign, or veto, because the Legislature didn’t follow the Constitution’s guidelines. Reeves expressed concern for legislators, saying that he believed they had made a mistake. “At this stage they have not sent any bill. They have given us a piece paper.” Philip Gunn, House Speaker, and Lt. Governor. Delbert Hosemann (who preside over the Senate) has argued that it is clear from the Mississippi Constitution that the Legislature has the power to appropriate funds. The Senate and House members voted in unanimity to pass a bill that would prevent Reeves’s ability to spend the money independently. Reeves claims that legislators failed to consider Section 65, which gives every member the right to make a motion to reconsider a bill’s vote. The motion can be entered by legislators up until the day following the bill’s passage. The motion cannot be moved forward in the legislative process unless it is approved by the majority of the members in the chamber that made it. The leadership moved for the immediate release of the bill after it passed the House. No member opposed. Leaders were then allowed to move the bill to the Senate without delaying it for one day so that House members could make a motion to reconsider. The Senate passed the bill later Friday. The Senate and House then adjourned. According to the website of the Legislature, there was no motion for immediate release in the Senate. This motion could be made the next legislative day. Hosemann and Gunn had signed the bill already and sent it to Reeves. He can sign, veto, or allow the bill become law without his signature. Reeves can veto the bill until Thursday at midnight if he believes the bill is not properly before his eyes. Reeves stated that every legislator has the constitutional right to consider a motion to reconsider a bill one day after it passes. “Just because they’re in a rush to steal the money doesn’t mean that the constitutional right to hold a bill on a motion to reconsider the day after it passes does not mean that the constitutional rights are ignored.” It is unclear what happens next, especially if Reeves decides to ignore the bill based upon the argument that the bill is not properly before him. Legislators might argue that he didn’t act and the bill is now law. This would mean that it is too late for them to review such issues as motions for reconsideration. If Reeves decides to bring the matter to court again, the Supreme Court may rule that it is not its job to monitor whether the Legislature adheres to procedural provisions — as it did with the demon chipmunks case. If legislators want to be clear about the procedure, they could give a senator the option of making a motion to reconsider their decision when they return to work on Thursday. If that motion is made, it could be defeated based on Friday’s vote. The legislation would then be sent back to Reeves. The bill would then be sent to Reeves for his decision. Although the Legislature was supposed to return by May 18, legislative leaders announced that the Legislature would reconvene on Thursday at noon. Senate leaders have yet to comment on the motion to reconsider the issue._x000D