/Legislature to reconvene Monday amid battle with Gov Reeves

Legislature to reconvene Monday amid battle with Gov Reeves

Speaker Philip Gunn, and Pro Tem Jason White were the two top leaders of the GOP-controlled House. They sued Republican Reeves for his line-items vetoes of large portions of the public education budget as well as parts of a federal COVID-19 relief funding bill for health care providers. Reeves is not authorized by the Constitution to select and veto legislative spending items — an ongoing battle between the Legislature, governors and lawmakers in which the Legislature has generally won in court. Reeves called the lawsuit a “power grab”, accused his fellow Republican leaders as being “liberal” and stated that his vetoes were protecting taxpayers against “payoffs to friends” and “pet project” spending on Mississippi’s federal coronavirus aid. After two terms as lieutenant governor and one term as governor, Reeves has often clashed with fellow Republican legislative leaders. The two have fought over whether or not the governor or legislature has the authority to spend $1.25 million in federal COVID-19 assistance for Mississippi — with Reeves winning — and other issues. Reeves was a strong control freak who often clashed frequently with fellow Republican leaders while he was lieutenant governor. Reeves is a governor and has very limited power over legislation. Reeves noted this week that the Legislature’s resolution limits lawmakers’ ability to call themselves into session. Reeves, who is the only person authorized to call lawmakers back to session, said that he doesn’t think he can do it now because of an epidemic of COVID-19 at Capitol which infected approximately 50 legislators and staff members in July. Gunn and Lieutenant Governor can now be reelected by the legislature. Delbert Hosemann, who is the Senate’s President, can co-convene the Legislature to discuss COVID-19-related matters. One could argue that Reeves partial veto on the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Acts Bill for Health Care provides gives legislators the power to reconvene, as well as changes in federal rules on how states may spend the CARES Act money. The most urgent of Reeves five partial or full vetoes, issued in July, is the partial veto the bill that funds public kindergarten-through-12th grade schools. To override any veto, it will require a two-thirds vote. To vote on any other issue than coronavirus-related legislation based upon the resolution passed by legislators, it will also take a two thirds vote in both chambers. The House would be the first to attempt to override either the partial veto of the education budget bill or the partial veto of the CARES Act. With a two-thirds vote, the Legislature could also try to pass a budget of the Department of Marine Resources. This agency provides regulatory and law enforcement services in the Gulf of Mexico. The Legislature aborted on July 1, without reaching agreement on a budget. Reeves stated that legislative leaders didn’t have the votes “to override vetoes”, so they filed the lawsuit to show their support. He also said that many Republican legislators don’t want him to fight them and are worried about the Legislature’s embrace of liberalism. However, legislative sources claim that the Republican leadership has all the votes to repeal the vetoes. Reeves is also overstepping his constitutional authority in the role of governor. Gunn and Hosemann issued Friday’s formal call for the session at 1 p.m. Monday. To support this work, you can make a regular donation to the Spring Member Drive today. This will allow us to continue important work such as this one.