/Reeves says GOP lawmakers suing him because he vetoed ‘payoffs for friends’

Reeves says GOP lawmakers suing him because he vetoed ‘payoffs for friends’

Gunn and White, the House’s most powerful leaders, filed the lawsuit. They were referring to bills that they supported and passed earlier in the year and which funded state public education operations. Reeves attacked the lawsuit via social media and addressed the issue at a press conference. Reeves posted on Facebook that he had vetoed the “payoffs to friends of favored House member” lawsuit. He also claimed that he was defending taxpayers against “pet projects stuck by a legislative bill” and “earmarks” by the Republican-led House. Reeves said that he has already received opposition from Republican lawmakers to the lawsuit by the leadership. Gunn, White, and other legislators declined to comment on Wednesday’s lawsuit. Although the state Constitution grants the governor the power to issue partial vetoes on appropriations and budget bills, multiple rulings by Mississippi Supreme Court have placed restrictions on this authority. In general, the courts have ruled that the governor cannot partially veto conditions or projects in appropriations bills. In recent times, the judiciary has never upheld a partial veto. The courts have held that “the governor cannot pick and choose which parts of bills he vetoes as Gov. The lawsuit claimed that Reeves did this. According to the lawsuit, less than ten years after the Constitution was ratified by the states, the state Supreme Court ruled there were strict limits on partial veto power. According to the suit, the courts ruled that partial veto power could be used if the Legislature passed an “omnibus” appropriations legislation bill. The Legislature would then have the right to veto specific sections of the bill but not individual line items. This is just the latest in a long list of disputes this year between Reeves, and other Republican members of the legislative leaders. They fought over who was allowed to spend $1.25 Billion in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act funds and other issues. Reeves vetoed the majority of funding to local school districts on July 8 because he claimed that the Legislature had not funded a program giving bonuses to top-performing and improving schools. This program is criticised as racially or socioeconomically inequitable. Prior to the veto, legislators said that the Legislature had made a mistake in not funding the program and that the Legislature could fix it without the need for a vote. Reeves’ letter to the state fiscal office authorizing the release and receipt of the first state funding installment for the new fiscal year was sent to school districts. Reeves stated that he was authorized to release the funds on the basis of an opinion by Jim Hood, former Attorney General. This opinion said that schools should be funded regardless if there is a legislative allocation. The Constitution requires a public education system. He defended his vetoes at a Wednesday afternoon press conference but didn’t address the merits. Reeves stated that $2 million was awarded to a closed hospital as a “pet project” for a legislator. Reeves stated that there were many projects with the CARES Act money. One of them was an earmark to Tate County’s hospital — a hospital that hadn’t been opened in two years. “They have not only not treated COVID patients, but they haven’t treated any patients at any time during the pandemic.” Reeves stated that the bill provided for the hospital to receive funds, just like other Mississippi hospitals. If the hospital reopened this fiscal year and started treating coronavirus patients. The Tate County Board of Supervisors is currently in negotiations to reopen this hospital. Reeves stated that another item he vetoed to $6 million to Federally Qualified Health Centers appeared to be earmarked for “a hand selected few FQHCs [to do a disparity analysis]” and leaving out other centers. Legislative leaders may also consider calling themselves back to session to reconsider some of his vetoes. Reeves pointed out that the Legislature’s resolution limits lawmakers’ ability to call themselves into session. Reeves stated, “I think it’s very clear if you actually read and understand the order passed by the House and Senate that they can bring themselves back to discuss any COVID-19-related issues for a total period of six days from now until the end of October.” Reeves is the only person who can call lawmakers back to special session. He said that he was reluctant to do this now because of the outbreak of COVID-19 at Capitol, which infected approximately 50 legislators and staff members in July. Reeves stated that he was not prepared to play political games at any cost to the safety and health of those who enter the (Capitol Building) across the street. Reeves stated that he knew of at least one lawmaker who had recently tested positive. Reeves stated that they want them to return for a special sessions and must bring them back in special sessions. “… However, this lawsuit complicates matters a bit. They chose to sue us instead of working out this matter, which I don’t think was a wise decision. Reeves did not answer media questions about why it would be safe to allow schools to reopen and bars and other businesses to remain open as new cases mount. But he said that the Legislature will not return to session. Reeves noted that many schools have outlined reopening protocols and safety protocols. He also said that young children are less likely to contract COVID-19, or die from it, if they’re infected. Reeves stated that 2020 has seen everything, from tornadoes to prison crises to an indictment of a former state agency head, to the third-largest ever tornado in American history. “… We have dealt with almost everything you can think of, so it is not surprising that some House members are trying to seize power from me. “But I wouldn’t have guessed it a few years ago,” Andy Taggart, a Madison County attorney, is representing the House leaders. Taggart was previously chief of staff to Gov. Kirk Fordice during the 1990s, when his partial vetoes had been ruled unconstitutional. Taggart advocated at the time for a greater partial veto power for the governor. Since the CARES Act requires that the funds be spent within a calendar year, the lawsuit seeks a swift resolution. Reeves stated that there is a small group of House members who only want to fight with me–some liberal Republicans, who have joined forces with liberal House Dems. These days, they run the show: Democrats and some left-leaning GOP lawmakers. Robert Johnson and Trey Lamar (Republican), lead that crew.” “They don’t have the votes override the Vetoes, so they are their Hail Mary,” Reeves said. “I wish they wouldn’t waste your money, and pull us away form all the crises that we’re managing with their nonsense. But it’s their favorite game.” Lamar posted a harsh response on Facebook to Reeves. “… All Mississippi hospitals were eligible for CARES Act funds,” Lamar wrote. “… Tate County Hospital should not be different because it is owned by two people. Let me tell you why. You have admitted that I am the leader of the “opposition” to you in the House. While you publicly accuse me, I am actually playing games with people’s lives. Senatobia’s citizens and Tate County’s residents do not have the ability to access a hospital within 30 miles of their homes. Lamar wrote that nearly everyone I represent could see the urgent and dire need for the hospital’s reopening. “Your personal animus against my was the only reason for the unconstitutional vote.” This is ridiculous and a disrespect to the dignity of your office. Support this work by making a regular donation today, in celebration of our Spring Member Drive.