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State Supreme Court sides with governor on partial veto

Mississippi’s Supreme Court overturned a lower courts ruling against Governor Reeves about who has control over the state budget.

Posted: Dec 17, 2020 5:55 PM
Updated: Dec 17, 2020 8:29 PM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves acted within his rights when he partially vetoed a budget bill last July, the state Supreme Court ruled Thursday. The decision is a reversal of a chancery court judge's ruling in October.

“Our Constitution and case law are clear that the power exercised by the Governor was granted to the Governor’s office by the people of Mississippi,” the Supreme Court's ruling reads.

In a statement Thursday, Reeves’ spokesperson, Bailey Martin, said he was pleased the state’s high court “interpreted the constitution the way it was written.”

“This will be an impactful decision — protecting taxpayer dollars — for a long, long time,” she said.

The Republican governor was sued Aug. 5 by House Speaker Philip Gunn and Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White, two fellow Republicans who said Reeves was encroaching on legislators’ power to make budget decisions. The lawmakers pointed to partial vetoes by Reeves on July 8 of legislation to fund state government programs.

At issue was House Bill 1782, which proposed allocating a total of about $130 million in federal coronavirus relief money to various agencies.

In a section allocating $91.9 million to the Mississippi Department of Health, Reeves vetoed a part of the bill that earmarked $2 million of the $91.9 million for North Oaks Regional Medical Center, a hospital that is closed in Tate County. The governor said because it was closed, North Oaks had not provided care to COVID-19 patients.

Reeves also vetoed $6 million to the MAGnet Community Health Disparity Program. He wrote that he was uncomfortable spending that money because he was unfamiliar with the program.

Reeves did not veto other stipulations of the bill, such as that the Mississippi Department of Health give $1.5 million to federally qualified health centers, $1 million specifically to rural hospitals and $80 million to other hospitals.

Citing rulings from the Mississippi Supreme Court in 1995 and 2004, Hinds County Chancery Court Judge Tiffany Grove wrote in her October decision that while a governor has some rights to veto parts of appropriations bills, a governor cannot approve an appropriation and then veto the conditions of that appropriation.

In Grove’s decision, she said that the two allocations were “not separate, distinct appropriations,” but conditions of the $91.9 million appropriation to the Mississippi Department of Health, which Reeves did not specifically object to.

“Despite his admirable intentions, the Partial Veto by Governor Reeves constituted ‘creative legislative power’ which is outside the purview of his executive authority,” Grove wrote.

However, the Mississippi Supreme Court disagreed. It said that although the money was all funneling through the Department of Health, it can't be considered one appropriation as it was being sent to many different organizations.

“The monies were appropriated to multiple, distinct, and separate entities, thus they were multiple separate appropriations,” Supreme Court Chief Justice Michael Randolph wrote in Thursday's majority decision.

The ruling means that the state will not have to pay $2 million to North Oaks Regional Medical Center and $6 million to the MAGnet Community Health Disparity Program. The case will not be reheard.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 501097

Reported Deaths: 9990
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34338538
DeSoto32117403
Hinds31939628
Jackson24494382
Rankin21995390
Lee15543235
Madison14581280
Jones13851242
Forrest13453251
Lauderdale11991317
Lowndes11050188
Lamar10521135
Pearl River9533237
Lafayette8550140
Hancock7732127
Washington7438158
Oktibbeha7146131
Monroe6777177
Warren6694176
Pontotoc6664102
Neshoba6637206
Panola6531131
Marshall6467134
Bolivar6317148
Union602894
Pike5820152
Alcorn5669101
Lincoln5436135
George496879
Scott472898
Tippah469281
Prentiss467281
Leflore4658144
Itawamba4636105
Tate4588111
Adams4587119
Copiah448592
Simpson4446116
Yazoo444187
Wayne439772
Covington428894
Sunflower4239105
Marion4226108
Coahoma4160105
Leake408288
Newton381779
Grenada3707108
Stone360364
Tishomingo359792
Attala331589
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay308076
Chickasaw300367
Clarke292494
Calhoun279446
Holmes267987
Smith264050
Yalobusha234047
Tallahatchie228051
Greene219348
Walthall218763
Lawrence212940
Perry205556
Amite205156
Webster202946
Noxubee186740
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171743
Carroll169138
Tunica159839
Benton148838
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132737
Humphreys129538
Franklin120228
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64120
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 820011

Reported Deaths: 15407
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1148361924
Mobile726091339
Madison52337697
Shelby37622350
Baldwin37258552
Tuscaloosa35117612
Montgomery34116740
Lee23536246
Calhoun22232488
Morgan20952378
Etowah19834500
Marshall18372304
Houston17390412
St. Clair16064339
Cullman15454293
Limestone15349199
Elmore15264286
Lauderdale14314295
Talladega13842283
DeKalb12662261
Walker11206370
Blount10197176
Autauga10047148
Jackson9874184
Coffee9211191
Dale8900185
Colbert8871201
Tallapoosa7089198
Escambia6775134
Covington6713183
Chilton6645162
Russell637059
Franklin5962105
Chambers5610142
Marion5007127
Dallas4975200
Pike4796106
Clarke475784
Geneva4574127
Winston4519103
Lawrence4324117
Bibb425286
Barbour357876
Marengo338390
Monroe331564
Randolph329764
Butler326496
Pickens316384
Henry312766
Hale311688
Cherokee302860
Fayette294180
Washington251651
Cleburne247760
Crenshaw245275
Clay243368
Macon234863
Lamar224447
Conecuh186253
Coosa180240
Lowndes175364
Wilcox168939
Bullock151744
Perry138840
Sumter133238
Greene126744
Choctaw88527
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Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
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