Mississippi House leaders sue governor over partial vetoes

Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn

The two top leaders of the Mississippi House are suing Gov. Tate Reeves over his partial veto of some state budget bills.

Posted: Aug 6, 2020 9:56 AM

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The two top leaders of the Mississippi House are suing Gov. Tate Reeves over his partial veto of some state budget bills, setting up another conflict among some of the state's top Republicans.

House Speaker Philip Gunn and Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White, who are both in the GOP, filed the lawsuit Wednesday in Hinds County Chancery Court.


Mississippi Rep. Jason White serves Attala, Carroll, Holmes and Leake counties.

Mississippi's 65th governor Tate Reeves | Source: Tate Reeves/Facebook

The lawsuit says the Mississippi Supreme Court has ruled in multiple cases that the state constitution prohibits a governor from vetoing a portion of a budget bill.

Republican Reeves is in his first year as governor after eight years as lieutenant governor. While he was lieutenant governor, he presided over the Senate and exerted considerable influence over the budget.

Reeves lashed out at legislators for filing a lawsuit.

“There's a small group in the House that only wants to pick fights with me — some liberal Republicans who've joined forces with liberal House Dems,” Reeves wrote Wednesday on Twitter.

On July 8, Reeves vetoed parts of two bills to fund state government programs for the year that began July 1.

He vetoed multiple sections of House Bill 1700, the education budget bill, because it did not include nearly $25 million for the school recognition program that provides bonus pay for teachers in public schools that show significant improvement or that maintain high performance.

“I find it exceptionally odd that the leader of the House Education Committee has said that it was a mistake leaving out the school recognition program and that they could have easily fixed that,” Reeves said during a news conference Wednesday. “But then yet they are going to sue, say I don’t have the authority to actually line-item veto.”

The other partial vetoes were in House Bill 1782, which allocated federal coronavirus relief money to various agencies. Reeves vetoed a part of that bill that directed $2 million to 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 a part of House Bill 1782 that directed $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.

The House leaders' lawsuit says that the Mississippi Supreme Court ruled in 1898, 1995 and 2004 that a governor cannot veto parts of budget bills.

Referring to the 2004 case, the lawsuit says, “our high court made it clear that it meant what it had said in the course of the previous century — the governor of our state still does not have the legal authority to pick and choose line items of appropriations bills he likes and line items he doesn't like.”

The lawsuit asks a judge to uphold the previous Supreme Court rulings and declare that Reeves's partial vetoes are invalid and the budget bills have become law.

Earlier this year, legislators prevailed in a power struggle with Reeves over who has the authority to spend coronavirus relief money from the federal government. Reeves said he did, but legislators asserted control over the money by saying that the state constitution gives the legislative branch the power to make budget decisions.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Confirmed Cases: 96677

Reported Deaths: 2911
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Hinds7143160
DeSoto559460
Harrison388374
Jackson350570
Madison331089
Rankin330679
Lee273670
Forrest248973
Jones248779
Washington225977
Lafayette219139
Lauderdale2059125
Bolivar184566
Oktibbeha179952
Lamar171635
Lowndes158058
Neshoba1579104
Panola149930
Sunflower147146
Leflore141081
Warren140750
Pontotoc127816
Pike124051
Monroe123568
Copiah119133
Scott117627
Coahoma116329
Marshall110617
Lincoln110253
Holmes109859
Grenada109036
Yazoo106230
Simpson104646
Tate100437
Union99824
Leake96038
Adams94137
Wayne90421
Pearl River89253
Marion86535
Prentiss86217
Covington82722
Itawamba82621
Alcorn82011
George78013
Tallahatchie77321
Newton77224
Winston74219
Tishomingo69038
Chickasaw68424
Tippah67117
Attala66725
Walthall60126
Clarke60046
Clay59518
Hancock58722
Jasper57515
Noxubee55116
Smith53415
Calhoun52112
Tunica49715
Claiborne46516
Montgomery46420
Yalobusha43514
Lawrence43313
Perry42419
Greene38817
Humphreys37715
Quitman3775
Stone37412
Jefferson Davis34211
Webster33813
Amite33210
Carroll31912
Wilkinson30518
Kemper29015
Sharkey26613
Jefferson2439
Benton2273
Franklin1933
Choctaw1866
Issaquena1053
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Confirmed Cases: 134231

Reported Deaths: 2357
CountyConfirmedDeaths
Jefferson19676351
Mobile13373292
Montgomery8834184
Tuscaloosa8621118
Madison788178
Shelby597849
Lee589760
Baldwin547750
Marshall394343
Calhoun351544
Etowah349045
Morgan329228
Houston290321
Elmore266748
DeKalb241621
St. Clair232235
Walker231684
Talladega216629
Limestone210120
Cullman189920
Dallas179026
Franklin177129
Autauga176425
Russell17603
Lauderdale171333
Colbert164626
Blount161115
Escambia160824
Chilton158530
Jackson157511
Covington140127
Dale138644
Coffee13486
Pike119810
Chambers116442
Tallapoosa116085
Clarke109116
Marion96429
Butler91239
Barbour8827
Winston74412
Marengo72020
Pickens66214
Bibb65410
Lowndes65327
Randolph64713
Hale63528
Geneva6254
Lawrence62023
Cherokee60813
Bullock60414
Monroe5898
Clay5858
Washington55713
Perry5416
Crenshaw53732
Conecuh53511
Wilcox53111
Henry5055
Macon48018
Fayette4578
Sumter43819
Cleburne3805
Lamar3672
Choctaw34712
Greene30315
Coosa1713
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