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.

Cases: 314710

Reported Deaths: 7254
CountyCasesDeaths
DeSoto21646260
Hinds20369416
Harrison17949309
Rankin13643278
Jackson13450246
Madison10113217
Lee9986174
Jones8384163
Forrest7689152
Lauderdale7198240
Lowndes6403148
Lamar623686
Lafayette6203119
Washington5341134
Bolivar4802132
Oktibbeha462998
Panola4596107
Pearl River4519146
Marshall4450103
Warren4393121
Pontotoc420872
Monroe4115133
Union411176
Neshoba4031176
Lincoln3969110
Hancock379586
Leflore3498125
Sunflower336290
Tate334784
Pike3327105
Scott316274
Alcorn313368
Yazoo311770
Itawamba300577
Copiah297465
Coahoma295579
Simpson295388
Tippah288768
Adams286982
Prentiss280060
Marion269380
Leake268473
Wayne262841
Grenada261587
Covington259881
George248148
Newton246862
Winston227581
Tishomingo227067
Jasper221148
Attala214473
Chickasaw208057
Holmes189174
Clay185554
Stone182833
Tallahatchie178941
Clarke178080
Calhoun170932
Yalobusha164638
Smith162534
Walthall134245
Greene130633
Lawrence128724
Montgomery127142
Noxubee126734
Perry126338
Amite123142
Carroll121829
Webster114532
Jefferson Davis107133
Tunica105726
Claiborne102430
Benton100025
Humphreys96733
Kemper95828
Franklin83923
Quitman81116
Choctaw76418
Wilkinson67531
Jefferson65728
Sharkey50217
Issaquena1686
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 539829

Reported Deaths: 11038
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson798271529
Mobile41261809
Madison35132506
Tuscaloosa25915455
Shelby25294249
Montgomery24705593
Baldwin21392310
Lee15987172
Calhoun14569319
Morgan14422280
Etowah13918353
Marshall12275225
Houston10641282
Elmore10147206
Limestone10065151
St. Clair9946245
Cullman9761194
Lauderdale9457243
DeKalb8865188
Talladega8339176
Walker7260278
Autauga7001108
Jackson6836112
Blount6771139
Colbert6320135
Coffee5578118
Dale4876113
Russell445138
Chilton4369113
Franklin426282
Covington4138118
Tallapoosa4044153
Escambia394777
Chambers3590123
Dallas3568153
Clarke351461
Marion3137101
Pike311977
Lawrence302698
Winston275773
Bibb264564
Geneva254078
Marengo249665
Pickens234862
Barbour232056
Hale223978
Butler219069
Fayette212662
Henry189643
Cherokee184645
Randolph182442
Monroe178141
Washington167739
Macon161150
Clay157157
Crenshaw153557
Cleburne149641
Lamar143236
Lowndes140553
Wilcox127430
Bullock123242
Conecuh110829
Coosa109228
Perry107826
Sumter104932
Greene92634
Choctaw61024
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