Mississippi Gov. Tate Reeves speaks at a news briefing following the signing ceremony on Wednesday, April 19, 2023, at a state office building in Jackson, Miss. (AP Photo/Rogelio V. Solis - Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)
This year’s line-item vetoes center around specific projects outlined in two bills with nine projects that were previously vetoed in the 2022 session.
Governor Tate Reeves used his executive authority to veto bills that passed the Mississippi Legislature, making multiple line-item vetoes as well as vetoing other bills in their entirety.
Prior to adjournment of the 2023 legislative session, Reeves vetoed two bills pertaining to insurance: SB 2224 and SB 2622.
RELATED: Governor Reeves makes first vetoes of the 2023 Legislative session
Full Bill Vetoes
Governor Reeves vetoed Senate Bill 2612 which would have removed permitting requirements for home construction. In his veto message, Reeves pointed out that the law referenced in the bill had only been in place since 2022. He found that to be too soon to determine if the legislation had a benefit or detriment to the community.
“I have been urged by many organizations and builders to veto Senate Bill 2612. Specifically, the Mississippi State Board of Contractors, the state agency created by the Mississippi Legislature for the specific purpose of protecting the health, safety and general welfare of all persons dealing with those engaged in the vocation of contracting,” wrote Reeves in the veto message.
He added that the Board of Contractors believes a veto of this bill is necessary. The Board said the current law aims “to protect against incompetent, inexperienced, unlawful and fraudulent acts of contractors.”
The Legislature may reconsider removing permitting requirements again in the future or could seek to override the veto when they reconvene.
Governor Reeves also made a full veto of Senate Bill 2054. This bill was intended to provide an additional method for removing appointed public officials from office. It would have applied to those who serve on various boards or commissions within the state.
The bill says an appointed person can be taken out of office if a “complaint” centered around “willful neglect” is witnessed and made by the Governor, State Auditor or member of the House or Senate. It would have also barred anyone removed from a position from further serving in an appointed position.
State law outlines ways in which public officials can be removed from an office, according to Governor Reeves. Reasons for removal can include conviction of a felony, misappropriation of public funds or willful neglect of duty. This statute can be applied to an official that is appointed or elected.
“I have concerns regarding the wisdom of the proposed absolute bar on any future office by an appointed officer removed from office pursuant to the new subsection of Mississippi code 25-5-1.” said Governor Reeves in the veto message. “No such bar is authorized by Article 6, Section 175 of the Constitution, and such a bar would constitute Legislative constraint on executive appointment authority that may run afoul of Article 1, Section 1 of the Constitution.”
Outside of the Governor’s full bill vetoes, Reeves made 15 line-item vetoes in two particular bills, totaling roughly $23.15 million.
Within House Bill 1089, Governor Reeves authorized the veto of several re-appropriations. The legislature listed 280 projects in HB 1353 in 2022, of which Reeves vetoed nine of them. This year, those nine-project returned in HB 1089.
“Despite the fact that nine of those appropriations were previously vetoed, all nine are contained in Section 1 of House bill 1089. While I believe this clarifying and correcting of names for certain projects does not reauthorize those appropriations that no longer exist, to avoid any legal ambiguity, I am again vetoing the following appropriations,” said Reeves.
Line-item vetoes in HB 1089 include:
• $1,000,000 appropriation to the City of Jackson to pay costs associated with construction of a parking lot and related facilities at the Jackson Convention Center.
• $50,000 appropriation to Arise and Shine, Inc. to provide programing and services in Copiah County.
• $1,000,000 appropriation to the Scenic Rivers Development Alliance for various facility improvements including golf cart path repairs and course equipment upgrades at Quail Hollow Golf Course.
• $250,000 appropriation to the Briarwood Pool to pay costs associated with facility improvements.
• $1,000,000 appropriation to the City of Pascagoula to pay costs associated with renovations of city offices.
• $2,000,000 appropriation to the City of Jackson to pay costs associated with the Jackson Planetarium.
• $200,000 appropriation to the Summit Community Development Foundation to pay costs associated with the Stand Pipe project.
• $500,000 appropriation to the City of Greenville to pay costs associated with the construction and development of a downtown green space.
• $13,250,000 appropriation to the Department of Finance and Administration to pay costs associated with the development of the LeFleur’s Bluff Otter Creek Golf Park and Connector Trail Project.
At nearly 2:00 a.m. on sine die, April 1, the Legislature passed House Bill 603. This is a special funds, or project, bill. Governor Reeves claims in this veto message that HB 603 is actually an appropriations bill. State law requires appropriations bills to pass with at least five days left on the calendar. However, the bill moved forward within the last four days of the session.
“Thus, the passage of HB 603 violates Article 4, Section 68 of the Constitution,” said Governor Reeves.
Regardless, Reeves chose to keep the bill intact and treat it as a properly filed appropriations bill. He says the Mississippi Supreme Court could still opine on the legislation.
Line-item vetoes for HB 603 include:
• Two appropriations totaling $2,000,000 to the City of Jackson to pay costs associated with the Jackson Planetarium.
• $500,000 appropriation to the City of Greenville to pay costs associated with repairs and renovations to Frisby Park, Greenville Municipal, Maude Bryan Park and Rounds Park.
• $500,000 appropriation to the Mississippi Development Authority for the purpose of providing funding to WISPR Systems in Batesville for research and development to expand its current small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS) manufacturing capabilities in Mississippi.
• $300,000 appropriation to the Mississippi Department of Finance and Administration to pay costs associated with the program established under Section 3 of House Bill No. 419, 2023 Regular Session.
• $600,000 appropriation to Greene County to assist in paying costs associated with the rehabilitation and repair of the Greene County Rural Events Center.
The Legislature will have an opportunity in 2024 to override any of the Governor’s vetoes with a two-thirds vote of each body.