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College Board’s upcoming vacancies bring up questions about Governor’s appointment timeline

Updated: May. 7, 2021 at 7:36 PM CDT
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - A special called meeting from the College Board sparks questions about the Governor’s timeline for making various appointments.

Headshots of the four College Board members whose terms expire at midnight had already been removed from Board room at the time of Friday’s noon meeting. With no new appointees waiting in the wings, it leaves eight members.

That’s the minimum number needed for the board to conduct business which could be a potential issue if anyone is out or recuses themself from a vote.

Governor Reeves office said he’ll make appointments at the appropriate time and a special session won’t be needed. But some are concerned that those weren’t made sooner.

“There’s no real excuse for not having appointed people because you know when everybody’s term expires and you have plenty of time to search and make an appointment,” noted former Jackson State University professor Dr. Ivory Phillips.

Senator Hillman Frazier says delays have become the norm for Reeves.

“That’s been one of the bad qualities of the Governor, because when he was serving as Lieutenant Governor, it took him a long time to make appointments to committees and assign bills to committees and that put us in a very difficult position for processing legislation,” said Frazier. “This is part of him. Very slow to make appointments. It does not serve the state well to delay appointments like this.”

But it’s not isolated to the College Board. Reeves has yet to appoint two Board of Education members and his appointments weren’t made in time for the first state flag commission meeting.

Still, Senator Joey Fillingane says it’s not a fair comparison to look at the timeline of appointments from previous Governors... pointing to the flooding, prison violence, and pandemic that Reeves has dealt with.

“In the Governor’s defense, I would prefer to have him take time to make sure that he gets the right appointees to serve in these roles as opposed to just expeditiously appointing a bunch of people and then we find out later on but they weren’t for thoroughly vetted,” explained Fillingane.

When asked about the slower timeline for making appointments, the Governor’s office had this response.

“As you probably know, Governor Reeves takes a thoughtful, measured approach to every decision he makes,” said Communications Director Bailey Martin. “With 13 federally declared disasters in the last year, he has obviously had more tough decisions to make in a short time frame than any Governor in Mississippi history. Even so, he has made dozens and dozens of appointments during the last year and will continue to make important appointments as vacancies actually occur.”

Both Frazier and Fillingane say any new appointees could serve until the legislature reconvenes and confirms them.

The Senate is responsible for reviewing background checks and information about the appointee before deciding whether they’ll confirm that individual. With out of session appointments, it could mean any new trustees named while they’re out of session could be forced off the board if the Senate fails to confirm them upon their return in January.

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