Legislature discussing possible override of Governor’s line-item vetoes

Published: Jan. 4, 2023 at 7:21 PM CST
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JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - Some tension seems to be brewing between the legislative and executive branches. And it could result in the legislature taking the rare step of overriding some of the Governor’s vetoes from last year.

The State Supreme Court considered this same idea of line-item vetoes in 2020. And ruled the Governor was within his authority to partially veto appropriation bills.

It’s now week one of 2023 and along with the welcomes was a message from the Governor. It was the official delivery of the Governor’s 10 line-item vetoes he made in April, four of which were Jackson-area projects. One had already had a ribbon cutting with state and federal officials in attendance.

“I think that we have the votes override,” said House Minority Leader Rep. Robert Johnson.

And that’s the current conversation taking place under the Capitol dome.

“When a governor starts line item things in a bill, especially a bill that was almost unanimously passed by both houses, then the governor is no longer an executive, then he becomes a legislator,” added Johnson. “And I don’t think we want to see that power. Well, no, we don’t want to see that power to the government. That’s our job. And so we need to take that job back.”

In the Governor’s veto message, he references the section of the state Constitution that states he may veto parts of any appropriation bill. But Sen. John Horhn makes this point...

“The bill that that’s in question is not an appropriation bill,” said Sen. Horhn. “It’s a transfer bill. And so it should not fall under the purview of the governor’s ability to line out and veto different measures, and especially the conditions in those bills. The big issue is one of whether the governor has the authority to veto a condition that the legislature has decided they wanted to include in some legislation.”

For Horhn, it’s less about the fact that Jackson’s projects were lost with the vetoes and more so about the power.

Rep. Chris Bell, though, has a two-fold concern.

“A lot of those things that were in that in that bill, the city of Jackson needs,” he said. “We have checks and balances. And this is one of the checks and balances that we’re going to work through and see if we can get things right.”

The clock is ticking because lawmakers have a short timeframe to decide whether they’ll take a vote to override the vetoes.

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