It’s hard to believe, but Tate Reeves has only been in the Governor’s office for less than a year.
Little did he know he would be coming in with multiple challenges ahead including floods, tornadoes, a pandemic, tropical storms, a state flag issue, protests, and at times, a legislative tug-of-war.
Did I leave anything out?
Finding solutions for the issues, and getting everyone to agree, is the tough part, but it is doable.
Lawmakers returned to the Capitol on Monday and passed a budget bill for the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.
On Tuesday, Governor Reeves appeared on the Paul Gallo Show on SuperTalk Mississippi and commended House and Senate leaders for getting it done. “We all worked very hard over the last several months to find a solution. I do not encourage you to watch the making of the sausage, but at the end of the day, the sausage tends to taste pretty good.”
Reeves said, “This particular bill funds the Department of Marine Resources and its 180 employees, primarily law enforcement. This is a positive outcome for the state. We worked closely with leaders, particularly on the Gulf Coast, to get to a resolution and I think it’s one everyone is happy with.”
While the legislature was in session, Chris Graham was confirmed as the new Department of Revenue Commissioner and Sally Doty was confirmed as the new leader of the Public Utilities Staff. In addition, James Rowland (Jim) Cooper and Anthony Layne (Tony) Smith were confirmed to the State Parole Board. “I talked to Lt. Governor Hosemann over the weekend about all four of those nominations I made, and I believe all four were unanimously confirmed by the Senate, so I appreciate that.”
Reeves noted there were a few vetos the legislature chose not to take up. “The bill with respect to felonies being expunged and other bills not being taken up, so in essence, those vetoes have been sustained.”
In a Facebook post on July 8th, Reeves explained why he vetoed the criminal justice reform legislation:
I also had to veto House Bill 658 and Senate Bill 2123. The proponents call these criminal justice reform bills. I’ve been in favor of significant criminal justice reform bills in the past. I’ve helped make sure they become law. In fact, I signed a different one today that helps provide for better reentry into society after imprisonment. I’m generally sympathetic to the arguments. These individual bills go too far.
Right now, under Mississippi law, you can erase one felony from your record after a few years. One of these bills says that criminals can get three separate felony incidents erased from their record. To me, that goes too far. We can’t have career criminals walking around with no records. The law enforcement community that I spoke with agreed.
The same goes for Senate Bill 2123 – well-intentioned but too far. For example, it says a criminal can get parole if they’re convicted of crimes that could get them the death penalty but they get sentenced to life imprisonment instead. Another example: Right now, you’re eligible to get out of prison at 60 unless you’re a trafficker, habitual offender, or violent criminal. This totally eliminates those protections. I got countless calls from law enforcement and prosecutors about the risk it creates.
Contrary to what some will say, this was not a conservative reform effort. While some of my friends and good people supported it, two-thirds of Republicans in the Senate voted against it. That says something to me.
If they want to try again, I’ll listen. This was not the right approach.
I know that I’ll get attacked and protested for this. In a time when efforts to “defund police” and “dismantle the criminal justice system” are part of the discussion, they’ll probably try to paint any effort at law and order as the radical position. It’s all part of the job—this is the right thing to do.
Reeves said he is very interested in the issue. “I think it’s important that we continue to look for ways to ensure that those inmates who serve their time can reenter society and do so in such a way where they can be productive members of society.”
“I’ve talked with Corrections Commissioner Burl Cain and we’ve got to do a better job on reentry programs,” said Reeves. “I think that’s the key and where we really need to focus our efforts. We’re going to work with the House and Senate leaders to do that.”