A Hinds County judge has ruled that Governor Tate Reeves’ partial veto of a bill allocating a portion of Mississippi’s CARES Act funds was unconstitutional.
Reeves’ partial veto of HB 1782, which appropriated over $130 million to the state’s hospitals, was challenged by Speaker of the House Philip Gunn and Speaker Pro Tempore Jason White on the grounds that the governor overstepped the boundaries of his office by striking several lines of the bill. Hinds County Chancellor Tiffany Grove ruled in favor of House leadership, nullifying the partial veto and placing HB 1782 in its entirety into law.
Outlined in a social media post, the lines called into question by the governor pertained to $2 million in funding to North Oak Regional Medical Center, a hospital that is currently closed, and $6 million to the ‘MAGnet Community Health Disparity Program.’
“There was an earmark to give $6 million of CARES Act funds to a cherry-picked corporation to address disparity. That kind of work is necessary. If they gave it to the health department that’d be fine. But there’s no justification for slipping it to handpicked interests and letting them dole it out to others for a vague mission. There has to be accountability. They earmarked $2 million from the CARES Act for a business deal with a Tate County hospital that has been closed since 2018–how does that have anything to do with COVID-19? They’ve been closed for two years,” the July post reads.
In a response to the governor, Rep. Trey Lamar explained that the $2 million for North Oak was contingent upon the hospital’s ability to reopen this fall. If the facility did not reopen, the funding would’ve been added to the portion of the bill authorizing the reimbursement of other hospitals.
The governor could choose to appeal the decision to the Mississippi Supreme Court.
If you’re smarter than me and can understand all of the legal jargon, you can view the court’s full decision – here.
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