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‘Cheap theatrics and false personal insults’: Gunn blisters Reeves over CARES Act spending authority

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Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn speaks during the Neshoba County Fair in Philadelphia, Miss., Thursday, Aug. 1, 2019. (Photo by Eric J. Shelton/Mississippi Today, Report For America. Used with permission.)

Speaker of the House Philip Gunn blistered Gov. Tate Reeves in a seven-page letter sent on Monday, disputing statements Reeves has made concerning legislation passed last week that prevents the governor from spending $1.25 billion in federal coronavirus relief funds.

For weeks, Reeves had insisted he had sole spending authority over the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act funds. But on Friday, the Legislature convened weeks ahead of schedule to pass a bill that would strip the governor of sole spending authority of the coronavirus stimulus funds.

Reeves has since criticized lawmakers in press conferences and in national television interviews, accusing legislators of engaging “in petty political difference” and saying under “the worse case scenario (because of the legislative action), people will die.”

Those comments from Reeves prompted Gunn, the third-term Republican speaker from Clinton, to send the Monday letter, which was obtained by Mississippi Today.

“Since the passage of Senate Bill 2772, you have made statements that are completely incorrect and/or misleading, and you have attacked my House members and the legislative process,” Gunn wrote to Reeves. “In your comments Friday, you portrayed legislators as thieves and killers. You said we ‘stole the money’ and people would die. Such cheap theatrics and false personal insults were beneath the dignity of your office. They were out of character for you personally.”

The letter is the latest in a back-and-forth between Republican leaders over who should have the federal spending authority. Lt. Gov. Delbert Hosemann, who worked alongside Gunn to pass the legislation last week, defended the Legislature’s stance in a weekend op-ed.

In his letter, Gunn details 12 separate points he disagrees with the governor on, ranging from the handling of unemployment benefits, who has the authority to spend these funds and whether the governor needs access to these dollars to address any emergencies that may arise.

Reeves has said the Legislature’s actions could cause people hired to handle unemployment claims to be laid off because they were going to be paid with federal funds, and the Legislature’s authority over those monies might mean there would not be enough money to pay unemployment claims. However, money meant to be used for unemployment claims is in a separate pot of money not impacted by the Legislature’s actions.

Gunn’s letter also rebuffed the notion that the Legislature’s actions were part of a political battle and encouraged Reeves to work with legislative leaders.

“We request that you stop attempting to sensationalize this situation and work with the Legislature to solve the issues before us,” Gunn wrote. “This is the spirit in which our government has worked since 1817 and it shouldn’t stop today. We invite you to put aside an all out media war with the legislative branch and to work with us to provide the checks and balances that the spending of $1.25 billion should require.”

When asked if he had a response to the letter during a Monday afternoon press conference, Reeves said: “I honestly don’t have any idea what you’re talking about… I haven’t read any letter from the Speaker or otherwise.”

The governor suggested he would veto the bill, but did not say that outright when asked whether he planned to.

“Wouldn’t you veto the bill?” Reeves said. “Wouldn’t you fight for the people of Mississippi to get them money not on May 18, but now?”

The governor has five days to veto a bill after it is passed when the Legislature is in session, but members can still override a veto with a two-thirds vote. 

“I’ve been around the legislative process long enough to know that the first vote doesn’t guarantee the second vote,” he said.

Reeves also suggested that a court battle was possible if the legislators voted to override his veto.

“I can’t tell you with certainty what we’re going to do,” he said, “… but we certainly feel like if (legislators) were successful at maintaining that this continues, then I would think that it’s possible that at some point the courts would weigh in and … break the tie.”

Read Gunn’s letter to Reeves 5 4 20 (PDF)

Read Gunn’s letter to Reeves 5 4 20 (Text)


This article first appeared on Mississippi Today and is republished here under a Creative Commons license.

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Vicksburg Firefighters quickly extinguish apartment fire

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Firefighters at the Shadow Cliff Apartment fire. (Photo by Tommy Parker)

Vicksburg firefighters quickly extinguished a stove top fire at the Shadow Cliff Apartments on Alcorn Drive Monday Night.

 

At 10:08 p.m. a fire was reported at the apartments that sit between the New Main apartments and Greater Grove Missionary Church. Alcorn Drive was shut down as firefighters worked to supply water to the fire.

The resident, who is visually impaired, smelled smoke and did exactly what firefighters and Chief Danczyk recommend – if you smell smoke call 911.

The resident had left something on the stove and it burned, creating the smoke.

“I always take fire calls seriously. Several years ago I answered a call where there were children still in a house. I had to put them out of a window then follow them out. This one turned out well in that no one was injured. Don’t hesitate if you think you have a fire. Dial 911 and get out!” explained a passionate Eric Paymon, Adam 3 with the Vicksburg Police Department.

Battalion 1, Platform 1, Ladder 3, Rescue, Fire Medics and numerous Vicksburg police officers including Adam 3, responded to the fire.

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China Grove temporarily closed due to an accident

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The Kia Forte and utility pole. (photo by Tommy Parker)

At 9:06 p.m. Monday night, a call came into the 911 call center of a single vehicle accident at 2060 China Grove Road. The impact took out power to the area and created a hazardous situation with power lines on the ground.

 

The area between Gibson Road and Nine Mile Cutoff will be closed while the wreck is cleaned up.

A utility pole was knocked down by the impact of the vehicle that ended up on its roof. Power to the immediate area is out and there are power lines on the ground. About 10 homes are without power according to Entergy.

The Kia Forte with full air bag deployment with electric wires on it. (Photo by Tommy Parker)

The driver of the grey Kia Forte suffered only minor injuries. He was checked out by first responders and released at the scene.

Daniel Thomas is working the accident for the Warren County Sheriff’s Office being assisted by Deputies Cordell Watkins and Thomas McBride . Responding to the accident were Fire Boss Jerry Briggs, Fisher Ferry Chief Mitch Lange along with Tim Wood and Robin Knighton of the Fisher Ferry fire department who worked the accident scene from Engine 303.

First responders and Warren County Fire Boss Jerry Briggs are requesting you avoid the area until the accident scene is deemed safe.

 

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City says gas smell poses no danger

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(Image by Steve Buissinne from Pixabay)

Numerous Vicksburg residents have reported a strong odor similar to natural gas in the city.

City officials say the smell is apparently due to a release on the harbor, and that it poses no danger.

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Vicksburg
30°
Clear
6:47am4:58pm CST
Feels like: 30°F
Wind: 0mph SE
Humidity: 95%
Pressure: 30.26"Hg
UV index: 0
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55/32°F
63/45°F
54/39°F

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