For now, legislative leaders Lt. Governor Delbert Hosemann, Speaker Philip Gunn and Governor Tate Reeves seem to have found at least common ground when it comes to the dispute over appropriating CARES Act dollars.
Shortly after the Legislature returned to work today, Hosemann and Gunn appeared with Governor Reeves at his daily press conference to discuss the agreement made on how to appropriate the CARES Act money.
“We know who needs this money. I believe the three of us and other legislators can work to get this money to the people who need it,” said Reeves. He added that it is his priority to get money to people as fast as possible.
He also said during conversations it became apparent who needs the money. Leadership seemed to be in agreement on what direction bills would go over the next few days.
Hosemann said he would ask his Senators to hold SB 2772 as they formulate a plan on how the monies would be divided. He said during this time work will continue. Hosemann added it is important for Mississippians to know that these three leaders all came together to find a solution yesterday.
“We are all here to work on solutions for Mississippians,” said Hosemann. “We are going to work to allocate these dollars to people as quick as humanly possible.”
Gunn also thanked the Governor for working with himself and Legislature to find a solution. He said all three agreed that the priority lies with small businesses at this time. Gunn said that will be what lawmakers work on as soon as this afternoon. He said they plan to be able to release that plan as soon as the beginning of next week.
“We agree for us to work together is a priority. I want to thank the Governor for his leadership. We are here to move forward for Mississippians,” said Gunn.
According to members, it is likely that the first step for the Legislature will be for a Senator to enter a motion to reconsider. Today is the first technical working day since the nearly unanimous vote was taken on SB 2772. The bill was passed by both houses Friday. With that motion, the clock will now be reset for the bill, allowing time for Hosemann and Gunn to guide their chambers in forming a more definitive framework for legislation that takes into account legislative priorities.
The provision to allow this action is in Section 65 of the Mississippi Constitution says this:
“All votes on the final passage of any measure shall be subject to reconsideration for at least one whole legislative day, and no motion to reconsider such vote shall be disposed of adversely on the day on which the original vote was taken, except on the last day of the session.”
Leaving the bill active will allow legislators to craft a bill or multiple bills to allocate CARES Act proceeds, but the change in timeline could also de-escalate the disagreements leadership have had over the dollars. This ability to collaborate would mean legislative discretion into the process of CARES Act funding
The motion will now put the crafting of legislation in the hands of House and Senate members. They will be required to meet federal guidelines while also deploying funds with both the speed and flexibility required to react in this particular emergency.
Some insight as to what that plan could look like came from Sen. Chad McMahan in an OP-ED to Y’all Politics on Wednesday.
Sen. McMahan outlines specifically possible monies going to rural internet, distance learning, unemployment tax offsets, hospital funding, and local/county expenditures. While Governor Reeves said he has not had a chance to read Sen. McMahan’s article, he does believe those are five areas of priority and areas in which he has been in support of funding since the pandemic begin.
He said at this time his priority is on small businesses and anticipates seeing Legislature move quickly to help relieve them in this struggle.
Stay tuned to Y’all Politics for more developments.