Attorneys for Governor Tate Reeves and Speaker of the House Philip Gunn have both submitted their written arguments in the lawsuit filed by the Speaker and other House members over several of Reeves’ line item vetoes earlier this year.
In Reeves’ brief, he outlines why he believes it was well within his right as Governor to veto portions of HB 1782, a CARES Act House bill that appropriated $2 million to a specified hospital and another $6 million to a program.
The first line of the Governor’s brief reads: “The Mississippi Constitution empowers the Governor to ‘veto parts of any appropriation bill’ sent to him by the Legislature.”
That quote sums up the majority of Reeves’ argument as to why it was within his purview to do what he did.
It also states:
“The Governor’s action was a constitutional exercise of his power to veto two parts of an appropriations bill about which he had concerns, and, thereby, put those appropriations to the test of a two-thirds override vote by the full Legislature. This Court should declare the Governor’s vetoes lawful and dismiss the Plaintiffs’ lawsuit.”
The crux of the legal argument to be decided by the Chancery Court and most certainly on appeal, will be whether or not the appropriations for the North Oak Regional and MAGnet expenditures were “seperate and distinct.” As well as was the fact that the money being subject to CARES Act federal requirements obligate the State to repay moneys not properly expended.
Speaker Gunn and Representative Jason White filed a Second Amended Complaint explaining that it was their duty to challenge the veto after a near unanimous vote in favor of the bill was made by the House and Senate.
Their brief suggested that a series of court cases back their opinion that the line item vetoes Reeves’ made were of “no legal effect.” They also say since it was not returned to the House, either approved or disapproved, within a five day time period the bill should have become law even without the Governor’s approval.
You can read both briefs below: