A bill offered by the Mississippi Senate and passed along party lines has been voted down on the House floor.
SB 2727 would have changed the way the Mississippi Department of Archives and History’s nine-member board is composed. The new language would have required that the board present all proposed members to the Governor and Lt. Governor who would alternate in appointing authority to fill vacancies. The last say would lie with the Governor and Lt. Governor as to whether or not the proposed individual was added to the board or not. In the event they did not agree with the nomination, they would have the authority to appoint someone to the vacancy.
Organizations like the Mississippi Humanities council as well as the Society of Mississippi Archivists all expressed their disapproval of the legislation. Those in opposition took action against the bill by sending letters to lawmakers asking that they “not interfere with the independence of an entity that has done so much good work for our state.”
The bill’s author, state Sen. Mike Thompson, defended the bill saying it would add a layer of accountability to the department that currently self-appoints members when someone resigns or a term ends.
The bill was explained in the House by Chairman Randy Boyd who said that the legislation needed a good bit of work and they planned to work with the Senate on the language. Members questioned whether or not MDAH had done anything that would indicate they needed the additional step of appointments by elected officials.
Rep. Boyd said no, but there is always room for improvement. He reminded members that a reverse repealer was in the bill to continue work.
In the end, no working together between the two chambers will be needed, as the House was not persuaded to support the legislation. The bill failed by a vote of 19-103.