Mississippi legislative leaders today argued in legal briefs that a Hinds County Circuit Judge does not have the authority to ignore the Attorney General on alternative initiatives passed by the Legislature.

Earlier this month, a Hinds County Circuit Judge refused to approve the Initiative 42A ballot title agreed upon by Attorney General Jim Hood and legislators. In documents filed today, the Legislature presented state statutes supporting the appeal of the judge’s decision concerning the legislative alternative to Initiative 42.

“There is no statute in Mississippi jurisprudence providing that the first court to address a matter should also be the last court to address it,” according to the brief.

The legislative alternative, known as Initiative 42A, ensures public schools are effective in educating Mississippi’s children without subjecting statewide education policy decisions to a single judge in Hinds County. The Legislature passed the initiative to provide Mississippi voters with an alternative to Initiative 42, which allows a single Hinds County judge to make decisions that will have far-reaching consequences for the entire state.

“Attorney General Hood declined to defend the constitutional authority of his office and the legislative branch,” Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and House Speaker Philip Gunn said in a joint statement. “Taxpayers across Mississippi should be deeply concerned one judge in Hinds County could have the last word in how to spend billions of tax dollars.”

This dramatic shift in power away from locally-elected legislators is likely to result in significant tax increases, drastic cuts in state priorities – such as funding for universities, community colleges, University Medical Center, roads, bridges, water and sewer systems, and even agricultural programs – or both.
Initiative 42 and Initiative 42A will be on the Nov. 3 ballot. Voters can also choose not to change the Constitution by voting “no” to both options.

Tate Reeves & Philip Gunn joint press release

MS Legislature Brief for appeal on #42A ballot initiative