Phillip Gunn, Speaker of the Mississippi House of Representatives, spoke to the Stennis Press Forum via group video and gave a wide ranging report on the state of Mississippi.
Gunn was cautious but upbeat about Mississippi finances. "We were in good financial shape before Covid hit and that's given us some cushion," he told the group. In addition, the federal government has sent Mississippi a huge amount of money via the CARES Act.
Gunn said he was please with successfully getting House Bill 571 signed into law. The bill gives law enforcement tools necessary to fight human trafficking in Mississippi. "Any time there is a big event in Mississippi, we see a spike in human trafficking."
Gunn also said he was pleased with the passage of a new proposed flag. "The timing was just right. So many of my people had been resistant. This was just a unique opportunity to change. We're the hospitality state. We love our neighbor and God and we want to reflect that. I can't tell you how many legislators told me that they had talked to their wives and children about this and came to me and said, 'I want to do the right thing.'"
Gunn also discussed the urgency of criminal justice and penal reform, noting that the federal government "popped Alabama for two billion dollars. That's a heavy lift." Gunn said he hoped the legislature could address reform and avoid expensive federal prison mandates.
Regarding medical marijuana, Gunn called Initiative 65 "extremely dangerous," noting that it added seven pages to our state constitution.
Gunn is in a lawsuit against Governor Tate Reeves over Reeves' attempt at item vetoes. No oral arguments will be heard and both sides have filed briefs. He called Reeves' item vetoes as an "infringement of the executive branch into the legislative branch."