After Reeves’ veto, House Judiciary Committee B voted to suspend the decision.
House Bill 980, drafted by State Rep. Nick Bain would allow the Mississippi State Department of Health to declassify a drug before the Legislature returns in case the federal government does so first. Then the legislature could meet and deal with the issue under the law at a later date.
Governor Tate Reeves believes this would recklessly abdicate state policing powers to the federal government, leading him to veto the bill.
“House Bill 908 recklessly abdicates state police powers to the federal government to regulate substances and impose criminal penalties for violations of Mississippi’s controlled substance law. In some Democratic-controlled states, there is a disturbing trend to deregulate and decriminalize hard drugs like cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine,” Reeves said in his veto letter. “While thankfully this trend has yet to catch on in Congress, I am not willing to gamble with the health, well-being, and safety of Mississippians. If the past fifteen months have taught us anything, it is that we must jealously guard the rights and powers of the state and cede no authority to the federal government.
The bill initially passed both houses without a “no” vote. In the Senate, Senator Hill voted present and in the House of Representatives Anderson (110th), Scott and Young did not vote.
On Thursday morning, the veto was referred to House Judiciary Committee B where a vote was taken by committee members to suspend the decision, meaning they do not plan to challenge Governor Reeves’ veto.
Rep. Bain said the bill would not decriminalize anything, but could provide an affirmative defense against prosecution. He added that it seemed like a “common sense” bill.
“I think that’s the difference the Governor is missing is that he hasn’t necessarily decriminalized anything – he’s just removing a drug from the controlled substance schedule until the Legislature has a rule about it,” Bain said.
Bain said he didn’t think the time was right to recommend overriding the veto, but they could address the issue at next year’s session.