Supporters of a bill that would give Jackson a new way to improve its water/sewer bond ratings were still determining today whether they would have enough votes to override the governor’s veto.
On June 29, Gov. Tate Reeves announced via social media that he vetoed SB 2856, a measure that would have helped Jackson provide relief to struggling water customers, while at the same time would give Jackson a way to ensure uncollectible water debt would not count against its credit rating.
“We’re counting votes to see if we have the strength to do an override,” said Sen. John Horhn, the bill’s author. “Right now, it’s too early to tell.”
The bill passed both houses unanimously, but he wasn’t sure if the votes would be there to meet the veto threshold.
“A lot of nerves are frayed right now. It’s been a long, hard session. There was the flag vote, which was very emotional,” he said. “Whether we have the strength to override, I don’t know.”
Sixty-six percent of House members and 66 percent of Senators would need to vote in favor to override the governor’s veto.
In the Senate, that would be 34 of 54 members; in the House, it would be 81 of the 122 members.
Horhn said there’s little time to lose, with the session slated to this week.
Yesterday, Reeves announced that he would veto the bill, explaining on Facebook why the measure didn’t pass muster.
“It allows politicians to say that individuals are not responsible for paying their water bill. It's supposed to be for the impoverished or needy, but there are no safeguards in place to make sure that's the case. It's totally up to them.”
Horhn disagreed, saying that the bill met constitutional muster, and that language included in it ensured that the city could not forgive debt.
Reeves had other concerns as well. Among them, he said there was no time limit for how long the law would be in place, and the bill would only impact Jackson. “Other cities have issues too, why should only Jackson get a carve-out? There are needy Mississippians who would rather not pay their bills all over.”
Horhn said the bill was specific to Jackson, in part, to ensure that it would pass. In fact, he told the Sun previously that it would serve as a sort of pilot program that could be reviewed and expanded to other cities in the future.
The measure also was backed by the Mississippi Municipal League.