TUPELO • Gov. Tate Reeves on Monday announced he would extend Mississippi’s state of emergency by 30 additional days, but a key state leader continues to criticize such efforts by governors to have such a lengthy order in effect.
“This extension will continue to facilitate the state’s COVID-19 response including expanded access to telemedicine and leaving other response options open,” a press release from the governor’s office reads. “Once again, there will be no lockdowns or statewide mandates.”
Having a state of emergency in effect during the pandemic allows health care leaders to shift patients dealing with COVID-19 to different areas throughout the state and gives the governor greater flexibility to use the Mississippi National Guard for logistics.
Still, one of the most powerful state officials — House Speaker Philip Gunn — remains critical of the governor’s use of a lengthy state of emergency.
During an interview with the Daily Journal’s editorial board on Monday, Gunn criticized governors nationwide for issuing states of emergency for lengthy periods of time without input from lawmakers.
Though not directly criticizing the governor, Gunn, a Republican, said he opposes the gubernatorial use of emergency powers to take actions without calling lawmakers back into a special session.
“I think the spirit of the emergency powers act is to give the governor the flexibility to act when the Legislature is not in session on a true emergency — a hurricane or a tornado,” Gunn said. “You’ve got to have food, shelter and water today. We’ve gotta get that out there. But an emergency doesn’t last for a year.”
This isn’t the first time that the speaker has asked for the lengthy state of emergency to end. The Daily Journal previously obtained a letter in June that Gunn sent to Reeves asking him to end the state of emergency order, which had lasted for around a year at the time.
“Unless there is some reason for the declaration of a state of emergency to continue, then on behalf of the people of the state of Mississippi, who are ready to return their lives to normal, we call on you to declare the state of emergency over,” Gunn wrote to Reeves earlier this year.
Reeves initially said in June that he would end the state of emergency in mid-August, but he has now twice extended the order by 30 additional days.