JACKSON, Miss. (WLBT) - The Mississippi Freedom Caucus is calling on Gov. Tate Reeves to end the executive orders passed during the COVID-19 pandemic and to reform a current state law.
The caucus, made up of Rep. Chris Brown of District 20, Rep. Dana Criswell of District 6, Rep. Dan Eubanks of District 25, Rep. Steve Hopkins of District 7 and Rep. Brady Williamson of District 10, seeks “true conservative reform” and “believe[s] in freedom and liberty for the people of Mississippi.”
In a letter addressed to Reeves, the MFC first thanked him for his “tireless work” in trying to keep Mississippians healthy and safe. They then say that on March 4, Reeves issued his first executive order with twenty-five more being issued during the pandemic.
They said that during the early stages of the crisis, the people of Mississippi listened to medical experts, closed their businesses and postponed surgeries.
“Our citizens were told that it would take a little over two weeks to ‘flatten the curve’ and life would continue as normal," they wrote, “but what we have experienced is very different." This has lead their constituents to “fill our inboxes... begging for some sort of guidance” - from keeping their small businesses open to maintaining “their sanity.”
They are now asking Reeves to end his executive orders as well as to reform the Emergency Management and Civil Defense code.
“Have my constituents' voices been heard in the actions and ordinances and mandates this year since the very beginning of COVID?" asked Rep. Williamson. "No.”
“The people of Mississippi, they’re smart enough and they care enough about each other that they will exercise personal responsibility and that those that are in high-risk categories or that are fearful of the virus will go to additional links to safeguard themselves from it," said Rep. Eubanks in an interview Tuesday.
The code, they state, was written to address temporary disasters whose consequences had clear ends in sight. According them, the law was not written, “to address a disaster of this magnitude or crisis of the length COVID-19 has turned out to be.”
To them this reform would allow all members of the Legislature to have a say and a vote for their district in a crisis of this magnitude, “and for us to do our duty to guard against overreach and protect liberty for all.”
“The voices of the people that we represent are not making their way up to the top," said Rep. Williamson.
“At some point, the legislature needs to be a part of the decision making process for the state because, as with Representative Williamson and myself, we are the closest to our constituents," noted Rep. Eubanks. "And every part of the state is not the same.”
But some of the folks we spoke with say they fear the results when Mississippians don’t have the structure and requirements found in the orders.
“He’s doing that on purpose," said Kenneth Butler. "It’s to keep it from spreading. Mississippi’s been really bad. One of the worst states. It’s turning the curve now, looking better and I think it’s because of the executive orders.”
“We have some people that are taking this seriously," added Brandon Cage. "We have some that don’t believe it.”
Governor Reeves' office sent the following statement.
“Since the very onset of this pandemic, Governor Reeves and his team have worked closely with state health experts to quickly respond and execute a data-driven, measured strategy to protect public health. Issuing these executive orders to combat COVID-19 and protect the integrity of our hospitals have been some of the toughest decisions the Governor has had to make in his almost two decades of public service. This pandemic does not discriminate—it has impacted lives and livelihoods across the board. The only way through this and to emerge stronger is together. The Governor will continue to follow and enforce Mississippi laws to ensure the health and well-being of all who call this great state home.” - Renae Eze, spokesperson
To read the entire letter the Freedom Caucus sent Governor Reeves, click HERE.