Political mischief

The Mississippi Legislature has ended its session, having turned aside efforts by Gov. Phil Bryant, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves and the Republican legislative leadership to expand charter schools and politicize state employees by removing them from civil service.
Legislators are to be commended for holding the reins on efforts to raid the state treasury to build more charter schools to compete against the state’s already poorly-funded public schools. Legislators also deserve praise for stopping the governor’s effort to inject politics into virtually every state job by ending workers’ civil service protection.
But on another front, the legislature could not resist creating major mischief with a bill to limit – or some would say destroy – the powers of the constitutionally elected attorney general.
The bill has two parts. One attempts to limit the attorney general from hiring outside attorneys on a contingency fee basis to handle some major cases. Cases include the 1997 tobacco settlement that reaped the state $4.1 billion and a $100 million windfall in a lawsuit with MCI Worldcom.
The other part requires the attorney general to appoint outside counsel to represent state agencies or officials when their opinion differs from his. This could cost taxpayers millions.
This is nothing more than partisan politics, Attorney General Jim Hood is a Democrat, the only statewide executive office not controlled by Republicans. And he’s very popular, winning his last election by more than 20 percentage points.
Hood should fight this attack on his office in court. The attorney general, whether Democrat or Republican, is the people’s elected attorney for the state. The voters, not the legislature, should decide whether he is doing a good job.

About Chris Elkins

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