In a move that could spell disaster for public schools and our democracy, the Mississippi Ethics Commission has voted that the House of Representatives is not subject to the Open Meetings Act.
The Commission majority’s reasoning is a head-scratcher. Five of the eight Commission members allege that the Mississippi House of Representatives is not a public body – despite the clear intent in the State Constitution, and despite the Open Meetings Act specifically exempting select committees of the Legislature from the act (no exemption would be needed were the Legislature not subject to the law). See details and the Commission vote.
The current House leadership has proven time and again that it cannot be trusted to act in the best interest of the people, routinely skirting the Constitution’s demand that it operate with its “doors open” to do the public’s business in the public’s view. It has used House Republican Caucus meetings, attended by a majority of the House membership, to shield its activity from public scrutiny. House floor action has become a sham, with the outcome of important legislation predetermined in closed-door caucus meetings.
The result has been nefarious legislation that is harmful to public schools – such as massive appropriations for private schools hidden in unrelated bills. The House needs more sunshine on its actions, not less.
The Ethics Commission will meet again before finalizing its ruling. Please reach out to Commission members and ask them to reconsider their vote and to side with the public by affirming that the Legislature is, indeed, a public body and subject to the Open Meetings Act.
You can contact Commission members in care of the Mississippi Ethics Commission by sending a letter to:
660 North State Street
Jackson, MS 39202
or emailing: email@example.com.
Commission members are:
Ben Stone, Chair, Gulfport
Sean Milner, Vice Chair, Clinton
Ron Crowe, Secretary, Brandon
Robert Waites, Brandon
Stephen Burrow, Pascagoula
Maxwell Luter, Tylertown
Erin Lane, Ridgeland
Samuel Kelly, Madison
New State Superintendent of Education
The State Board of Education has named Dr. Robert Taylor as Mississippi’s next State Superintendent of Education. Dr. Taylor is a Mississippi native and University of Southern Mississippi graduate. He began his career as an assistant teacher in Mississippi before moving to North Carolina where he was a public school teacher, principal, and district superintendent. Most recently, he has served as a Deputy Superintendent for the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction.
Dr. Taylor said, “I look forward to working with local school districts, superintendents, and their school staff in identifying barriers to success. The MDE will continue its support of local districts, working to expand our efforts to support the work that makes children college and career ready.”
The Parents’ Campaign welcomes Dr. Taylor and looks forward to working with him to ensure that all Mississippi children have the excellent public schools they need and deserve.