Among the worst forms of government are those that use fear and intimidation to control the people and suppress opposition.
House Appropriations Chairman Herb Frierson has now admitted to the Associated Press and the Daily Journal that Mississippi’s elected leadership drafted laws to retaliate against citizens – including educators – who advocated for a constitutional amendment that would have required adequate funding for public schools.
Following the Initiative 42 campaign, word spread that elected leaders were “out to get” organizations that supported the proposed amendment – groups like The Parents’ Campaign, the Mississippi Association of School Superintendents, and the Mississippi School Boards Association.
During the 2016 Legislative Session, legislative leaders introduced retaliatory bills aimed at silencing educators, shutting down professional education associations, and transferring authority from educators to politicians. Most were rejected by legislators, but Frierson and his Senate counterpart, Buck Clarke, used the budget chaos in the waning hours of the session to slip into the school funding bill language that would prohibit school districts from paying dues to the superintendents’ association. Rank and file legislators say they were unaware of the language, which was included in a long string of changes the chairmen requested to “correct drafting errors” in the funding bill – changes that were read quickly from the podium and adopted on a voice vote.
In a recent interview, Chairman Frierson referred to educators’ support for Initiative 42 as “biting the hand that feeds them.” During the 42 campaign, Frierson threatened state agency heads with budget cuts if Initiative 42 passed. Governor Bryant, Lt. Governor Reeves, and Speaker Gunn held press conferences across the state to send the same message.
In March, Governor Bryant appointed Frierson to a top government position as head of the State Department of Revenue, at an annual salary of $140,000.
Is this the state government you want? A top-down system that uses its power to keep citizens in check? If not, one step you can take today is to ask everyone you know to join The Parents’ Campaign, then watch for more news from us on the next steps to move us back toward a government of the people, by the people, for the people. Together, we can make a change.