Mississippi general election is Tuesday, November 5. Candidates Tate Reeves and Jim Hood were invited to take part in an interview with AFA Action’s vice president Rob Chambers. Only one candidate agreed to the interview. Questions are related to issues on: judicial nominations, secular attack on religious liberty, education funding, jobs, health care rights, Medicaid expansion, religious liberty, sanctity of life, LGBT rights, government corruption, increasing gas tax, and free speech on college campuses. Videos below provide the candidate’s response to each of the questions below. Get the AFA Action iVoterGuide, and see how all MS candidates are evaluated..
AFA Action: Would you appoint constitutionalist judges who share our world view on the sanctity of life and religious liberty? Why do you think it’s critical that the next Mississippi governor appoint conservative judges?
AFA Action: Do you agree with AG Barr’s assessment that religion and traditional values are under attack by secularists and ‘progressives’ ? And if elected, what will you do to protect our children enrolled in Mississippi’s public education from similar assault?
AFA Action: Is the answer to better public education simply a matter of sending more money to the MS Department of Education in hopes that more money trickles down to the school teacher, or is there another solution? And what solution do you intend to implement should you get elected? What has your position been on teacher pay raises?
AFA Action: What is your plan to make more jobs available in Mississippi and available to rural communities?
AFA Action: The constitutional right-to-life of an unborn baby is a well established argument. More recently, health care has also been considered a right-to-life issue—meaning no one should be denied access to health care. Do you consider health care a guaranteed, constitutional right or do you view health care as a commodity—a good and service provided by a third party? Please explain your answer.
AFA Action: Mississippi’s university and college students have a constitutional right to freely express their ideas. Quarantining students to a certain “free speech zone” violates this student’s constitutional right to free speech. As governor, what polices or legislation would you endorse to eliminate these restrictions on campus free speech?
AFA Action: Mississippi’s religious liberty law, House Bill 1523, prevents the state from discriminating against a person’s religious liberty if he or she refuses to bake a cake for a same-sex wedding. Do you support this law and believe it to be necessary? Why or why not?
AFA Action: Abortion clinics and biomedical firms have been under public scrutiny for engaging in commerce of aborted baby parts for profit and for research purposes. As governor, what policies or legislation would you endorse that would ban the sale and research using aborted baby parts?
AFA Action: In a 5-4 decision, the majority of the MS Supreme Court justices allowed same-sex divorce which effectively nullified Mississippi’s constitutional prohibition on same-sex marriage without articulating any legal, constitutional reasoning. The MS Constitution requires Supreme court justices discharge their duties in agreement to both the Constitution of the United States and the Constitution and laws of the State. Reeves was asked if the Mississippi Supreme Court Justices should have even heard the case. Both Reeves was asked if MS Supreme Court justices are bound to follow U.S. Supreme Court precedent that has no basis in the Constitution, no basis in U.S. Supreme Court precedent, and are blatantly wrong?
AFA Action:In October, the U.S. Supreme Court is set to hear oral arguments on whether or not transgender people have employment protections under the Civil Rights Act of 1964. The case is about a Michigan funeral home owner and a male employee who began dressing as a female claiming he was transgender. The business owner cited his religious beliefs as a basis for termination of employment. The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission representing the transgender claims the funeral home violated federal law banning sex discrimination. Reeves was asked: Do you believe an employee’s gender preference should overrule the religious liberty of an employer? If the U.S. Supreme Court rules against the funeral home, how would you instruct your administration to respond if elected governor?
AFA Action: Expanding Medicaid would increase access to health insurance for more low-income workers, or those who earn too much money to qualify for Medicaid. At least two plans have been offered as examples: The “Mississippi Cares” plan proposed by the Mississippi Hospital Association, and Arkansas’ expansion-based reform. The “MS Cares” plan has a work requirement and a monthly premium. The Arkansas plan also has a Medicaid work requirement. The state enforced the work requirement law resulting in about 20,000 being forced off its health care plan, but in March, a federal judge struck down not only Arkansas’ work mandate but also Kentucky’s. The federal judge said Arkansas could not force non-workers from the state’s health care plan. This forced Arkansas to add thousands of non-workers to the Medicaid role. It is still being litigated.
Reeves was asked: What would prevent a judge from striking down a MS Medicaid work requirement that would also result in adding significant numbers of non-working individuals to Medicaid? Do you think Medicaid reform moves the state closer to a single payer system that would put at risk, state education funding for K-12, and funding for infrastructure repair for roads and bridges?
AFA Action: Mississippi government has seen its share of corruption. The FBI has investigated fraud that led to prosecution related to the Department of Marine Resources, the MS Department of Corrections, as well as the $200 million health care fraud in Hattiesburg. Also, in Choctaw County, local and state officials are having difficulty reconciling an issue related to the county’s nursing home and the facility’s management company that overbilled Medicaid by $6.2 million dollars. If elected, what is your plan of action to aggressively investigate and eliminate fraud within state government?
AFA Action: Funding for Mississippi roads and bridges is complex. Legislation raising the gas tax has not passed in the previous two sessions, and neither has the MS Department of Transportation received additional allocation requested. In an interesting sequence of events, the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration said a number of timber bridges had not been properly inspected and declared unsafe. Elaine Chao (Sen. Mitch McConnell’s wife) is U.S. Secretary of Transportation and over the U.S. DOT. After Secretary Chao declared bridges unsafe, Gov. Bryant began ordering bridge closures on this basis. Local city and county bridges and roads represent the greatest number in need of repair. The most significant problem with infrastructure is at the local level, but the state is being blamed for poor road conditions of local governments. An increase of the current 18 cents/gallon gas tax is argued to provide a windfall of revenue at the local level for needed infrastructure repair.
Reeves was asked: What positive impact would an increased gas tax have on city and county roads and bridges? How do MS state-controlled highways compare to those in other states?