Senators block ex-lawmaker’s nomination to education board

Published 10:46 am Friday, June 19, 2020

(AP) — A Republican-controlled Mississippi Senate committee on Thursday blocked Republican Gov. Tate Reeves’s nomination of a former lawmaker to serve on the state Board of Education, drawing criticism from the governor.
Reeves nominated Nancy Collins of Tupelo to serve on the nine-member board in January, during his final days as lieutenant governor. The nomination was retroactive to July, and it is for a term that expires in mid-2028.
Collins was a Republican state senator from 2012 to 2016 and was an ally of Reeves, who named her vice chairwoman of the Senate Education Committee. She has been an advocate for vouchers that allow some students to receive public money to attend private schools.
Collins had already started serving on the Board of Education while awaiting her own confirmation hearing, which is normal.
She appeared before the Senate Education Committee for a confirmation hearing Thursday. Collins spoke and then the committee’s Republican chairman, Sen. Dennis DeBar of Leakesville, asked her a few questions, the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal reported.
Democratic Sen. Hob Bryan of Amory asked the committee to table the nomination, and a majority of the committee agreed. Tabling the nomination is a procedural way to kill it. It’s possible for senators to revive the nomination with a two-thirds majority, but that is unlikely to happen.
Bryan told the newspaper after the meeting that Reeves “didn’t do anything illegal or immoral” by nominating Collins in his final days as lieutenant governor. But Bryan said he thinks the current lieutenant governor, Republican Delbert Hosemann, should get to nominate someone to fill that seat. Hosemann presides over the 52-member Senate.
Reeves was asked about the failure of the nomination during a news conference Thursday.
“There are an awful lot of Republican senators that have been concerned about the amount of influence that Democrats have in the Mississippi Senate right now, particularly on education issues,” Reeves said.
Speaking of Collins, Reeves said: “Her only sin was being a conservative.”
The Senate on Thursday confirmed Reeves’s nomination of another conservative, Bill Billingsley of Madison, to serve on the state Charter School Authorizer Board for a term that ends Aug. 31, 2022. Reeves also made that nomination as the departing lieutenant governor, announcing it the same day he announced his nomination of Collins.

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