JACKSON, Miss. (MISSISSIPPI TODAY) – Republican Speaker of the House Philip Gunn called House Democratic Leader Rep. Robert Johnson last Friday with a rare invitation: He wanted Democrats to work with Republican leadership on crafting a major policy initiative.
Gunn told Johnson that another fight with Gov. Tate Reeves looked possible over what would become a $300 million relief package for small businesses affected by the coronavirus pandemic, and he wanted Democrats at the table early in case a veto override became necessary later.
“I’m not gonna lie, I laughed. I thought to myself, ‘This will last one or two meetings, and it’ll fizzle out and fall apart,’” Johnson told Mississippi Today. “I told the speaker, ‘If we’re going to do this, it has to be real.’ And it was. They proved me wrong. Every step of the way, every point that we thought was important that (House Republicans) hadn’t considered, they considered them.”
Last week marked one of the first sincere bipartisan efforts under the Capitol dome since January 2012, when Gunn was first elected speaker and Republicans earned a supermajority in both the House and Senate. By the end of the negotiating process, Democrats got several items added from their wish list, including a $40 million pot of relief money set aside for minority-owned businesses.
You can read the full article on Mississippi Today’s website.