Miss. sovereignty bill fizzles for lack of vote

Published 12:06 am Tuesday, February 5, 2013

JACKSON (AP) — Mississippi, a state that defied federal authority during the Civil War and the civil rights movement, won’t revive its efforts to nullify federal laws — at least not this year.

Republican Scott DeLano, of Biloxi, chairman of the state House Constitution Committee, on Monday killed a bill that sought to neutralize federal laws that displease leaders of the conservative state.

He said the proposal became “poisonous” after it was compared to the Sovereignty Commission, a segregation-era state agency that spied on civil rights workers and sought to bypass federal mandates for voting rights and racial integration.

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“We carefully considered it and decided it wouldn’t be a bill that would have the support to pass the House,” DeLano said.

Matt Steffey, a constitutional law professor at Mississippi College, said the proposal was meaningless because federal law trumps state law.

DeLano chose not to bring the bill up for a vote in the Constitution Committee, and his decision killed it. Tuesday is the deadline for House and Senate committees to act on general bills filed for the current three-month legislative session.