Rep. Jerry Turner, R-Baldwyn, has waved the warning flag previously about no-bid contracts awarded on the say-so of department heads and other executive leaders, and the way allegedly Epps stole from the state in the private-sector business done by the Department of Corrections.
The House overwhelmingly approved Turner’s reform proposal in 2014, but the Senate failed to pass it.
Turner will try again in 2015, and we hope the House repeats its approval and the Senate acts more responsibly in protecting the people’s resources with stronger laws. As Turner noted, nothing can guarantee no criminal acts, but it’s obvious Mississippi has left some gaps open that need to be closed.
Gov. Phil Bryant supports Turner’s proposal generally, and he has appointed a special task force to investigate, assess and recommend changes to contract law in the 2015 session. The task force is bipartisan and high-powered, and is a voice that should be heard with an open mind.
Turner is chairman of the Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency Committee in the House.
Currently the contracts are approved by the Personal Services Contract Review Board, which consists of the executive director of the state Personnel Board as the chairman and heads of various state agencies or their representatives. The board includes the commissioner of the Department of Corrections or that person’s appointee.
It’s been a scratch-your-back board made up of agency heads or their appointees, Turner said candidly. His version of the board would ban contracts with members of the board.