HATTIESBURG, JACKSON, Miss.—In a series of campaign stops for the Republican runoff for governor on Tuesday, former Mississippi Chief Justice Bill Waller reiterated his views on health care and education, while also sharing his thoughts on equal pay for women and LGBT hate crimes.
In Hattiesburg, a local bartender and a former resident several hours away were both the victims of alleged anti-gay beatings just days apart earlier this year. Hattiesburg American reporter Lici Beveridge asked Waller if he supports updating the state's hate-crime laws to include LGBT and disabled people.
"I'm a former chief justice, and to be honest with you, I think we need to enforce the laws on the books," he said. "I'm not in favor of additional layers of laws. I think that we need to enforce equally and fairly what's on the books. I think that's what people expect. We don't need more laws or regulations."
In this year's legislative session, local Mississippi House Rep. Missy McGee, a Republican, joined several other legislators to push for an LGBT-inclusive hate-crimes law. Committee chairs in both houses blocked the bill from consideration, though.
In the Legislature, the House speaker and the Senate president appoint committee chairs and can leverage their power to get bills they want brought to the floor. In Mississippi, Lt. Gov. Tate Reeves, Waller's runoff opponent, serves as Senate president.
The Evelyn Gandy Fair Pay Act
In Hattiesburg, the Jackson Free Press reporter Ashton Pittman asked Waller if he supports the Evelyn Gandy Fair Pay Act, which would "prohibit discrimination ... against any employee on the basis of sex by paying a salary or wage to such employee at a rate less than the rate paid to its employees of the opposite sex for equal work on jobs that require equal skill, effort and responsibilty to perform." Legislative leaders have