Mississippi’s Republican leaders are vigorously defending their conservative agenda.
The Neshoba County Fair has long been a place where state politicians can tout accomplishments and rally support. And this year, Republican leaders are listing the passage of the state's new religious freedom law known as H-B 1523 and other conservative pieces of legislation as victories.
However, 15-23 has been the target of harsh criticism and has even drawn the ire of the Democratic Attorney General Jim Hood who has complained that defending the law and other like it has cost taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars.
In his speech to fairgoers, Bryant says signing the bill was his job.
"I noticed yesterday that the Attorney General was lamenting that he had to go out an defend us on pro-life initiatives, on your right to exercise your religious freedoms," says Bryant. "Well, I hate to remind you Mr. Attorney General, but they sued us. They started this fight. We're simply trying to carry out the will of the people of the state of Mississippi as we were duly elected to do, and we're going to continue to do that."
Republican Speaker of the House Philip Gunn also took issue with criticism lawmakers faced for focusing on the leadership's conservative agenda. He says Republicans will continue their work.
"We don't need a poll to tell us that we need to fight for your religious liberty," Gunn says. "We know all lives matter, not just a few, and including the unborn. We don't need a poll to tell us that we ought to protect your right to bear arms. We don't need a poll to tell us that marriage is between one man and one woman, and we don't need a poll to tell us that boys and girls shouldn't go to the same restroom together."
A portion of HB 1523 was recently struck down by a federal judge in Jackson. Governor Phil Bryant has asked the US 5th Circuit Court of Appeals to put a stay on the lower court's ruling.