Mississippi state representative William Andrews (R) resigned March 31 from the Mississippi Legislature, effective immediately. Andrews said that he resigned from the House in order to receive his pension earned while serving as a county judge.
Andrews’ resignation comes two months after former state representative Ramona Blackledge (R) left the state House. Blackledge stated that she resigned so she could continue receiving her Public Employees Retirement System of Mississippi (PERS) retirement benefits she earned as a county tax assessor.
Andrews’ letter of resignation stated, “In spite of an Attorney General’s opinion and PERS regulation allowing PERS Retirees to serve in the Legislature, Philip Gunn has blocked all efforts to comply with the existing law and PERS regulations. As a result, my PERS benefits have been suspended and the House of Representatives has refused to Pay me less than normal salary and benefits. The end result is that I cannot continue to serve.”
Mississippi House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) stated that he would not challenge a section of the Mississippi Administrative Code which prohibits recipients of Mississippi’s public employees’ retirement system benefits from also receiving a salary from the state. Two other members of the Mississippi House, Representatives Goodin and Darnell, were also receiving pension payments from their time as teachers before Gunn’s decision.
Andrews, Blackledge, Darnell, and Goodin had opted to receive reduced pay for their service as state representatives and no per diem for food and lodging during legislative sessions so they could receive their pension benefits.
Andrews was elected to serve as the representative for Mississippi House District 87 in November 2019. A special election will be held to fill the vacancy created by Andrews’ resignation. Details about this upcoming special election, including when it will be held, have not yet been released.