Coast senators said they will be closely watching a Senate bill that deals with BP money as it heads to the House.
Senate Bill 3015 has one section that caused some concern:
“SECTION 6. In addition to all other sums herein appropriated, the following sum, or so much thereof as may be necessary, is appropriated out of any money to the credit of the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund, to defray the expenses of the Department of Marine Resources for the period beginning upon the passage of this act and through the fiscal year ending June 30, 2017....................................................$ 1.00.”
But the Coast senators said they’ve been assured it is just placeholder language.
“As it was explained on the floor, it’s a placeholder should we need a mechanism to disburse any BP dollars,” Sen. Michael Watson, R-Pascagoula said. “I specifically asked if there were any plans to do so and the chairman (Sen. Eugene S. Clarke of the Appropriations Committee) said he wasn’t aware of any.
“We’ll keep our guard up. Sure, it bothered me when I first saw it. Still does, a little.”
A separate bill sent from the House to the Senate would appropriate up to $20.7 million to the DMR from the General Fund and other special funds. Another Senate bill would set up the Gulf Coast New Restoration Reserve Fund, which would receive about $700 million of the BP economic-damages money over the next several years.
Sen. Brice Wiggins, R-Pascagoula, said SB 3015 would direct the money to pass through the DMR, much as Tidelands money does now.
It passed the Senate unanimously on a voice vote.