None of the bills that would route most of the BP economic damages settlement money to the Coast have made it out of committee with a little over a day until the deadline.
But then, the bill that would snatch the money from the Coast is sitting in committee as well.
Sen. Russell Jolly of Houston wants “all funds received by the state of Mississippi through a negotiated settlement or recover for damages in connection with the Deepwater Oil Spill shall be deposited into a special fund called the ‘Deepwater Horizon Oil Disaster Fund’ to be appropriated by the Legislature for state and county highway maintenance and for related purposes.”
It’s in the Appropriations Committee. Sen. Eugene S. Clarke (601-359-3250) is the chairman and W. Briggs Hopson II (601-359-3234) is the vice-chairman if you feel like talking to someone about the bill.
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Sen. Brice Wiggins said he doesn’t expect to hear anything until Tuesday about his bill, SB 2634, that would put the money into a Gulf Coast New Restoration Fund that would be under the control of the Legislature. That one has sens. Tommy Gollott, Sean Tindell, Mike Seymour and Michael Watson as co-sponsors.
Tindell’s SB 2675 also is in the Appropriations Committee awaiting action or inaction. It would would create a Mississippi Gulf Coast Economic Restoration Trust Fund under the control of a board of trustees, composed of one member from each coastal county appointed by a super-majority vote of the mayors and Board of Supervisors of each county.
In the House, reps. David Baria and Scott DeLano have bills dealing with the settlement. The state has received $150 million and will receive a total of $750 million over the next 15 years. It has spent about $50 million.
DeLano’s bills, taken together, would put 80 percent of the money into a Gulf Coast Restoration Fund, which would be administered by a nine-member Board of Trustees. The governor would appoint three members, the lieutenant governor would appoint three and the executive directors of the Hancock and Harrison economic development commissions and the Jackson County economic development foundation also would serve.
They say one phone call is worth 1,000 inaudibly muttered epithets.