by Hunter Dawkins

Following the passage of the State Lottery legislation during the special legislative session by the Mississippi State House of Representatives Tuesday afternoon, Governor Phil Bryant extended the call to the state legislature.  Due to this being a constitutional act to put an additional item on the agenda, Bryant added a resolution for the BP Settlement Funds to his proclamation.

Over $700 million dollars had been granted to the State Legislature in 2016 from the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe affecting the Gulf Coast, whereas the State Treasury has kept these funds until a legislative decision was made about the outcome.  The Senate was granted authority to come up with legislation for a resolution, as the bill was authored by long-serving Biloxi Senator Tommy Gollott while five coastal senators joined in.

Senate Bill 2002 says that all BP oil spill settlement funds received by the state shall be deposited into the state bp settlement fund and the gulf coast restoration fund and to create a special fund in the state treasury to be designated as the “state bp settlement fund” along with a special fund in the state treasury to be designated as the “gulf coast restoration fund.”

A large step in this bill is the direction of all planned projects, as said “to provide that monies in the Gulf Coast Restoration Fund (GCRF) shall be used only for programs or projects that are located in the gulf coast region as defined in the federal restore act and to create the GCRF advisory board to provide advice to Mississippi Development Authority (MDA) when reviewing applications for assistance under this act.

This bill has been referred to the Appropriations Committee, who is currently deliberating on this legislation.

The House of Representatives will convene at 10am Wednesday morning.