by Hunter Dawkins
As the clock struck 1:38pm, the Mississippi House of Representatives voted 99-11 to deposit $700 million into the State BP Settlement and Gulf Restoration Fund. This happened after seven amendments were offered, with only one accepted from the House Appropriations Committee.
Senate Bill 2002, originally authored by State Senator Tommy Gollott of Biloxi, the longest serving legislator in state government history, gives the Mississippi Coast roughly 75 percent of the funds for a little more than a decade. This money was awarded to the state from the economic damages suffered during the Deepwater Horizon of 2010.
This was the last action taken during the special session, which started on August 23, as the House sent this to Governor Phil Bryant’s desk because the State Senate sent its version of the legislation to the house. Although this bill was not on the original agenda, constitutionally the Governor extended the call to put this on his agenda after passage of the infrastructure and state lottery.
The Coastal delegation, in both chambers voted unanimously for this final straw.
Coast lawmakers had long argued the majority of the funds should go to the three coastal counties, while lawmakers in other parts of the state wanted the pot to be dispersed elsewhere.