by Hunter Dawkins

On an amended bill that was passed by the Mississippi House of Representatives back on March 10 with a near unanimous vote of 120-0-2 and transmitted to the State Senate the next day, this legislation controlling the authority of the state Department of Marine Resources (DMR) appears on the calendar to take a roll call vote soon.

H.B. 827 will ultimately grant the DMR Executive Director the power to internally reorganize the agency.  Finally, this amended legislation will take the regulation power from the Commission of Marine Resources (CMR) and grant the sole authority of rules and procedures to the DMR Executive Director.

Due to the Senate amendment of this bill, a roll call vote would need to occur before the final copy would be sent on the governor’s desk to enact into a law and the deadline for new legislation is June 17.

“That is not my bill and I did not ask for it, even though I heard about it,” expressed Mississippi Governor Tate Reeves to The Gazebo Gazette.  “If the Legislature does decide to enact this legislation, the Executive Director; who is appointed by the Governor anyway, will make sure to work with the Coast delegation to provide funds for Tidelands and other things that would be fair to all Coast residents.

In a twist that would turn a power from his regulatory position to an advisor, CMR Commissioner Ronnie Daniels was not very excited on this potential change.  “It is disheartening to those of us that have put so much work into our natural resources to hear that the commission may be reduced to an advisory panel,” said Commissioner Daniels from Pass Christian, who represents the charter-for-hire fishing business.  “The CMR is comprised of representation across all sectors and each commissioner is respected and knowledgeable about the matters at hand along the Mississippi Gulf Coast.”

From the commercial business aspect of this matter, numerous groups have been in full support of Governor Reeves from his past history of helping the Coast with the BP Settlement Funds from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill.   “I have spoken to many coastal delegates who were completely unaware of this attempt to strip the CMR of all binding authority and make them advisory only,” said Mississippi Commercial Fisheries United, Inc. Executive Director Ryan Bradley from Long Beach.  “The Gulf Coast seafood industry and commercial fishermen have been strong supporters of the Governor from day one and they have full faith that Governor Tate Reeves will do what is right for all of Mississippi regardless of the direction the legislature decides to go on this issue.”

Since the House Bill has passed through joint committees in the Senate and placed on the calendar, there is no deadline when the bill may be presented and voted on.