The Mississippi House and Senate have come to an agreement on the hotly contested GOMESA funds within the Department of Marine Resources budget.
As reported Monday, the Legislature appropriated $20 million of the new funds to be split between the Legislature and the Governor, with each entity maintaining control of $10 million. The way in which the funds can be used follow strict federal guidelines.
The new conference report was adopted quickly and nearly unanimous in both chambers. The budget will now head to the Governor’s desk and DMR will officially have a budget for FY2021.
It is expected that this issue could arise again when the budget for FY2022 is debated next year.
Legislators brought forward several other matters while in session, including a new bill, HB 1807.
This legislation provides additional funding for the Public Utilities Staff who incurred costs during the application process for the Mississippi Electric Cooperatives Broadband COVID-19 Grant Program and the COVID-19 Broadband Provider Grant Program. The bill transfers $375,000 to the agency to defray those costs.
Earlier this year, lawmakers passed SB 3046 which appropriated $75 million for broadband expansion across the state. Out of that original number, $65 million could be accessed by electric cooperatives through applications and $10 million were for independent providers.
In Senator Joel Carter’s new bill, SB 3054, they added $1.36 million left over from the $10 million given to independent providers to the original $65 million for cooperatives. Those funds must be disbursed and put to use before the end of the year per the federal guidelines of the CARES Act.
The House also attempted to override the veto of HB 658, a part of the criminal justice reform bills passed this session. This bill would revise the number of felony conviction expungements that an individual is eligible for. The bill passed overwhelmingly in the House and Senate but was vetoed by Governor Tate Reeves.
The bill made it to Judiciary B, but the override of the Governor’s veto was dismissed by Rep. Nick Bain and the rest of the committee members.
HB 1782 also happens to be a measure mentioned in Speaker Philip Gunn’s recent lawsuit against Governor Reeves.
With adjournment on Tuesday, what is technically the third day under HCR 69, Legislators still have three days remaining where they could meet before Sine Die is required, per the agreed upon resolution.