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Bills to use ARPA funds for infrastructure grant programs pass the Mississippi House

HB 1421 and HB1425 would create ARPA Rural Water Associations Infrastructure Grant Program & ARPA Wastewater Infrastructure Grant Program

Tuesday morning, House Bills 1421 and 1425 passed the Mississippi House of Representatives. The legislation seeks to use American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to establish infrastructure grant programs under the Department of Health and the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ).

HB 1421 passed by a vote of 115-4 following the adoption of an amendment on the floor. The bill states that upon passage, it would allow the State Department of Health to establish a grant program called ARPA Rural Water Associations Infrastructure Grant Programs.

These programs would assist rural water associations in the construction of eligible drinking water infrastructure projects that were provided in the Final Rule for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Fund established by ARPA.

HB 1425 passed the House by a vote of 119-2. Authored by State Representatives John Read, Brent Anderson, Jerry Turner, and Missy McGee, the bill states that:

“The Department of Environmental Quality (department) shall establish a grant program to be known as the ARPA Wastewater Infrastructure Grant Program to assist political subdivisions and nonprofit utilities in the construction of eligible wastewater and stormwater infrastructure projects as provided in the Final Rule for the Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds as established by ARPA.”

The bills provide that in the first fiscal year after the effective date of the act, twenty percent (20%) of the funds appropriated to the ARPA Wastewater Infrastructure Fund and the ARPA Rural Water Associations Infrastructure Fund are to be obligated to projects that have completed plans and specifications, acquired all necessary land and/or easements, and are ready to proceed to construction.

In January, the Mississippi Senate passed bills to appropriate the first portion of the $1.8 billion in ARPA funds being sent to the state from the federal government. Below are the bills that have already passed the Senate relating to the distribution of ARPA funds and await action in the House:

  • SB 2862, allocated $59.1 million to the Department of Child Protective Services.
  • SB 2863, allocated $3.17 million to the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency.
  • SB 2864, allocated nearly $10,391,000 to the Mississippi National Guard.
  • SB 2865, allocated $86,069,500 to the Department of Mental Health and $18,550,000 to the Department of Mental Health to be utilized at Community Mental Health Centers (CMHCs).

The Treasury Department previously said that state and local governments can use the federal money for public health matters and for economic problems resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic that impacted workers, households, small businesses, industries, and government.