Rural Water Associations oppose PSC overreach

MSRWA supports helping domestic violence victims;
but challenges government power grab & lawsuit creating regulation

The Mississippi Rural Water Association has informed members that it intends to challenge in court a recent regulation by the Mississippi Public Service Commission. In a letter sent October 27, it warns the attempt by the MPSC to overstep its jurisdiction could lead to higher water rates and manufactured lawsuits against employees.

Jim Herring, attorney for the Mississippi Rural Water Association said, “In 2013, the legislature made it clear the PSC has no jurisdiction or regulation power over water rates or the ‘governance, management or internal affairs’ of our water associations. This government power grab is an attempt by the Commission to exceed its jurisdiction and score political points.”

Herring said the recent orders requiring rural water associations to exempt victims of domestic violence from utility deposits, and creating regulatory fines and a civil liability of $10,000 against anyone who comments on the identity of a victim of domestic violence, violates the jurisdiction of the PSC.

“The Mississippi Rural Water Association has long supported assistance to victims of domestic violence and other disadvantaged people and families. They care about their water subscribers and it is not unusual for their member’s employees to help their neighbors, sometimes taking money out of their own pocket to help someone in need. But they don’t need government bureaucrats and regulators imposing a rule outside their jurisdiction to tell Mississippians how to be charitable and kind to one another. They do that already. Their member employees should not be burdened by the threat of penalties and lawsuits because big government thinks it knows best,” Herring said.

This challenge is not about domestic violence but against the PSC’s violation of their jurisdiction, said Kirby Mayfield, CEO of the Mississippi Rural Water Association: “We want to help victims of domestic violence. We want to be part of the solution. If the state created a subsidy fund for these victims, we would be eager to partner with organizations like the Mississippi Coalition Against Domestic Violence and the Mississippi Department of Human Service to rapidly implement water service accounts for victims. But the PSC’s current approach violates their legal restrictions and would result in other disadvantaged people in our communities paying more for water service, causing more financial difficulty and water shut-offs for those families struggling to make it on limited income.”

The Mississippi Electric Power Association and the American Water Works Association also opposes this overstep by the PSC.

MRWA Release
11/6/14