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Lawmakers shift focus to BP settlement funds

The special session will continue for at least another day as lawmakers turn their attention to the BP settlement funds. 

After the ‘Mississippi Infrastructure Modernization Act’ was passed on Monday, and the lottery bill was passed earlier today, Governor Bryant has decided to extend the session and issue a call to discuss the $750 million which was awarded to the state after the 2010 BP oil spill on the coast. 

In recent years, the debate over where the money will go has been continuous, and no deal has been reached. Before the session began, the Governor tweeted that they would focus on a plan that “prioritizes our Gulf Coast’s economy”. After the call was made, Governor Bryant took to Twitter again to announce that a deal may be in place.

“House and Senate Leadership have notified me that there is an agreement in principle, so I have signed a proclamation expanding the call of the special session to include the allocation of the state’s BP funds. I look forward to working on this important issue,” he posted.

Today, Speaker Pro Tempore Greg Snowden stated that while thinks that areas across the state should receive some of the money, he’d be okay with a majority going to the coast.

“I would support a reasonable split where most of the money stays on the Gulf Coast, but some of it goes around the state because this is money to compensate the state for lost sales tax revenue,” Snowden said. “There was lost sales tax revenue all around the state as a result, although it was, of course, heavier on the coast.”

Snowden went on to say that dividing the funds up evenly across the state, wouldn’t be the proper solution. Rep. Tom Miles shared a breakdown of what that solution would look like, and in that scenario, Hinds County would receive the most money. Hinds would get more than $57 million with Harrison County as the second-highest recipient with just under $44 million.

A little over $50 million of the settlement funds has already been spent.

It appears that the bill for the BP funds will originate in the Senate tonight, and the House will debate the bill tomorrow. 

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