The state Senate’s Ports and Marine Resources Committee is continuing rounds Thursday to visit coastal ports, committee chairman Sen. Brice Wiggins said.
Wednesday the group visited Bienville Port in Hancock County and the state Port of Gulfport.
Thursday morning, they will be in Jackson County to tour the Port of Pascagoula.
Two members from the House of Representatives Committee on Ports, Harbors and Airports will also be in attendance, as well as members of the Pascagoula Bar Pilots Association and representatives of Signet Maritime.
The visiting legislators will view activities at the public and private marine terminals and shipbuilding operations, which are responsible for more than 18,000 direct jobs, more than $1.4 billion in earnings and $1 billion in tax revenues annually.
Legislators on the tour include Sens. Brice Wiggins, Josh Harkins, Tommy Gollott, Philip Moran, John Polk and Michael Watson. Reps. Sonya Williams-Barnes and Larry Byrd are also expected to attend.
Filed under Economic Development, Gulf Coast, John Polk, Josh Harkins, Larry Byrd, Legislature, Michael Watson, Mississippi, Mississippi State House, Mississippi State Senate, Politics, Public Service, State Government, Transportation
The Sun Herald is reporting:
The state port’s Board of Commissioners is expected to shortly approve Jonathan Daniels as the port’s new executive director.
Daniels comes to Gulfport from the Port of Oswego (N.Y.) He said the port in Oswego moves a little more tonnage than does Gulfport, but he is very excited about what he sees as a “transformative opportunity on the Mississippi Coast.”
“Operationally, financially, this port is in a great position right now,” Daniels said. “It’s a port that is well thought of within the industry.”
Four candidates have entered the state House of Representatives District 95 special election ahead of Monday’s qualifying deadline.
The election is to fill the seat held by the late Rep. Jessica Upshaw, R-Diamondhead, who was found dead March 24 at the Mendenhall home of her boyfriend, former State Rep. Clint Rotenberry. Law enforcement officials said she died of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound.
The Secretary of State’s Office said as of 3 p.m. Friday, the candidates are Tommy Ballard of Gulfport; Sherri Carr Bevis of Diamondhead; Grant Bower of Diamondhead; and Patricia H. Willis of Diamondhead. The State Board of Election Commissioners will review their applications before they can be placed on the ballot.
Special elections are non-partisan, so party affiliations won’t appear on the ballot.
If no candidate receives a majority in the May 28 vote, a runoff will be held June 18.
A Mississippi Senate committee has voted unanimously to recommend the confirmation of Jamie Miller of Gulfport as director of the state Department of Marine Resources.
The full Senate will consider the nomination soon, possibly as early as Wednesday. Confirmation takes a majority of the 52 senators.
Committee members spent about an hour Wednesday morning quizzing Miller about how he’ll manage the agency that has had financial problems in recent months.
Mississippi State Capitol (Photo credit: Ken Lund)
Five Mississippi House members are running for mayor this year, and while name recognition might provide some advantage, lawmakers have had a mixed record in trying to go from the Capitol to City Hall.
Some have made the move successfully, while others have found that electoral success on one level doesn’t translate to victory for another office.
Among those running for mayor now is longtime Democratic Rep. George Flaggs of Vicksburg, who ran unsuccessfully for the city’s top job in 1997.
The other four House members running for mayor are also Democrats: Billy Broomfield of Moss Point, Kelvin Buck of Holly Springs, Chuck Espy of Clarksdale and Omeria Scott of Laurel. All five face opposition.
A former state senator, Republican Billy Hewes III, will become the next mayor of Gulfport. His only opponent dropped out of the race, giving Hewes a straight shot to City Hall. Hewes was elected to the Senate in 1991. , serving 20 years, with the last four as the chamber’s second-highest officer, president pro tempore. He ran for lieutenant governor in 2011, losing a hard-fought GOP primary to Tate Reeves.
Mayors sometimes seek “local and private” legislation — bills that affect only one city or county. If Hewes does that, or if he has other reasons to be at the Capitol, people will watch his working relationship with Reeves, who still has more than two years left on this term as lieutenant governor, the Senate’s presiding officer.
Gov. Phil Bryant plans to review a report he ordered from the state port before he recommends any changes to port restoration and expansion plans that have come under scrutiny.
Bryant’s office has received the report, but the port would not release copies Tuesday to the public.
The governor has grown frustrated by the port’s lack of progress and with projections that only 1,200 jobs will be created through a $570 million expansion and elevation of the West Pier. The federal government is funding the project with post-Katrina relief money.
Part of the rub is the port’s channel depth of 36 feet and width of 300 feet, which limits the size ships that can sail into Gulfport.
Port Executive Director Don Allee said Tuesday the port is still committed to reaching a depth of 45 feet, and possibly a width of at least 400 feet, so larger ships
could use it.
But, as the public learned for the first time last week, that years-long process has not even started and funding could be a challenge.
Bryant has considered shifting $300 million in federal Community Development Block Grant funds from West Pier elevation to channel deepening. Channel deepening would be a permitted use for the money, CDBG officials confirmed Tuesday.
via Bryant reviewing port report; port withholds copy from public | Gulfport | The Sun Herald.
Filed under Budget, Economic Development, Governor, Gulf Coast, Job Growth, MDA, Mississippi, Phil Bryant, Spending, State Government, Transportation
In an open letter to the governor, Gulfport Councilman R.Lee Flowers lambasted port officials at the state Port of Gulfport for lack of progress on expansion and restoration, and called for change.
Port officials publicly acknowledged this week the port will not be able to attract mega-ships from an expanded Panama Canal because the port channel is not deep enough. State political leaders and the public had been led to believe a deepening of the channel would accompany port expansion, bringing in bigger ships and more jobs.
The port now says it can create 1,200 jobs, but the federal requirement is for at least 2,400 jobs in exchange for $570 million being used for the expansion and restoration.
An Open Letter Concerning the Expansion of the Mississippi State Port at Gulfport
Dear Governor Bryant,
The executive leadership and management of the Mississippi State Port Authority at Gulfport has betrayed the trust of the citizens of Gulfport and the State of Mississippi by concealing the truth concerning the potential benefits of the port expansion from the public, elected officials, and port commissioners. The spending of the $570 million that HUD dedicated as urban development funds for the port expansion has been fraught with missteps and stumbles. The executive leadership of the port has consistently ignored possible solutions that would satiate the community’s need for information concerning potential impacts and assurance of projected benefits.
As Mississippi’s second largest city, Gulfport’s actions lead the way for Harrison County and the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Gulfport is very diverse socioeconomically and has many residents that will benefit from a successful port expansion now.
As you are aware, five commissioners comprise the Port Authority Commission. The city of Gulfport appoints one. Harrison County appoints one. The remaining three commissioners serve at your pleasure.
Gulfport appointed E.J. Roberts to the commission on December 5, 2011. Mr. Roberts is one of the finest men I’ve ever known, but he is only one of five volunteer commissioners tasked with providing governance without compensation of their time or expertise.
Due to the recent revelation of the limited benefits from the current expansion plan and the continuous floundering by the Port Authority, I request that you encourage change within the Port Authority such that proper vision can make the expansion effort a success resulting in the previously promised job growth and economic benefits.
Councilman, Ward 6
via Gulfport councilman calls for change at port | Gulfport | The Sun Herald.