Barbour calls special session for Friday

JACKSON – Republican Gov. Haley Barbour is calling a special session so Mississippi lawmakers can finish budgets for state utility regulators.
Barbour spokesman Dan Turner confirmed Tuesday the session will begin at 10 a.m. Friday.
It’s unclear how long it will take the House and Senate to agree on funding for the Public Service Commission and the related Public Utilities Staff.
The state fiscal year started July 1. Funding for the two agencies died during a special session last week in a dispute over staffing.
The three elected commissioners wanted to hire more employees to help them evaluate utility companies’ requests for rate changes. House Democrats supported the request, while Barbour and Senate Republicans opposed it.
Most employees for the two agencies have been told to go home until budgets are set.
The Public Service Commission regulates telecommunications, electric, gas, water and sewer utilities. The Public Utilities Staff advises the commission on matters such as rate increases but reports to the governor, not the PSC.
Friday’s special session is the second since the regular session ended. The first one was called to complete work on the budget and ended late June 30, the day before the fiscal year began.

The Associated Press