Bay Springs liquor bill heads for negotiations

n The Senate’s inclusion of other locations could jeopardize the measure.
By Bobby Harrison
Daily Journal Jackson Bureau
JACKSON – Supporters of legislation that would allow liquor to be sold at a proposed resort at Bay Springs Lake in Tishomingo County were unable to garner the votes to send the bill to Gov. Haley Barbour.
On Friday, House Ways and Means Chairman Percy Watson, D-Hattiesburg, tried to send to the governor – for his signature or veto – legislation that would allow liquor to be sold at specific places in three counties.
All three counties are dry. The bill would allow liquor to be sold at specific areas even though alcohol sales have not been approved via referendum in Tishomingo, Rankin and Pearl River counties.
The House rejected Watson’s motion and, by a 68-45 margin, instead invited conference negotiations with the Senate on the liquor legislation.
Rep. Mark DuVall, D-Mantachie, who represents Tishomingo County, said, “Hopefully, Tishomingo County will come out of conference. But what happened today will be a hurdle to overcome.”
Rep. Ray Rogers, R-Pearl, and others objected because his hometown in Rankin County and two locations in Pearl River County in south Mississippi were added to the legislation in the Senate.
In the House bill, liquor would have been allowed at Bay Springs Lake, where local officials say a $300 million-plus tourist development is planned, and in the city of Flowood in Rankin County.
But the Senate added language to allow liquor to be sold near the Mississippi Braves minor league baseball park in Pearl and at two locations in Pearl River County.
The House members who represent Pearl River County and Pearl did not support the Senate changes.
Watson said the legislation might be killed during negotiations because the Senate might not agree to removing Pearl and Pearl River County from of the bill.
Rep. Lester “Bubba” Carpenter, R-Iuka, said a lot depends on who Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant appoints as the Senate negotiators. He said he hopes the Senate appoints negotiators who would be willing to consider the bill as it passed the House, with just Bay Springs Lake and Flowood in it.
“The House took the position we did not want those other developments in the bill,” Carpenter said. “We will have to see what comes out of conference… We will just have to work with the Senate.”

Bobby Harrison