By Patsy R. Brumfield/NEMS Daily Journal
JACKSON – A bill to strip state regulation of public water associations Monday passed a Senate committee chaired by Sen. Nancy Collins, R-Tupelo.
The bill’s twin in the House will die, Public Utilities Committee Chairman Rep. Jim Beckett, R-Bruce, told the Daily Journal.
Initially, the legislation aimed to prevent the Public Service Commission from investigating public utilities.
But Collins’ Accountability, Efficiency and Transparency Committee approved an amended bill, which pertains only to the water associations, said PSC Commissioner Brandon Presley.
He said Collins voted for it. Collins was not available to discuss the action.
“I think this is specifically designed to undo any regulation over water associations,” said Presley, who represents the Northern District on the three-member panel.
The Mississippi Rural Water Association has been at strong odds against the PSC, especially Presley, since the agency demanded operational and board documents from North Lee County Water Association in the fall of 2011.
NLCWA employees claimed mismanagement and that they were sent on private jobs while on association time.
The association’s leadership resigned and were replaced after the PSC investigation. Its director pleaded guilty to lying about federal water reports and faces sentencing soon.
“It’s obvious they don’t want to hold water associations accountable,” Presley noted. “This is the price you pay when you start regulating people.”