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Senate votes in favor of bill to allow state to take over Jackson’s water system

The Mississippi Senate approved a bill on Tuesday to take over the city of Jackson’s water system amid decades of issues.

Senate Bill 2628 was passed 35-14 in the Republican-heavy chamber with no GOP members voting against it. While Jackson’s third-party water manager Ted Henifin expressed his approval of the legislation upon it being introduced, all but one of the lawmakers representing the capital city voted against it.

Sen. Walter Michel, a Republican from Ridgeland who has a sliver of northeast Jackson in his district, was the lone vote in favor. Those in the Jackson delegation against it were Democratic Sens. David Blount, John Horhn, Hillman Frazier, and Sollie Norwood.

”Ted Henifin does not represent the city of Jackson. Ted Henifin does not represent Senate District 28,” Norwood said ahead of the vote. “When he came into Senate District 28, the questions we asked him, he couldn’t answer those questions.”

What the amended bill would do is create a water authority governed by a nine-member board of directors that includes appointees from the governor (3), lieutenant governor (3), Jackson City Council (2), and the Jackson mayor (1). Originally, the bill featured only appointees from the governor and lieutenant governor’s office.

The authority would be put in place by Sept. 1, 2024, and would use zero-interest bonds to buy the city’s water and sewer infrastructure at a price determined by the U.S. District Court. Once the assets are transferred, the authority would fully control Jackson’s water system.

Sen. David Parker, a Republican from DeSoto County, was the subject of criticism from Norwood and others as he lives nearly 200 miles from the capital city but still wrote the bill. Parker cited feedback he’s received from Jackson residents as to why he wants to transfer the water system to under the state’s authority.

“As you can imagine – or maybe not imagine – I’ve gotten a large number of emails (in favor of this),” Parker said. “‘Shame on those who want to comment that you don’t live here. I say you are doing more than they ever did to save our capital city.’ And those

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