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City of Biloxi officials are seeking more than $600,000 it says the state owes them and are asking a judge to strike down a 2016 law that swept $79 million of special funds into a state reserve.
Here is a timeline of key events related to the dispute over the Point Cadet Leasing Fund:
April 18, 2016: A conference committee, made up of three leaders, respectively, from the House and Senate, passed HB 878 that included just four special funds from the Secretary of State’s office. The Point Cadet fund was not included in the committee’s final version of the bill.
April 19, 2016: A memo was sent to the House and Senate clerks, requesting that six additional Secretary of State funds, including the Point Cadet fund, be added to the bill by unanimous floor consent after the funds were omitted from the bill.
April 19, 2016: The House and Senate voted unanimously to pass the conference report for HB 878.
April 20, 2016: The House and Senate voted unanimously to include the six additional Secretary of State special funds, including the Point Cadet fund, in HB 878. House and Senate journals both reflect that unanimous consent was given for “clerical corrections.”
April 21, 2016: The Legislature adjourned the 2016 regular legislative session.
April 21, 2016: Doug Davis, chief of staff for Hosemann, wrote a letter to Bryant, chronicling potential problems with sweeping the funds included in the both HB 878 and SB 2362. In that letter, he wrote that sweeping the Point Cadet fund “may violate the Point Cadet Compromise and Settlement Agreement (effective August 15, 2002).”
April 28, 2016: Appropriations chairmen Sen. Buck Clarke, R-Hollandale, and former Rep. Herb Frierson, R-Poplarville, co-authored a letter to Davis, Hosemann, Bryant and others, explaining that the Point Cadet fund (and others listed by Davis in his April 21 letter) is “an off budget fund that does not require additional authority from which to spend.”
April 29, 2016: Hosemann wrote a letter to Gilich, stating that HB 878 was finalized, and that $1.6 million owed to Biloxi from the Point Cadet Leasing Fund “will not be paid to the City of Biloxi.” Hosemann directed Biloxi officials to the Legislature with any questions they may have had.
May 9, 2016: Bryant signed the bill into law, which included the Point Cadet fund, reflecting the recommended additions from the April 19 memo.
September 29, 2016: The Harrison County Chancery Court ruled that the Secretary of State pay Biloxi owed money from the Point Cadet Leasing Fund. The settlement also included provisions that said the involved parties would seek a remedy to the problem during the 2017 regular session.
January 3, 2017: Sen. Tommy Gollott, R-Biloxi, and Rep. Scott DeLano, R-Biloxi, filed bills that would have authorized the Department of Finance and Administration to pay the city of Biloxi its agreed upon amount directly from the Capital Expense Fund.
March 29, 2017: The Legislature adjourned the 2017 regular legislative session without passing any new law that would pay Biloxi the amount set forth in the 2002 settlement.
May 5, 2017: The city of Biloxi filed a motion in Harrison County Chancery Court, asking the court to force the state to pay $606,000 the city says it is owed. The city also asked the court to deem House Bill 878 unconstitutional.