House, Senate Appoint Select Committees

Mississippi House Speaker Billy McCoy has appointed a House Select Committee to investigate the Gulf oil spill that killed eleven people and caused an oil leak that continues weeks later. It has threatened the state’s fishing and tourism industries.

In a news release Thursday, McCoy said the committee will hold hearings at the Capitol in June to try to learn how and why the disaster happened.

The panel will be chaired by House Speaker Pro-Tempore J.P. Compretta of Bay St. Louis, and will include members of the Mississippi Coast delegation and chairmen of various related House committees including Oil and Gas; Conservation; Tourism; Ports and Harbors; Marine Resources; Wildlife; Public Health and Welfare; and Judiciary A.

“We realize that we have no jurisdiction in international waters, but this tragedy has affected the whole state and the Mississippi Coast region in particular in terms of jobs and tourism opportunities,” McCoy said. “We do not want to raise any fears as we look into the disaster, but the people of Mississippi deserve to know how this happened and what the future may hold for this most valuable part of our state.”

Coastal business, tourism and environmental leaders will be invited to the hearings along with representatives from several state agencies, including the Mississippi Development Authority; Environmental Quality; Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; and Marine Resources, among others.

Lt. Gov. Phil Bryant also appointed a select Senate Committee to look into the state's response to the oil spill.

“This committee will review the efforts currently going on and how Mississippi has responded,” said Bryant. “The committee is made up of senators from the affected areas and will advise the Senate as to any needed course of action. I believe the state has thus far responded in an admirable and prudent manner. However we should use an abundance of caution when dealing with this challenge and learning all the facts."

Bryant appointed the following members to the committee: Sen. Billy Hewes, chairman (R-Gulfport), Sen. Tommy Moffatt, vice-chairman (R-Gautier),
Sen. David Baria, (D-Bay St. Louis), Sen. Ezell Lee (D-Picayune), Sen. Debbie Dawkins (D-Pass Christian), Sen. Tommy Gollott (R-Biloxi), and Sen. Michael Watson (R-Pascagoula).

The select Senate Committee could begin meetings as early as the first of June as agency schedules are determined.