Legislation to allow sale of Carrier lodge dies on technicality

April 2, 2009



JACKSON -- Legislation died on a technicality Tuesday to give Mississippi University for Women permission to sell Carrier Lodge. 


A provision allowing MUW and other universities to buy and sell land got stripped from a bill House-Senate negotiators hammered out Tuesday dealing with various state-owned properties. A conflict arose about throwing together a variety of unrelated property legislation into one bill. 


The MUW bill had passed the House and Senate earlier this year, but it died as lawmakers attempted to merge it into another bill. House Public Property Committee Mary Coleman, D-Jackson, said she hopes to bring the MUW bill back next year. 


MUW wants the state Legislature''s permission to sell the 47-year-old Carrier Lodge, an off-campus recreational and overnight facility that university administrators say has outlived its usefulness. They want to sell Carrier and generate some extra cash for the school. 


The bill that would''ve authorized universities to sell properties got sent back to legislative negotiators Tuesday after a challenge was made that it violated legislative rules for how bills are drafted. 


The revised version of House Bill 999 re-emerged without the provisions for universities but retained measures for the state Department of Transportation, Department of Mental Health and other state government agencies. 


The House and Senate did agree on a bill allowing West Point to provide city-owned land for a steel company to relocate there. 


Property by Fisher Marine is to be leased to Fabricator Supply, a sister company to Ellis Steel. 


The House on Tuesday adopted a Senate-passed version of the bill, clearing the way for it to be sent to Gov. Haley Barbour for him to sign into law. 


Senate Bill 3297 sets a $1.2 million purchase price for the land and its improvements, but West Point Mayor Scott Ross said the city has already bought the property and received federal funds for it. The city needs a state law to bind a lease-purchase agreement made for Fabricator Supply to acquire it, he said. 


The property is not the old Bryan Foods plant, as House local legislation chairman Willie Perkins, D-Greenwood, had been telling legislators. He misunderstood the city''s written request for the bill. The resolution noted West Point is seeking more industrial development as it tries to bounce back from losing about 1,200 jobs when Sara Lee closed its Bryan Foods plant in March 2007.