JACKSON, Miss. (AP) – Mississippi lawmakers are abandoning an effort to create a state-dominated board for oversight troubled water system in the capital city of the state.
But, the Republican-controlled state legislature is still considering proposals to appoint rather than elect some judges and to expand the field of one. state-run police departments Inside Jackson, which is governed by Democrats.
Mayor Chokwe Antara Lumumba has sharply criticized the efforts of the white MPs assert state control in Jackson, which has the highest percentage of black residents of any major US city.
The Jackson water system has struggled for years and nearly collapsed in August and September, leaving most people in the city of 150,000 without water to drink, bathe, wash dishes or flush toilets. Parts of the city again ran short of water during the December cold snap.
In November, the federal government appointed ted hennifin, an experienced administrator from Virginia, to oversee Jackson’s water system. The federal government has also allocated hundreds of millions of dollars for Jackson water improvements.
The Mississippi Senate voted last month After Hennifin completed his work, he created a nine-member regional utility board to control Jackson’s water, with four members to be appointed by the mayor and five by state officials.
Wednesday was the deadline for the Mississippi House to consider the Senate bill, and House leaders let it die without bringing it up for a vote.
Jackson’s independent representative Shanda Yates said Thursday that there was “Jackson fatigue” among the membership.
Yates said House leaders instead want to focus on proposals to curb crime in Jackson, where there have been more than 100 murders in each of the past three years.
Republican Sen. David Parker of Olive Branch sponsored the bill to create a regional utility board, saying he believes Jackson’s water problems are hurting the entire state.
“I’m disappointed that we didn’t get any action on that bill,” Parker said Thursday. “It’s a significant problem, and it’s a problem that deserves attention now.”
The Mississippi House and Senate have passed different versions of bills to expand the territory for the Capitol Police. The state-run department currently patrols in and near downtown Jackson, where state government buildings are located. The city-run Jackson Police Department conducts patrols throughout the city.
Yates, who is white, said during a House debate Wednesday that she knows Jackson residents who are considering moving out of town because they don’t feel safe.
“We have a crime problem,” Yates said.
Democratic Representative Ed Blackmon of Canton is one of several black lawmakers opposing the expansion of the Capitol Police precinct. Blackmon said African Americans want to be safe from crime, but many worry that state police won’t be held accountable if they mistreat people.
“There will be no rejoicing in the black community when this becomes law,” Blackmon said on Wednesday.
Associated Press/Report for America reporter Michael Goldberg contributed to this report.