Thursday, May 5, 2016
JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — Gov. Phil Bryant has signed into law a bill that gives control of Jackson's two airports to a state-appointed board.
Spokesman Clay Chandler said Bryant signed Senate Bill 2162 late Wednesday. It replaces the five-member Jackson Municipal Airport Authority appointed by Jackson Mayor Tony Yarber with a nine-member board mostly appointed by state officials.
The law gives Yarber and the Jackson City Council one appointment each. Bryant picks two members, and suburban Rankin and Madison counties name one each. Also getting one appointment each is the lieutenant governor, the executive director of the Mississippi Development Authority and the adjutant general of the Mississippi National Guard.
A majority of board members would be required to live in the city of Jackson, but opponents say the move is an unlawful attempt to take away a city asset without payment. Jackson City officials, Democratic legislators from Hinds County and local residents have all threatened to sue over the law.
One Jackson resident already has sued, though it's unclear how a judge will look on a lawsuit filed before the law officially takes effect July 1.
Jeffery Stallworth of Jackson filed suit in federal court April 6 against Bryant, the Mississippi Legislature and the state Transportation Department.
Stallworth said the bill violated the Fifth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution barring taking property without due process of law and the 14th Amendment protections requiring equal protection under the law and also barring takings without due process.
A similar 2013 move to give control of the Charlotte, North Carolina, airport to a state commission there has been tied up by litigation that says the Federal Aviation Administration must decide who runs that airport. The city continues to run that airport.
Sen. Josh Harkins, R-Flowood, sponsored the Mississippi bill. He said a regional board would not take anything from the city, saying Jackson would still get sales taxes and other revenue. He says the airport is used by people from all over and needs a regional board.