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Mississippi House passes arts center bill

By By Ben Alexander/The Meridian Star
March 1, 2001
An amended bill designating Meridian as the site for the Southern Arts and Entertainment Center passed the Mississippi House of Representatives on Wednesday.
The bill was amended to give the direction and administration of the center to the state Department of Finance and Administration. The original Senate version of the bill gave the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries the authority to operate the facility.
State Sen. Terry Burton, D-Newton, said he would have preferred the Department of Wildlife and Fisheries maintain control over the facility.
The amended version of the bill also forbids the use of state funds to construct and operate the facility, unless special authorization is given by lawmakers.
Local leaders have promoted the idea that private funds could be used to construct the facility, but Burton said if private money is used on the construction of the center he doesn't believe the Finance and Administration Department should play a role in its operation.
Overall, Burton said it was a positive step for Meridian to be named as the site for the center despite the changes in language.
Because the House amended the original Senate version of the bill, the Senate must once again vote to accept the changes before it can be sent to the governor's office for approval.
Ben Alexander is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. E-mail him at balexander@themeridianstar.com.

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