Legislation to restrict use of state plane - MSNewsNow.com - Jackson, MS

Legislation to restrict use of state plane

By Ashley Conroy - email

JACKSON, MS (WLBT) - Elected officials have come under fire in the past for personal use of the state plane.     

House lawmakers passed legislation on Wednesday to restrict any use that does not count as official business.

In a 50-plus page report issued by the state Attorney General's office, it outlines in detail Governor Haley Barbour's use of the state plane from 2006 to 2008.

It states that Barbour used the plane for personal use and has a section that highlights any questionable use of the plane.     

In the past, former Governor Ronnie Musgrove received heat for using the aircraft for personal use.

Representative Ed Blackson (D-Canton) is the author of House Bill 1201. He and the AG's office worked on this report, and says he's currently investigating it.

"What I wanted to do was look at the actual cost and that should be what the compensation should be," Blackmon said. "It should only be used for official business, not for personal use."

However, in the document it does show where Barbour reimbursed the state for $18,090 to the Department of Public Safety and wrote a personal letter saying he didn't think it would be "appropriate" to use state planes for personal use.

Barbour spokesperson Dan Turner said in a statement over the phone with WLBT that the Governor "does not use the plane for political purposes. DFA bills him and [he] repays every amount."    

However, Blackmon says he still wants to clarify use of the state aircraft.

"And what that bill intends to do is provide a guidance to state employees, elected officials who use state planes and automobiles."

Since the legislation passed the House for a vote, Blackmon says he hopes it passes the Senate floor.

"It provides for means for compensating for that use, also a penalty for misuse. The penalties range from a civil penalty to removal from office from a state employee or an elected official."

Meantime, it would also restrict statewide elected officials from using state vehicles to travel to and from their residence.    

Copyright 2011 WLBT. All rights reserved.

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