Jackson Leaders Plan to Fight Airport Bill

Photo Courtesy: Jackson Municipal Airport Authority

It has been called a hostile takeover and a manipulative plan to steal the capital city’s airport. Others say it’s best for the future of flight in and out of the metro.

We’re talking about Senate Bill 2162. Even though Governor Phil Bryant signed it into law this week, many say they will continue to fight.

“It is regrettable that the governor has signed what we feel is illegal legislation,” Jackson Municipal Airport Authority  Chairman, Dr. Rosie Pridgen said.

THE Jackson Municipal Airport Authority is making it clear that it is not okay with a new law that will add members to the leadership overseeing Jackson’s airport.

Now the group is gathering petitions to take to the federal aviation administration.

“Our attempts are to appeal to the FAA so that operating certificate won’t be issued by them. If that does not work, our citizens have entrusted us to look out for their airports and that’s what we will do,” Dr. Pridgen said.

We caught up with Senator Josh Harkins, the man who authored the bill, as be prepared to take off from the airport himself.

“Accusations have been made since January and I have yet to see anybody have anything concrete that says I’m making money off of the airport,’ Senator Harkins said. “I don’t own the land out here.”

Critics say the airport is financially sound and is doing well as is. Harkins says House Bill 2162 is about adding resources to the board to make the airport even better for the entire state.

“If you look around, there’s a lot of green around here. What we want to see is what other airports have done,” Senator Harkins said. “They have developed around the airport. If you look at airports around the size of Jackson, whether it be Baton Rouge or Little Rock, there’s development all around there.”

The current leadership says they were already working on those plans.

“We’re getting ready to open up access from Lakeland Drive, going across the east metro parkway to Highway 80 and on to Interstate-20. That kind of access will open up more land to be developed,” Dr. Pridgen said.

The city of Jackson sent us a statement outlining plans to question whether or not the new law is constitutional.

“I do not want to speculate on the FAA, but I do know we will aggressively make sure we get those petitions and be in touch with them and we will go from there,” Dr. Pridgen said.

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