House Bill causes controversy

By Elise Roberts - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - A state representative is introducing a bill that is causing some controversy. Michael Janus introduced House Bill 1061. The bill attempts to define the "mean high water line."

However, some say it may do more harm than good.

"House Bill 45, several years ago, came about in a move to allow gaming to move in 800 feet. By all accounts, everyone felt that was real successful; however, the lawyers, the casinos, the landowners, the developers, even the gaming commissioners felt there was some language in House Bill 45 that was vague and ambiguous," says Biloxi Representative Michael Janus.

Janus says House Bill 45 does not clarify where the line is for the Gaming Commission, but he wants naysayers to know, his bill is about more than coast casinos.

"It was born out of my own frustration and lack of development along the Gulf Coast. Not just gaming but all development. When you look at Highway 90, not much has happened in the last three years," said Janus.

Opponents of the bill say it will reopen the Gaming Control Act which could mean an influx of casino development along Highway 90, but Janus says that won't happen.

"I chose this specific code section and this definition for a reason because it does protect the gaming control act. It will not allow to amend it or jeopardize gaming but also address a problem I see, and that's in that definition," said Janus.

Four months ago the attorney general issued an opinion about the tidelands. It urges developers to follow mapping guidelines provided by the secretary of state.

Janus says his bill supports the AGs opinion and at the end of the day he wants clarification, NOT controversy.

"I'm not trying to create controversy; however, I think that some controversy has come about. And I think that it's just because folks don't understand my intentions or understand the law and what it was attempting to do," Janus said.

A member of the Biloxi council also wrote a letter to the governor's office asking the governor to speak with the gaming commission about accepting the AG's opinion. A member of Biloxi's council told WLOX the letter was written well before Representative Michael Janus introduced his house bill.

To see a copy of the attorney general's opinion in its entirety, click here. If you have trouble viewing this link, visit and search for "Opinion No. 2008-00279."

To read House Bill 1061, click here.