Hyde-Smith approves bill to support drone research in Mississippi

The Senate Appropriations committee-passed a bill that would support transportation infrastructure and drone research in Mississippi.

U.S. Senator Cindy Hyde-Smith, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committees, approved the FY2019 Transportation, Housing and Urban Development (THUD) Appropriations Bill.  The bill which passed unanimously would fund transportation infrastructure development and community development programs.

“The Senate is moving forward with appropriations bills to address ongoing and new infrastructure needs in Mississippi and around the country, including supporting air service in rural states,” Hyde-Smith said. “Our bill would also support ongoing research by Mississippi State to integrate unmanned aerial systems into the nation’s airspace. I look forward to Senate consideration of these bills this summer.”

Other items of interest to Mississippi in the FY2019 THUD Appropriations Bill include the following:

  • Better Utilizing Investments to Leverage Development (BUILD) Grant Program:  $1.0 billion for BUILD grants for significant transportation projects;
  • FAA Contract Towers:  $168 million to ensure existing towers within the program are fully funded.  The Golden Triangle Regional, Greenville Municipal, Hawkins Field (Jackson), Meridian/Key Field, Olive Branch, Stennis International Airport, Tupelo Regional airports participate in this program.
  • Essential Air Service (EAS):  $175 million for the EAS program, which is used by Greenville, Hattiesburg/Laurel, Meridian, and Tupelo to support passenger air service.
  • Unmanned Aircraft Systems (UAS) Research: $24 million for UAS research, of which $12 million would be directed to the FAA UAS Center of Excellence led by Mississippi State University. The Center will work to identify issues critical to the safe integration of UAS into the nation’s airspace and engage in research and policy development on the expanding use of unmanned aircraft.  The bill provides $2 million for the advanced composite research MSU.
  • Small Community Air Service Development Program:  $10 million, equal to current levels. Mississippi rural airports have been recipients of these awards.

In addition, Hyde-Smith supported provisions in the bill directing the Department of Transportation to consult with the stakeholders, Department of Agriculture, and House and Senate authorizing committees to find a legislative solution for hauling live animals and agricultural commodities under a federal electronic logging devices rule.

The bill also supports programs utilized by Mississippi communities to promote community development, including $3.3 billion for the Community Development Block Grant formula program.  CDBG grants are provided to state and local governments to support efforts to create locally-driven solutions to community and economic development challenges.