- Associated Press - Thursday, February 6, 2014

JACKSON, Miss. (AP) - The state Senate has advanced a bill to reorganize the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources.

The agency was shaken by financial problems that led to the January 2013 firing of Bill Walker, executive director since 2002. Walker, two other former department employees and Walker’s son were indicted in November on federal corruption charges involving hundreds of thousands of dollars in public money.

Senate Bill 2579 (http://bit.ly/1bupyJ3 ) would require the department to perform a yearly audit. It would set education and work experience requirements for those hired in top administrative jobs. It would give lawmakers some oversight of the department.

It also would remove civil-service protection from department employees for one year. That provision prompted several Democrats to vote against the bill when it passed Thursday. It moves to the House.

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