1997 Regular Session
By: Representatives Livingston, McBride, Mitchell, Rotenberry, Warren, Howell, Smith (35th)
House Bill 499
(As Sent to Governor)
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 29-3-81, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REVISE THE PROCEDURES FOR LEASING SIXTEENTH SECTION LANDS CLASSIFIED AS AGRICULTURAL LAND, TO GRANT EXISTING LEASEHOLDERS CERTAIN RE-LEASING AND BIDDING RIGHTS, AND TO PROVIDE FOR SHORT-TERM LEASES OF SUCH LANDS UNDER CERTAIN CIRCUMSTANCES; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 29-3-81, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
29-3-81. (1) Sixteenth section lands, or any lands granted in lieu of sixteenth section lands, classified as agricultural * * * may be leased for the cultivation of rice, or pasturage, for a term not to exceed ten (10) years. All other sixteenth section or lieu lands classified as agricultural may be leased for a term not exceeding five (5) years. All leases of land classified as agricultural shall be for a term to expire on December 31. Except in those cases when the holder of an existing lease on agricultural land elects to re-lease such land, as authorized under this subsection, it shall be the duty of the board of education to lease the sixteenth section or lieu lands at public contract after having advertised such lands for rent in a newspaper published in the county or, if no newspaper is published in the county, then in a newspaper having a general circulation therein, for two (2) successive weeks, the first being at least ten (10) days before the public contract. However, before the expiration of an existing lease of land classified as agricultural land, the board of education, in its discretion and subject to the prior approval of the Secretary of State, may authorize the holder of the existing lease to re-lease the land, on no more than one (1) occasion, for a term not to exceed five (5) years and for a rental amount that is no less than one hundred twenty percent (120%) of the total rental value of the existing lease. If the holder of the existing lease elects not to re-lease the land, the board of education shall publish an advertisement of agricultural land for rent which publication shall be not more than four (4) months before the expiration of the term of an existing lease of the land. An election by the holder of the existing lease not to re-lease the land shall not preclude his participation in the bidding process established under this section. Subject to the classification of the land, the board of education shall enter into a new lease on agricultural land before the expiration of an existing lease on the same land, and the new lease shall take effect on the day immediately following the day on which the existing lease expires. The board of education may require bidders to furnish bond or submit evidence of financial ability.
Bids received by the board of education in response to the advertisement shall be opened at a regular or special meeting of the board. The board of education, at its option, may reject all bids or accept the highest and best bid received in response to the advertisement, or the board of education may hold an auction among those who submitted bids in response to the advertisement. If the board of education elects to hold an auction, no bidder shall be granted any preference. The opening bid at the auction shall be highest bid received in response to the advertisement.
(2) (a) If the board of education receives an acceptable bid in response to the advertisement and elects not to hold an auction among those submitting bids, then the holder of the existing lease may submit a second bid in an amount not less than one hundred five percent (105%) of the highest acceptable bid received if the holder of the existing lease: (i) submitted a bid in response to the advertisement; and (ii) constructed or made improvements on the leasehold premises after receiving approval of the board of education during the term of the existing lease. For purposes of this subsection, the term "improvements" shall not include any work or items that are done customarily on an annual basis in the preparing, planting, growing, cultivating or harvesting of crops or other farm products.
(b) If the holder of the existing lease elects to submit a second bid, the board of education shall hold an auction among those who submitted bids in response to the advertisement. The opening bid at the auction shall be the second bid of the holder of the existing lease. However, no leaseholder may submit a second bid if: (i) any rent, taxes or other payment required under his lease are past due; or (ii) he is otherwise in default of any term or provision of the lease and such default has not been corrected or cured to the satisfaction of the board of education after more than thirty (30) days' notice to the leaseholder of the default.
(c) If an auction is held, the auction may be conducted at the meeting at which bids are opened or at a subsequent regular or special meeting. The board shall announce the time and place of the auction at the meeting at which bids are opened, and no further notice of the auction is required.
(d) If no bid acceptable to the board of education is received after the advertisement or at auction, the board of education may lease, within ninety (90) days, the lands by private contract for an amount greater than the highest bid previously rejected in order to acquire a fair rental value for the lands. If no bids are received in response to the advertisement, the board of education may negotiate a private contract for a fair rental value, and the term of such contract shall expire on December 31 of the same calendar year in which the contract is made. The board of education may take the notes for the rent and attend to their collection. The board has the right and remedies for the security and collection of such rents given by law to the agricultural landlords.
(e) If an existing lease is terminated before the expiration of the term originally set therein, upon finding that immediate action is necessary to prevent damage or loss to growing crops or to prevent loss of opportunity to lease the land for the current growing season, the board of education may negotiate a private contract for a fair rental value, and the term of such lease shall expire on December 31 of the same calendar year in which the contract is made.
(3) Any holder of a lease on agricultural land that: (a) was granted before July 1, 1997; and (b) has an expiration date on or after April 1 but before December 31 during the final year of the lease term, may extend the term of such lease to December 31 next following the expiration date originally provided for in the lease. If such lease is extended, the rent for the period from the original expiration date in the lease to December 31 next following the original expiration date shall be one hundred five percent (105%) of the annual rent provided in the existing lease prorated over the period of the lease extension. At the expiration of the extended lease term or at the expiration of the original lease term if the lease holder does not extend such lease, the land shall be offered for lease as provided in subsections (1) and (2) of this section.
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SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.