1997 Regular Session
By: Representatives Stevens, Howell, Manning, Read, Smith (35th), Clark, Smith (27th), Malone, Reynolds, Green (34th), McBride, Bowles, Cameron, Moody, Brown, Horne, Simmons (37th), Walker, Ellis, Grist
House Bill 1203
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 77-9-521, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE RAIL CARRIERS TO GIVE NOTICE TO CERTAIN PUBLIC OFFICIALS AND CERTAIN STATE AGENCIES NOT LATER THAN 180 DAYS BEFORE APPLICATION IS FILED WITH THE SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD TO ABANDON OR DISCONTINUE RAILROAD LINES OR RAIL SERVICE; TO REQUIRE THE DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY AND THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY TO PERFORM STUDIES AND PREPARE A JOINT REPORT TO THE LEGISLATURE DETAILING THE ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT THAT A PROPOSED ABANDONMENT OR DISCONTINUATION OF RAILROAD LINES OR RAIL SERVICE IS LIKELY TO HAVE LOCALLY; TO AMEND SECTIONS 77-9-523 AND 77-9-525, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE CHAIRMEN OF THE HOUSE AND SENATE PUBLIC UTILITIES COMMITTEES TO CALL A JOINT HEARING FOR THE PURPOSE OF INVESTIGATING AND CONSIDERING A PROPOSED ABANDONMENT OR DISCONTINUATION OF RAILROAD LINES OR RAIL SERVICE, AND TO PROVIDE THAT COPIES OF ANY RESOLUTION ADOPTED BY THE COMMITTEES SHALL BE TRANSMITTED TO THE SURFACE TRANSPORTATION BOARD, THE DEPARTMENT OF ARCHIVES AND HISTORY, THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY AND MEMBERS OF THE MISSISSIPPI CONGRESSIONAL DELEGATION; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 77-9-521, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
77-9-521. (1) (a) Not later than one hundred eighty (180) days before a rail carrier files its application with the Surface Transportation Board for * * * abandonment or discontinuance of railroad lines or rail service as provided for under Subtitle IV to Title 49, United States Code Service, Section 10,101 et seq., the rail carrier shall provide, by United States Certified Mail, written notice of its intent to file such application, along with an accurate and understandable summary of the rail carrier's * * * reasons for the proposed abandonment or discontinuance, and a statement containing the estimate of the subsidy and minimum purchase price required to keep the line in operation, to:
(i) The Governor;
(ii) The Clerk of the House of Representatives;
(iii) The Secretary of the Senate;
(iv) The Chairmen of the Committees on Public Utilities of the House of Representatives and the Senate;
(v) The members of the Legislature who represent legislative districts within which the proposed railroad line abandonment or discontinuance is proposed;
(vi) The Director of the Department of Archives and History; and
(vii) The Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality.
(b) In addition to giving notice of its intent to file an application for abandonment or discontinuance as required under paragraph (a) of this subsection, at the time that a rail carrier actually files its application, it shall provide a copy of the application, by United States Certified Mail, to each of the persons described in subparagraphs (a)(i) through (a)(vii) of this subsection.
(2) Upon receipt of the notice required under paragraph (1)(a) of this section, the Department of Archives and History and the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality each shall perform an independent study and shall prepare a joint report, to be filed with the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate not later than ninety (90) days after receipt of the notice, detailing and describing the environmental impact that the proposed abandonment or discontinuation of railroad lines or rail service is likely to have locally upon:
(a) The protection and preservation of all sites, buildings, artifacts and implements of culture, and all other property or objects, having historical, prehistorical, archaeological or architectural significance or value, including monuments, markers, placards or signs identifying, memorializing, locating or designating such property or objects;
(b) The conservation, management, development and protection of the natural resources and environment of the locality, including its people, wildlife, aquatic life, airs, waters, land and ecological systems; and
(c) Any other impact of an environmental nature that the Department of Archives and History and the Department of Environmental Quality deem important.
SECTION 2. Section 77-9-523, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
77-9-523. Each member of the Legislature representing a legislative district within which the proposed railroad abandonment or discontinuance is planned shall recommend to his respective public utilities chairman, after reviewing such information as is available, whether or not a public hearing should be held to investigate and consider the proposed railroad abandonment or discontinuance. The Chairman of the Committee on Public Utilities of the House of Representatives and the Chairman of the Committee on Public Utilities of the Senate shall then confer with each other and, if the Legislature is not in session at the time, then also with the House Management Committee and the Senate Management Committee, and then * * * each chairman * * *, in his discretion, and based upon the recommendations of the legislators representing the districts within which the proposed railroad abandonment or discontinuance is planned, * * * may call a joint meeting for the sole purpose of investigating and considering the proposed or intended abandonment or discontinuance.
SECTION 3. Section 77-9-525, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
77-9-525. A public hearing * * *, in the discretion of the public utilities chairmen, may be held by the chairmen and * * * members of the Public Utilities Committees of the House of Representatives and the Senate meeting concurrently to receive testimony at any time after the receipt of notice by the chairmen of the statement of intent to abandon or discontinue service. The committees may adopt, by a majority vote of those members present and voting, a concurrent resolution memorializing the Surface Transportation Board, either to permit or to refuse to permit the person, company or other legal entity owning or operating the railroad to abandon the rail line or discontinue rail service thereon, stating the reasons supporting the position. If a concurrent resolution is adopted by both of the committees, the Clerk of the House of Representatives and the Secretary of the Senate shall forthwith transmit certified copies of such resolution to the Surface Transportation Board, the Department of Archives and History, the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality and to each of the members of Congress elected from the state.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after its passage.