1997 Regular Session
To: Conservation and Water Resources
By: Representative Broomfield
House Bill 1615
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 49-15-301, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT THE EMPLOYMENT AND ACTIVITIES OF MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION ON MARINE RESOURCES MUST NOT CONFLICT WITH THE DUTY PLACED IN THE COMMISSION TO REGULATE THE STATE'S MARINE RESOURCES; TO PROHIBIT MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION ON MARINE RESOURCES FROM USING THEIR APPOINTMENT TO OBTAIN PECUNIARY BENEFIT; TO PROHIBIT MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION FROM HAVING AN INTEREST IN CERTAIN CONTRACTS; TO PROHIBIT MEMBERS FROM USING OR DISCLOSING INFORMATION GAINED BY REASON OF THEIR APPOINTMENT IN A WAY THAT COULD RESULT IN PECUNIARY BENEFIT; TO PROVIDE THAT VIOLATIONS OF THESE PROHIBITIONS SHALL BE PUNISHED AS PROVIDED FOR IN STATE LAW REGARDING CONFLICTS OF INTEREST AND ETHICS IN GOVERNMENT; TO DELETE THE REQUIREMENT THAT ONE OF THE MEMBERS OF THE COMMISSION MUST BE A MEMBER OF AN INCORPORATED NONPROFIT ENVIRONMENTAL ORGANIZATION; TO AMEND SECTION 25-4-119, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY THERETO AND TO MAKE TECHNICAL CORRECTIONS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 49-15-301, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-15-301. (1) The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources is hereby established and full power is vested in the commission to regulate all matters pertaining to all saltwater aquatic life and marine resources. The commission shall administer the Coastal Wetlands Protection law and the Public Trust Tidelands Act. The power and duties of the commission shall be exercised through the Department of Marine Resources. The commission shall not exercise any law enforcement powers.
(2) The Mississippi Commission on Marine Resources shall consist of seven (7) members to be appointed as follows:
(a) The Governor shall appoint six (6) members who shall be residents of Jackson, Harrison and Hancock Counties with the advice and consent of the Senate. The Governor shall appoint two (2) members from each county. The members designated in subparagraphs (i), (ii), (iv) and (vi) must be a resident of the county where the business he is appointed to represent is located.
(b) The commission shall be composed as follows:
(i) One (1) member shall be a commercial seafood processor.
(ii) One (1) member shall be a commercial fisherman.
(iii) One (1) member shall be a recreational sports fisherman.
(iv) One (1) member shall be a charter boat operator.
(v) One (1) member shall be appointed from the state at large.
(vi) One (1) member shall be from the nonseafood industry.
(vii) The member of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks from the Fifth Congressional District.
(c) Of the initial members appointed by the Governor, the members designated in subparagraphs (i),(ii) and (iii) shall serve for an initial term of two (2) years and one (1) member shall be appointed from each county. The members designated in subparagraphs (iv), (v) and (vi) shall serve an initial term of four (4) years and one (1) member shall be appointed from each county. All terms after the initial terms shall be for a period of four (4) years. The term of the member from the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks shall be coterminous with his term on the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
(d) Any vacancy in the office of an appointed member of the commission shall be filled by appointment by the Governor for the balance of the unexpired term.
(3) (a) Each member shall have a demonstrated history of involvement in the matter of jurisdiction for which he is appointed to represent, and his employment and any other activities must not conflict with the matter of jurisdiction represented or with the duty placed in the commission to regulate all matters pertaining to saltwater aquatic life and marine resources.
(b) No member shall use his appointment to the commission to obtain pecuniary benefit for himself other than that compensation provided for by law, or to obtain pecuniary benefit for any relative or any business with which he is associated or for any community in which he lives. No member shall be interested, directly or indirectly, during the term for which he shall have been appointed, or within one (1) year after the expiration of such term, in any contract pertaining to the seafood industry or to the gaming industry, which contract may have been subject to the influence of, or authorized by, any action taken by the commission. No member may intentionally use or disclose information gained by reason of his appointment to the commission in any way that could result in pecuniary benefit for himself, any relative or any other person, if the information has not been communicated to the public or is not public information. Any person violating the provisions of this paragraph shall be punished as provided for in Article 3, Chapter 4, Title 25, Mississippi Code of 1972.
(c) A member shall not have a record of conviction of violation of fish and game or seafood laws or regulations within the five (5) years preceding his appointment or a record of any felony conviction.
(4) The commission shall elect a chairman who shall preside at all meetings of the commission, and the commission shall also elect a vice-chairman who shall serve in the absence or inability of the chairman. The member who is also a member of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks shall not be eligible to serve as chairman.
(5) Each member shall be paid actual and necessary expenses incurred in attending meetings of the commission and in performing his duties away from his domicile under assignment by the commission. In addition, members shall receive the per diem authorized in Section 25-3-69, Mississippi Code of 1972.
(6) The commission shall adopt rules and regulations governing times and places of meetings and shall adopt bylaws governing the manner of conducting its business. Each member shall take the oath prescribed by Section 268 of the Mississippi Constitution of 1890 and shall, before assuming office, enter into bond in the amount of Thirty Thousand Dollars ($30,000.00), to be approved by the Secretary of State conditioned according to law and payable to the State of Mississippi.
(7) The commission shall not take any action, except by vote in meeting assembled, and such action shall be included in the minutes of the commission. A majority of the members shall constitute a quorum of the commission.
(8) The commission, through the Department of Marine Resources, shall devise a plan to make licenses available in each coastal county.
(9) (a) There is hereby created a marine resources technical advisory council composed of the Executive Director of the Gulf Coast Research Lab, or his designee; the Executive Director of the Department of Environmental Quality, or his designee; and the Executive Director of the Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, or his designee.
(b) The council shall give technical assistance to the commission.
(10) For purposes of this section the following definitions apply:
(a) "Charter boat operator" means an individual who operates a vessel for hire guiding sports fishermen for a fee and is duly licensed to engage in such activity in the State of Mississippi.
(b) "Commercial fisherman" means a fisherman who sells, barters or exchanges any or all of his catch or who is paid for attempting to catch marine species.
(c) "Commercial seafood processor" means an individual who engages in the business of purchasing seafood products and preparing them for resale and who is duly licensed to engage in such commercial activity in the State of Mississippi.
(d) "Gaming industry" means an industry involved in gaming, as the term "gaming" is defined in Chapter 76, Title 75, Mississippi Code of 1972.
(e) "Non-seafood industry" means an industry not involved in the catching, processing or packaging of marine species.
(f) "Recreational sports fisherman" means an individual who catches or harvests marine species only for recreation or personal consumption and not for sale.
(g) "Seafood industry" means an industry involved in the catching, processing or packaging of marine species.
SECTION 2. Section 25-4-119, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
25-4-119. No elected or appointed official shall derive any pecuniary benefit, directly or indirectly, as a result of such elected or appointed official's duties under Sections 21-19-33, 27-109-1, 27-109-3, 27-109-7, 27-109-9, 49-15-301, 67-1-71, 87-1-5, 95-3-25, 97-33-1, 97-33-7, 97-33-9, 97-33-17, 97-33-25, * * * 97-33-27 and Chapter 76, Title 75, Mississippi Code of 1972. Any person convicted of a violation of this section shall be punished pursuant to the provisions of Article 3, Chapter 4, Title 25, Mississippi Code of 1972.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1997.