1998 Regular Session
To: Agriculture; Appropriations
By: Representative Holland
House Bill 1486
AN ACT TO CREATE THE SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION FUND, A SPECIAL FUND IN THE STATE TREASURY; TO PROVIDE THAT DISBURSEMENTS IN THE FUND SHALL BE MADE BY THE CHAIRMAN OF THE STATE SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION COMMISSION TO ANY SOIL AND WATER CONSERVATION DISTRICT; TO PROVIDE THAT THE FUND SHALL BE PAID FUNDS APPROPRIATED BY THE LEGISLATURE, INCOME FROM THE INVESTMENT OF FUNDS IN THE SPECIAL FUND, AND ANY AVAILABLE FEDERAL FUNDS; TO PROVIDE THAT THE LEGISLATURE SHALL APPROPRIATE FOUR MILLION DOLLARS IN FISCAL YEAR 1999 TO THE FUND, AND SUCH AMOUNTS IN SUBSEQUENT FISCAL YEARS AS IT DEEMS APPROPRIATE; TO AMEND SECTIONS 69-27-13 AND 69-27-35, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, IN CONFORMITY THERETO; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. It is declared to be the policy of the state that funds to meet the flood control needs of this state shall be made available by the Legislature.
SECTION 2. (1) The Soil and Water Conservation Fund is created as a special fund in the State Treasury into which shall be paid funds appropriated by the Legislature, any income from investment of the funds in the special fund, and any federal funds which may be made available to the state for flood control and mitigation of the effects of floods.
(2) The State Legislature shall appropriate the amount of Four Million Dollars ($4,000,000.00) in Fiscal Year 1999 to the Soil and Water Conservation Fund, and such amounts in subsequent fiscal years as it deems appropriate.
(3) Disbursements in the Soil and Water Conservation Fund shall be made by the Chairman of the State Soil and Water Conservation Commission, with the approval of a majority of the voting members of the commission, to any soil and water conservation district for the sole purpose of maintaining, renovating, constructing or completing flood control and conservation structures and improvements. In addition, the chairman may use amounts in the Soil and Water Conservation Fund to match any flood control or mitigation assistance funds provided from federal sources.
SECTION 3. Section 69-27-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
69-27-13. The State Soil and Water Conservation Commission shall have the following duties and powers:
(a) To offer any assistance as may be appropriate to the commissioners of soil and water conservation districts in the carrying out of their powers and programs.
(b) To keep the commissioners of each of the districts informed of the activities and experience of all other districts, and to facilitate cooperation between districts.
(c) To coordinate the programs of the soil and water conservation districts.
(d) To secure the cooperation and assistance of the United States and any of its agencies and of agencies of this state in the work of the districts.
(e) To disseminate information concerning the activities and programs of the soil and water conservation districts, and to encourage the formation of districts.
(f) To seek and receive grants of monies, and other assets, from any source to carry out this article.
(g) To distribute any appropriated or other funds or assets under its control, from state, federal or other governmental agencies or political subdivisions, or from private grants, including matching funds to districts.
(h) To establish and administer qualification standards for district commissioners and officers.
(i) To give guidance and overall supervision to districts when assistance is requested, or acceptable.
(j) To study, classify and evaluate land use needs and problems in the State of Mississippi; to make recommendations leading to adoption of land use policy and broad guidelines for meeting the needs and problems so identified.
(k) To demonstrate to landowners and operators within the state, equipment that will demonstrate energy and soil and water conservation.
(l) To enter into and to authorize the executive director to execute with the approval of the commission, contracts, grants, cooperative agreements and memoranda of understanding with any federal or state agency or subdivision thereof, or any public or private institution location inside or outside the State of Mississippi, or any person, corporation or association in connection with carrying out the purposes of this article.
(m) To cooperate with the Commission on Environmental Quality in addressing agricultural nonpoint source pollution. Subject to Section 49-17-13, Mississippi Code of 1972, the Commission on Environmental Quality and the commission shall enter into a memorandum of understanding which shall establish the commission's role in nonpoint source pollution issues.
(n) To administer, manage, and distribute funds from the Soil and Water Conservation Fund.
SECTION 4. Section 69-27-35, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
69-27-35. A soil and water conservation district organized under the provisions of this article shall constitute a governmental subdivision of this state, and a public body, corporate and politic, exercising public powers, and such district and the commissioners thereof shall have the following powers, in addition to others granted in other sections of this article:
(a) To conduct surveys, investigations and research relating to the character of soil erosion and the preventive and control measures needed, to publish results of such surveys, investigations or research, and to disseminate information concerning such preventive and control measures. However, in order to avoid duplication of research activities, no district shall initiate any research program except in cooperation with the government of this state or any of its agencies, or with the United States or any of its agencies.
(b) To conduct demonstration projects within the district on lands owned or controlled by this state or any of its agencies, with the cooperation of the agency administering and having jurisdiction thereof, and on any other lands within the district upon obtaining the consent of the owner of such lands or the necessary rights or interests in such lands, in order to demonstrate by example the means, methods, and measures by which water and soil resources may be conserved, and soil erosion in the form of soil washing may be prevented and controlled.
(c) To carry out preventive and control measures within the district including, but not limited to, engineering operations, methods of cultivation, the growing of vegetation, changes in use of land, and the measures listed in subsection (c), Section 69-27-3, on lands owned or controlled by this state or any of its agencies, with the cooperation of the agency administering and having jurisdiction thereof, and on any other lands within the district upon obtaining the consent of the owner of such lands.
(d) To cooperate, or enter into agreements with, and within the limits of appropriations duly made available to it by law, to furnish financial or other aid to any agency, governmental or otherwise, or any owner or operator of lands within the district, in the carrying on of erosion control and prevention operations within the district, subject to such conditions as the commissioners may deem necessary to advance the purposes of this article.
(e) To obtain options upon and to acquire by purchase, exchange, lease, gift, grant, bequest, or devise, any property, real or personal, or rights or interests therein, and all such property shall be exempt from state, county, or municipal taxation; to maintain, administer, and improve any properties acquired, to receive income from such properties and to expend such income in carrying out the purposes and provisions of this article; and to sell, lease, or otherwise dispose of any of its property or interests therein in furtherance of the purposes and the provisions of this article. Notwithstanding any provisions of general law to the contrary, no land or interest therein described under this subsection shall be acquired for recreational purposes by eminent domain proceedings after the effective date of this article.
(f) To make available, on such terms as it shall prescribe, to landowners and operators within the district, agricultural and engineering machinery and equipment, fertilizer, seeds, and seedlings, and such other material or equipment, as will assist such landowners and operators to carry on operations upon their lands for the conservation of soil and water resources and for the prevention and control of soil erosion, and to purchase comprehensive insurance on such agricultural and engineering equipment.
(g) To construct, improve, and maintain such structures as may be necessary or convenient for the performance of any of the operations authorized in this article, with the consent of two-thirds (2/3) of the landowners owning sixty-six and two-thirds percent (66-2/3%) of all lands affected, whether the owners of such land live within such district or not.
(h) To develop comprehensive plans for the conservation of soil and water resources and for the control and prevention of soil erosion within the district, and to bring such plans and information to the attention of owners and operators of lands within the district.
(i) To acquire by purchase or lease, and to administer, any water and soil conservation, erosion-control or erosion-prevention project located within its boundaries undertaken by the United States or any of its agencies, or by this state or any of its agencies; to manage as agent of the United States or any of its agencies, or of this state or any of its agencies, any water and soil conservation, erosion-control or erosion-prevention project within its boundaries; to act as agent for the United States or any of its agencies, or for this state or any of its agencies, in connection with the acquisition, construction, operation, or administration of any soil and water conservation, erosion-control or erosion-prevention project within its boundaries; to accept donations, gifts and contributions in money, services, materials, or otherwise, from the United States or any of its agencies, or from this state or any of its agencies, or from private sources, and to use or expend such monies, services, materials, or other contributions in carrying on its operations.
(j) To assist individual landowners or operators and organized groups, associations, or other agencies or units of government to plan and establish recreational facilities for family use, income-producing purposes, or for community access.
(k) To enter into contracts with the approval of the Governor with any agency of the federal or state government or its political subdivisions to accomplish the objectives of this article.
(l) To collect cost-sharing funds, and to establish and implement procedures compatible with the purposes of this article for the necessary financing of water and soil conservation district activities, including the administration of any federal funds made available for the use of the district.
(m) To receive and expend funds or monies or other assets from any state or federal agency, the Soil and Water Conservation Fund, or any other source, public or private, in furtherance of the purposes of this article.
(n) To sue and be sued in the name of the district; to have a seal, which seal shall be judicially noticed; to have perpetual succession unless terminated as hereinafter provided; to make and execute contracts and other instruments, necessary or convenient to the exercise of its powers; to make, and from time to time amend and repeal rules and regulations not inconsistent with this article, to carry into effect its purposes and powers.
(o) As a condition to the extending of any benefits under this article to, or the performance of work upon, any lands not owned or controlled by this state or any of its agencies, the commissioners may require contributions in money, services, materials, or otherwise to any operations conferring such benefits, and may require landowners and operators to enter into and perform such agreements or covenants as to the permanent use of such lands as will tend to prevent or control erosion thereon.
(p) No provision with respect to the acquisition, operation, or disposition of property by other public bodies shall be applicable to a district organized hereunder unless the Legislature shall specifically so state.
SECTION 5. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.