1998 Regular Session
By: Representative Eaton
House Bill 1550
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 65-1-8, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE MISSISSIPPI TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION TO COOPERATE WITH THE MISSISSIPPI FORESTRY COMMISSION AND THE SCHOOL OF FORESTRY, MISSISSIPPI STATE UNIVERSITY, IN A FORESTRY MANAGEMENT PROGRAM FOR TIMBER UPON THE RIGHT-OF-WAY OF CERTAIN HIGHWAYS; TO AMEND SECTION 65-1-123, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO PROVIDE THAT THE PROCEEDS FROM THE SALE OF TIMBER UPON THE RIGHT-OF-WAY OF CERTAIN HIGHWAYS SHALL BE USED BY THE MISSISSIPPI FORESTRY COMMISSION TO PURCHASE FORESTRY EQUIPMENT; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 65-1-8, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
65-1-8. (1) The Mississippi Transportation Commission shall have the following general powers, duties and responsibilities:
(a) To coordinate and develop a comprehensive, balanced transportation policy for the State of Mississippi;
(b) To promote the coordinated and efficient use of all available and future modes of transportation;
(c) To make recommendations to the Legislature regarding alterations or modifications in any existing transportation policies;
(d) To study means of encouraging travel and transportation of goods by the combination of motor vehicle and other modes of transportation;
(e) To take such actions as are necessary and proper to discharge its duties pursuant to the provisions of Laws, 1992, Chapter 496, and any other provision of law;
(f) To receive and provide for the expenditure of any funds made available to it by the Legislature, the federal government, or any other source.
(2) In addition to the general powers, duties and responsibilities listed in subsection (1) of this section, the Mississippi Transportation Commission shall have the following specific powers:
(a) To make rules and regulations whereby the transportation department shall change or relocate any and all highways herein or hereafter fixed as constituting a part of the state highway system, as may be deemed necessary or economical in the construction or maintenance thereof; to acquire by gift, purchase, condemnation, or otherwise, land or other property whatsoever that may be necessary for a state highway system as herein provided, with full consideration to be given to the stimulation of local public and private investment when acquiring such property in the vicinity of Mississippi towns, cities and population centers;
(b) To enforce by mandamus, or other proper legal remedies, all legal rights or rights of action of the Mississippi Transportation Commission with other public bodies, corporations or persons;
(c) To make and publish rules, regulations and ordinances for the control of and the policing of the traffic on the state highways, and to prevent their abuse by any or all persons, natural or artificial, by trucks, tractors, trailers or any other heavy or destructive vehicles or machines, or by any other means whatsoever, by establishing weights of loads or of vehicles, types of tires, width of tire surfaces, length and width of vehicles, with reasonable variations to meet approximate weather conditions, and all other proper police and protective regulations, and to provide ample means for the enforcement of same. The violation of any of the rules, regulations or ordinances so prescribed by the commission shall constitute a misdemeanor. No rule, regulation or ordinance shall be made that conflicts with any statute now in force or which may hereafter be enacted, or with any ordinance of municipalities. A monthly publication giving general information to the boards of supervisors, employees and the public may be issued under such rules and regulations as the commission may determine;
(d) To give suitable numbers to highways and to change the number of any highway that shall become a part of the state highway system. However, nothing herein shall authorize the number of any highway to be changed so as to conflict with any designation thereof as a United States numbered highway. Where, by a specific act of the Legislature, the commission has been directed to give a certain number to a highway, the commission shall not have the authority to change such number;
(e) To make proper and reasonable rules, regulations, and ordinances for the placing, erection, removal or relocation of telephone, telegraph or other poles, signboards, fences, gas, water, sewerage, oil or other pipelines, and other obstructions that may, in the opinion of the commission, contribute to the hazards upon any of the state highways, or in any way interfere with the ordinary travel upon such highways, or the construction, reconstruction or maintenance thereof, and to make reasonable rules and regulations for the proper control thereof. Any violation of such rules or regulations or noncompliance with such ordinances shall constitute a misdemeanor.
Whenever the order of the commission shall require the removal of, or other changes in the location of telephone, telegraph, or other poles, signboards, gas, water, sewerage, oil or other pipelines; or other similar obstructions on the right-of-way or such other places where removal is required by law, the owners thereof shall at their own expense move or change the same to conform to the order of the commission. Any violation of such rules or regulations or noncompliance with such orders shall constitute a misdemeanor;
(f) To regulate and abandon grade crossings on any road fixed as a part of the state highway system, and whenever the commission, in order to avoid a grade crossing with the railroad, locates or constructs said road on one side of the railroad, the commission shall have the power to abandon and close such grade crossing, and whenever an underpass or overhead bridge is substituted for a grade crossing, the commission shall have power to abandon such grade crossing and any other crossing adjacent thereto. Included in the powers herein granted shall be the power to require the railroad at grade crossings, where any road of the state highway system crosses the same, to place signal posts with lights or other warning devices at such crossings at the expense of the railroad, and to regulate and abandon underpass or overhead bridges and, where abandoned because of the construction of a new underpass or overhead bridge, to close such old underpass or overhead bridge, or, in its discretion, to return the same to the jurisdiction of the county board of supervisors;
(g) To make proper and reasonable rules and regulations to control the cutting or opening of the road surfaces for subsurface installations;
(h) To make proper and reasonable rules and regulations for the removal from the public rights-of-way of any form of obstruction, to cooperate in improving their appearance, and to prescribe minimum clearance heights for seed conveyors, pipes, passageways or other structure of private or other ownership above the highways;
(i) To establish, and have the Transportation Department maintain and operate, and to cooperate with the state educational institutions in establishing, enlarging, maintaining and operating a laboratory or laboratories for testing materials and for other proper highway purposes;
(j) To provide, under the direction and with the approval of the Department of Finance and Administration, suitable offices, shops and barns in the City of Jackson;
(k) To establish and have enforced set-back regulations;
(l) To cooperate with proper state authorities in producing limerock for highway purposes and to purchase same at cost;
(m) To provide for the purchase of necessary equipment and vehicles and to provide for the repair and housing of same, to acquire by gift, purchase, condemnation or otherwise, land or lands and buildings in fee simple, and to authorize the Transportation Department to construct, lease or otherwise provide necessary and proper permanent district offices for the construction and maintenance divisions of the department, and for the repair and housing of the equipment and vehicles of the department; however, in each Supreme Court district only two (2) permanent district offices shall be set up, but a permanent status shall not be given to any such offices until so provided by act of the Legislature and in the meantime, all shops of the department shall be retained at their present location. As many local or subdistrict offices, shops or barns may be provided as is essential and proper to economical maintenance of the state highway system;
(n) To cooperate with the Department of Archives and History in having placed and maintained suitable historical markers, including those which have been approved and purchased by the State Historical Commission, along state highways, and to have constructed and maintained roadside driveways for convenience and safety in viewing them when necessary; however, no highway or bridge shall ever be memorialized to a man while living;
(o) To cooperate, in its discretion, with the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks in planning and constructing roadside parks upon the right-of-way of state highways, whether constructed, under construction, or planned; said parks to utilize where practical barrow pits used in construction of state highways for use as fishing ponds. Said parks shall be named for abundant flora and fauna existing in the area or for the first flora or fauna found on the site;
(p) Unless otherwise prohibited by law, to make such contracts and execute such instruments containing such reasonable and necessary appropriate terms, provisions and conditions as in its absolute discretion it may deem necessary, proper or advisable, for the purpose of obtaining or securing financial assistance, grants or loans from the United States of America or any department or agency thereof, including contracts with several counties of the state pertaining to the expenditure of such funds;
(q) To cooperate with the Federal Highway Administration in the matter of location, construction and maintenance of the Great River Road, to expend such funds paid to the commission by the Federal Highway Administration or other federal agency, and to authorize the Transportation Department to erect suitable signs marking this highway, the cost of such signs to be paid from state highway funds other than earmarked construction funds;
(r) To cooperate * * * with the Mississippi Forestry Commission and the School of Forestry, Mississippi State University, in a forestry management program, including planting, thinning, cutting and selling, upon the right-of-way of any highway, constructed, acquired or maintained by the Transportation Department, and to sell and dispose of any and all growing timber standing, lying or being on any right-of-way acquired by the commission for highway purposes in the future; such sale or sales to be made in accordance with the sale of personal property which has become unnecessary for public use as provided for in Section 65-1-123, Mississippi Code of 1972;
(s) To expend funds in cooperation with the Division of Plant Industry, Mississippi Department of Agriculture and Commerce, the United States Government or any department or agency thereof, or with any department or agency of this state, to control, suppress or eradicate serious insect pests, rodents, plant parasites and plant diseases on the state highway rights-of-way;
(t) To provide for the placement, erection and maintenance of motorist services business signs and supports within state highway rights-of-way in accordance with current state and federal laws and regulations governing the placement of traffic control devices on state highways, and to establish and collect reasonable fees from the businesses having information on such signs;
(u) To request and to accept the use of persons convicted of an offense, whether a felony or a misdemeanor, for work on any road construction, repair or other project of the Transportation Department. The commission is also authorized to request and to accept the use of persons who have not been convicted of an offense but who are required to fulfill certain court-imposed conditions pursuant to Section 41-29-150(d)(1) or 99-15-26, Mississippi Code of 1972, or the Pretrial Intervention Act, being Sections 99-15-101 through 99-15-127, Mississippi Code of 1972. The commission is authorized to enter into any agreements with the Department of Corrections, the State Parole Board, any criminal court of this state, and any other proper official regarding the working, guarding, safekeeping, clothing and subsistence of such persons performing work for the Transportation Department. Such persons shall not be deemed agents, employees or involuntary servants of the Transportation Department while performing such work or while going to and from work or other specified areas;
(v) To provide for the administration of the railroad revitalization program pursuant to Section 57-43-1, et seq.;
(w) The Mississippi Transportation Commission is further authorized, in its discretion, to expend funds for the purchase of service pins for employees of the Mississippi Transportation Department;
(x) To cooperate with the State Tax Commission by providing for weight enforcement field personnel to collect and assess taxes, fees and penalties and to perform all duties as required pursuant to Sections 27-19-1 et seq., 27-55-1 et seq., 27-57-301 et seq., 27-59-1 et seq. and 27-61-1 et seq., Mississippi Code of 1972, with regard to vehicles subject to the jurisdiction of the Office of Weight Enforcement. All collections and assessments shall be transferred daily to the State Tax Commission;
(y) The Mississippi Transportation Commission may delegate the authority to enter into a supplemental agreement to a contract previously approved by the commission if the supplemental agreement involves an additional expenditure not to exceed One Hundred Thousand Dollars ($100,000.00).
SECTION 2. Section 65-1-123, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
65-1-123. (1) Whenever any personal property has been acquired in any manner by the Mississippi Transportation Commission for public use and in the opinion of the commission, all or any part of the property becomes unnecessary for public use, the commission is authorized to dispose of such property for a fair and reasonable cash market price. Any such sale shall be a sale upon the receipt of sealed bids after reasonable advertisement for bids in such manner and at such time and place as the commission may deem proper and advisable, except that the commission may sell at private sale any such personal property not necessary for public purposes the cash market value of which is less than Five Hundred Dollars ($500.00); provided, however, that if the personal property is timber, the commission may sell at private sale any such timber not necessary for public purposes the cash market value of which is less than Five Thousand Dollars ($5,000.00). The commission shall have the right to reject any and all bids in its discretion and to sell the property theretofore advertised at private sale for not less than the highest of the rejected bids, or to readvertise. The proceeds from any timber sold under this subsection shall be forwarded by the commission to the State Treasurer for deposit for use of the Mississippi Forestry Commission to purchase, upon legislative appropriation, forestry equipment.
(2) Except as otherwise provided in subsections (3) and (4) of this section, whenever real property, with the exception of easements for highway purposes, has been acquired by the State Transportation Commission, in any manner, for public use and in the opinion of the commission all or any part thereof becomes unnecessary for public use, the same shall be declared on the minutes of the commission as excess property and shall be sold at private sale at market value. If the excess property was acquired by the commission from the current owner of the parcel of real property from which the excess property was originally taken, then the commission shall be required to offer in writing the first right of refusal to purchase such excess property to such owner. If within forty-five (45) days such owner fails to accept the offer to purchase, the property shall then be offered to the adjoining property owner or owners. If within forty-five (45) days an adjoining property owner fails to accept the offer to purchase, then the excess property shall be sold to the highest bidder upon the receipt by the commission of sealed bids after reasonable advertisement for bids in such manner and at such time and place as the commission deems proper and advisable; however, the commission shall have the right to reject any and all bids in its discretion and to sell the property theretofore advertised at private sale for not less than the highest of the rejected bids, or to readvertise. Upon payment of the purchase price, the executive director of the department, upon due authorization by the commission entered on its minutes, may execute a quitclaim deed conveying such property to the purchaser.
(3) Whenever the commission acquires by fee simple interest any property determined to be an uneconomic remnant outside the right-of-way, then the commission may sell the property to the adjoining property owner or owners for an amount not less than the market value established by the county tax assessor or a state licensed or certified appraiser.
(4) Whenever the commission desires to sell any real property used as maintenance lots, the property shall be sold to the highest bidder upon the receipt by the commission of sealed bids and after reasonable advertisement for bids in such manner and at such time and place as the commission deems proper and advisable; however, the commission, in its discretion, may reject any and all bids and sell the property advertised at private sale for not less than the highest of the rejected bids, or may readvertise. Upon payment of the purchase price, the executive director of the department, upon authorization by the commission entered on its minutes, may execute a quitclaim deed conveying the property to the purchaser.
(5) All easements for highway purposes shall be released when they are determined on the minutes of the commission as no longer needed for such purposes.
(6) In no instance shall any part of any property acquired by the commission, or any interest acquired in such property, including but not limited to easements, be construed as abandoned by nonuse, nor shall any encroachment on such property for any length of time constitute estoppel or adverse possession against the state's interests.
(7) It is the intent of the Legislature that the transportation commission shall declare property it has acquired and which is no longer needed for public purposes as excess and to sell and/or dispose of such excess property in accordance with the provisions of this section as soon as practicable after such property becomes excess in fact. Unnecessary or excess property or property interests shall be disposed of only upon order of the transportation commission on its minutes as provided in this section.
(8) Whenever any real property has been acquired by the transportation commission and in the opinion of the commission all or any part of the property will not be utilized in the near future, the property shall be so declared by the transportation commission on its minutes and the commission may lease or rent the property for its market value.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.