1998 Regular Session
To: Environment Prot, Cons and Water Res
By: Senator(s) Dearing
Senate Bill 2282
AN ACT TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 77-3-21.1, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO ESTABLISH THE MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC WATER SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT REVIEW COUNCIL AND ESTABLISH ITS DUTIES; TO PROVIDE FOR THE MEMBERSHIP OF THE COUNCIL; TO REQUIRE THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION TO PROVIDE TECHNICAL AND CLERICAL STAFF SUPPORT; TO CREATE A NEW CODE SECTION TO BE CODIFIED AS SECTION 77-3-21.2, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE SUBSCRIBERS OF A COMMUNITY PUBLIC WATER SYSTEM TO PETITION THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION FOR A MANAGEMENT REVIEW, FINANCIAL AUDIT OR OTHER ASSESSMENT OF THAT SYSTEM; TO PROVIDE FOR THE PETITION PROCESS; TO SPECIFY THE PERCENTAGE OF SUBSCRIBERS NECESSARY FOR A VALID PETITION; TO REQUIRE THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION TO NOTIFY THE OWNER OR PRESIDENT OF THE GOVERNING BOARD OF A COMMUNITY PUBLIC WATER SYSTEM PRIOR TO TAKING CERTAIN ACTIONS; TO AUTHORIZE THE OWNER OR PRESIDENT OF THE GOVERNING BOARD TO REQUEST A HEARING; TO REQUIRE THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION TO SUBMIT CERTAIN DOCUMENTS TO THE MISSISSIPPI PUBLIC WATER SYSTEMS MANAGEMENT REVIEW COUNCIL FOR REVIEW AND TO REQUIRE THE COUNCIL TO MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION BASED ON ITS REVIEW OF THOSE DOCUMENTS; TO AUTHORIZE THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION TO ENTER AN ORDER REQUIRING CERTAIN ACTIONS; TO PROVIDE FOR THE APPEAL AND ENFORCEMENT OF THAT ORDER; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. The following shall be codified as Section 77-3-21.1, Mississippi Code of 1972:
77-3-21.1. (1) There is created the Mississippi Public Water Systems Management Review Council, hereinafter referred to as "council," for the purpose of recommending actions to improve the management of public water systems to the commission.
(2) (a) The council shall consist of the following members:
(i) The Executive Director of the Mississippi Rural Water Association;
(ii) The President of the Mississippi Water and Pollution Control Operators Association, Incorporated;
(iii) The Executive Director of the Mississippi Municipal Association;
(iv) The Executive Director of the Mississippi Association of Supervisors;
(v) The Executive Director of the Public Utilities Staff;
(vi) The State Health Officer;
(vii) The Mississippi Program Director of the United States Department of Agriculture Rural Utilities Service; and
(viii) The Governor shall appoint two (2) users of public water systems from each Public Service Commission district. The users shall not be a member of the board of a public water system.
(b) Members of the council may designate a substitute or alternate member to act in their stead.
(c) The council shall elect from its membership a chairperson to preside over meetings and a vice-chairperson to preside in the absence of the chairperson or when the chairperson is excused. The council shall adopt procedures consistent with those of the commission governing the manner of conducting its business. A majority of members shall constitute a quorum for doing business.
(d) Members of the council shall serve without compensation. At the direction of the chairperson of the council and contingent upon the availability of sufficient funds, each member may receive reimbursement for reasonable expenses, including travel expenses, in accordance with the rates established under Section 25-3-41, incurred in attending meetings of the council.
(e) The council shall meet at least semiannually.
(f) The commission shall provide any technical, clerical and other support services and personnel as the council may require in the performance of its functions. The commission shall administer any funds made available to the council for its use and may at the request and on behalf of the council, contract for services using any funds available to the council. The commission may provide supplies and office space as required for the council's routine operations. The council shall not employ any permanent staff or rent or occupy independent office space.
SECTION 2. The following shall be codified as Section 77-3-21.2, Mississippi Code of 1972:
77-3-21.2. (1) (a) The subscribers of any community public water system may request the commission to conduct or have conducted a management review, financial audit or other assessment of that system, or any combination thereof, by filing a valid petition with the commission. The petition shall be in a form and filed in the manner specified by the commission. The person or persons initiating the petition shall print blank petitions upon single sheets of paper of good writing quality in a paper size required by the commission. Each sheet shall contain a full, true and correct copy of the request. A petition shall be valid when it contains a number of signatures equal to or exceeding the following percentages of subscribers on that system: for systems with fewer than two hundred (200) subscribers, thirty-five percent (35%), and for systems with two hundred (200) or more subscribers, twenty-five percent (25%). The petition may contain only one (1) signature per subscriber.
(b) Before filing any petition under this section, the subscribers shall notify the owner or president of the governing board of the system in writing of any matters which are the subject of the proposed petition and shall specify a desired corrective action. The owner or governing board shall meet with the subscribers to seek corrective actions. If the matters which were stated in the notification are not addressed within one hundred twenty (120) days or the owner or governing board is not diligently pursuing corrective actions as specified in the notice or subsequent agreement, the subscribers may file the petition as provided under this section.
(c) Upon receipt of a valid petition, the commission shall notify in writing the owner or president of the governing board of the water system and shall request a current listing of subscribers showing names and addresses and the total number of subscribers on that system. The owner or president of the governing board shall provide the requested information to the commission. Using the list provided, the commission shall verify that the petition contains the requisite number of signatures. When the commission has verified that the petition contains the requisite number of signatures, the commission shall provide a copy of the petition to the chairperson of the Mississippi Public Water Systems Management Review Council.
(d) Upon receipt of a valid petition from the commission, the council shall review the petition and conduct an investigation into the basis for the petition. The council shall notify the petitioners that they may request a hearing before the council and if a hearing is requested the council shall conduct a hearing within sixty (60) days of the request. If the council finds a basis for the petition or complaint, it shall recommend appropriate actions, including, but not limited to, the need for a management review, financial audit or other assessment of that system, or any combination thereof. The council shall notify in writing the owner or president of the governing board of the water system of the council's recommendations and that if no corrective action is taken within one hundred twenty (120) days, the Public Service Commission may initiate any actions authorized under this section. As provided in this chapter, the owner or president of the governing board may request a hearing. Following a hearing, if requested, the commission, in coordination with the council, may initiate a management review, financial audit or other assessment it deems necessary. The commission, after consultation with the council, may contract for services required by this section. The cost of any review, audit or assessment shall be borne by the water system. If the review, audit or assessment does not reveal any deficiencies on the part of the board of the community public water system related to the specific complaint, the cost of the review, audit or assessment shall be borne by the petitioners. The water system shall provide the commission with any books, records, documents or other information required by the commission.
(e) Following receipt of a report of any review, audit or assessment, the commission shall provide the chairman of the council with the report. The council shall review the report and shall recommend to the commission appropriate actions to address any findings, recommendations or deficiencies noted in the report. The commission shall notify in writing the owner or president of the governing board of the water system of the council's recommendations. As provided in this chapter, the owner or president of the governing board may request a hearing. Following a hearing, if requested, the commission may enter an order to require the performance of those actions it deems necessary to address any findings, recommendations or deficiencies noted in the report or in the council's recommendation. Appeals to any decision of the commission may be had as provided in this chapter. Orders shall be enforced as provided in Section 77-3-75.
(2) Nothing in this act shall be construed to authorize the commission to regulate the rates of any public water system.
SECTION 3. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 1998.