2003 Regular Session
By: Senator(s) Minor, Dearing, Furniss
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 57-44-11, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCREASE TO $18,000,000.00 THE AMOUNT OF BONDS THAT MAY BE ISSUED TO FUND LOCAL GOVERNMENT FREIGHT RAIL SERVICE PROJECTS; TO AMEND SECTION 57-44-7, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO INCREASE THE MAXIMUM AMOUNT OF GRANTS THAT MAY BE MADE TO COUNTIES FROM MONIES IN THE LOCAL GOVERNMENTS FREIGHT RAIL SERVICE PROJECT REVOLVING LOAN FUND; TO AUTHORIZE THE MISSISSIPPI TRANSPORTATION COMMISSION TO ACQUIRE RAILROADS THAT ARE PROPOSED TO BE ABANDONED BY RAIL CARRIERS AND TO GRANT THE COMMISSION CERTAIN POWERS IN REGARD TO SUCH RAILROADS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 57-44-11, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
57-44-11. (1) The State Bond Commission, at one time, or from time to time, may declare by resolution the necessity for issuance of general obligation bonds of the State of Mississippi to provide funds for all costs incurred or to be incurred for the purposes described in Section 57-44-7. Upon the adoption of a resolution by the Mississippi Development Authority, declaring the necessity for the issuance of any part or all of the general obligation bonds authorized by this section, the Mississippi Development Authority shall deliver a certified copy of its resolution or resolutions to the State Bond Commission. Upon receipt of such resolution, the State Bond Commission, in its discretion, may act as the issuing agent, prescribe the form of the bonds, advertise for and accept bids, issue and sell the bonds so authorized to be sold and do any and all other things necessary and advisable in connection with the issuance and sale of such bonds. The total amount of bonds issued under Sections 57-44-11 through 57-44-39 shall not exceed Eighteen Million Dollars ($18,000,000.00).
(2) Proceeds from the sale of bonds shall be deposited in the special fund created in Section 57-44-7. Any investment earnings on amounts deposited into the special fund created in Section 57-44-7 shall be used to pay debt service on bonds issued under Sections 57-44-11 through 57-44-39, in accordance with the proceedings authorizing issuance of such bonds.
SECTION 2. Section 57-44-7, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
57-44-7. (1) There is created a special fund in the State Treasury to be designated as the "Local Governments Freight Rail Service Project Revolving Loan Fund," which fund shall consist of such monies as provided in Sections 57-44-11 through 57-44-39. The fund shall be maintained in perpetuity for the purposes established in this chapter. Unexpended amounts remaining in the fund at the end of a fiscal year shall not lapse into the State General Fund, and any interest earned on amounts in the fund shall be deposited to the credit of the fund. Monies in the fund may not be used or expended for any purpose except as authorized under this chapter. However, the Mississippi Development Authority, in order to promote the safety of the general public, shall establish a program to permit monies from the Local Governments Freight Rail Service Project Revolving Loan Fund to be provided to counties in the form of grants to assist counties in defraying expenses relating to the upgrading of railroad grade crossings. Only projects approved by the Mississippi Department of Transportation shall be eligible for such grants. The Mississippi Development Authority, by rule and regulation, shall establish the maximum amount of any grant awarded to a county and may establish such other rules and regulations as it deems appropriate or necessary to administer the grant program and ensure that monies in the fund are made available to all counties on an equitable basis. Federal funds shall be utilized to pay not less than five percent (5%) of the cost of each project. However, the maximum amount of such grants to all counties may not exceed Eight Million Dollars ($8,000,000.00), in the aggregate.
(2) The Mississippi Development Authority shall establish a loan program by which loans, at a rate of interest not to exceed one percent (1%) less than the federal reserve discount rate, may be made available to counties and incorporated municipalities to provide loans to counties and incorporated municipalities which may be used by the governing authorities of such counties and municipalities to provide loans to railroad corporations for freight rail service projects. Loans from the revolving fund may be made to counties and municipalities as set forth in a loan agreement in amounts established by the Mississippi Development Authority. The Mississippi Development Authority may establish a maximum amount for any loan in order to provide for broad and equitable participation in the program.
(3) A county that receives a loan from the revolving fund shall pledge for repayment of the loan any part of the homestead exemption annual tax loss reimbursement to which it may be entitled under Section 27-33-77. An incorporated municipality that receives a loan from the revolving fund shall pledge for repayment of the loan any part of the sales tax revenue distribution to which it may be entitled under Section 27-65-75. Each loan agreement shall provide for (i) monthly payments, (ii) semiannual payments or (iii) other periodic payments, the annual total of which shall not exceed the annual total for any other year of the loan by more than fifteen percent (15%). The loan agreement shall provide for the repayment of all funds received within not more than fifteen (15) years from the date of project completion.
(4) The State Auditor, upon request of the Mississippi Development Authority, shall audit the receipts and expenditures of a county or an incorporated municipality whose loan payments appear to be in arrears, and if he finds that the county or municipality is in arrears in such payments, he shall immediately notify the Executive Director of the Department of Finance and Administration who shall withhold all future payments to the county of homestead exemption reimbursements under Section 27-33-77 and all sums allocated to the county or the municipality under Section 27-65-75 until such time as the county or the municipality is again current in its loan payments as certified by the Mississippi Development Authority.
(5) Evidences of indebtedness which are issued pursuant to this chapter shall not be deemed indebtedness within the meaning specified in Section 21-33-303 with regard to cities or incorporated towns, and in Section 19-9-5 with regard to counties.
SECTION 3. (1) If a rail carrier files a notice of intent to abandon or discontinue as provided for in the Interstate Commerce Act, the Mississippi Transportation Commission shall have the power to acquire the railroad that is proposed to be abandoned or discontinued. The Mississippi Transportation Commission shall have the power to construct, own, hold, control, use, extend, relocate, operate, maintain, repair, equip and lease such railroad and any machinery, equipment or other facilities required and incidental to the ownership and operation of such railroad.
(2) For the purposes provided for in subsection (1) of this section, the Mississippi Transportation Commission shall have the power to acquire rights-of-way, land, easements, property and interests in property by gift, purchase, condemnation or otherwise. In exercising condemnation under this section, the commission shall condemn property in the manner provided by law.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2003.