2004 Regular Session
To: Marine Resources; Conservation and Water Resources
By: Representative Guice, Bentz, Hamilton (109th), Patterson
AN ACT TO AMEND SECTION 79-22-23, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO LEASE CERTAIN COASTAL WETLANDS UPON RECOMMENDATION BY THE DEPARTMENT OF MARINE RESOURCES; TO AMEND SECTION 49-27-3, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO DECLARE WHEN A HIGHER PUBLIC INTEREST SHALL BE SERVED; TO AMEND SECTION 29-1-107, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO REQUIRE THE SECRETARY OF STATE TO ISSUE A LEASE WITHIN 120 DAYS IF THE COMMERCIAL PURPOSE SERVES A HIGHER PUBLIC INTEREST; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. Section 79-22-23, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
79-22-23. (1) The Secretary of State, upon recommendation of * * * the Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, may lease waters as provided by Section 29-1-107, Mississippi Code of 1972, within the jurisdiction of the state to a person for aquaculture or the production of aquatic products, and upon recommendation of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, the Secretary of State shall lease such waters for such purposes. The Department of Marine Resources is authorized to develop a marine aquaculture lease management program and may adopt such rules and regulations as may be necessary to implement the marine aquaculture lease management program and to regulate the growth of aquaculture.
(2) All state and governmental entities that are involved in the regulation and enforcement of marine aquaculture activities or related activities shall develop a coordinated procedure for one-stop permitting applicable to marine aquaculture activities. One-stop permitting is defined as a procedure that allows an aquaculturist to fill out a joint application form and deposit it with any of the aforementioned governmental agencies. The receiving agency shall forward the joint application or copies of it to the appropriate entities for review and expeditious action. The one-stop permitting procedure document shall state the time schedules for review and action by the applicable agencies after the permit has been received and dated.
SECTION 2. Section 49-27-3, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
49-27-3. (1) It is declared to be the public policy of this state to favor the preservation of the natural state of the coastal wetlands and their ecosystems and to prevent the despoliation and destruction of them, except where a specific alteration of specific coastal wetlands would serve a higher public interest in compliance with the public purposes of the public trust in which coastal wetlands are held.
(2) A higher public interest shall be served when a lease or use for commercial purposes may create a minimum of two hundred (200) jobs in the county in which the lease will be used.
SECTION 3. Section 29-1-107, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
29-1-107. (1) The Secretary of State with the approval of the Governor shall, as far as practicable, rent or lease all lands belonging to the state, except as otherwise provided by law for a period of not exceeding one (1) year, and account for the rents therefrom in the same manner as money received from the sale of state lands, provided that no state land shall be rented or leased to individuals, corporations, partnerships, or association of persons for hunting or fishing purposes. Property belonging to the state in municipalities, even though it may have been subdivided into lots, blocks, divisions, or otherwise escheated or was sold to the state by such description, may likewise be leased or rented by the Secretary of State under the terms provided above for other state lands, and the rents accounted for in the same manner. The state shall have all the liens, rights and remedies accorded to landlords in Sections 89-7-1 through 89-7-125; said leases and rental contracts shall automatically terminate on the date provided in said leases or contracts.
(2) (a) The Secretary of State, with the approval of the Governor, may rent or lease surface lands, tidelands or submerged lands owned or controlled by the State of Mississippi lying in or adjacent to the Mississippi Sound or Gulf of Mexico or streams emptying therein, for a period not exceeding forty (40) years for rental payable to the state annually. The lessee under such agreement may construct such necessary items for marking channels, docking, wharfing, mooring or fleeting vessels which shall be in aid of navigation and not obstructions thereto. A lessee of record may be given the option to renew for an additional period not to exceed twenty-five (25) years. The holder of a lease of Public Trust Tidelands, at the expiration thereof, shall have a prior right, exclusive of all other persons, to re-lease as may be agreed upon between the holder of the lease and the Secretary of State. All such leases shall provide for review and rent adjustments at each fifth anniversary tied either to the All Urban Consumer Price Index-All Items (CPI) or to an appraisal which deducts the value of any improvements by the lessee which substantially enhance the value of the land, whichever is greater. In the case where the initial rental was based on the value set by the ad valorem tax rolls, then the rent review and adjustment clause shall be likewise based on the value set by such tax rolls. In the event that the lessor and lessee cannot agree on a rental amount, the lease may be cancelled at the option of the lessor. The lessee shall, within thirty (30) days after execution of a sublease or assignment, file a copy thereof, including the total consideration therefor, with the Secretary of State.
(b) The Secretary of State shall review an application for a lease that will be used for commercial purposes to determine if the commercial purpose will create a minimum of two hundred (200) jobs in the county in which the lease will be used, thus serving a higher public interest in accordance with Section 49-7-3. The Secretary of State shall issue a lease within one hundred twenty (120) days for those leases it determines will serve a higher public interest. If the Secretary of State does not issue a lease within one hundred twenty (120) days as required by this paragraph, the person or corporation submitting the lease may begin commercial development as if the lease was approved for commercial purposes by the Secretary of State. In addition to any other penalty provided for violation of this section, the Secretary of State shall assess a civil penalty equal to twenty percent (20%) of the total value of the lease for issued leases and the total value of what the value of the lease may have been if the Secretary of State had approved it within one hundred twenty (120) days. A person or corporation that does not provide a minimum of two hundred (200) jobs in the county in which the lease is used shall suffer a civil penalty equal to fifty percent (50%) of what the value of the lease would have been if approved by the Secretary of State.
(3) Provided, however, the current occupants of public trust tidelands that were developed after the determinable mean high water line nearest the effective date of the Coastal Wetlands Protection Law shall pay an annual rental based on the fair market value as determined by the assessed valuation of the property. The holder of a lease of Public Trust Tidelands, at the expiration thereof, shall have a prior right, exclusive of all other persons, to re-lease as may be agreed upon between the holder of the lease and the Secretary of State.
SECTION 4. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2004.