2007 Regular Session
To: Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks; Appropriations
By: Representative McBride, Akins
AN ACT TO AUTHORIZE THE MISSISSIPPI DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE, FISHERIES AND PARKS, ACTING IN CONJUNCTION WITH THE MISSISSIPPI DEVELOPMENT AUTHORITY AND WITH THE APPROVAL OF THE MISSISSIPPI COMMISSION ON WILDLIFE, FISHERIES AND PARKS, TO LEASE CERTAIN PARK LANDS FOR COMMERCIAL AND/OR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT; TO ESTABLISH THE PROCESS FOR LEASING OF PARK LANDS FOR DEVELOPMENT; TO CREATE THE MISSISSIPPI PARKS ENDOWMENT FUND; TO PROVIDE THAT REVENUES DERIVED FROM SUCH DEVELOPMENT LEASES SHALL BE DEPOSITED INTO THE FUND AND MAY BE EXPENDED, UPON LEGISLATIVE APPROPRIATION, ONLY FOR THE PURPOSE OF CONSTRUCTING, RECONSTRUCTING, REPAIRING, RENOVATING OR MAKING IMPROVEMENTS TO REAL AND PERSONAL PROPERTY AND FACILITIES ON ANY OF THE STATE PARKS UNDER THE JURISDICTION AND CONTROL OF THE COMMISSION ON WILDLIFE, FISHERIES AND PARKS; TO CREATE THE STATE PARKS DEVELOPMENT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE TO SERVE IN AN ADVISORY CAPACITY FOR THE PURPOSE OF REVIEWING RECOMMENDATIONS, PROPOSALS AND PLANS IN REGARD TO SELECTING, DESIGNATING AND AUTHORIZING THE LEASING OF STATE PARK LANDS FOR COMMERCIAL AND/OR RESIDENTIAL DEVELOPMENT AS PROVIDED UNDER THIS ACT; TO AMEND SECTION 55-3-33, MISSISSIPPI CODE OF 1972, TO AUTHORIZE THE DEPARTMENT OF WILDLIFE, FISHERIES AND PARKS TO ENTER INTO CONTRACTS AND AGREEMENTS AND EXECUTE LEASES WITH THIRD PARTIES FOR THE OPERATION, UPKEEP, SUPERVISION, MANAGEMENT AND IMPROVEMENT OF STATE PARKS AND ANY BUILDINGS, ACTIVITIES OR FACILITIES LOCATED THEREON AND MADE AVAILABLE FOR THE USE AND ENJOYMENT OF THE GENERAL PUBLIC AND TO PROVIDE THAT ALL REVENUES DERIVED BY THE DEPARTMENT FROM SUCH CONTRACTS, AGREEMENTS AND LEASES SHALL BE DEPOSITED BY THE DEPARTMENT INTO THE STATE PARKS LEASE DEVELOPMENT ENDOWMENT FUND AND MAY BE EXPENDED FOR THE SAME PURPOSES AS OTHER MONIES IN THE FUND; TO PROHIBIT DRILLING OR OTHER EXPLORATION ON ANY STATE-OWNED WILDLIFE MANAGEMENT AREA AND STATE PARKS; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. For the purposes of Sections 1 through 5 of this act, the following terms shall have the meanings ascribed in this section unless the context otherwise requires:
(a) "Commission" means the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
(b) "Department" means the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks.
(c) "MDA" means the Mississippi Development Authority.
SECTION 2. (1) The Mississippi Development Authority and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, with the approval of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, may identify certain lands within the state parks and under the jurisdiction and control of the department that may be leased to third parties for commercial and/or residential development; however, only lands within J.P. Coleman State Park, John W. Kyle State Park, Hugh White State Park, George P. Cossar State Park, Percy Quinn State Park and lands under the jurisdiction and control of the commission and the department surrounding Legion Lake in Simpson County may be leased and developed under the provisions of this act. The MDA and the commission shall establish criteria for identifying such land which shall include, but which shall not be limited to, whether or not such lands are owned by the state, in fee simple, and may be improved for commercial, residential or other development, or, whether such lands are leased from the federal government or an agency thereof, such as the United States Army Corps of Engineers, and are restricted by federal law or federal regulations or by the terms of such lease to limited development purposes. Sixteenth section or lieu lands shall not be subject to lease under the provisions of this act.
(2) Before approving any state park lands for lease and development, whether such lease is for commercial or residential purposes, the commission must make an affirmative finding and enter upon its official minutes a statement that the development of such land will not be incompatible with the outdoor recreational purposes and opportunities existing at that park.
(3) The MDA shall provide such technical assistance and advice to the commission and the department as may be necessary to obtain the best combination of revenue producing development opportunities and projects that complement the unique qualities of the park where they will be located. In addition, the MDA shall assist the department in complying with all applicable state guidelines for leasing lands for development.
(4) If any lease executed under the provisions of this act should result in a loss of department employees or department personnel, the department shall give hiring preference to such persons when filling employee vacancies or new employment positions elsewhere within the department.
(5) A developer/lessee may sublease such portions of his lease as may be necessary for the development of a project. Any such sublease shall be an assignable contract and may be for commercial or other purposes, as approved by the commission; however, a sublease may not be for a term in excess of the remaining term of the developer's lease. Each sublease from the developer shall contain an option for the sublessee to renew or renegotiate the lease directly with the department, at any time following ten (10) years after the commencement date of any sublease from the developer.
(6) Rental payments due under any lease granted pursuant to this act shall be paid to the department and shall be deposited into the State Parks Lease Development Endowment Fund created under Section 4 of this act.
(7) Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, before the commission or department may lease any state park lands to third parties, the lease of those particular lands must be specifically authorized by an act of the Legislature that amends this section or references this section.
(8) Any construction upon any lands leased under this act must fully comply with all applicable state laws, rules and regulations, and any local building codes and zoning ordinances. Development plans and construction must have the prior approval of the MDA and the commission.
SECTION 3. The department, with approval of the commission and assistance of the MDA, may enter into contracts with agencies of the United States government, municipalities, corporations, districts, public agencies, political subdivisions of any kind, and others for any services, facilities, utilities or commodities that any development project under the provisions of this act may require. Any such contract or agreement shall be assignable to the developer/lessee, may be upon any terms and for any time as the parties may agree, and may provide that the contract or agreement shall continue in effect until assigned to or renegotiated by a sublessee of the developer/lessee.
SECTION 4. There is created in the State Treasury a special fund to be known as the "State Parks Lease Development Endowment Fund." The fund shall consist of all monies required to be deposited therein under the provisions of Section 2 of House Bill No. 1492, 2007 Regular Session. The principal of the fund shall remain inviolate and shall be invested as provided by law. Interest and income derived from investment of the principal of the fund may be expended by the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, upon appropriation by the Legislature, only for the purpose of constructing, reconstructing, repairing, renovating or making improvements to real and personal property and facilities on any of the state parks under the jurisdiction and control of the Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. 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.
SECTION 5. (1) There is created the State Parks Development Legislative Oversight Committee to serve in an advisory capacity to the Mississippi Development Authority, the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks for the purpose of reviewing recommendations, proposals and plans of the MDA, the commission and the department in selecting, designating and authorizing the leasing of state park lands for commercial and/or residential development as provided under this act and for the purpose of notifying and providing information to, and input from, members of the Legislature representing areas of the state where such leases are being considered.
(2) The committee shall consist of the following members:
(a) The Chairman of the Senate Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee;
(b) The Chairman of the House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee;
(c) The Chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee;
(d) The Chairman of the House Appropriations Committee;
(e) Two (2) members of the Senate to be appointed by the Lieutenant Governor, one (1) of whom shall be a member of the Senate Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee and one (1) of whom shall be a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee; and
(e) Two (2) members of the House to be appointed by the Speaker of the House, one (1) of whom shall be a member of the House Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks Committee and one (1) of whom shall be a member of the House Appropriations Committee;
(3) Members of the committee shall be paid from the contingent expense funds of their respective houses in the same manner as provided for committee meetings when the Legislature is not in session. However, no per diem or expense for attending meetings of the committee may be paid to members of the committee while the Legislature is in session. No committee member may incur per diem, travel or other expenses unless previously authorized by vote, at a meeting of the committee, which action shall be recorded in the official minutes of the meeting.
SECTION 6. Section 55-3-33, Mississippi Code of 1972, is amended as follows:
55-3-33. (1) The Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks shall have the power and authority, and it shall be its duty to:
(a) Take charge and have full jurisdiction and control over all state parks, which parks shall be operated for the purpose of providing outdoor recreational activities and enjoyment for the citizens of the State of Mississippi and for the purpose of attracting visitors to the state.
(b) Set up a uniform accounting procedure for the state parks and prescribe the manner in which books, records and accounts shall be kept, which procedure shall account for all moneys taken in and expended by the various parks and shall provide for periodic audits of such books.
(c) Accept gifts, bequests of money or other property, real or personal, to be used for the purpose of advancing the recreation and conservation interests in state parks. The department is authorized, subject to approval by the State Legislature, to purchase property, real or personal, to be used for state park purposes.
(d) Contract with the State Transportation Commission, any municipality or board of supervisors of the state for locating, constructing and maintaining roads and other improvements in state parks and for payment of a part of the costs thereof; however, no county or municipality more than twenty-five (25) miles distant from a state park may contract for, or do, or pay for any such work for a state park other than the International Gardens of Mississippi. Any county or municipality authorized to assist financially under the provisions of Sections 55-3-31 through 55-3-51 is authorized, in the discretion of its respective governing authority, to set aside, appropriate and expend moneys from the General Fund for the purpose of defraying such expense after a mandatory election is held on the question within the county or municipality.
(e) Designate employees as peace officers with power to make arrests for infraction of the rules and regulations of the department. Such officers are authorized to carry weapons and to enforce the laws of the State of Mississippi within the confines of a state park.
(f) Enforce and delegate the responsibility to enforce all reasonable rules and regulations governing the occupancy and use of lands and waters in state parks under its jurisdiction, supply recreational and conservation facilities and charge fees for the use of same; review all rates and charges for facilities and accommodations furnished at the various state parks annually, making such charges as are justified; and establish fees for entrance to state parks.
Each park shall retain from revenues generated therein, a sum sufficient to pay necessary expenses of operation, but in no event to be less than seventy-five percent (75%) of such revenues.
(2) The department shall have the authority to lease to any entity, sell and convey or otherwise transfer to any county or municipality, or close any state park or historical site within its jurisdiction which received a General Fund subsidy in Fiscal Year 1985 in excess of Two Dollars ($2.00) per visitor to such state park or historical site; provided, however, that this authority shall not include the authority to sell, lease or convey any park that was not in operation under the jurisdiction of the department for a full fiscal year prior to fiscal year 1986.
(3) The department may execute agreements with rails-to-trails and recreational districts by which the department will assume responsibility for the operation and maintenance of trails developed under Sections 55-25-1 through 55-25-15.
(4) The department, with the approval of the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks and the Mississippi Development Authority, may enter into contracts and agreements and execute leases with third parties on such terms as the department and third parties may agree for the operation, upkeep, supervision, management and improvement of state parks and any buildings, activities or facilities located thereon and made available for the use and enjoyment of the general public. All revenues derived by the department from such contracts, agreements and leases shall be deposited by the department into the State Parks Lease Development Endowment Fund created under Section 4 of House Bill No._1492, 2007 Regular Session. If any such contract, agreement or lease should result in a loss of department employees or department personnel, the department shall give hiring preference to such persons when filling employee vacancies or new employment positions elsewhere within the department.
(5) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this section to the contrary, the department may lease state park lands to third parties for commercial and/or residential development as authorized under Sections 1 through 5 of House Bill No. 1492, 2007 Regular Session.
SECTION 7. There shall not be conducted any drilling, seismographic or other mineral exploration or testing activities on any state-owned wildlife management area, lake, fish hatchery or state park under the jurisdiction of the Mississippi Commission on Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks. Any person found by the Mississippi Major Economic Impact Authority to be violating this section shall be subject to the penalties prescribed under Section 29-7-17.
SECTION 8. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2007.