2022 Regular Session
To: Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks
By: Senator(s) Whaley, Butler (38th), Sparks, Carter, Wiggins, Jordan, McLendon, Suber, Jackson (11th), DeLano, Caughman, Younger, Tate, England, Barnett, Butler (36th), Barrett, Moran, Branning
AN ACT TO CREATE A SPECIAL FUND IN THE STATE TREASURY TO BE DESIGNATED THE MISSISSIPPI OUTDOOR STEWARDSHIP TRUST FUND; TO PROVIDE THAT MONIES IN THE SPECIAL FUND MAY BE USED BY THE DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION AS APPROPRIATED BY THE LEGISLATURE FOR GRANTS TO COUNTIES, MUNICIPALITIES AND STATE AGENCIES FOR SPECIFIC PURPOSES RELATED TO THE CONSERVATION OR PROMOTION OF WILDLIFE, NATURAL AREAS OR OUTDOOR ACTIVITIES; TO CREATE THE BOARD OF TRUSTEES OF THE MISSISSIPPI OUTDOOR STEWARDSHIP TRUST FUND; TO SET OUT THE COMPOSITION OF THE BOARD; TO PROVIDE THAT THE BOARD SHALL REVIEW APPLICATIONS FOR ASSISTANCE AND MAKE RECOMMENDATIONS TO THE LEGISLATURE IN FURTHERANCE OF PROVIDING ASSISTANCE TO COUNTIES, MUNICIPALITIES AND STATE AGENCIES FOR AUTHORIZED PURPOSES; TO REQUIRE AN INDEPENDENT AUDIT OF EXPENSES FROM AMOUNTS APPROPRIATED UP TO AND INCLUDING $750,000.00; TO PROVIDE THAT APPROPRIATED AMOUNTS OVER $750,000.00 SHALL BE DISBURSED ONLY ON A REIMBURSEMENT BASIS; TO REQUIRE THE BOARD TO SUBMIT AN ANNUAL REPORT OF ITS ACTIVITIES FOR THE PRECEDING STATE FISCAL YEAR TO THE GOVERNOR AND LEGISLATURE; AND FOR RELATED PURPOSES.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MISSISSIPPI:
SECTION 1. (1) As used in this section, the following words and phrases have the meanings, unless the context clearly indicates otherwise:
(a) "Board" means the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund.
(b) "Conservation land" means public land and water, or interests therein, that are in their undeveloped, natural states or that have been developed only to an extent consistent with, or are restored to be consistent with, at least one (1) of the following environmental values or conservation benefits:
(i) Water quality protection for wetlands, rivers, streams or lakes;
(ii) Protection of wildlife habitat;
(iii) Protection of cultural sites and archeological and historic resources;
(iv) Protection of land around Mississippi's military installations to ensure that missions are compatible with surrounding communities and that encroachment on military installations does not impair future missions; or
(v) Recruitment or retention of, or provision for, recreation in the form of archery, boating, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, running, jogging, biking, walking or shooting facilities, or similar outdoor activities.
(c) "Permanently protected conservation areas" means those resources owned by the state, or by a state, county or municipal unit of government or authority, and dedicated to recreation or conservation or as a natural resource.
(d) "Project proposal" means any application seeking monies from the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund.
(e) "State agency" means any agency, department, commission or institution of the State of Mississippi.
(f) "Special fund" or "fund" means the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund created in this section.
(2) (a) There is created in the State Treasury a special fund to be designated as the "Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund." The special fund shall consist of funds appropriated by the Legislature. Monies shall be accounted for under the categories of obligated funds and unobligated funds. Unexpended amounts remaining in the fund at the end of a fiscal year shall not lapse into the State General Fund, and any investment earnings or interest earned on amounts in the fund shall be deposited to the credit of the fund. Monies in the fund may be used by the Department of Finance and Administration upon appropriation by the Legislature. The board may make recommendation to the Legislature in furtherance of providing assistance to counties, municipalities and state agencies, as provided in this section. The board may use not more than one percent (1%) of monies in the fund to defray the expenses of the board in carrying out its duties under this section.
(b) Subject to the provisions of this subsection, monies in the fund may be used and expended as appropriated by the Legislature for grants to counties, municipalities and state agencies for:
(i) Improvement of state parks;
(ii) Providing funds to counties and municipalities to acquire and improve parks and trails under the control and within the jurisdiction of such counties and municipalities;
(iii) Restoration or enhancement projects to create or improve access to public waters and lands for public outdoor recreation; and
(iv) Acquisition of critical areas for the provision or protection of clean water, wildlife, hunting or fishing, for military installation buffering, or for natural resource-based outdoor recreation. Real property may only be acquired under this subparagraph (iv) where such property:
1. Is, at the time of acquisition, being leased by the state as a wildlife management area;
2. Adjoins or is in close proximity to state or federal wildlife management areas or state parks, or would provide better public access to such areas;
3. Is identified in any wildlife action plan developed by a state agency;
4. Constitutes riparian lands so as to protect any drinking water supply; or
5. Surrounds any military base or military installation.
Acquisition of land under this subparagraph (iv) may not be made through the exercise of any power of eminent domain or condemnation proceeding.
(c) A county, municipality or state agency receiving funds under this section may use the funds for the purposes for which the funds were provided to the county, municipality or state agency.
(d) Monies in the special fund may not be used, expended or transferred for any purpose not authorized in this section.
(3) (a) There is established the Board of Trustees of the Mississippi Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund, which shall consist of twelve (12) members as follows:
(i) The Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Tourism;
(ii) Three (3) members appointed by the Governor;
(iii) Two (2) members appointed by the Lieutenant Governor;
(iv) The Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Marine Resources, as an ex officio nonvoting member; and
(v) The Executive Director of the Mississippi Department of Wildlife, Fisheries and Parks, as an ex officio nonvoting member.
The board shall not approve any funding to a county, municipality or state agency of which a voting member of the board is an executive, voting member of the governing body, or other employee.
The members of the board appointed by the Governor and Lieutenant Governor shall be appointed from the following private sectors: forestry, conservation, agriculture, marine resources, hunting, fishing, other recreational activities, or public recreation opportunities. Such members shall be and shall remain Mississippi residents during their tenure on the board and shall possess a demonstrated knowledge of and commitment to land conservation and outdoor recreation.
(b) (i) One (1) person initially appointed by the Governor and one (1) person initially appointed by the Lieutenant Governor shall serve for a term ending June 30, 2024; and (ii) two (2) persons initially appointed by the Governor and one (1) person initially appointed by the Lieutenant Governor shall serve for a term ending June 30, 2025. After the expiration of the initial terms, all appointments shall be for terms of four (4) years from the expiration of the previous term.
(c) A majority of the voting members of the board shall constitute a quorum for the conduct of meetings, and all actions of the board shall require a majority vote of the voting members of the board.
(d) The board shall annually elect one (1) member to serve as chairman and one (1) member to serve as vice chairman. The vice chairman shall act as chairman in the absence of or upon the disability of the chairman, or if there is a vacancy in the office of chairman.
(e) The members of the board appointed by the Governor and Lieutenant Governor shall receive a per diem as provided in Section 25-3-69, plus travel and necessary expenses incidental to attendance at each board meeting, including mileage, as provided in Section 25-3-41.
(f) No member of the board shall use his official position to obtain, or attempt to obtain, pecuniary benefit for himself other than that compensation provided for by law, or to obtain, or attempt to obtain, pecuniary benefit for any relative or any business with which he is associated, as provided in Section 25-4-105.
(4) (a) The board shall accept applications from counties, municipalities and state agencies for project proposals eligible for funding under this section. The board shall evaluate the proposals received in accordance with this section and pursuant to priorities established by the board.
(b) (i) A county, municipality or state agency desiring assistance under this section must submit a complete application to the board. The application must include a description of the purpose for which assistance is requested, the type and amount of assistance requested and any other information required by the board.
(ii) The board shall review an application for assistance and determine whether the applicant is eligible for assistance under this section and whether the applicant should receive such assistance. In reviewing applications, the board shall give increased priority to projects that:
1. Enhance use of public places;
2. Leverage or match other nonfederal and/or federal funds which are available for similar purposes;
3. Support and promote hunting, fishing and recreation, including, but not limited to, archery, boating, hiking, camping, fishing, hunting, running, jogging, biking, walking or shooting facilities;
4. Contribute to improving the quality and quantity of surface water and ground water; or
5. Contribute to achieving the goals and objectives of state and local conservation or outdoor recreational plans.
(c) If the board determines that an applicant should receive assistance, then the board shall prepare a recommendation for assistance. A recommendation for assistance shall provide the purpose for which the assistance is to be provided, the type of assistance to be provided, the amount of assistance to be provided, and any other information determined necessary by the board. The board shall provide its recommendation for assistance to the Legislature, which may appropriate funds from the fund for the purpose of providing the assistance.
(5) The Department of Finance and Administration shall provide the office space, staff and other support necessary for the board to perform its duties.
(6) (a) For any amount up to and including Seven Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($750,000.00) appropriated from the special fund, the recipient county, municipality or state agency shall contract for an independent audit of the expended money and submit the report to the board, which shall include the information in its annual report.
(b) Any amount over Seven Hundred Fifty Thousand Dollars ($750,000.00) appropriated from the special fund shall be disbursed only on a reimbursement basis.
(7) Following the close of each state fiscal year, the board shall submit an annual report of its activities for the preceding state fiscal year to the Governor, Lieutenant Governor, Speaker of the House, Chairmen of the Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee, Chairmen of the Senate and House Appropriations Committees, and Chairmen of the Senate and House Wildlife, Fisheries, and Parks Committees.
(8) The board shall have all powers necessary to implement and administer this section and shall promulgate rules and regulations, in accordance with the Mississippi Administrative Procedures Law, necessary for the implementation of this section.
(9) This section shall stand repealed on June 30, 2025.
SECTION 2. This act shall take effect and be in force from and after July 1, 2022.