House Bill No. 497
Introduced By _______________________________________________________________________________
A Bill for an Act entitled: "An Act providing that certain funds from the lodging facility use tax be transferred to the natural areas account for the purchase of development rights to state lands to protect certain values associated with those lands; amending sections 15-65-121 and 76-12-123, MCA; and providing an effective date."
STATEMENT OF INTENT
A statement of intent is required for [this act] because [section 3] directs the board of land commissioners to adopt rules regarding the natural areas acquisition program that describe the site selection process, specify the form of and information required for the site proposals, and establish timeframes for the submitting and reviewing of site proposals. The legislature recognizes the well-documented research showing that visitors come to Montana for amenities that natural areas provide; that state lands account for many of those natural areas; that visitor expenditures contribute a large measure of legitimate and reasonable advantage to the state's economic well-being and employment; and that the state has provided for a program to preserve wildlife and open space on private lands but has yet to provide for those amenities on state lands. The legislature intends to provide a means to ensure for present and future generations adequate protection of areas possessing significant scenic, educational, scientific, biological, wildlife, fisheries, and geological values.
Recognizing that the school trust lands are held in trust for the support of education and for the attainment of other worthy objects helpful to the well-being of the people of the state and that the board of land commissioners has the duty to administer this trust to secure the largest measure of legitimate and reasonable advantage to the state, the legislature intends to preserve natural areas, whether trust or other lands, for the enjoyment, inspiration, and education of future generations and for the preservation of tourism's economic contribution to Montana's economy. Therefore, the legislature directs the board of land commissioners to protect the long-term economic viability of tourism; contribute to the education of Montana children by bolstering the school trust; and lessen the pressure on Montana taxpayers by garnering new revenue for the school trust.
Be it enacted by the Legislature of the State of Montana:
Section 1. Section 15-65-121, MCA, is amended to read:
"15-65-121. Distribution of tax proceeds -- general fund loan authority. (1) The proceeds of the tax imposed by
15-65-111 must, in accordance with the provisions of 15-1-501, be deposited in an account in the state special revenue fund
to the credit of the department of revenue. The department may spend from that account in accordance with an expenditure
appropriation by the legislature based on an estimate of the costs of collecting and disbursing the proceeds of the tax.
Before allocating the balance of the tax proceeds in accordance with the provisions of 15-1-501 and as provided in
subsections (1)(a) through
(1)(e) (1)(f) of this section, the department shall determine the expenditures by state agencies for
in-state lodging for each reporting period and deduct 4% of that amount from the tax proceeds received each reporting
period. The amount deducted must be deposited in the general fund. The balance of the tax proceeds received each
reporting period and not deducted pursuant to the expenditure appropriation or deposited in the general fund is statutorily
appropriated, as provided in 17-7-502, and must be transferred to an account in the state special revenue fund to the credit
of the department of commerce for tourism promotion and promotion of the state as a location for the production of motion
pictures and television commercials, to the Montana historical society, to the university system, and to the department of
fish, wildlife, and parks, and to the natural areas account, as follows:
(a) 1% to the Montana historical society to be used for the installation or maintenance of roadside historical signs and historic sites;
(b) 2.5% to the university system for the establishment and maintenance of a Montana travel research program;
6.5% 5.5% to the department of fish, wildlife, and parks for the maintenance of facilities in state parks that have both
resident and nonresident use;
67.5% 60.5% to be used directly by the department of commerce;
(e) 10% to the natural areas account for the purposes specified in 76-12-123; and
(e)(f) (i) except as provided in subsection (1)(e)(ii) (1)(f)(ii), 22.5% 20.5% to be distributed by the department to regional
nonprofit tourism corporations in the ratio of the proceeds collected in each tourism region to the total proceeds collected
22.5% 20.5% of the proceeds collected annually within the limits of a city or consolidated city-county exceeds
$35,000, 50% of the amount available for distribution to the regional nonprofit tourism corporation in the region where the
city or consolidated city-county is located, to be distributed to the nonprofit convention and visitors bureau in that city or
(2) If a city or consolidated city-county qualifies under this section for funds but fails to either recognize a nonprofit convention and visitors bureau or submit and gain approval for an annual marketing plan as required in 15-65-122, then those funds must be allocated to the regional nonprofit tourism corporation in the region in which the city or consolidated city-county is located.
(3) If a regional nonprofit tourism corporation fails to submit and gain approval for an annual marketing plan as required in 15-65-122, then those funds otherwise allocated to the regional nonprofit tourism corporation may be used by the department of commerce for tourism promotion and promotion of the state as a location for the production of motion pictures and television commercials."
Section 2. Section 76-12-123, MCA, is amended to read:
"76-12-123. Natural areas account. (1) There is a natural areas special revenue account within the state special revenue fund established in 17-2-102.
(2) (a) In each year of the biennium, the amount specified in 15-65-121(1)(e) must be transferred to the natural areas account.
(b) The natural areas account may also receive funds from any source as gifts.
(3) (a) The department shall spend the funds received pursuant to 15-65-121 as provided in [section 3].
(b) The department may spend funds accepted as gifts in accordance with the purposes of this part, including administration
of a natural areas program.
(4) Funds remaining in the natural areas account may carry over to the next year.
(5) The funds spent as provided under subsection (3), except funds used for administration of a program, are statutorily appropriated, as provided in 17-7-502."
NEW SECTION. Section 3. Natural area acquisition program. (1) The department, subject to board direction pursuant to subsection (4), may spend money from the natural areas account created in 76-12-123 for the purchase of development rights to state lands. The purchase of development rights under this section must protect the land from development and preserve the land as a natural area. Money spent by the department under this section for the purchase of state land development rights must be paid to the trust fund for that land after the development rights have been purchased.
(2) The board shall annually review a list of proposed sites for development right purchases submitted by qualified regional nonprofit tourism corporations or nonprofit convention and visitors bureaus. The board shall determine that a regional nonprofit tourism corporation or nonprofit convention and visitors bureau is qualified under 15-65-122 before accepting the site proposal for review.
(3) The board shall give precedence to the purchase of development rights that protect the following values:
(a) riparian zones;
(b) scenic vistas;
(c) geological features;
(d) wildlife habitat; and
(e) scientific or biological sites.
(4) After review of the proposed sites and site selection, the board shall direct the department to acquire the development rights to the identified sites.
(5) The purchase of development rights under this section is intended only to protect state lands from development or use that impairs the values identified under subsection (3). The board and department shall allow all uses of land for which the development rights have been bought if those uses are compatible with the protection afforded under this section.
(6) The board shall adopt rules regarding the natural areas acquisition program. These rules must include but are not limited to:
(a) describing the general site selection process;
(b) specifying the form of, and information required for, the site proposals; and
(c) establishing timeframes for the submitting and reviewing of site proposals.
NEW SECTION. Section 4. Codification instruction. [Section 3] is intended to be codified as an integral part of Title 76, chapter 12, part 1, and the provisions of Title 76, chapter 12, part 1, apply to [section 3].
NEW SECTION. Section 5. Effective date. [This act] is effective July 1, 1997.