SCS/SB 905 - This act establishes the "Regional Railroad Authorities Act." The purpose of an authority established and operated under the act is to provide for the preservation, improvement, and the continuation of rail service for agriculture, industry, or passenger traffic and to provide for the preservation of railroad right-of-way for transportation uses, when determined to be practicable and necessary for the public welfare (Section 388.703).
Under the act, every municipality with a population of greater than 25 persons and all counties are authorized to form a regional railroad authority. A regional railroad authority may be organized by resolution or joint resolution adopted by the governing body or bodies of one or more counties. The governing body or bodies of a municipality or municipalities within a county or counties may request by resolution that the county or counties organize a railroad authority. If the county or counties do not organize an authority within ninety days of receipt of the request, the municipality or municipalities may organize an authority by resolution or joint resolution. If the authority is formed by municipalities that are not in the same county, the authority may be formed in any of the counties in which the municipalities are located (Section 388.706).
Before final adoption of an organization resolution, the governing body shall provide for a public hearing upon notice published in a newspaper of general circulation in the county or municipality in which it sits. Upon the appointment and qualification of the commissioners first appointed to a regional railroad authority, the commissioners shall submit to the secretary of state a certified copy of each resolution adopted. The Secretary of State shall issue a certificate of incorporation if the resolution conforms to the requirements of this act (Sections 388.709 and 388.712).
All powers granted to an authority shall be exercised by its board of commissioners. Commissioners shall be appointed and vacancies in their office shall be filled by the governing body of each county or municipality named in the organization resolution, in accordance with the provisions of that resolution. The term of each commissioner shall be one year, or the remainder of the one year term for which a vacancy is filled, and until a successor is appointed. Commissioners shall receive no compensation for services but shall be reimbursed for necessary expenses incurred in the performance of their duties. The commissioners shall not be personally liable for acts committed in furtherance of their duties except for the immunity shall not extend to intentional acts or gross negligence (Section 388.715).
The authority may plan, establish, acquire, develop, construct, purchase, enlarge, extend, improve, maintain, equip, operate, regulate, and protect railroads, railroad properties and railroad facilities within its boundaries, including but not limited to terminal buildings, roadways, crossings, bridges, causeways, tunnels, equipment, and rolling stock. In operating the railroad and its facilities, the authority and its contractor shall comply with all state and federal railroad statutes and regulations (Section 388.721).
The authority may exercise the power of eminent domain under Chapter 523, RSMo. The authority, however, shall have no power of eminent domain with respect to property owned by another authority or political subdivision of Missouri or any other state, or with respect to property owned or used by a railroad corporation unless the federal Surface Transportation Board has found that the public convenience and necessity permit discontinuance of rail service on the property (Section 388.724).
The state of Missouri and any political subdivision may transfer to any regional railroad authority or may place in its possession or control, by lease or other contract or agreement, either for a limited period or in fee, any property wherever situated (Section 388.727).
The authority may establish charges and rentals for the use, sale, and availability of its property and service and may hold, use, dispose of, invest, and reinvest the income, revenues, and funds derived therefrom (Section 388.730).
Every regional railroad authority may issue its negotiable revenue bonds or notes in such principal amounts as shall be necessary to provide sufficient funds for achieving its purposes, including the construction, establishment, acquisition, improvement, maintenance, protection and regulation of railroads and railroad facilities. The state shall not be liable on any notes or bonds of any regional railroad authority. No authority shall be required to pay any taxes or any assessments whatsoever to this state or to any political subdivisions, municipality or other governmental agency of this state. Regional railroad authorities, however, shall still be subject to the assessments made by the railroad division of the Department of Transportation and any state or federal penalties imposed as a result of violations of railroad statutes. The notes and bonds of every authority and the income shall be exempt from any taxes and any assessments, except for death and gift taxes and taxes on transfers (Section 388.739).
The authority may enter into contracts including leases with any person, firm, or corporation, for terms the authority may determine:
(1) Providing for the operation of any facilities on behalf of the authority, at the rate of compensation as may be determined;
(2) Leasing a rail line for operation by the lessee or any facility or space therein for other commercial purposes, at rentals as may be determined, but no person may be authorized to operate a rail line other than as a common carrier;
(3) Granting the privilege, for compensation as the authority shall determine, of supplying goods, commodities, services, or facilities along rail lines or in or upon other property; and
(4) Making available services furnished by the authority or its agents, at charges, rentals, or fees which shall be reasonable and uniform for the same class of privilege or service. (Section 388.742).
The act provides a method for dissolving the authority. If, at any time, all of the governing bodies of any city or county that organized an authority, votes to dissolve an authority, the authority shall file a petition in the circuit court in any county in which a member municipality or county is located, and upon approval by the court, it shall be dissolved effective the date of the approval of dissolution by the court. In the event of dissolution of an authority, all funds and other assets shall be distributed among the cities and counties, who were members, on a pro rata basis by the circuit court (Section 388.745).