SB 75-FN – FINAL VERSION
SENATE BILL 75-FN
AN ACT relative to establishing a New Hampshire rail transit authority that will have responsibility for developing and providing commuter rail and related public rail transportation services in New Hampshire.
SPONSORS: Sen. Gottesman, Dist 12; Sen. Foster, Dist 13; Sen. Bragdon, Dist 11; Sen. DeVries, Dist 18; Rep. Harvey, Hills 21; Rep. Lasky, Hills 26; Rep. D. Cote, Hills 23; Rep. Campbell, Hills 24; Rep. Rosenwald, Hills 22
This bill establishes a New Hampshire rail transit authority that will have responsibility for developing and providing commuter rail and related public rail transportation services in New Hampshire.
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Explanation: Matter added to current law appears in bold italics.
Matter removed from current law appears [
in brackets and struckthrough.]
Matter which is either (a) all new or (b) repealed and reenacted appears in regular type.
STATE OF NEW HAMPSHIRE
In the Year of Our Lord Two Thousand Seven
AN ACT relative to establishing a New Hampshire rail transit authority that will have responsibility for developing and providing commuter rail and related public rail transportation services in New Hampshire.
Be it Enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Court convened:
360:1 New Chapter; New Hampshire Rail Transit Authority. Amend RSA by inserting after chapter 238 the following new chapter:
NEW HAMPSHIRE RAIL TRANSIT AUTHORITY
238-A:1 Definitions. In this chapter:
I. “Authority” means the New Hampshire rail transit authority.
II. “Government agency” includes any department, agency, commission, public corporation, bureau, authority, instrumentality, or political subdivision of:
(a) The United States of America.
(b) The state of New Hampshire.
(c) Any state adjacent to New Hampshire.
III. “Municipality” means town as defined in RSA 21:5.
IV. “Regional planning commission” means any commission formed pursuant to RSA 36:46.
V. “Railroad lines” means railroad rights-of-way and any tracks, track appurtenances, ties, ballast, bridges, stations, yards, facilities, and other appurtenant structures located thereon or adjacent thereto.
238-A:2 Authority Established. There is hereby established the New Hampshire rail transit authority which shall be a body both corporate and politic in the state established for the general purpose of developing and providing commuter rail or other similar forms of passenger rail service. It is declared that the purposes of this chapter are public and that the authority shall be regarded as performing an essential governmental function in carrying out this chapter.
238-A:3 Duties. The authority shall take all actions that are reasonably necessary to establish regularly scheduled commuter rail or other similar forms of passenger rail service between points within the state of New Hampshire and points within and adjacent to the state of New Hampshire. These actions may include, but are not limited to:
I. The acquisition, lease, possession, use, operation, repair, renewal, construction, reconstruction, rehabilitation, modernization, rebuilding, relocation, maintenance, and disposition of:
(a) Railroad lines and related facilities.
(b) Railroad rolling stock, machinery, and equipment.
(c) Real and personal property of any kind.
II. The acquisition, lease, license, possession, use, and disposition of any rights in or related to such property, including trackage, operating, maintenance, dispatching, and other contractual rights and services from railroad companies, other transportation service providers, public utilities, private persons, and government agencies including the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority.
I. The governing body of the authority shall be a board of directors. The board of directors shall have the following members:
(a) The commissioner of the department of transportation or designee.
(b) The mayor of the city of Nashua, or designee.
(c) A designee of the town of Merrimack town council.
(d) A designee of the town of Bedford town council.
(e) The mayor of the city of Manchester or designee.
(f) A designee of the Nashua regional planning commission.
(g) A designee of the southern New Hampshire planning commission.
(h) Three members appointed by the governor, one of whom resides in the service area of the authority as established in RSA 238-A:5, I, and 2 of whom are recognized as experts in railroad matters.
(i) The chair of the house transportation committee.
(j) The ranking minority member of the house transportation committee.
(k) The chair of the senate transportation and interstate cooperation committee.
(l) The ranking minority member of the senate transportation and interstate cooperation committee.
(m) The mayor of the city of Concord, or designee.
(n) A designee of the central New Hampshire regional planning commission.
(o) The chair of the Manchester-Boston regional airport board or designee.
(p) The mayor of the city of Dover, or designee.
(q) A designee of the town of Durham town council or university of New Hampshire.
(r) A designee of the town of Exeter board of selectmen.
(s) A designee of the Rockingham planning commission.
(t) A designee of the Strafford regional planning commission.
(u) The mayor of the city of Claremont, or designee.
(v) A designee of the Upper Valley Lake Sunapee regional planning commission.
(w) A designee of the lakes region planning commission.
(x) The mayor of the city of Franklin or designee.
(y) The mayor of the city of Berlin, or designee.
II. The members of the board of directors appointed by the governor shall serve for a term of 2 years and until a successor has been designated.
238-A:5 Service Area of the Authority.
I. The service area of the authority shall include any town or city in the state of New Hampshire through which commuter rail or other similar forms of passenger rail service operates or may operate.
II. The board of directors shall determine when to expand the service area of the authority. Upon approval of a resolution to expand the service area of the authority, after a properly noticed public hearing, the board of directors shall notify eligible cities, towns, or regional planning commissions of the determination to expand the service area of the authority. A city, town, or regional planning commission may petition the authority to support the development and establishment of commuter rail and related public transportation services within its jurisdiction. The board of directors shall have sole discretion to accept or reject any such petition. When considering an expansion of the service area of the authority the board of directors shall consider support for the proposed passenger or commuter rail project by affected towns, cities, and regional planning commissions, and the completion of an alternatives analysis or major investment study.
III. When the service area of the authority is expanded as identified in RSA 238-A:5, II new members will be added to the board of directors as follows:
(a) One designee for each town or city added to the service area that is not represented on the board of directors.
(b) One designee for each regional planning commission added to the service area that is not represented on the board of directors.
I. The board of directors shall, at the initial meeting of the authority, elect a chairperson and vice-chairperson of the board. The board of directors shall also designate a secretary, treasurer, or other officer as may be necessary to carry out the functions of the board.
II. The authority shall conduct an annual meeting. At such meeting the board of directors shall approve an annual report of the authority and elect a chairperson and vice-chairperson of the board.
III. The board of directors may exercise all the powers of the authority in a lawful meeting. A majority of directors then in office shall constitute a quorum. Regular meetings of the board of directors may be established by bylaws.
238-A:7 Conflict of Interest.
I. A director, officer, or employee of the authority shall not acquire any interest, direct or indirect, in any contract or proposed contract of the authority. A director, officer, or employee of the authority shall not participate in any decision on any contract entered into or to be entered into by the authority if that individual has any interest, direct or indirect, in any firm, partnership, corporation, or association that will be party to such a contract or financially involved in any transaction with the authority.
II. The prohibition in paragraph I shall not apply to:
(a) The execution of agreements by banking institutions for the deposit or handling of authority funds in connection with any contract.
(b) Utility services, for which rates are fixed or controlled by a government agency.
(c) Contracts with the department of transportation, a regional planning commission, or any other government agency.
III. The authority shall not:
(a) Employ a person or firm to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, any legislation pending or proposed before the general court, or to promote or oppose, directly or indirectly, any action by the governor, governor and council, or any agency, as defined in RSA 15-A:2, where such action concerns legislation or contracts pending or proposed before the general court, any pending or proposed administrative rule, or the procurement of goods or services that are being or may be purchased by the state.
(b) Employ or remunerate in any fashion any member of the legislature.
238-A:8 Powers. The authority may:
I. Sue and be sued to the same extent as a town or city under New Hampshire law.
II. Have a seal and alter the seal.
III. Adopt and amend bylaws covering procedure and rules for the purposes of this chapter, develop and adopt rules in accordance with the laws of the state of New Hampshire, publish bylaws and rules as necessary or advisable, and cause records of its proceedings to be kept.
IV. Employ such assistants, attorneys, experts, inspectors, and such other employees and consultants as the board of directors considers necessary for its purposes.
V. Utilize the services and resources of the department of transportation that are available and expedient. All charges for services provided by the department may be paid to it by the authority as mutually agreed upon.
VI. Utilize the services of the Nashua regional planning commission or other regional planning commissions that are available and expedient. All charges for services provided by such commission may be paid to it by the authority as mutually agreed upon.
VII. Acquire any property or property rights through purchase, lease, lease-purchase, gift, contract, devise, or otherwise. In making these acquisitions the authority may exercise the power of eminent domain following the same procedure set forth for similar government agencies under the laws of the state of New Hampshire, provided it is consistent with the purposes established under the New Hampshire constitution and approved by a joint resolution of the general court.
VIII. Accept gifts, grants, or loans of money or other property, and enter into contracts or other transactions with any federal or state agency, or any other public entity.
IX. Enter into and fulfill any contracts or agreements with public or private transportation operators, government agencies, or other entities for management, operation, or support of public transit services or as the board of directors otherwise deems necessary.
X. Lease the passenger rail system or part thereof, or contract for the use of the passenger rail system or any part thereof with any operator as may be required for operation of the passenger rail service.
XI. Receive and disburse funds for authority purposes. The authority shall have the power to deposit any monies of the authority, in accordance with the provisions of the general laws of the state of New Hampshire governing the deposit of public monies in such bank or banks or investment deposit pools as may be authorized to receive deposits of public funds.
XII. Issue bonds for the implementation of any project of the authority, including the acquisition of property, or paying off of any debt or obligation of the authority. The authority may issue such types of bonds as may be determined by the board of directors, including certificates on which principal and interest are payable:
(a) Exclusively from income or revenue from the operation of the authority financed with the proceeds of such bonds or together with such proceeds and grants from any instrumentality or other person or corporation in aid of such projects.
(b) Exclusively from income and revenues of certain designated projects.
(c) From general revenues of the authority. Any such bond may be additionally secured by mortgage of the passenger rail system or any part thereof constituting real or personal property of the authority.
XIII. Conduct or cause to be conducted any studies that the authority determines necessary.
XIV. Enter into agreements, contracts, and compacts with any government agency, Pan Am Railways, Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority, and any other person or entity, public or private, as may be required to develop, establish, and provide passenger rail transportation services, including but not limited to property owners and developers of property adjacent to or incidental to the railroad lines and related facilities.
XV. In conjunction with the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority or any other government agency with a vested interest in such matters, fix equitable fares or charges and other rules and regulations for passenger rail services developed or established in whole or in part by the authority.
XVI. Take all lawful action necessary and incidental to effectuate the purposes set forth in this chapter.
238-A:9 Funding. The authority shall seek, apply for, accept for its use, and use funds necessary for the implementation of this chapter.
I. Such funds shall be spent first to develop and initiate, at the earliest practicable time, regularly scheduled commuter rail service between Lowell, Massachusetts and Manchester, New Hampshire.
II. The authority shall seek and use funds to extend regularly scheduled commuter rail or other similar forms of passenger rail service, to the extent practicable, to other points within the state of New Hampshire.
III. The authority shall seek and expend funds as necessary to coordinate with other government agencies providing public transportation services that support or complement regularly scheduled commuter or other form of passenger rail service identified in paragraphs I and II.
IV. The authority shall use any revenues it receives from the operation of the passenger rail service and any ancillary support facilities and services established under this chapter, including fares, fees, rents, royalties, and other revenues, to pay the operational expenses of that service. The authority shall seek and use funds necessary to pay all operational expenses of its passenger rail service that are not met by fares and other authority funds or revenues. For the purposes of this section, “operational expenses” include, but are not limited to, all ongoing capital expenses necessary to maintain the passenger rail service.
V. The authority may take all actions, consistent with this chapter, that are necessary to apply for, qualify for, accept, and disburse any money that the federal government may grant or loan to the authority to fund any actions the board of directors deems necessary under this chapter.
VI. Any government agency may allocate money and take other actions that may aid in the implementation of this chapter. The authority may provide funds, including loans and matching grants, to government agencies in order to encourage their participation in implementing this chapter.
VII. The authority shall use its best efforts to ensure that fares for passenger rail service established under this chapter be set at reasonable levels to encourage use of this service.
VIII. The authority shall obtain all additional funds, through borrowing, revenues, or other means, necessary to satisfy operating deficits arising from expenses, including capital expenditures, necessary to ensure the continuation of passenger rail service established pursuant to this chapter.
I. The authority shall have the power and is hereby authorized to issue its bonds and notes in such principal amount as the authority shall determine to be necessary to provide sufficient funds for achieving any of its corporate purposes. Neither the directors of the authority nor any person executing bonds on behalf of the authority shall be personally liable thereon by reason of the issuance thereof.
II. Bonds of the authority shall be authorized by its resolution and may be issued in one or more series and shall bear such date or dates, mature at such time or times, bear interest at such rate or rates, be in such denomination or denominations, be in such form, either coupon or registered, carry such conversion or registration privileges, have such rank or priority, be executed in such manner, be payable in such medium of payment, at such place or places and be subject to such terms of redemption, with or without premium, as such resolutions, its trust indenture, or mortgage may provide. In case any of the directors or officers of the authority whose signatures appear on any bond or coupon shall cease to be such directors or officers before the delivery of such bonds, such signatures shall nevertheless be valid and sufficient for all purposes. All bonds may be signed on behalf of the authority by, or with the facsimile signatures of, such persons as at the actual date of such execution shall be the proper officers authorized by resolution of the authority to execute said bonds, notwithstanding the fact that on the day said bonds are dated, or on the date of the delivery thereof, any such person shall not have been such officer.
III. Obligations of the authority other than certificates shall be payable from general funds of the authority and shall at no time be a charge against any special fund allocated to the payment of bonds except upon payment of current annual maturities and reserves thereof.
IV. Notwithstanding any restrictions on investments contained in any laws of this state, the state and all public officers, municipal corporations, political subdivisions, public bodies, all banks, bankers, trust companies, savings banks and institutions, building and loan associations, savings and loan associations, investment companies, and other persons carrying on a banking business, all insurance companies, insurance associations and other persons carrying on an insurance business, and all executors, administrators, guardians, trustees, and other fiduciaries may legally invest any sinking funds, moneys, or other funds belonging to them or within their control in any bonds or other obligations issued by the authority under this chapter, when such bonds or other obligations are secured by rentals or other monies to be paid by the United States of America or any department or agency thereof, and such bonds and other obligations shall be authorized security for all public deposits, it being the purpose of this section to authorize any persons, firms, corporations, associations, political subdivisions, bodies, and officers, public or private, to use any funds owned or controlled by them, including, but not limited to, sinking, insurance, investment, retirement, compensation, pension and trust funds, and funds held on deposit, for the purchase of any such bonds or other obligations; provided, however, that nothing contained in this section shall be construed as relieving any person, firm, or corporation from any applicable duty of exercising reasonable care in selecting securities.
V. The authority may obligate itself for the payment of bonds and other debts incurred in the furtherance of its public purposes by the state of New Hampshire, or by any county, municipality, political subdivision, or public corporation.
VI. The authority shall determine the time, form, and manner of the issuance of its bonds and the specific provisions for, and references to such time, form, and manner set forth in this chapter are illustrative of its powers and are not in limitation thereof. The authority may designate a bank or trust company, qualified to do business in this state, as a trustee for the authority and the holders of bonds issued hereunder, and may authorize the trustee to act on behalf of the holders of the bonds, or any stated percentage thereof, and to exercise and prosecute on behalf of the holders of the bonds such rights and remedies as may be available to the holders.
238-A:11 Expenses and Obligations. All expenses incurred in carrying out this chapter shall be paid solely from funds provided to or obtained by the authority under this chapter. Any notes, obligations, or liabilities under this chapter shall not be deemed to be a debt of the state or a pledge of the faith and credit of the state; but those notes, obligations, and liabilities are payable exclusively from funds provided to or obtained by the authority under this chapter. The records and correspondence relating to negotiations, trade secrets received by the authority, and estimates of costs on projects to be put out to bid are confidential.
238-A:12 Annual Report and Audit.
I. Beginning one year after the establishment of the authority and on an annual basis thereafter, the authority shall present an annual report to the governor, the commissioner of transportation, the members of the executive council, and the standing committees of the senate and house of representatives having jurisdiction over transportation matters. The report shall include
a description of the authority’s activities for the preceding fiscal year, including a report of its receipts and expenditures from all sources. All administrative costs shall be identified. A copy of the report shall be made available to any interested person.
II. The authority shall cause an audit by an independent certified public accountant of its books and accounts to be made each fiscal year. After certification of the audit by the board of directors copies shall be provided to the governor, the commissioner of transportation, the members of the executive council, and the standing committees of the senate and house of representatives
having jurisdiction over transportation matters.
238-A:13 Property of the Authority.
I. All property owned or leased by the authority under this chapter is exempt from levy and sale by virtue of any execution. An execution or other judicial process is not a valid lien upon its property held under this chapter. The authority may use its property only for the purposes set forth in this chapter.
II. The authority and its authorized officers, agents, and employees may enter upon any lands, waters, and premises in the state for the purpose of making surveys, soundings, drillings, and examinations it determines necessary under this chapter. Such entry shall not be deemed a trespass. The authority shall not be liable for the discovery during any such entry of any form of waste or environmental contamination.
III. Any county, municipality, or other political subdivision, any public agency or commission of the state, and any public service corporation or district, notwithstanding any contrary provisions of law, may lease, lend, grant, or convey to the authority, upon its request and upon such terms and conditions as the proper authorities of the political subdivision, agency, commission, public corporation, or district determine reasonable and fair, any real or personal property or rights in the property that are necessary or convenient to the effectuation of the authorized purposes of the authority, including real and personal property or rights in the property already devoted to public use.
238-A:14 Exemption from Taxes. Because the accomplishment by the authority of the authorized purpose of this chapter is for the benefit of the people of the state and for the improvement of their commerce and prosperity and is the performance of essential governmental functions, the authority shall not be required to pay any taxes or assessment on any property acquired or used by it for the purposes of this chapter, except that service facilities leased or rented by the authority to business entities are subject to taxation and assessments shall be made against the tenant in possession based upon the value of the leasehold interest, both real and personal. The authority shall not be required to pay any tax upon its income except as may be required by the laws of the United States.
238-A:15 Public Utilities Commission. The authority shall not be subject to regulation by the public utilities commission.
238-A:16 Review of Rail Transit Authority. The general court shall review the scope of the rail transit authority during the 2012 legislative session, giving particular attention to expanding the jurisdiction and membership of the governing body of the authority.
238-A:17 Open Meetings and Records. The authority shall be subject to all requirements of RSA 91-A:2.
360:2 Effective Date. This act shall take effect upon its passage.
Approved: July 17, 2007
Effective: July 17, 2007