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Analysis OF HB 1275

16 February 2013 No Comment

Courtesy of Tall Chris (http://www.flickr.com/photos/tallchris/)

By Mike Sayer
Courtesy of Southern Echo http://southernecho.org/s/
 February 16, 2013

Once you read the existing law, MS Code 29-1-75, you will see the insidious purpose of HB 1275, which would amend the existing law.  Here is the entire textof the existing law:


Miss. Code Ann. § 29-1-75

§ 29-1-75. Who may purchase


Except as otherwise provided in this section, neither a corporation nor a nonresident alien, nor any association of persons composed in whole or in part of nonresident aliens, shall directly or indirectly purchase or become the owner of any of the public lands; and every patent issued in contravention hereof shall be void. A banking corporation owning such tax-forfeited lands or holding a mortgage or deed of trust thereon at the time of the sale to the state, and whose mortgage or deed of trust is still in force and effect, may purchase such lands, regardless of acreage, owned by it as aforesaid or on which it held a mortgage or deed of trust. In event of a purchase by such corporation as a mortgagee, such lands shall be held for the benefit of the mortgagor subject to all the terms and conditions of the mortgage or deed of trust held by the purchasing banking corporation and, upon payment of the debt secured by such mortgage or deed of trust, together with interest and incidents, such banking corporation shall in that event reconvey such lands to the original mortgagor, his heirs or assigns.


Nonresident aliens may acquire and hold not to exceed three hundred twenty (320) acres of public lands in this state for the purpose of industrial development thereon. In addition, any nonresident alien may acquire and hold not to exceed five (5) acres of public lands for residential purposes. If any land acquired by a nonresident alien for the purpose of industrial development ceases to be used for industrial development, it shall escheat to the public body that sold such land to the nonresident alien.


1.      Check out the 2nd paragraph.  HB 1275 deletes this paragraph in its entirety.  Under existing law, 29-1-75, nonresident aliens can own public lands for industrial development and for residential purposes.  Under HB 2175 both kinds of rights would be eliminated.


2.      Check out the first sentence where the highlighted portion refers to “corporations”.  Under existing law, 29-1-75, corporations are barred from owning public lands.  Period.  Under HB 2175 the prohibition against corporations is lifted.


3.      In summary:  nonresident aliens are denied rights they now have; corporations are provided rights they did not have.


4.      I think you can make the argument that this bill is the kind of penalty pre-empted by the federal government under the Supreme Court decision in the Arizona case.  The counter-argument is that the disposition of state lands should be a prerogative of the state and not the federal government.  I am not sure how this would shake out.


5.      Separate and apart from any other consideration, I do not think that the state has the power to deny rights to an entire organization because one or more of its members is undocumented.  That guilt by association, that penalty or forfeiture of rights by association seems inconsistent with fundamental fairness.


However, keep in mind that the Taft-Hartley and McCarren Acts did just that with regard to leadership that is alleged to be involved with the Communist Party; the federal government is doing that with regard to anyone or any organization that has an alleged association with a person or persons who may be supporters of foreign organizations alleged by the government to be terrorist organizations.  And now the federal government is claiming the right to kill anyone, including American citizens, because they think such persons might at some time consider opposing United States interests abroad.

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