Bill changes mining royalties distribution

A three-year project by Iron County’s Presiding Commissioner, assisted by nearly all the local county elected officials in testifying before state committees, has led to the way mining royalties on federal forest land are distributed. The result will be more money for Iron and Reynolds counties.

Last week the General Assembly gave its approval to Senate Bill 202 on the final day of the legislative session. The bill, written by Iron County Presiding Commissioner Jim Scaggs, was sponsored and shepherded in the Senate by Senator Gary Romine and in the House by Rep. Chris Dinkins.

Both legislators filed bills (HB 460 and SB 202) that would distribute funds generated from mining royalties on Missouri’s federal land to counties where the royalties were accrued. Dinkins and Romine said SB 202 will generate millions of dollars in new revenues for Missouri counties.

“This is the bill that I’ve been working on for over three years,” said Presiding Commissioner Scaggs.   “The State of Missouri has been reimbursed $38 million since 2003 with the average annual payment of $2.2 million.  These dollars have been distributed to 29 counties in the State of Missouri and the royalty assessment from only two counties, Iron and Reynolds.  With the passage of this bill and with Governor Parson’s signature, the royalty assessment will now be distributed between Iron and Reynolds county where the lead mining takes place.  For the citizens of Iron and Reynolds County this will benefit the schools, Road & Bridge Department and Public Safety.

“When I discovered the way mining royalties where being distributed I was shocked!  I worked hard on the research to make sure this problem was fixed and the mining royalties assessment was distributed fairly.”   

Scaggs said he first noticed that mine royalties are distributed in the same way that the Forest Cropland Revenue is distributed.  Mark Twain National Forest has land in 26 Missouri counties and whenever there is a timber contract sale in any of those counties the money is distributed annually by the Federal Bureau of Land Management (BLM) based upon the number of National Forest acres in each county.  It has been done this way since mining began on the Viburnum Trend  back in the 1960s.

However, royalties from mining on other federal land in the rest of the country go back to the county where the mining took place.

SB 202 requires that moneys disbursed to the Office of Administration from the Office of Natural Resources Revenue within the U.S. Department of the Interior from mining royalties on federal land located within Missouri be distributed on a proportional basis to each county in the state where the royalties accrued. Fifty percent of the funds will be distributed to public schools in the county. The other half will be allocated at the discretion of the county commission for the maintenance of roads and bridges in the county and a county’s public safety budget, including the following areas: the sheriff’s department, jail and care of prisoners, the office of prosecuting attorney, juvenile officer, and coroner.

Iron County should start receiving its share of the royalties in fiscal year 2020.

“The process of getting a bill passed has many twists and turns with many surprises,” Scaggs said.  “But in the end if you work hard and do your research, which I did for three years, you can communicate with law makers to get the job done. I made several trips to Jefferson City this year to testify on the bill and to represent the importance of the bill passing this year.  I’m not always the most politically correct person but I was passionate about this bill passing and I’m grateful that bill handlers, Senator Romine and Rep. Dinkins pushed the bill across the finish line.

“I cannot thank everyone enough for all the support I received during this process.  From elected County Officials, School Superintendents, Community Leaders and State Elected officials.”

“I want to thank Sen. Romine for working closely with me on this legislation that will provide a much-needed source of revenue for our schools, roads and other vital services that will make our communities safer,” said Rep. Dinkins. “This is a huge win for our area and I am so thankful my colleagues helped us get the bill across the finish line before the legislative session ended.”