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Substitute Senate Bill No. 266

PUBLIC ACT NO. 96-143

AN ACT CONCERNING POWERS OF THE COMMISSIONER OF ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION REGARDING CERTAIN REAL ESTATE AND ESTABLISHMENT OF A MAINTENANCE, REPAIR AND IMPROVEMENT ACCOUNT.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 22a-27h of the general statutes is amended by adding subsection (c) as follows:

(NEW) (c) There is established an account known as the maintenance, repair and improvement account. Said account shall be an account of the Conservation Fund. All moneys collected from any rent paid by any person occupying or otherwise using any property in the custody and control of the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, including houses or other buildings, shall be deposited into the account unless the commissioner enters into a written agreement, signs an instrument or issues a license which specifically states otherwise. Said account may also receive moneys from private or public sources, from the federal government or a municipal government. Notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes or any regulation adopted thereunder, any moneys deposited into the account shall be deposited in the Conservation Fund and credited to the maintenance, repair and improvement account. Any balance remaining in the account at the end of any fiscal year shall be carried forward in the account for the fiscal year next succeeding. The account shall be available to the Commissioner of Environmental Protection for maintaining, making improvements to, erecting structures on, or repairing any property in the custody and control of the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, including houses and other buildings. Nothing in this section shall prevent the commissioner from obtaining or using funds from sources other than the account, for maintaining, making improvements to, erecting structures on, or repairing any property in the custody and control of said commissioner, including houses and other buildings.

Sec. 2. Section 26-3 of the general statutes is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The Commissioner of Environmental Protection shall enforce all of the laws relating to wildlife, fish, crustacea, game and non game birds, waterfowl and game and fur-bearing animals of the state and shall possess all powers necessary to fulfill the duties prescribed by law with respect thereto and to bring actions in the proper courts of this state for the enforcement of such laws and the orders and regulations adopted and promulgated by him. He shall have the supervision of hatcheries and retaining ponds and of the introduction, propagation, securing and distribution of such fish and game as are adapted to the waters or lands of this state, and may designate, as closed to fishing, areas of inland waters to provide for spawning beds, and may take at any time or place any fish, crustacean, bird or animal for scientific and educational purposes, public health and safety, propagation and dissemination. He shall have jurisdiction of all matters relating to fish and game on any land belonging to the state and the regulation of hunting, fishing and trapping and the use of the waters of any lake, pond or stream on such land. The commissioner shall not grant to any conservation officer, appointee or other person any special privileges with respect to hunting, fishing, trapping or the use of the waters of any lake, pond or stream on such land. He may erect buildings upon any such land, subject to the permission of the authorities of any institution or commission controlling such land and the approval of the Commissioner of Public Works and the State Properties Review Board. [When the Commissioner of Environmental Protection deems that it would be in the interests of the state, he may assign persons to occupy department-owned property, including houses and other buildings, and if, in his judgment, a rental fee should be charged, he shall determine such rental fee, any other provision of the general statutes or of any regulations of any state agency to the contrary notwithstanding.] He may employ such special assistants as he finds advisable. He shall cooperate with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service and the fish and game commissioners of other states. He may acquire, by gift or lease and, with the approval of the Governor alone, by purchase, lands for the establishment of fish hatcheries or game preserves. He may, with the approval of the Attorney General, grant rights-of-way or other easements or leases for public purposes to the United States government, any subdivision of the state or any public utility within the state on or with respect to any lands under his jurisdiction if he finds that such purposes are not in conflict with the public interest, provided any such public utility shall pay for any right-of-way, easement or lease so granted such compensation as said commissioner considers reasonable. He shall have authority to establish the boundaries of any properties under his jurisdiction by agreement with owners of adjoining property and may, with the approval of the Attorney General alone, exchange land with such property owners and execute deeds in the name of the state for the purpose of establishing such boundaries. The commissioner may provide for the importation of game birds and game and fur-bearing animals, and provide for the protection, propagation and distribution of such imported or native birds and animals. The commissioner may locate, lay out, construct and maintain nurseries and rearing ponds where fish may be planted, propagated and reared and liberate and distribute such fish in the waters of this state. He may acquire by gift, purchase, capture or otherwise any fish, game, game birds or animals for propagation, experimental or scientific purposes, and may destroy and dispose of any undesirable and diseased species in the interest of wildlife management. The commissioner may enter into cooperative agreements with educational institutions and state, federal or other agencies to promote wildlife research and to train men for wildlife management, information, distribution and education projects, and may enter into cooperative agreements with federal agencies, municipalities, corporations, organized groups or landowners, associations and individuals for the development of game, birds, fish or fur-bearing animals management and demonstration projects. The commissioner may allocate and expend for the protection, restoration, preservation and propagation of fish, crustacea, game and fur-bearing animals, and game and non game birds, all funds of the state collected, appropriated and acquired for the purpose.

Sec. 3. (NEW) (a) When the Commissioner of Environmental Protection deems that it would be in the interest of the state, he may rent to any person, or assign departmental employees to occupy, houses, other buildings or property in the custody or control of said commissioner. If he rents property to persons who are not employees of the department he shall first obtain the approval of the State Properties Review Board and any such rent shall at least be equal to the fair market rental value of such property as determined by the commissioner, notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes or of any regulations of any state agency. Rentals to persons other than departmental employees may be for commercial, residential or any other purpose that the commissioner deems to be in the interest of the state. If he assigns departmental employees to occupy such property, he may impose whatever conditions he deems necessary upon such assignment. He may also rent any such property to a departmental employee, and if, in his judgment, a rental fee should be charged to such employee, he shall determine such rental fee, notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes or of any regulations of any state agency. The commissioner may, in the name of the state, execute leases, contracts or other documents to carry out the purposes of this section. All moneys from the rental of any such property shall be deposited into the maintenance, repair and improvement account established under section 22a-27h of the general statutes, as amended by section 1 of this act.

(b) Notwithstanding any other provision of the general statutes or of any regulations of any state agency, if the Commissioner of Environmental Protection determines that it would be in the interest of the state, he may, subject to the approval of the State Properties Review Board and the Governor, sell, exchange or otherwise transfer, the state's interests in houses or buildings in the custody and control of said commissioner and land accompanying such house or building provided no house, building or accompanying land shall be sold, exchanged or any interest therein transferred for less than its fair market value as determined by the commissioner. Said commissioner may, in the name of the state, execute deeds, contracts or other documents for such purposes. The commissioner shall ensure that any land sold under this section shall be subject to a deed restriction preventing further subdivision. The commissioner may require further conservation restrictions as part of such sale to prevent or limit other activities including, but not limited to, tree cutting or construction of additional structures. All moneys from any such sale, exchange or transfer of any interest pursuant to this section shall be used by the commissioner to carry out the purposes of the recreation and natural heritage trust program established under chapter 453 of the general statutes.

Sec. 4. This act shall take effect July 1, 1996.

Approved May 29, 1996. Effective July 1, 1996.

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