1st Engrossment - 81st Legislature (1999 - 2000) Posted on 12/15/2009 12:00am
1.1 A bill for an act 1.2 relating to public safety; providing for creation of a 1.3 propane education and research council. 1.4 BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF MINNESOTA: 1.5 Section 1. [TITLE.] 1.6 This act may be cited as the Minnesota Propane Education 1.7 and Research Act of 1999. 1.8 Sec. 2. [DEFINITIONS.] 1.9 Subdivision 1. [SCOPE.] For purposes of this act, unless 1.10 the language or context clearly indicates otherwise, the 1.11 following terms have the meanings given them in this section. 1.12 Subd. 2. [COMMISSIONER.] "Commissioner" means the 1.13 commissioner of public safety. 1.14 Subd. 3. [COUNCIL.] "Council" means a propane education 1.15 and research council created pursuant to section 3. 1.16 Subd. 4. [EDUCATION.] "Education" means any action to 1.17 provide information regarding propane, propane equipment, 1.18 mechanical and technical practices, and propane uses to 1.19 consumers and to members of the propane industry. 1.20 Subd. 5. [INDUSTRY.] "Industry" means those persons 1.21 involved in producing, transporting, or selling propane, and in 1.22 manufacturing or distributing propane utilization equipment. 1.23 Subd. 6. [INDUSTRY TRADE ASSOCIATION.] "Industry trade 1.24 association" means an organization exempt from taxation under 2.1 the Internal Revenue Code of 1986, section 501(c)(3) or (6) 2.2 representing the propane industry. 2.3 Subd. 7. [ODORIZED PROPANE.] "Odorized propane" means 2.4 propane that contains an odorant. 2.5 Subd. 8. [PRODUCER.] "Producer" means the owner of propane 2.6 at the time it is recovered at a gas-processing plant or 2.7 refinery, regardless of the state where production occurs. 2.8 Subd. 9. [PROPANE.] "Propane" means a hydrocarbon whose 2.9 chemical composition is predominantly C3H8, whether recovered 2.10 from natural gas or crude oil, and includes liquefied petroleum 2.11 gases and mixtures thereof. 2.12 Subd. 10. [PUBLIC MEMBER.] "Public member" means a member 2.13 of the council other than a representative of producers or 2.14 retail marketers representing significant users of propane, 2.15 public safety officials, state regulatory officials, or other 2.16 groups knowledgeable about propane. 2.17 Subd. 11. [QUALIFIED INDUSTRY ORGANIZATION.] "Qualified 2.18 industry organization" means the Minnesota Propane Gas 2.19 Association, the National Propane Gas Association, the Gas 2.20 Processors Association, any successor of these associations, or 2.21 other council-designated propane industry organization. 2.22 Subd. 12. [RESEARCH.] "Research" means any type of study, 2.23 investigation, or other activity designed to advance the image, 2.24 desirability, usage, marketability, efficiency, and safety of 2.25 propane and to further the development of that information. 2.26 Subd. 13. [RETAIL MARKETER.] "Retail marketer" means a 2.27 person engaged primarily in the sale of odorized propane to the 2.28 ultimate consumer or to retail propane dispensers. 2.29 Subd. 14. [RETAIL PROPANE DISPENSER.] "Retail propane 2.30 dispenser" means a person who sells odorized propane to the 2.31 ultimate consumer but is not engaged primarily in the business 2.32 of those sales. 2.33 Sec. 3. [REFERENDUM TO CREATE OR TERMINATE COUNCIL.] 2.34 Subdivision 1. [REFERENDUM; WEIGHTED VOTE.] Qualified 2.35 industry organizations shall conduct at their own expense, a 2.36 referendum among producers and retail marketers for the creation 3.1 of a Minnesota propane education and research council. If 3.2 established, the council shall reimburse the qualified industry 3.3 organization for the cost of the referendum accounting and 3.4 documentation. The referendum must be conducted by an 3.5 independent auditing firm agreed to by the qualified industry 3.6 organizations. The results, as certified by an independent 3.7 auditing firm, must be submitted to the commissioner within 30 3.8 days of certification. Voting rights in the referendum must be 3.9 based on the volume of propane produced or odorized propane sold 3.10 in Minnesota in the previous calendar year. The council is 3.11 established upon approval of representatives of two-thirds of 3.12 the total volume of propane voted in the state's retail marketer 3.13 class and two-thirds of all propane voted in the state's 3.14 producer class. The council may levy an assessment on odorized 3.15 propane according to section 9. Each person voting in the 3.16 referendum shall certify to the independent auditing firm the 3.17 volume of propane represented by that person's vote. 3.18 Subd. 2. [TERMINATION REFERENDUM.] On the council's own 3.19 initiative or on petition to the council by producers and retail 3.20 marketers representing 35 percent of the state's volume of 3.21 propane in each class, the council shall, at its own expense, 3.22 hold a referendum to be conducted by an independent auditing 3.23 firm selected by the council, to determine whether the industry 3.24 favors termination or suspension of the council. Termination or 3.25 suspension does not take effect unless approved by persons 3.26 representing more than one-half of the state's total volume of 3.27 odorized propane in the retail marketer class and more than 3.28 one-half the state's total volume of propane in the producer 3.29 class. 3.30 Sec. 4. [PROPANE EDUCATION AND RESEARCH COUNCIL MEMBERS.] 3.31 Subdivision 1. [MEMBER SELECTION.] The qualified industry 3.32 organizations shall select all retail marketer, public, and 3.33 producer members of the council. The producer organizations 3.34 shall select the producer members of the council, the retail 3.35 marketer organizations shall select retail marketer members, and 3.36 all qualified industry organizations shall jointly select the 4.1 public members. Vacancies in the unfinished terms of council 4.2 members must be filled in the same manner as were the original 4.3 appointments. 4.4 Subd. 2. [REPRESENTATION.] In selecting members of the 4.5 council, the qualified industry organizations shall give due 4.6 regard to selecting a council that is representative of the 4.7 industry, including representation of: 4.8 (1) gas processors and oil refiners among producers; 4.9 (2) interstate and intrastate operators among retail 4.10 marketers; 4.11 (3) large and small companies among producers and retail 4.12 marketers, including agricultural cooperatives; and 4.13 (4) diverse geographic regions of the state. 4.14 Subd. 3. [MEMBERSHIP.] The council shall consist of 13 4.15 members, with seven members representing retail marketers, three 4.16 members representing producers, one member who shall be 4.17 knowledgeable in the treatment of hazardous materials and who 4.18 shall be either a fire chief or a member of a fire department, 4.19 to be appointed by the commissioner after consultation with the 4.20 Minnesota fire chiefs association and the Minnesota fire 4.21 department association, and two public members. Other than the 4.22 public members, council members must be full-time employees or 4.23 owners of businesses in the propane industry. No employee of a 4.24 qualified industry organization shall serve as a member of the 4.25 council. No member of the council shall serve concurrently as 4.26 an officer of the board of directors of a qualified industry 4.27 organization or other trade association. Only one person at a 4.28 time from any company or its affiliate may serve on the 4.29 council. The commissioner may serve as an ex-officio nonvoting 4.30 member of the council. 4.31 Subd. 4. [REIMBURSEMENT.] Council members shall neither 4.32 receive compensation for their service nor be reimbursed for 4.33 expenses relating to their service, except that public members, 4.34 upon request, may be reimbursed for reasonable expenses directly 4.35 related to their participation in council meetings. 4.36 Subd. 5. [TERMS.] Council members shall serve terms of 5.1 three years and may not serve more than two full consecutive 5.2 terms. The commissioner may appoint the member filling the 5.3 position of fire chief or fire department member to a term of 5.4 less than three years and shall alternate appointments between 5.5 these two categories. Members filling unexpired terms may serve 5.6 not more than a total of seven consecutive years. Former 5.7 members of the council may be returned to the council if they 5.8 have not been members for a period of two years. Except for the 5.9 commissioner's appointment, initial appointments to the council 5.10 must be for terms of one, two, and three years, staggered to 5.11 provide for the subsequent selection of four members each year. 5.12 The council shall notify the commissioner of the name, address, 5.13 and propane-related affiliation, if any, of a council member 5.14 within 30 days after the appointment of the member to the 5.15 council. 5.16 Sec. 5. [DUTIES.] 5.17 Subdivision 1. [PROGRAM DEVELOPMENT; RESEARCH; EDUCATION; 5.18 FINANCING.] The council shall develop programs and projects and 5.19 enter into contracts or agreements for implementing this act, 5.20 including programs to enhance consumer and employee safety and 5.21 training, to provide for research and development of clean and 5.22 efficient propane utilization equipment, to inform and educate 5.23 the public about safety and other issues associated with the use 5.24 of propane, and to provide for the payment of the costs of these 5.25 programs with funds collected pursuant to this act. The council 5.26 shall coordinate its activities with industry trade associations 5.27 and others as appropriate to provide efficient delivery of 5.28 services and to avoid unnecessary duplication of activities. 5.29 Subd. 2. [PRIORITY ISSUES.] Issues related to research and 5.30 development, safety, education, and training must be given 5.31 priority by the council in the development of its programs and 5.32 projects. 5.33 Sec. 6. [ORGANIZATION AND PROCEDURES.] 5.34 The council shall select from among its members a chair and 5.35 other officers as necessary, may establish committees and 5.36 subcommittees of the council, and shall adopt rules and bylaws 6.1 for conducting business and implementing and administering this 6.2 act. The council shall establish procedures for soliciting 6.3 industry comment and recommendations on significant plans, 6.4 programs, and projects to be funded by the council. The council 6.5 may establish advisory committees of persons other than council 6.6 members. 6.7 Sec. 7. [BUDGET.] 6.8 At the beginning of each fiscal period, the council shall 6.9 prepare a budget plan for the next fiscal period, including the 6.10 probable cost of all programs, projects, and contracts and a 6.11 recommended rate of assessment sufficient to cover these costs. 6.12 The council shall submit the proposed budget to the commissioner 6.13 for review and comment. The commissioner may recommend programs 6.14 and activities considered appropriate. 6.15 Sec. 8. [MINUTES, BOOKS, RECORDS.] 6.16 The council shall keep minutes, books, and records that 6.17 clearly reflect all acts and transactions of the council and 6.18 make that information available to the public. The books of the 6.19 council must be audited by a certified public accountant at 6.20 least once each fiscal year and at other times designated by the 6.21 council. The expense of the audit is the responsibility of the 6.22 council. Copies of an audit must be provided to all members of 6.23 the council, all qualified industry organizations, and to other 6.24 members of the industry upon request. 6.25 Sec. 9. [ASSESSMENTS.] 6.26 Subdivision 1. [LIMITATIONS.] The council shall set the 6.27 initial assessment at no greater than one mill per gallon of 6.28 odorized propane. Thereafter, annual assessments must be 6.29 sufficient to cover the costs of plans and programs developed by 6.30 the council; except that the assessment must not be greater than 6.31 five mills per gallon of odorized propane, unless approved by 6.32 the majority of those voting in a referendum in both the 6.33 producer and retail marketer classes. In no case may the 6.34 assessment be raised by more than one mill per gallon of 6.35 odorized propane annually. 6.36 Subd. 2. [COLLECTION AND PAYMENT.] The owner of odorized 7.1 propane, at the time of odorization or the time of import of 7.2 odorized propane, shall make the assessment based on the volume 7.3 of odorized propane sold and placed into commerce. The 7.4 assessment, when made, must be listed as a separate line item on 7.5 the bill labeled "Minnesota Propane Education and Research 7.6 Assessment." Assessments collected from purchasers of propane 7.7 are payable to the council on a monthly basis by the 25th day of 7.8 the month following the month of collection. If payment is not 7.9 made to the council by the due date under this subdivision, an 7.10 interest penalty of one percent of any amount unpaid must be 7.11 added for each month or fraction of a month after the due date, 7.12 until final payment is made. 7.13 Subd. 3. [ALTERNATIVE COLLECTION; LATE CHARGES.] The 7.14 council may establish an alternative means of collecting the 7.15 assessment if another means is found to be more efficient and 7.16 effective. The council may establish a late payment charge and 7.17 rate of interest to be imposed on any person who fails to remit 7.18 or pay to the council any amount due under this act. 7.19 Subd. 4. [INVESTMENT.] Pending disbursement pursuant to a 7.20 program, plan, or project, the council shall invest funds 7.21 collected through assessments, and any other funds received by 7.22 the council, only in obligations of the United States or any 7.23 federal agency, in general obligations of any state or political 7.24 subdivision of a state, in any interest-bearing account or 7.25 certificate of deposit of a bank that is a member of the federal 7.26 reserve system, or in obligations fully guaranteed as to 7.27 principal and interest by the United States. 7.28 Sec. 10. [COMPLIANCE ENFORCEMENT.] 7.29 The district court is vested with the jurisdiction 7.30 specifically to enforce this act and to prevent or restrain any 7.31 person from violating any provision of this act. A successful 7.32 action for compliance under this section may also require 7.33 payment by the defendant of the costs incurred by the council in 7.34 bringing the action. 7.35 Sec. 11. [PRICING.] 7.36 In all cases, the price of propane must be determined by 8.1 market forces. Consistent with the antitrust law, the council 8.2 shall take no action, nor may any provision of this act be 8.3 interpreted as, establishing an agreement to pass along to 8.4 consumers the cost of the assessment provided for in section 9. 8.5 Sec. 12. [RELATION TO OTHER LAWS.] 8.6 (a) Nothing in this act may be construed to preempt or 8.7 supersede any other program relating to propane education and 8.8 research organized and operated under the laws of the state of 8.9 Minnesota. 8.10 (b) Minnesota Statutes, section 15.059, does not apply to 8.11 this act. 8.12 Sec. 13. [INSTRUCTION TO REVISOR.] 8.13 (a) If a council is approved and organized pursuant to 8.14 sections 1 to 12, the council shall notify the revisor of 8.15 statutes of that fact in writing. 8.16 (b) On receiving notice under paragraph (a), the revisor 8.17 shall codify this act in the next edition of Minnesota Statutes 8.18 or Minnesota Statutes Supplement, as applicable.