AIM helps stop bill that would have threatened mineral rights
May 3, 2022 - Associated Industries of Missouri president and CEO Ray McCarty testified in a hearing last night of HB 2862 (Sassmann).
The bill would have required owners of mineral rights to either use such rights within 20 years or file a statement with the recorder of deeds in the county in which the mineral interest is located. If the owner of the mineral rights did not use the rights or file the statement in a timely manner, the mineral rights would revert to the landowner.
A lawyer that works with mineral rights testified in favor of the bill, noting a problem he encountered when mineral rights were passed on to heirs that could not be located easily and efficiently, saying the cost of pursuing the mineral rights owners could be cost prohibitive.
But McCarty testified the bill was unconstitutional.
"We are strongly opposed to this bill," said McCarty. "The legislature may not enact legislation that impairs the obligation of contracts entered into prior to the effective date of the bill. This bill would retroactively apply terms to mineral rights contracts in violation of the constitutional prohibition on ex post facto laws contained in Article I, Section 13 of the Missouri Constitution which reads, 'That no ex post facto law, nor law impairing the obligation of contracts, or retrospective in its operation, or making any irrevocable grant of special privileges or immunities can be enacted.' This bill would harm any business with mineral rights and we staunchly oppose this bill," he said.
Jeff Davis with BNSF Railway registered the railroad's opposition to the bill, recommending use of the current "quiet title" process to address the issue.
Richard Brownlee, representing the Missouri Limestone Producers Association, talked about the legal problems that would be created for various types of mineral owners as he testified against the bill.
David Keller of HarbisonWalker International testified that the company had mineral rights in multiple counties and the bill would create an unnecessary burden on the company. He said the company works to keep mineral rights up to date and when the mineral rights have been exhausted, the company negotiates a fair price to return the rights to the landowner if they so desire.
The Doe Run Company, Mining Industry Council of Missouri, Missouri Railroad Association and the state chamber also testified against the bill.
A vote originally scheduled for today has been canceled, meaning the bill will not likely advance this legislative session. McCarty and others speaking against the bill said they would work with the sponsor to find a workable solution to the problem after conclusion of the legislative session.