113-175.5. North Carolina Marine Resources Endowment Fund.

(a) There is hereby established the North Carolina Marine Resources Endowment Fund as a nonreverting special revenue fund in the office of the State Treasurer. The purpose of the Endowment Fund is to provide the citizens and residents of the State with the opportunity to invest in the future of the marine resources of the State. The principal of the Endowment Fund shall consist of:

(1) Endowment license revenues.

(2) Proceeds of any gifts, grants, or contributions to the State that are specifically designated for inclusion in the Endowment Fund.

(3) Proceeds of any gifts, grants, or contributions to the Marine Fisheries Commission or the Division of Marine Fisheries that are not specifically designated for another purpose.

(4) Funds realized from the sale, lease, rental, or other grant of rights to real or personal property acquired or produced from endowment investment income.

(5) Federal aid project reimbursements to the extent that endowment investment income originally funded the project for which the reimbursement is made.

(6) Transfers to the Endowment Fund.

(7) Any endowment investment income or marine resources license revenue that is credited to the Endowment Fund for the purpose of increasing the principal of the Endowment Fund.

(b) The State Treasurer shall hold the Endowment Fund separate and apart from all other moneys, funds, and accounts. The State Treasurer shall invest the assets of the Endowment Fund in accordance with the provisions of G.S. 147-69.2 and G.S. 147-69.3. The State Treasurer shall disburse the endowment investment income only upon the written direction of the Division of Marine Fisheries of the Department of Environmental Quality.

(c) Subject to the limitations set out in subsection (d) of this section, the Division of Marine Fisheries of the Department of Environmental Quality may authorize the disbursement of endowment investment income only to manage, protect, restore, develop, cultivate, conserve, and enhance the marine resources of the State. The Division of Marine Fisheries may not authorize the disbursement of endowment investment income to establish positions without specific authorization from the General Assembly. Prior to authorizing disbursements from the Marine Resources Endowment Fund, the Division of Marine Fisheries shall consult with the Wildlife Resources Commission about funding requests.

(d) The Endowment Fund is declared to constitute a special trust derived from a contractual relationship between the State and the members of the public whose investments contribute to the Endowment Fund. In recognition of this special trust, all of the following limitations are placed on disbursement of funds held in the Endowment Fund:

(1) Any restrictions specified by the donors on the uses of income derived from gifts, grants, and voluntary contributions shall be respected but shall not be binding.

(2) No disbursements of the endowment investment income derived from the endowment license revenues generated by the sale of Infant Lifetime CRFLs under G.S. 113-174.2(c)(6)e., Youth Lifetime CRFLs under G.S. 113-174.2(c)(6)f., Infant Lifetime Unified Sportsman/Coastal Recreational Fishing Licenses under G.S. 113-351(c)(3)a., or Youth Lifetime Unified Sportsman/Coastal Recreational Fishing Licenses under G.S. 113-351(c)(3)b. shall be made for any purpose until the respective licensees attain the age of 16 years. The State Treasurer shall periodically make an actuarial determination as to the amount of endowment investment income within the Endowment Fund that remains encumbered by the restriction of this subdivision and the amount that is free of the restriction. The Executive Director of the Wildlife Resources Commission shall provide the State Treasurer with the information necessary to make this determination.

(3) No disbursement shall be made from the principal of the Endowment Fund except as otherwise provided by law.

(e) Expenditure of the endowment investment income shall be made through the State budget accounts of the Division of Marine Fisheries in accordance with the provisions of the Executive Budget Act. The Endowment Fund is subject to the oversight of the State Auditor pursuant to Article 5A of Chapter 147 of the General Statutes. (2005-455, s. 2.7; 2013-360, s. 14.9(c), (d); 2017-57, s. 13.15(d).)