81st Legislature Status

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With two weeks left of the 81st Legislative Session, we need to do all that we can to promote the bills that managed to make it out of committee! Here’s a list of bills that we’re still watching:

SB 1414 Williams – Quarry Registration and Inspection
Requires registration of a quarry operation with the TCEQ prior to beginning extraction activities, and annual renewal of registration as extraction activities continue. TCEQ will annually conduct a physical survey of the state to identify all quarry operations in Texas and ensure that each operation is registered. Additionally, TCEQ will inspect each quarry operation for compliance with environmental laws and rules (specifically those pertaining to water and air quality) at least once every three years. TCEQ will establish inspection fees of no more than $1,000 per year, and a penalty fee of no less than $5,000 and no more than $10,000 for failure of a quarry operation to register.
Status: Referred to Natural Resources; Passed as substituted 4/16/09, received by House from Senate 4/17/09, reported favorably without amendments 5/14/09

HB 3543 Lucio III – Watershed Protection
Creates Don’t Mess with Texas Water program to prevent illegal dumping that affects the surface waters of this state.
Status: Referred to Natural Resources; Passed as amended 5/05/09, received by Senate from House 5/05/09, referred to Natural Resources 5/06/09, reported favorable without amendment 5/12/09, placed on Local & Uncontested Calendar 5/12/09

HB 2919 King, S. – County Authority
Give counties limited power to regulate land use around military facilities.
Status: Referred to Defense & Veterans’ Affairs; Passed by House 5/14/09 and received by Senate 5/15/09, referred to Senate Veteran Affairs & Military Installments 5/18/09

HB 4299 Rose – Promotion of Rainwater Harvesting
Rainwater harvesting system technology for non-potable indoor use and landscape watering will be incorporated into the design and construction of each new state building with a roof measuring at least 10,000 ft2 that is located in an area of Texas in which the average annual rainfall is at least 28 inches. Each municipality and county is encouraged to promote rainwater harvesting at residential, commercial, and industrial facilities through various incentives. The Texas Water Development Board will hold quarterly training seminars on rainwater harvesting for the members of the permitting staffs of municipalities and counties (mandatory attendance for certain cities and counties). HB 1818 also includes the tax exemption text from HB 225/1816.
Status: Referred to Natural Resources; Committee Substitute for HB 4299 passed by House on 5/14/09 and received by Senate from House on 5/15/09, referred to Senate Natural Resources 5/18/09

SB 338 Van de Putte – Resource Conservation
Requires large grocery stores to offer affordable reusable bags for sale.
Status: Referred to Business & Commerce; Passed as substituted and received by House from Senate on 4/09/09; Referred to House Environmental Regulation 4/16/09

HB 179 Creighton; SB 275 Nichols – Commercial Injection Wells
Calls for suspension of the permitting process for any pending application of underground injection wells until any new rules are adopted.
Status: Both referred to Natural Resources Committee; HB 179 reported favorably as substituted and placed on General State Calendar 5/11/09; SB 275 reported favorably as substituted, passed by Senate on 4/30/09, received by House from Senate on 5/01/09, and reported favorably without amendments 5/14/09

SB 752 Davis, W. – Commercial Injection Wells
Prohibits the Railroad Commission from issuing a permit for an underground injection well if a local government has determined that an area is unsuitable due to its proximity to a water table, and notifies the TCEQ or RRC as applicable.
Status: Referred to Natural Resources Committee; Passed as substituted 4/21/09 and received by House from Senate 4/22/09, referred to House Natural Resources 4/28/09, reported favorably without amendment 5/5/09, House committee report sent to Local & Consent Calendar 5/08/09

HB 300 Isett – Sunset Review for TxDOT
GEAA supports HB 300 in essence. TxDOT has failed to develop a comprehensive approach to addressing the state’s transportation needs that goes beyond dependence on roads as main arteries; take into consideration and address the full environmental and other social impacts of its road projects; and provide for meaningful and effective public involvement in shaping the agency’s decisions. HB 300 as filed will not cure all of TxDOT’s ills, but it is an important start.
Status: Referred to Transportation; Passed with MANY amendments 5/11/09, received by Senate from House and referred to Transportation & Homeland Security 5/12/09, scheduled for Public Hearing on 5/18/09

Bills we do NOT support:

HB 1669 Callegari – Power to grant CCNs
If a municipality refuses to provide service to property located in the municipality’s ETJ, a retail public utility may apply to the commission for a CCN to serve the property. The commission can grant the certificate irrespective of whether the municipality consents to the certification.
Status: Referred to Natural Resources; Passed as substituted and amended 5/14/09, received by Senate from House 5/15/09, referred to Senate Natural Resources 5/18/09

HB 1741 King, T. – Artificial Recharge Compensation Guidelines
Relating to recharge of the Edwards Aquifer. Apolitical subdivision that causes artificial recharge of the aquifer is entitled to withdraw the measured amount of water it recharged, less an amount that accounts for recharge water discharged through springs and water that compensates the authority in lieu of users’ fees. The subdivision is also entitled to compensation by the authority for the cost of operating any facility that causes artificial recharge, regardless of its primary function. This bill, created to achieve a worthy goal: that of funding much needed repairs for the Medina Dam, would result in raising the pumping caps enforced by the Edwards Aquifer Authority by designating recharge credits for the water recharged at the Medina Dam site – not a good idea.
Status: Referred to Natural Resources; Passed as substituted 4/30/09, received by Senate from House 5/01/09, referred to Senate Natural Resources 5/06/09, Public Hearing on 5/12/09, now pending.

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Noche Verde May 14: Benefit for GEAA, BuildSA Green, USGBC & Green Spaces Alliance

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Don’t miss your chance to party and shop to benefit your favorite green causes! Big Grass Bamboo is throwing a fundraiser for us on Thursday, May 14th. They will also donate 10% of all sales made between Thursday, May 14th and Sunday the 17th to us, so you can buy a beautiful rain barrel to save water and support GEAA! Check out the online invitation for more details!

Hope to see you there…

GEAA Staff

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Hays County Greenprint Stakeholder Meeting: Monday, June 1st

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Please save the date for the next Hays County Greenprint Stakeholder meeting:

Monday, June 1st
6:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m.
Dripping Springs ISD Central Administration Building Boardroom
510 West Mercer St, Dripping Springs
Light refreshments will be served

At this final Greenprint Stakeholder meeting, we will finalize the overall conservation priority maps, discuss conservation funding opportunities, and brainstorm next steps for communities to use these maps and other strategies related to parks/open space that were raised at our first two meetings. Your attendance is critical to make sure that the “overlap” map, which will serve as the primary opportunity map for the community going forward, reflects a fair balance of interests and that next steps are practical and strategic.

We will follow up soon with an agenda but in the meantime, please RSVP to dmiller@envisioncentraltexas.org so we know if you will be attending.

Thanks and we look forward to seeing you on June 1st!

Sincerely,

The Central Texas Greenprint for Growth Team – Capital Area Council of Governments, Envision Central Texas and the Trust for Public Land

Contact Information:
Diane Miller
Envision Central Texas
P.O. Box 17848
Austin, Texas 78760
512.916.6037
dmiller@envisioncentraltexas.org

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