Approximately two-thirds of this legislative session has expired. The maximum length for a legislative session in Texas is 140 days starting on the second Tuesday in January. We are 96 days into this session. So where do we stand on key pieces of legislation related to sand mining and other flood mitigation? A quick update.
Proposed Legislation in House
HB13 Creates a flood infrastructure fund of $3.26 billion taken from the Economic Stabilization (Rainy Day) fund for flood planning, mitigation, and infrastructure projects. (Comparable to SB7 below but with some differences.) This bill finally passed the House on April 11 and was sent to the Senate on the same day.
HB509 Allows Texas Railroad Commission to regulate APOs with TCEQ. Requires: hydrologic impact study, public notice, public hearings, and provides fines up to $10,000 and 1-year in jail for false statements. The Energy Resources Committee held a public hearing on April 8. Opponents says six of 11 members on the committee oppose the bill. It is still pending in committee. They could act on it as early as April 15. If you haven’t sent in your letters let, time is running out on this one.
HB 907 Doubles the penalties for not registering a sand mining operation. New penalties can range from $10,000 to $20,000 per year with the total not to exceed $50,000. Scheduled for a public hearing on Wednesday, April 17.
HB 908 Provides for penalties up to $50,000 for water code violations and every-other-year inspections. Has been sitting in the Environmental Regulation Committee since February 25. No hearings scheduled yet.
HB 909 Calls for the TCEQ to adopt and publish best management practices for sand mines (aggregate production operations) that comply with applicable environmental laws and regulations. Has been sitting in the Environmental Regulation Committee since February 25. No hearings scheduled yet.
HB 911. Creates a Lake Houston Watershed Commission: Purpose: to provide the public with streamlined communication and cooperation in flood control planning. Public hearing held on March 19 and has been pending in the Natural Resources Committee ever since.
HB 1671. Extends water quality protections to the West Fork of the San Jacinto currently enjoyed by the John Graves District on the Brazos as part of a pilot program. Attaches penalties for non-compliance with best practices defined under HB909. Has been sitting in the Environmental Regulation Committee since February 25. No hearings scheduled yet.
HB 2871. Would require sand mines and other aggregate production operations to acquire a reclamation permit and to file a performance bond ensuring reclamation. Significantly, they would have to do both of these things before they could acquire a production permit. It also attaches civil and criminal penalties for non-compliance. The Energy Resources Committee also held a public hearing on this bill on April 8. Six of 11 members reportedly oppose the bill. It is still pending in committee. They could act on this one, too, as early as April 15. If you haven’t sent in your letters yet, act now.
Proposed Legislation In Senate
SB 7. Creates a dedicated Texas Infrastructure Fund for flood control planning and the funding of flood planning, mitigation, and infrastructure projects. Passed by the Senate and referred to House Natural Resources Committee on March 28. No action since then.
SB500. An appropriations bill that includes funding for SB7 and an amendment that would dedicate $30 million for dredging of the West Fork Mouth Bar in Lake Houston. Passed by both houses and heading for a conference committee to iron out slight differences in amendments.
SB2123. Companion bill identical to HB907. No action since referral to Natural Resources and Economic Development committee on March 21.
SB2124. Companion bill, identical to HB909. No action since referral to Natural Resources and Economic Development committee on March 21.
SB2125. Companion bill, identical to HB908. No action since referral to Natural Resources and Economic Development committee on March 21.
SB2126. Would allow conservation districts to dredge rivers without a permit to restore conveyance if they place the spoils on private land. No action since referral to Natural Resources and Economic Development committee on March 21.
42 Days Left
With only 42 days left before the end of the session, the chances for flood mitigation legislation look hopeful. However the chances for sand mining regulation look doubtful. Near the end of the third quarter, TACA and the status quo are up 10-0 over Citizens.
In exactly six weeks, the clock will run out and it will be two more years for resident’s next shot at sand mining regulation. Stay tuned.
Posted by Bob Rehak on April 13, 2019
592 Days since Hurricane Harvey