2021 Report Card on Texas Flood-Issue Legislation To Date

With the Texas legislature days away from adjournment, it’s time to see how flood-related legislation fared. Out of the 20 bills listed below, one has a chance of turning into law.

Still Has a Chance

HB 531 – Floodplain Disclosure

This bill by Armando Walle of Houston relates to floodplain disclosure for leased dwellings. It has passed both the House and Senate and is awaiting the Governor’s signature. Several pieces of similar legislation did not fare as well. See below.

Better Luck Next Session!

HB 2525 – Lake Houston Dredging District

Dan Huberty’s proposed legislation to establish a Lake Houston Dredging and Maintenance District passed the house. But the it’s sitting in the Local Government Committee in the senate chaired by Senator Paul Bettencourt. So is the identical companion bill filed by Senator Brandon Creighton SB 1982. It’s been sitting in the same committee since April 8. Someone doesn’t want this to see the light of day. A group called WaterUsersCoalition.org is desperately trying to kill both bills with misinformation. The web site characterizes the bill as one that only benefits Kingwood and Atascocita drainage. It would have certainly done that, but it would also have helped maintain and restore the capacity of Lake Houston. The website also says it would be funded by taxes which the bill(s) explicitly prohibit. And implies that increasing lake capacity would somehow hamper the conversion from groundwater to surface water.

HB 4478 – Sand Mine Reclamation

Another bill by Huberty was referred to the House Natural Resources committee on 3/29. Nothing has happened to it since. The bill would have required two things: reclamation of sand mines at the end of mining and a performance bond to ensure they met certain criteria, such as the removal of all equipment. Died in committee.

Abandoned dredge at abandoned Texas Concrete Sand and Gravel mine in Plum Grove. The TCEQ has deemed this mine reclaimed; it’s now off their radar.
HB 767 – Sand Mining Best Practices

Yet another piece of legislation by Huberty – would have established best management practices for sand mines. The House Environmental Regulation Committee left the bill pending in committee, just as they did in the 2019 legislative session. TACA wins again. We’ll have to live with worst practices for at least another two years.

HB 4341 – Sand Mine Regulatory Responsibility

This bill By Kyle Beiderman of Fredericksburg – was sent to the House Environmental Regulation Committee on 3/29. They didn’t even hold a hearing on it. The bill would have transferred responsibility for regulating sand mines from the TCEQ to the Railroad Commission of Texas.

HB 2422 – Sand Mine Locations

A piece of proposed legislation by Erin Zwiener of Kyle, Tx. would have allowed County Commissioners (in counties with populations greater than 500,000) to prohibit sand mining or the expansion of sand mines when they are too close to homes, hospitals, churches and certain other facilities. The Environmental Regulation Committee has bottled that bill up since 3/16. TACA wins again.

HB 1912 – Sand Mine Nuisances

Proposed legislation by Terry Wilson of Georgetown would have stiffened regulations relating to nuisances associated with aggregate production operations such as blasting, noise, air quality and more. The Environmental Regulation Committee has left it pending since 4/19. TACA wins again.

HB 3116 – SJRA Board Appointments

Will Metcalf of Conroe introduced two bills to change the composition of the San Jacinto River Authority Board. This one, the first, would have reduced the number of directors on the SJRA board from 7 to 6 and changed the way they are appointed. The change would have guaranteed a majority of directors from Montgomery County. The House referred the bill to its Natural Resources Committee on 3/19. Nothing has happened to it since then.

HB 4575 – SJRA Board Elections

The second Metcalf bill would have made the SJRA board elected, rather than appointed by the government. But there was a hitch. It would have denied representation to downstream residents. Hasn’t gone anywhere since April 8.

SB 314 – Disclosure of Flood Zones for Leased Property

This piece of legislation by Joan Huffman of Houston got referred to the Business and Commerce committee on 3/9. Nothing has happened since. The bill would have mandated disclosure of flood risk for leased property in a flood zone. A similar bill passed in the last session for property for sale. However, the Committee has taken no action on the leasing bill since 3/9.

HB 1059 – Disclosure of Flood Zones on Vacant Land for Sale

Another flood plain disclosure bill by Phil Stephenson of Rosenberg would have required sellers of vacant lots smaller than 15 acres to disclose whether any portion of the lot was in a flood plain. The bill would also have let buyers recover damages if the property flooded within five years and the seller failed to disclose the flood plain. This bill made it out of the Business and Industry Committee. However, the Calendar Committee never brought it up for a vote on the House floor since 4/15. It’s companion bill in the Senate – SB 461 by Kolkhorst – also stalled.

HB 1956 – Climate Change Planning

Michelle Beckley of Carrollton introduced legislation that would have required certain state agencies to consider the impact of climate changes in their strategic plans. It got referred to the State Affairs Committee on 3/15. Ba Dump. Same for similar bills like HB 1949, SB306, HB 2017, HB 3246, and HB4178.

HB 655 – Feasibility Study for Statewide Disaster Alert System

This bill Richard Raymond of Laredo called for studying the feasibility, efficiency and benefits of setting up a statewide disaster alert system. It went to the Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee on 3/1. No action since.

SB 859 – Continuation of Electronic Meetings after COVID for Regional Flood Planning Groups

A common-sense bill by Charles Perry of Lubbock would have let Regional Flood Planning Groups continue to hold meetings via telephone conference call and videoconference after emergency COVID restrictions expire. The rationale: these groups are staffed by volunteers, many of whom have to drive across several counties to get to meetings. That can take all day in West Texas. It was voted out of the Senate Business and Commerce Committee before it ran out of gas. A companion bill, HB 2103, passed the House, but also stalled in the Senate.

Seems like a lot of good ideas were left on the table.

Posted by Bob Rehak on 5/24/2021 based on research by John Barr

1364 Days after Hurricane Harvey

The thoughts expressed in this post represent opinions on matters of public concern and safety. They are protected by the First Amendment of the US Constitution and the Anti-SLAPP Statute of the Great State of Texas.