84th Texas Legislature Regular Session update, Nov. 17, 2014

As of November 17, 2014, over 500 bills had been prefiled. For reference, in 2013, almost 12,000 bills were introduced during the 83rd Legislature.

One of the more highly anticipated legislative initiatives, which did not pass in the last legislature, is an effort to make sure that revenue from the sporting goods tax is credited in full to the Parks and Wildlife Department and the Texas Historical Commission. Currently, only those funds that are appropriated by the legislature are credited to the two agencies. Several bills have been filed to restore this funding.

Other bills pertain to climate adaptation plan requirements for state agencies, water rights permits, electronics recycling, farmers markets, local produce, raw milk, food deserts, community gardens, transportation-related taxes (including a 1 penny per mile tax for maintenance), jail time for illegal dumping, daylight savings time, renaming the Railroad Commission, and the standard redistricting and eminent domain challenges.

Other bills pertaining to the environment include the following:

Senate Bills

SB 39: Relating to the preference given by state and local governmental entities, including public institutions of higher education, to agricultural products produced or grown in this state.
SB 61: Relating to the allocation and use of revenue derived from certain transportation-related taxes. (No revenue to general fund or foundation school fund.)
SB 71: Relating to the eligibility of land for appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes as recreational, park, or scenic land. (Land must be available for use by the public.)
SB 74: Relating to placing the State Board of Education under periodic review by the Sunset Advisory Commission.
SB 77: Relating to the development of a climate adaptation plan by certain entities.
SB 109: Relating to the procedure for action by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on an application for a water right. (HB 201 is identical.)
SB 118: Relating to unit operations for oil, gas, or oil and gas production from depleting reservoirs or carbon dioxide storage; authorizing a fee.
SB 119: Relating to requiring that members of the governing board of certain metropolitan rapid transit authorities be elected. (Duplicate of HB 169)
SB 127: Relating to the reapportionment of congressional districts and the creation, function, and duties of the Texas Congressional Redistricting Commission.
SB 139: Relating to use of money in the state highway fund.
SB 178: Relating to prohibiting the use of eminent domain to take private property for recreational purposes.
SB 184: Relating to the state highway fund.

Senate Joint Resolutions

SJR 12: Proposing a constitutional amendment prescribing the purposes for which revenue from motor vehicle registration fees, certain motor vehicle-related taxes, and certain revenues received from the federal government may be used. (See HJRs 28 & 29)
SJR 15: Proposing a constitutional amendment prescribing the purposes for which revenue from motor vehicle registration fees, certain motor vehicle-related taxes, and certain revenues received from the federal government may be used.

House Bills

HB 82:     Relating to the allocation of the proceeds from taxes imposed on the sale, storage, or use of sporting goods.
HB 87:     Relating to the collection and recycling of computer and television equipment by certain retailers; providing for the imposition of administrative penalties. (Note: large retailers.)
HB 91:     Relating to the regulation of raw milk and raw milk products.
HB 122: Relating to the Texas Mobility Fund.
HB 129: Relating to the allocation to the state highway fund of revenue from the taxes imposed on the sale, rental, or use of motor vehicles and other taxes imposed on motor vehicles.
HB 132: Relating to prohibiting local governments from interfering with a person’s right to engage in the production of agriculture.
HB 133: Relating to the repeal of the additional ad valorem taxes imposed as a result of certain changes in the use of open-space land appraised as agricultural land.
HB 150: Relating to daylight saving time.
HB 151: Relating to authorizing a credit representing motor fuels taxes against, and imposing, a mileage tax and to the use of revenue from that tax; providing penalties. (Starts with a penny a mile based on title transfer and annual vehicle inspections.)
HB 163: Relating to interstate cooperation to address regional water issues.
HB 169: Relating to requiring that members of the governing board of certain metropolitan rapid transit authorities be elected.HB 190: Relating to the regulatory analysis of rules proposed by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.HB 201: Relating to the procedure for action by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality on an application for a water right.
HB 202: Relating to the allocation of certain motor vehicle sales, use, and rental tax revenue to the state highway fund and to the uses of that revenue.
HB 203: Relating to the allocation of revenue derived from the taxes imposed on the sale, storage, or use of new and used motor vehicle tires and parts to the state highway fund and to the uses of that revenue.
HB 224: Relating to the name and governance of the Railroad Commission of Texas. (Changing it to the Texas Energy Resources Commission)
HB 251: Relating to a study and report on the feasibility of authorizing the Railroad Commission of Texas or another state regulatory agency to process certain federal oil and gas drilling permit applications.
HB 259: Relating to forfeiture of property used in the commission of certain littering offenses.
HB 262: Relating to liability of an owner, lessee, or occupant of land that allows land to be used as a community garden.
HB 269: Relating to the establishment of a community development grocery store and healthy corner store revolving loan fund program. (Food Deserts)
HB 273: Relating to the minimum term of confinement for an offense of illegal dumping in a municipality.
HB 276: Relating to the eligibility of land owned by certain members of the armed services of the United States for appraisal for ad valorem tax purposes as qualified open-space land.
HB 280: Relating to the information required to be posted by the Texas Water Development Board on the board’s Internet website regarding the use of the state water implementation fund for Texas.
HB 281: Relating to a limitation on the expansion of certain landfills. (public comment opportunity for neighboring municipailities)
HB 302: Relating to the creation of a certificate program to promote tourism to and travel throughout this state; authorizing fees. (This would allow non-Texans who visit enough regions and loactions in the state to be issued a certificate declaring the individual as an “Honoroary Texan.”
HB 317: Relating to the creation of county databases containing information on county expenditures.

House Concurrent Resolutions

HCR 29: Declaring that presidential executive orders cannot interfere with states’ rights.

Houston Join Resolutions

HJR 28: Proposing a constitutional amendment prescribing the purposes for which revenue from motor vehicle registration fees, certain motor vehicle-related taxes, and certain revenues received from the federal government may be used. (Duplicates: HJR 29, SJR 12)
HJR 29: Proposing a constitutional amendment prescribing the purposes for which revenue from motor vehicle registration fees, certain motor vehicle-related taxes, and certain revenues received from the federal government may be used.
HJR 33: Proposing a constitutional amendment relating to the appropriation of the net revenue received from the imposition of the state sales and use tax on sporting goods. (See also HJR 39)
HJR 36: Proposing a constitutional amendment to limit the purposes for which revenues from motor vehicle registration fees, taxes on motor fuels and lubricants, and certain revenues received from the federal government may be used.
HJR 39: Proposing a constitutional amendment relating to the appropriation of the net revenue received from the imposition of the state sales and use tax on sporting goods. (See also HJR 33)

Environmental Headlines for the Houston Region: November 18, 2014

Featured

  1. U.S. and China Reach Agreement on Climate After Months of Talks
    China and the United States made common cause on Wednesday against the threat of climate change, staking out an ambitious joint plan to curb carbon emissions as a way to spur nations around the world to make their own cuts in greenhouse gases.The landmark agreement, jointly announced here by President Obama and President Xi Jinping, includes new targets for carbon emissions reductions by the United States and a first-ever commitment by China to stop its emissions from growing by 2030.
    www.nytimes.com
  2. In Houston, better air isn’t good air (Adrian Shelley – Trib Talk, 11/6/2014)
    Here’s the good news: Air quality in Houston is improving. 2014 will be the best ozone season in Houston since our city claimed the title of worst air in the nation nearly 20 years ago… But recent improvements in air quality shouldn’t overshadow the work that still needs to be done. The oil and gas industry is using a good ozone season to tout a problematic message: There are no more air pollution problems in Houston, so we should all stop worrying about it.
    http://tribtalk.org
  3. What New Master Plan Means For Houston’s Memorial Park Trails (Dave Fehling – Houston Public Media, 11/11/2014)
    A huge makeover is in the works for Houston’s Memorial Park. But bikers and runners who venture into its dense forest to use a network of remote trails worry what the changes will mean. The park on Houston’s west side covers 1,500 acres and is cut in half by busy Memorial Drive. The majority of park users are on the north side running, golfing, playing tennis or swimming. The south side is — in more ways than one — the wild side. It’s a dense forest criss-crossed by miles of dirt trails.
    www.houstonpublicmedia.org
  4. Settlements reached in Texas river pollution case (Beaumont Enterprise, 11/14/2014)
    Two of three businesses targeted by Harris County prosecutors in a lawsuit over polluting the San Jacinto River with poisonous paper-mill waste have agreed to pay $29 million to the county and state. The county on Thursday resolved its claims against McGinnes Industrial Maintenance Corp. and Houston-based Waste Management Inc… Prosecutors have argued the businesses were responsible for the release of carcinogenic chemicals from three paper-mill disposal pits near the river between 1973 and 2008.
    www.beaumontenterprise.com

EcoNotes

  • 14 November
  • 13 November
    • Settlements, split verdict yield murky result in waste pit case (Matthew Tresaugue – Houston Chronicle)
      www.houstonchronicle.com
    • A Green paradise: Memorial Park’s $100 million makeover promises to be a dream for bikers and walkers (Barbara Kuntz – CultureMap Houston)
      http://houston.culturemap.com
    • Texas State Parks Finally Flaunting Their Fall Foliage (Texas Parks & Wildlife)
      www.tpwd.state.tx.us
    • NOAA Fisheries Reopens the Public Comment Period on the Proposed Rule for the Aquaculture Plan for Federal Waters of the Gulf of Mexico (Southeast Fishery Bulletin)
      http://sero.nmfs.noaa.gov
  • 12 November
  • 11 November
  • 10 November
    • Oceanic dead-zones are only getting worse with warming (James Maynard – Tech Times)
      www.techtimes.com
    • Will Prop 1 Money Help Ease Houston’s Freeway Congestion? (Gail Delaughter – Houston Public Media)
      www.houstonpublicmedia.org
    • Dead zones are coming for your rivers, lakes, and oceans (Liz Core – Grist)
      http://grist.org
    • Will Big, New Power Line Make Electricity Cheaper in Houston? (Dave Fehling – Houston Public Media)
      www.houstonpublicmedia.org
    • Fracking Has Amazing Benefits. So Why Did This Texas Town Just Ban It? (The Daily Signal)
      http://dailysignal.com
    • Dobie Aquatic Science class joins Galveston Bay Foundation program (The Pasadena Citizen)
      www.yourhoustonnews.com
    • What’s more likely to kill you: A car crash or vehicle emissions? (Eric Jaffe – Grist)
      http://grist.org
    • Texas official ignores voters’ ban on fracking (Sara Bernard – Grist)
      http://grist.org
  • 9 November
    • How to protect our city against storms? First, make it lovable. (John S. Jacob, special to the Houston Chronicle – Houston Chronicle)
      www.houstonchronicle.com
  • 8 November
  • 7 November
  • 6 November
    • Water Project Funds Ready to Flow — Almost (Neena Satija – The Texas Tribune)
      www.texastribune.org
    • In Houston, better air isn’t good air (Adrian Shelley – Trib Talk)
      http://tribtalk.org
    • Which Houston Area Roads Will Be Repaired Next? (Steve Champion)
      http://abc13.com
  • 4 November
    • Editorial: Respect the trees (Houston Chronicle)
      www.chron.com
    • Cy-Fair chamber forum focuses on mobility funding issues (Bryan Kirk – Houston Chronicle)
      www.chron.com
  • 3 November