Top Billing

November 13th, 2008

Legislators started filing bills in the House and Senate for the 81st Texas Legislature on Tuesday. Though the session doesn’t begin until January, more than 400 bills have already been filed. While by no means comprehensive, the League’s review of bills filed finds several dealing with environmental and conservation issues. Here is a selection:

Repeal authority to create the harmful Trans Texas Corridor (HB 11 by Rep. Leibowitz).

Make it illegal for homeowners associations to prohibit homeowners from installing solar panels (HB 25 by Rep. Leibowitz and SB 236 by Sen. West)

Make it harder for water authorities to limit the transfer of water outside of a water district when issuing a permit for a well (HB 43 by Rep. Corte).

Exempting counties from paying the diesel fuel tax (HB 64 by Rep. Aycock)

Restricting the places where injection wells may be drilled and other restrictions on injection wells (HB 178 and HB 179 by Rep. Creighton and SB 273, SB 274 and SB 275 by Sen. Nichols).

Proposing an amendment to the Texas Constitution dedicating a portion of gasoline and motor vehicle fuel tax revenue to highway construction (HJR 13 by Rep. Leibowitz).

Amending the Texas Constitution to create a right to hunt and to fish (HJR 20 by Rep. Anderson).

Creating a green job skills training program (SB 108 by Sen. Ellis).

Relating TCEQ’s creation of a low emission vehicles program (SB 119 by Sen. Ellis)

Creating higher permitting requirements for polluting facilities that are located in poor or minority neighborhoods (SB 124 by Sen. Ellis).

A moratorium on coal-fired power plant permits (SB 126 by Sen. Ellis).

Exemption from sales tax for some renewable energy devises (SB 130 by Sen. Ellis).

Letting hybrid vehicles drive in HOV lanes even with only one person in the car (SB 132 by Sen. Ellis).

Sales tax exemption for certain energy-efficient products (SB 133 and SB 134 by Sen. Ellis).

A cap-and-trade program for reducing greenhouse gas emissions (SB 136 by Sen. Ellis).

Related to emissions standards for air pollution under the Texas Clean Air Act (SB 171 by Sen. Gallegos).

Reducing to air emissions and the reporting of emissions (SB 173 and SB 176 by Sen. Gallegos).

Relating to “no regrets” greenhouse gas emission reduction strategies (SB 184 by Sen. Watson).

Creating the Texas Partnership for Children in Nature (SB 205 by Sen. Shapleigh).

Requiring utility companies to meet energy efficiency requirements before increasing utility bills (SB 211 by Sen. Shapleigh).

Prohibiting the use of eminent domain to take private property for recreational purposes (SB 219 by Sen. Nichols).

Relating to restrictions on the location and operation of concrete crushing facilities (SB 259 by Sen. Ellis).

Proposing a constitutional amendment relating to the dedication of the revenue received from the sporting goods sales tax to TPWD and Texas Historical Commission (SJR 6 by Sen. Ellis).

Already, certain themes are emerging from the bills that have been filed:

Attempting to improve air quality

Providing incentives for energy efficient products

There’s a lot more to come – generally about 6,000 bills are introduced during the legislative session; only about 1/5 of those are ever going to come close to becoming the law of the land. The League will keep an eye on bills filed; we’ll support pro-conservation bills and oppose anti-conservation bills.