News

Texas House should move bill to test lead levels in school water

May 9th, 2017

http://www.star-telegram.com/opinion/opn-columns-blogs/other-voices/article148478794.html

Texas House should move bill to test lead levels in school water
BY ELIZABETH DOYEL
Special to the Star-Telegram

In 2014, the city of Flint, Mich., switched its water source to the Flint River, leading to a massive public health crisis owing to increased levels of lead in the blood of children.

Two years later and 1,200 miles away, school administrators in the Fort Worth Independent School District discovered high levels of lead in many of their schools after voluntary testing of water from drinking fountains.

Wanting to avoid a crisis like the one in Flint, state Rep. Nicole Collier, D-Fort Worth, began to craft legislation similar to a bill that passed in New York last year — one that brought to light that 14 percent of schools in that state had high levels of lead in their water.

Last week, Collier’s bill passed unanimously out of the House Public Education Committee. House Bill 2395 aims to address the problem of safe drinking water for schoolchildren across Texas.

The bill has made significant progress, but time is growing short for it to be considered by the House and moved on to the Senate for passage.

The current legislative session ends May 29.

The House Calendars Committee must set a schedule so that HB 2395 can be debated on the floor of the House no later than next Thursday, or it will miss crucial end-of-session deadlines.

The bill provides for testing for levels of lead in Texas’ 1,200 school districts and offers concrete guidance to districts on how to respond if their tests come back positive.

It also includes a modest allocation in the House budget to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to create a database and hire staff for implementation of the testing program.

We know exposure to high levels of lead can alter brain development and delay growth in children, who are more vulnerable to lead poisoning than adults.

High levels of lead also interferes with children’s ability to use vitamin D and iron, and it increases their chances of developing high blood pressure as adults.

We know even low levels of lead can cause irreversible harm to our children.

Yet few school districts are voluntarily testing for lead contamination, because they lack the money or other necessary resources.

Texas has no uniform standards or requirements for how water in public schools is tested for lead.

Research using data from the Environmental Protection Agency last year found roughly 2,000 water systems supplying water to 6 million people across the country contain excessive levels of lead.

But how can we protect our children if we don’t know which ones are at risk? How do we fix a problem if we don’t know where it lies?

Without a statewide database and mandatory testing, we have no idea which of our schools and districts are at risk.

HB 2395 will provide information we currently lack, so we can address our most worrisome areas before we reach public health crisis levels.

Critics of this bill say we should rip out all our old pipes and start over.

That’s a pipe dream, literally, given the current restraints on our school budgets.

We do know a large portion of our schools were built before 1986, when the federal government banned pipes containing more than 8 percent lead.

Under HB 2395, we will be able to collect crucial data and, if necessary, return to the Legislature next session to ask for additional funding if extensive remediation is necessary in our schools.

Our Legislature can learn from the Flint crisis and prevent potentially life-threatening health risks.

Passing this bill is a sign that we acknowledge the potential threats, and that we are invested in solutions that keep our children safe.

Elizabeth Doyel is executive director of the Texas League of Conservation Voters.

Lawmakers Should Keep Promise on Parks Funding

April 27th, 2017

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2017
Contact: Laura Hoke, 512-689-7393

TLCV: Lawmakers Should Keep Promises on Parks Funding

Austin, Texas – The Texas League of Conservation Voters is united with other conservation groups in calling for full appropriation of the sporting goods sales tax to state and local parks under a bill passed in the 2015 legislative session, the group said today.

The Texas House and Senate budget bills currently leave the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department with a $100 million shortfall under current tax code, which appropriates 94 percent of the sporting goods sales tax to parks.

“This is a big blow to Texans,” said TLCV Executive Director Elizabeth Doyel. “Parks improve our health and our lives—right down to the air we breathe. Texans rely on our parks for outdoor recreation, and cities rely on them for revenue from tourism. Cutting hours, maintenance, and service due to lack of funding ultimately harms us all.”

Doyel said she and other advocates are disappointed the Legislature has failed to fully appropriate funds that are already designated for parks.

“Two years ago, the Legislature dedicated a significant percentage of the sporting good sales tax for state and local parks. Two years later, we are trying to understand why this is no longer a priority,” she added. “Our state’s population continues to grow, the number of visitors to our parks is growing, and our outdoor spaces are more vital than ever.”
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Lawmakers consider requiring Texas schools to test water for lead

April 26th, 2017

http://www.khou.com/news/politics/lawmakers-consider-requiring-texas-schools-to-test-water-for-lead/433911653

Should schools have to test water for lead?

April 16th, 2017

https://www.victoriaadvocate.com/news/2017/apr/16/should-schools-be-required-to-test-their-drinking-/

Lawmakers consider requiring Texas schools to test water for lead

April 4th, 2017

https://www.texastribune.org/2017/04/04/proponents-divided-support-school-water-testing-bill/

TLCV 85th Legislative Session Bill Priorities

March 16th, 2017

Texas League of Conservation Voters 85th Legislative Session Bill Priorities

Supporting:

HB 2395 Nicole Collier

School Drinking Water

This bill is relating to testing for lead contamination in public school and charter school drinking water. This is a top priority for the Texas League of Conservation Voters.

HB 78 Ryan Guillen

Parks Funding

This bill relates to credits to certain accounts of the Parks and Wildlife Department resulting from the allocation of the proceeds from taxes imposed on the sale, storage, or use of sporting goods. Last session we almost got this taken care of and this session we will! This bill is also supported by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

SB 965 Judith Zaffirini

San Marcos Park and Recreation District

Relating to the creation and operation of a park and recreation district in counties that share a border on the San Marcos River and to the authority of the district to collect fees and issue bonds

HB 489 Mary Gonzalez

Tire Dumping

This bill is related to the creation of a waste tire dumping enforcement grant program for the state of Texas. This program will be funded through a fee on the seller of each new or used tire.

HB 51 Ryan Guillen

Commercial Oyster Boats

This bill is relating to the management of commercial oyster boats in this state. This is a bill also supported by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

HB 1927 Eddie Rodriguez

Toxic Air Alerts

This bill is relating to an alert system for notification of the release of toxic chemicals by a manufacturing facility. It would basically create alerts using the current amber alert system on during the release of chemicals into the air.

HB 2799 Jessica Farrar

Online Permits

This bill is relating to a requirement to make certain environmental and water use permit applications available online.

SB 746 Lois Kolkhorst

Sludge Disposal

This bill is relating to a prohibition of the land application of grit or grease trap waste. Texas Campaign for the Environment has worked hard on this issue and we are supporting their work.

HB 143 Celia Israel

Online Voter Registration

This bill relates to allowing online voter registration in Texas. This bill states that the Secretary of State will implement a program that makes it possible for a person to complete a voter registration application over the internet.

HJR 118 Victoria Neave

Redistricting

Proposing a constitutional amendment establishing the Texas Redistricting Commission to redistrict the Texas Legislature and Texas congressional districts and revising procedures for redistricting.

 

Opposing:

SB 103 Bob Hall

Bag Ban/Local Control

This bill relates to the provision of bags to costumers of a business at the point of sale. This bill is a “bag ban” essentially prohibiting all municipalities from designing an ordinance or regulation that would impose a fee or ask that a certain kind of bag be utilized at a retail or business environment.

SB 71 Judith Zaffirini

Bed and Banks Transfer

This bill relates to the transfer of certain state real properties to the City of San Marcos. It would allow the transfer of land owned by Texas including the bed and along the banks of the San Marcos River to the City of San Marcos for development.

HB 420 James White

Evidence in Criminal Case

This bill is relating to the admissibility of certain evidence relating to climate change or global warming in certain criminal cases. Evidence relating to the defendant ’s theories, beliefs, or statements on climate change or global warming, including causes of climate change or global warming, is not admissible as proof of an element of an offense.

SB 300 Van Taylor

Railroad Commission Sunset for 12 years

This bill is an identical Railroad Commission Sunset bill that was filed by Sunset Chair Larry Gonzales that will continuing agency but the difference is this bill includes a continuation for 12 years of the Railroad Commission versus the 6 years recommended by the Sunset Review.

SB 1045 Craig Estes

Public Notice for Air Permitting

This bill is relating to the consolidation of public notice requirements for certain air quality permit applications. It cuts out the public participation and limits the rights of affected people.

SB 1628 Craig Estes

Contested Case Hearings

This bill is relating to the replacement of contested case hearings for certain environmental permits with a petition for administrative review.

HB 2533 Charlie Geren

TCEQ Civil Suits

Relating to civil suits brought by local governments or certain other persons for violations of certain laws under the jurisdiction of, or rules adopted or orders or permits issued by, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. 

HB 3811 JM Lozano

Anti Citizen’s Right to Speech

This bill is relating to limit the protections of the statue only to speech in governmental settings. It will also limit the protections of any SLAPP motion.

HB 3028 Dewayne Burns

Groundwater Ownership

This bill relates to the ownership and rights of groundwater.

SB 782 Donna Campbell

Tree Ordinances-Local Control

(and companion HB 2535 Bill Zedler)

Both of these bills are relating to the ownership and local regulation of trees and timber.

 

 

TLCV Supports Bill that Test Lead in Texas Public School Water

February 28th, 2017

TLCV Supports Bill to Test for Lead in Texas Public School Water

AUSTIN – The Texas League of Conservation Voters (TLCV) applauds legislation filed last week to protect communities across the state affected by high levels of lead in our public school drinking water.

House Bill 2395  author Rep. Nicole Collier of Fort Worth said she filed the legislation in response to high levels of lead discovered in many FWISD schools last year.

When Fort Worth tested its 127 schools in 2016, it discovered high levels of lead in about 500 drinking fountains, as well as a smaller number of water lines. Nearly all have been replaced; as of mid-November, roughly 31 schools were waiting for water fountains or lines to be permanently replaced.

Texas currently has no uniform standards or requirements for how water in public schools is tested for lead.

“With simple changes, the state could craft standards to protect millions of Texas children from potentially life-threatening health risks,” said Elizabeth Doyel, executive director for TLCV. “We have the power to prevent harm, and we applaud Rep. Collier’s leadership on this issue.”

While other school districts like Plano and Houston are currently testing or planning to test for lead, testing is voluntary. Without legislation in place, many school districts could fall through the cracks.

“We must ensure all kids have access to safe, drinkable water,” Doyel added. “We don’t want Lubbock, Fort Worth, El Paso, Houston or Brownsville to be the next Flint, Michigan.”

Earlier this year, Illinois passed a law requiring testing in schools built before 2000 and that have students up to the fifth grade. New York passed a law last year requiring testing in all public schools, and last week released statewide test results indicating high levels of lead exist in 14 percent of all public schools in the state.

http://northdallasgazette.com/2017/02/27/tlcv-supports-bill-test-lead-texas-public-school-water/

Join Us for Green Tie 2017

February 28th, 2017

TLCV’s 5th Annual Green Tie Event on November 19th

October 20th, 2015

Honorary Host Committee
Congressman Lloyd Doggett
Judge Sarah Eckhardt
State Senator Kirk Watson

Sponsorships
$250-$2,500

Tickets
$25

TLCV is the non-partisan voice of the conservation community, and thus we occupy a key role in Texas, encouraging smart, effective leadership that pushes policies which protect our air, water, and other critical resources. We view building relationships with companies and individuals that create green jobs and are good stewards of the environment as key to the success of our work.

This year we are excited to be introducing the Bob Armstrong Conservation Award for outstanding conservation work in Texas. We are proud to honor State Representative Donna Howard as the inaugural recipient.  Please join the honorary host committee and TLCV for drinks, hors d’oeuvres, and a celebration of conservation in Texas!

Purchase your individual tickets or sponsorship here!

Please contact Ashley Cooper at 512-477-4424 or acooper@tlcv.org for further information.

TLCV Announces New Executive Director

September 22nd, 2015

It is with great excitement, The Texas League of Conservation Voters Board of Directors announces Elizabeth Doyel as the new Executive Director.

After an extensive summer-long search, Elizabeth comes to TLCV from her job as Development Director at Annie’s List, with over fifteen years of political and nonprofit fundraising experience. We are thrilled to have her on board to lead this organization to greater heights in electing pro-conservation officials and passing pro-conservation legislation here in Texas.

A native of Arkansas, Elizabeth’s career has spanned the nonprofit and political sectors. She has served on Gubernatorial, Congressional and Senatorial campaigns across the country, fund-raised for pro-women legislation and is actively involved in community efforts for the arts and animal rights

Elizabeth takes over for David Weinberg who led the organization for the last six years. We are thankful to David for his service to the league and for his efforts on clean air, clean water, and open spaces in Texas.  We look forward to building upon his good work and creating a new chapter at TLCV with Elizabeth.

So please, join me and my fellow Board Members in welcoming Elizabeth to the organization. Our work here in Texas cannot be done without you, so reach out to us at info@tlcv.org with your ideas, questions or concerns.  On behalf of the Board of Directors, we look forward to this new stage for TLCV and to the significant work we will do together in the coming years.  

Sincerely,

Thomas Kelly
Board Chair
Texas League of Conservation Voters

 

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