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Legislative Update

Transportation and air quality in the North Central Texas region are impacted by legislative decisions at the State and federal levels.

NCTCOG staff regularly update policy and technical committee members, transportation partners and others interested in monitoring legislative initiatives related to the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) legislative priorities.

Below is a summary of recent legislative news and action.
 

FRIDAY, AUGUST 18, 2017

From Washington, D.C. | From Austin, Texas | Highlighted Bills | Monitored Bills | Hearings

President Trump signed a new executive order intended to make the federal permitting process more efficient for construction of transportation, water and other infrastructure projects. Under the order, agencies must complete environmental reviews of projects within two years on average and there must be active collaboration among multiple agencies in order to overcome organization barriers.  Each major infrastructure project have a lead federal agency that will be responsible for navigating the project through the federal environmental review and authorization process. Projects will be processed as "one federal decision" with a comprehensive schedule, and automatic notice to senior agency officials upon missing or extending a permitting schedule milestone.

 

Congress is on recess until after Labor Day. When they return, FY2018 Appropriations and FAA reauthorization will have to be addressed (or pass another extension). The administration announced that it plans to pursue a tax reform plan in Congress this fall, then focus on the infrastructure investment plan.


FROM AUSTIN, TEXAS
The Special Session of the 85th Texas Legislature abruptly came to a close one day earlier than expected on Tuesday night. The House decided not to compromise on a pending property tax bill and adjourned. The legislature did approve about half of the bills on the Governor’s priority list including the only “must pass” issue, which was extending the sunset date of certain state agencies. In addition to the sunset legislation, a tree ordinance bill and annexation bill were approved, which many cities and counties were interested in.

MONITORED BILLS LIST

The Texas Legislature bill list shows all bills being tracked for the 85th legislative session. The US Congress bill list shows only bills with action since the last legislative update. If you need information on all the bills being tracked, please contact Rebekah Hernandez.

 


 

HIGHLIGHTED BILLS IN THE TEXAS LEGISLATURE

HB 7 amends current law relating to municipal regulation of the removal of trees or vegetation on private property.

  • A city may not require a person to pay a tree mitigation fee for a removed tree if the tree is 1) located on an existing one- or two-family dwelling that is the person’s residence, and 2) is less than 10 inches in diameter at the trunk 4.5 feet above the ground.
  • A city that imposes a tree mitigation fee for tree removal must allow the person to apply for a credit for tree planting.
  • To qualify for the credit the tree must be 1) planted on the property, 2) mutually agreed upon by the city and person, 3) be at least two inches in diameter at the trunk 4.5 feet above the ground.
  • The amount of the tree mitigation credit is detailed in the bill.
  • The bill allows the landowners and city to consult with academic organizations, state agencies, and non-profits to determine the best place for replacement trees.
  • The bill does not apply to property within five miles of a military base in active use as of December 1, 2017.
  • The bill takes effect December 1, 2017.

 

SB 6 amends the Local Government Code to add subchapters regulating the annexation authority and procedures of certain municipalities. The bill creates a tiered system defined by population for the purpose of regulating these annexations.

  • The bill defines "tier 1 county" as a county with a population of less than 500,000, "tier 2 county" as a county that is not a tier 1 county, "tier 1 municipality" as a municipality wholly located in one or more tier 1 counties that proposes to annex an area wholly located in one or more tier 1 counties, and "tier 2 municipality" as a municipality wholly or partly located in a tier 2 county or wholly located in one or more tier 1 counties that proposes to annex an area wholly or partly located in a tier 2 county. Kaufman County is not included as a tier 1 county because it has “Texas Parks and Wildlife Department Freshwater Fisheries, which is an exception in the bill.
  • A tier 2 municipality is authorized to annex an area with a population of 200 or more only if the following conditions are met, as applicable: (a) the city holds an election in the area proposed to be annexed at which the qualified voters of the area may vote on the question of the annexation and a majority of the votes received at the election approve the annexation; and (b) if the registered voters of the area do not own more than 50 percent of the land in the area, the city obtains consent to annex the area through a petition signed by more than 50 percent of the owners of land in the area.
  • A tier 2 municipality may annex an area with a population of less than 200 only if the city obtains consent to annex the area through a petition signed by more than 50 percent of the registered voters of the area, or if the voters don’t own more than 50 percent of the land in the area, the petition must be signed by the owners of more than 50 percent of the land in the area.
  • A city may annex any part of the area located within five miles of a military base, but the annexation proposition must either allow the voters of the area to choose between either annexation or providing the city with the authority to adopt and enforce an ordinance regulating the land as recommended by the most recent joint land use study.
  • Additional sections of the bill amend currently statute related to waste services or detail the procedures for annexation of certain areas.
  • The bill is effective December 1, 2017.

RECENT COMMITTEE HEARINGS

TEXAS SENATE

Senate Business and Commerce Committee hearing on August 8, 2017

  • HB 7 (Phelan) Relating to a tree planting credit to offset tree mitigation fees imposed by a municipality. – Reported favorably as substituted

 TEXAS HOUSE

House Environmental Regulation Committee hearing on August 3, 2017 

  • HCR 28 (Pickett) Directing the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to identify the minimum state motor vehicle inspection and maintenance program required to maintain air quality in compliance with the provisions of the federal Clean Air Act. – Reported favorably from committee (there will be no additional action)

House Transportation Committee hearing on August 3, 2017

  • HB 327 (Davis, Sarah) Relating to the placement of warning signs in areas where the use of a wireless communication device is prohibited. – Left pending in committee (there will be no additional action)
  • HB 361 (Dale) Relating to the construction of transportation projects by certain regional mobility authorities. – Left pending in committee (there will be no additional action)

House Land and Resource Management Committee hearing on August 4, 2017

  • SB 6 (Campbell) Relating to municipal annexation. – Reported favorably as substituted

House Defense & Veteran’s Affairs Committee hearing on August 8, 2017

  • HB 362 (Gutierrez) Relating to granting certain local governments general zoning authority around federal military installations; creating a criminal offense. – Left pending in committee (there will be no additional action)

UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS

 

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To view Committee Hearings for the Texas Senate click here:

http://www.senate.texas.gov/av-live.php

To view Committee Hearings for the Texas House click here: http://www.house.state.tx.us/video-audio/

12/14/2017 RH/JH %Arc

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