Photo: Terry Alexander
The Texas Legislature
Bill filing deadline was March 8th and we have assembled a growing list of Bills to Watch! As the thousands of bills march through the Committee and House/Senate process, they may change and become more (or less) easy to digest and review.
HERE is HCA’s list of Hill Country oriented bills with analysis. We have grouped them into Good for the Hill Country, Bad for the Hill Country, and Worth Watching. The Worth Watching set are those bills that are either mysterious or are subject to receiving lots of new language that may change its effect. Watch Out! Note that each bill listing is hyperlinked to its history, current status, and specific language.
Surprise of the 86th Session: with the introduction of the 42″ Kinder-Morgan petroleum pipeline that is currently making its way east from Midland and slated to pass through Kimble, Gillespie, Blanco, and Hays Counties, we have seen a surge of petroleum pipeline and eminent domain process reform bills. This pipeline construction process has demonstrated to our neighbors that they have very few good options when the land men come knocking.
The Process and How to Participate:
In Texas we have a part-time legislative system. Our State Legislature meets every other year for 140 days in Austin. The 86th Session will run January 8, 2019 through May 27, 2019. The Governor has an option at the conclusion of each regular session to call a special 30 day session to resolve specific agenda items.
Texas Legislature Online is the official Web resource for bill tracking, schedules, committee progress, and member information. You can sign up to receive “alerts” regarding committee meetings and actions regarding bills you choose to track.
The last day to file bills (other than local) is March 8, 2019. By the filing deadline, any bill that has been approved by their assigned Committees may be voted on by either chamber of the Legislature.
The budget reduction related to tax cuts and revenue shortfalls will produce a climate in which bills with a price-tag will find little purchase in appropriations committees.
The Texas Hill Country Region:
“All previous settlers of this region learned how the land and its resources, particularly water, could only support so many people, a certain quantity of livestock or a particular industry before its quality and quantity would be impacted. For all who choose the Hill Country as their home, an opportunity exists to accommodate existing needs without compromising the ability of future populations to meet their needs.” ~ Milan Michalec, HCA President 2013
The Hill Country Alliance (HCA) strives to serve as the “go-to” resource on issues related to the Texas Hill Country. Our region is blessed with a unique economy dependent on the charm and character of our towns, allure of our water features, beauty of our hills and landscapes and the generations of people who care for our heritage ranchlands. HCA strives to build support for sensible strategies to deal with tremendous amount of growth pushing away from Austin and San Antonio, in a way that protects our valuable and fragile natural resources for future generations.
86th Texas Legislative Session – 2019
HCA’s 2019 Bill List with links to bill activity and exact bill language.
What’s new in the Legislature for 2019?
The 86th Legislature’s relatively stable Hill Country Caucus saw some House of Representative shake-up in Bexar, Hays, Blanco, and Travis Counties; and a Senate shift along the southern counties in the 2018 election.
Senator Pete Flores R (District 19: Bexar, Medina, Uvalde, Kinney, Real, Edwards, Val Verde, west into the Trans-Pecos) replaced Carlos Uresti D
Representative Erin Zwiener D (House District 45: Hays and Blanco) replaced Jason Issac R.
Representative Vikki Goodwin D (House District 47: Western Travis County) defeated Paul Workman R.
Representative Steve Allison R (House District 121: North Central Bexar) replaced outgoing Speaker Joe Strauss R
Representative Philip Cortez D (House District 117: West Bexar) replaced Rick Galindo R
A Special Election will replace outgoing Justin Rodriguez D (House District 125: Bexar)
Representative Dennis Bonnen R (District 25, Angleton) replaced the outgoing Joe Strauss as Speaker of the House
House and Senate Committees will be shuffled
Senator Donna Campbell R (25: Hays, Comal, Kendall, N. Bexar)
Senator Dawn Buckingham R (24: Bandera, Kerr, Gillespie, Blanco, Llano, SW Travis, Burnett, and north)
Senator and Water and Rural Affairs Committee Chair Charles Perry R (28: Kimble, Mason, Menard, north to Oklahoma)
Senator Kirk Watson D (14: Travis, Bastrop)
Senator Jose Menendez D (26: Central Bexar)
Senator Judith Zaffirini D (21: SE Travis to the Valley)
Representative Kyle Biedermann R (73: Comal, Kendall, and Gillespie Counties)
Representative Andrew Murr R (53: Bandera, Medina, Real, Edwards, Kerr, Kimble, Mason, Llano)
Representative Tracy O King D (80: Uvalde south to Zapata) (Natural Resources Committee)
Representative Donna Howard D (48: West Central Travis)
Representative and Natural Resources Committee Chair Lyle Larson R (122: NW Bexar)
Representative Terry Wilson R (20: Burnett, Williamson)
Representative Diana Arevalo D (116: West Central Bexar)
Representative Ina Minjarez D (124: West Central Bexar)
Legislative News Resources:
While we update our website regularly with Hill Country specific information, Texas Tribune Online is an extremely valuable resource for up to the minute news from the Leg.
The Texas Tribune also has excellent data resources to help you learn more including a directory of elected officials, super PACs, campaign finance sources, explore more on your own at Texas Tribune Data.
Hill Country Alliance Constituent Survey:
HCA conducted a survey of Hill Country constituents in the fall of 2014. Fifty-three percent of the respondents identified themselves as rural, 25% as suburban, and 22% as urban residents.
According to this survey, the two most pressing issues threatening the Hill Country are depleted groundwater resources (81% response) and the threat from unregulated development (66% response).
Respondents supported the use of regulations to limit damage to shared natural resources. A significant majority of respondents (77%) identified with the phrase “Private property rights should be accompanied by government regulations necessary to protect the natural resources of the Hill Country.”
Most respondents support regulations to protect the environment at the local level. In fact, a strong majority of respondents (64%) believe that counties should have the authority to regulate incompatible land use, development density, construction in environmentally sensitive areas, scenic beauty, and water quality.
A strong majority of respondents were willing to pay for long-term conservation goals. Seventy-seven percent of respondents were willing to pay for long-term protection of groundwater resources. Also, the survey revealed a willingness to pay for the creation of new, publicly accessible open spaces (55%) and the permanent protection of private lands (48%).
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