Good news! Yesterday, the Senate Natural Resources Committee took important steps toward getting the TCEQ Sunset bill back on track. They did this by doing two things. First, the bill’s Senate sponsor, Senator Huffman, offered the original bill language as the committee substitute for HB 2694.
Making this substitution means that the Senate version doesn’t have the modifications made by the House–including the Chisum amendments that changed the contested case hearing process.
Second, the set of amendments offered at the hearing did not include the Chisum amendments. What this means is that the Senate will not be able to put those amendments on the bill when it comes to the Senate floor. (This is a technicality of the Senate rules.)
Taken together, Senate Natural Resources set the Senate up to pass a “clean” version of the TCEQ sunset bill.
This is a major accomplishment that would not have been possible without the calls, email and personal communication from Texans all over the state.
On behalf of everyone working on this legislation in the Capitol and around the state, we would like to thank you for your efforts on this bill. Honestly, there were a couple of industry lobbyists who looked pretty surprised and downtrodden at the end of the hearing.
However, we are far from being out of the woods on this bill–and on the attack on contested case hearings.
Once HB 2694 gets through the Senate, it will go to conference committee where the difference between the House and Senate versions of the bill will be worked out, you got it, behind closed doors.
That’s one reason to keep up the pressure on the senators–to let them know in no uncertain terms that we will not stand for the House version of the bill–and that we expect them to stand up for the clean bill.
The attack on contested case hearings continues on the House side in the two stand alone bills the amendments came from–HB 3037 and HB 3251. If and when these bills are scheduled to come to the House floor, we will alert you again to ask for your help.
Thanks in advance for any work you can do on these two bills now–calling your representative today or tomorrow would be a great way to start building awareness that Texans are against these two bills because they attack our right to protect our property.