What to Watch For This Week at the Texas Legislature

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Keep an eye on these notable bills passing through the legislature this week.

This week, a bunch of bills that could affect everything from Texas’ energy and environment to the names of state regulatory agencies will be heard at the Capitol. We’ve compiled a short list of the bills that would have an impact on energy and environment in the state for you to keep an eye on, along with some of our earlier reporting on these issues.

Water Hits the Floor

On Wednesday, the House floor will consider a bill, HB 4, by Rep. Allan Ritter, R-Nederland, that would provide significant new funding for water projects while incentivizing conservation. Previously: Major Water Funding Plan Moves One Step Forward, Prioritizes Conservation

Public Beaches
What qualifies as a public beach? Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, filed a couple bills, HB 325 and HJR 54, that could expand the definition of what a public beach is and create an amendment in the Texas Constitution. The House Committee on Land and Resource Management will discuss the bills this afternoon. Previously: For General Land Office, New Texas Supreme Court Ruling is a Real ‘Beach’

Beverage Container Recycling Bill
Texas could be recycling more bottles soon, if Rep. Eddie Rodriguez, D-Austin, has anything to do with it. Rodriguez filed a bill, HB 1473, that would promote the recycling of all sorts of beverage containers to reduce pollution. Fees and penalties could be involved. The House Committee on Environmental Regulation will discuss the bill Tuesday morning. Previously: Drink Up: New Bill Would Give You Cash Back For Empties

Water Conservation

State officials predict Texas’ water needs will increase during the next 50 years and water supplies will decrease. One of the cheapest and easiest ways to increase water supply, says Sen. Glen Hegar, R-Katy, is to simply use less water. Hegar has introduced a bill, SB 1169, that could promote municipal water conservation. The Senate Natural Resources Committee will discuss the bill Tuesday morning. Previously: Water for Texas: Lawmakers Say State Needs More Than Money

Radioactive Waste Disposal
There are a slew of new rules that could affect Texas’ newest, and only, low level radioactive waste disposal facility in far west Andrews County. The six-page omnibus bill, HB 791,  by Rep. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, has a slew of new rules regarding the disposal of radioactive waste. The Senate Natural Resources Committee will discuss the bill Tuesday morningPreviously: Radioactive Waste: Coming Soon to a Texas Highway Near You

Agency Names

The Texas Railroad Commission’s name has nothing to do with its purpose, which is to regulate oil and gas drilling in the state. A few new bills (HB 1788, HB 2166 and HJR 97) could rename the Commission to better reflect its activities. The proposed new names? Texas Energy Commission and Texas Energy Resources Commission. The House Energy Resources Commission will discuss the bills Wednesday afternoon. Previously: Big Changes Ahead for the Railroad Commission

Trees and Timber

A new bill could clear the way for property owners to cut down trees on their property. The bill, HB 1858, by Rep. Paul Workman, R-Austin, would make sure trees and shrubs that pose a fire risk could be removed without penalty. The House Business and Industry Committee will discuss the bill Tuesday afternoon. Previously: Texas’ Most Hated Tree: How Drought, Wildfires Renewed Interest in Cedar Eradication

Another bill, HB 1377, by Rep. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham, could affect a private land owner’s right to cut down trees on his or her own property and the government’s ability to tax the land owner depending on the size of the tree. Some are concerned that the bill would remove protections for heritage trees. The House Urban Affairs Committee will discuss the bill Wednesday morningPreviously: Four ‘Austin Bashing’ Bills at the Texas Capitol

The Goat Bill

Have you noticed an errant goat or sheep roaming you yard? Do you want to maim or kill it? A new bill, HB 1819, filed by Rep. Kyle Kacal, R-Bryan, could protect Texas’ cloven-hoofed wanderers. According to the bill, anyone who brutalizes a trespassing sheep or goat could be held liable by the owner for the damages. The House Agriculture and Livestock Committee will discuss the bill Wednesday morning.

David Barer is a reporting intern with StateImpact Texas.

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