July 22, 2022, Number 29

Download the full .pdf version here: TML Legislative Update Number 29

railroad commission proposes rule on weather emergency preparedness standards

The Railroad Commission (RRC) is proposing a rule relating to the weatherization of certain natural gas supply chain facility operators as required by Senate Bill 3. The proposed rule would apply to the following facilities that are included on the electricity supply chain map: (1) gas supply chain facilities that are used for producing, treating, processing, pressurizing, storing, or transporting natural gas as well as handling waste produced; and (2) gas pipeline facility operators that directly serve a natural gas electric generation facility that operates solely to provide power to the electric grid for the ERCOT power region or for the ERCOT power region and an adjacent power region. Importantly, Senate Bill 3 specifies that only certain gas supply chain facility operators and certain gas pipeline facility operators that are included on the electricity supply chain map and designated as critical infrastructure by the RRC must comply with the proposed rule. The RRC has additional information here.

Some city officials may be interested in the proposed rule because the proposed weatherization standards for natural gas supply chain facilities will affect the ability of electricity generators to obtain natural gas for electricity production in an extreme weather event.

Interested persons may submit comments in the following ways: (1) by mail to Rules Coordinator, Office of General Counsel, Railroad Commission of Texas, P.O. Box 12967, Austin, Texas 78711-2967; (2) online at www.rrc.texas.gov/general-counsel/rules/comment-form-for-proposed-rulemakings; or (3) by electronic mail to rulescoordinator@rrc.texas.gov. Comments must be filed by 5:00 p.m. on August 15, 2022.

texas house investigative committee releases report

On Sunday, the Texas House Investigative Committee on the Robb Elementary Shooting released its report. Speaker Phelan previously appointed the special investigative committee last month to conduct an examination into the circumstances surrounding the shooting at Robb Elementary in Uvalde. The full report can be found here.  

federal infrastructure bill update

In November 2021, the federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA) was signed into law. The IIJA is altogether a $1.2 trillion bill that will invest in the nation’s core infrastructure priorities including roads, bridges, rail, transit, airports, ports, energy transmission, water systems, and broadband.

The League will monitor state and federal agencies and work with the National League of Cities (NLC) to access the latest information relating to the IIJA. We will be providing periodic updates in the Legislative Update on resources for Texas cities on how to access IIJA funding for local infrastructure projects. 

Department of Energy (DOE)

On July 6, DOE announced the opening of the application period for states to apply for $2.3 billion under the Preventing Outages and Enhancing the Resilience of the Electric Grid grant program. The program awards formula grants to states that are designed to strengthen and modernize the power grid against wildfires, extreme weather, and other natural disasters. Texas is slated to receive over $30 million in grants throughout the life of the program under the IIJA. Funding under the program can be used for grid resilience activities, including:

  • Utility pole upkeep and removal of trees and other vegetation affecting grid performance
  • Undergrounding electrical equipment
  • Relocating or re-conductoring power lines
  • Improvements to make the grid resistant to extreme weather
  • Increasing fire resistant components
  • Implementing monitoring, controls, and advanced modeling for real-time situational awareness
  • Integrating distributed energy resources like micro-grids and energy storage 

More on the program can be found here. The deadline for states to apply for the funding is September 30. At this point, it is unclear how the Texas funding will be dispersed once received.

National League of Cities (NLC)

The Local Infrastructure Hub, sponsored by NLC and the U.S. Conference of Mayors, among others, is now live. The Hub is designed to help city officials navigate the funding programs made available by the IIJA. Interested city officials can sign up for the mailing list, attend virtual learning events, and access articles and other resources on some of the key IIJA funding opportunities.      

NLC recently published an article detailing the Strengthening Mobility and Revolutionizing Transportation (SMART) grant program. The SMART program provides $500 million to states and local governments nationwide for transportation projects focused on advanced smart city technologies and systems.

house and senate committee interim hearings

The Texas House and Senate Committees are underway studying interim charges outlined by Speaker Phelan and Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.

Below is a full list of committee hearings set to hear certain city-related charges. All hearings will be held at the Texas Capitol unless otherwise indicated. If a committee has newly posted notice and was not included in last week’s edition of the Legislative Update, it is indicated as such.

House Committee on Natural Resources

The committee will meet on Tuesday, August 23 at 10:00 a.m. to hear the following interim charges:

Review the adequacy and efficiency of current mechanisms used to compensate water right holders when the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality temporarily transfers a water right under an emergency authorization. Make appropriate recommendations for the protection of private property rights of water right holders.

Information on the hearing, including how to register and submit electronic comment, can be found here.

House Committee on Natural Resources

The committee will meet on Wednesday, August 24 at 10:00 a.m. to hear the following interim charges:

Examine the condition of Texas’ water and flood mitigation infrastructure capabilities and consider future infrastructure needs. Evaluate sustainable funding sources to provide for water project development and infrastructure repair and replacement. Examine and make recommendations for cost-effective improvements that enhance the state’s available water supply.

Note: the desalination portion of this charge will be held at a later date. 

Examine the state’s groundwater management policy and regulatory framework. Include a review of large-scale water transfers and their impact on groundwater resources. Make appropriate recommendations for legislation or state agency action to:

  • Promote the achievement of planning goals under Chapter 36, Water Code, including those involving desired future conditions;
  • Provide adequate transparency to the permit application process;
  • Further the state’s groundwater quality protection efforts, including an assessment of risks posed to groundwater by abandoned and deteriorated water wells and orphan oil and gas wells; and
  • Promote conservation and waste prevention.

Information on the hearing, including how to register and submit electronic comment, can be found here.

don't forget: resolutions for 2022 annual conference due august 22

Resolutions for consideration at the Annual Conference are due no later than 5:00 p.m. on August 22, 2022. The TML Constitution provides that resolutions must be submitted by any member city, TML region, or TML affiliate to the TML headquarters 45 calendar days prior to the first day of the Annual Conference. 

The League’s advocacy efforts are based on a legislative program that is developed by member city officials in two ways. 

First, a member city, TML region, or TML affiliate may submit a resolution for consideration at the business meeting of each year’s Annual Conference. Each city is asked to provide one delegate to serve as its liaison at the meeting. The representatives will be briefed on the content of the resolutions and given a chance to discuss and vote on whether they merit inclusion in the legislative program. The resolutions form the basis of a fixed legislative program, under which – each session – modifications to the program will be made only if needed. 

Second, member city officials can participate in the League’s Municipal Policy Summit during the summer of 2022. The report of the Summit takes the form of a resolution that is submitted to the Annual Conference in interim years. The summit participants have been appointed by the TML President based on volunteers and others chosen to balance the demographics of the TML membership at large. 

Details on the submission process can be found here.


TML member cities may use the material herein for any purpose. No other person or entity may reproduce, duplicate, or distribute any part of this document without the written authorization of the Texas Municipal League.