COMMITTEES RELEASE MORE INTERIM REPORTS

House State Affairs Committee

The House State Affairs Committee, which considered five interim charges, recently released its interim report.  The interim charge most relevant to cities relates to state and local responses to the burdens potentially caused by undocumented immigrants. 

The committee analyzed the current situation in Texas, including the costs to taxpayers as they relate to undocumented immigrants.  It determined that the immigration system in the United States is “broken” and recommended that the President and the U.S. Congress act to fix it. 

Other recommendations cover items such as: (1) updating of state buildings to be more energy efficient; (2) monitoring federal legislation and agency rules that impact electricity generation, pricing, and consumption; and (3) ensuring that energy policies in Texas balance the needs of the state to encourage investment and a diverse fuel mix with the costs incurred by investors and consumers. 

The full text of the report is available online at
http://www.house.state.tx.us/_media/pdf/committees/reports/82interim/House-Committee-on-State-Affairs-Interim-Report-2010.pdf.

Senate Subcommittee on Flooding and Evacuations

The Senate Subcommittee on Flooding and Evacuations, which considered five interim charges, recently released its interim report.  The interim charges requested the subcommittee to study: (1) the benefit of legislation that would require coastal regions to consider flooding when making drainage and other infrastructure improvement; (2) methods of emergency notification during a natural disaster; (3) alternative systems and new technologies for rerouting 9-1-1-type calls to become more efficient and effective; (4) streamlining the process of informing citizens impacted by an emergency or disaster prior to the event about re-entry and aid; and (5) cost effective options to either retrofit or require new building structures to be built as shelters for use during future evacuations. A summary of the committee’s key recommendations follows:

  • Coastal Region Infrastructure:  The committee recommended that local authorities come together to create a regional drainage plan that can take flooding into account when improving infrastructure.  The committee also recommended that local entities look to the Rio Grande Regional Water Authority for a comprehensive drainage plan.  The committee recommended that new drainage districts be created in the Rio Grande Valley to help with the flooding issues.
  • Emergency Notification and 9-1-1:  The committee recommended that: (1) local authorities connect mobile phone numbers with physical addresses to help with the Emergency Notification System; (2) local authorities work with modern modes of communication such as social media sites and mobile phones; and (3) 9-1-1 call centers be in hardened facilities and be stocked with fuel and other supplies.  The committee also joined the Sunset Advisory Commission in recommending that the Commission on State Emergency Communications establish an advisory committee for the development, implementation, and management of NEXT GEN 9-1-1 systems. 
  • Citizen Education:  The committee recommended that local jurisdictions be required to conduct annual drills to ensure proper understanding of how the Emergency Alert System functions and the proper time to use such systems.
  • Local Shelters:  The committee recommended that local evacuation shelters be constructed and that existing infrastructure be retrofitted.  The committee recommended following the State of Florida’s shelter plans, which are contained in the interim report’s appendix.

The full text of the report is available online at
http://www.senate.state.tx.us/75r/senate/commit/c523/c523.InterimReport81.pdf.

House Committee on Natural Resources

The House Committee on Natural Resources, which considered five interim charges, recently released its interim report.  The report focuses mainly on the state’s groundwater issues.  Four of the charges contained issues of interest to cities, including the following recommendations to the legislature:

  • Groundwater – Desired Future Conditions Planning Process
    • Encourage further regional stakeholder participation in the desired future conditions (DFCs) process, which affects groundwater permitting levels, at the groundwater management area (GMA) level, possibly considering the addition of non-voting, ex-officio regional water planning group members to the respective GMAs.
    • Consider the incorporation of more formal proceedings for the DFCs petitioning process, such as conducting a contested case hearing through the State Office of Administrative Hearings and evaluate the court's ability to award legal fees.
    • Clarify the statutory language related to “permitting up to the MAG (managed available groundwater)” and the inclusion/exclusion of exempt uses in the MAG.
  • Federal Water Initiatives
    • Continue to monitor and evaluate the effects of current and proposed federal initiatives that could impact the implementation of the State Water Plan, including the proposed expansion of federal water regulation through the Clean Water Restoration Act and the proposed Sustainable Watershed Planning Act.
  • Water Conservation Plans/ Drought Contingency Plans
    • Consider directing the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to require the development and implementation of water conservation plans (WCPs) and drought contingency plans (DCPs), and create enforcement measures to ensure compliance. 
  • Water Conservation Advisory Council/Gallons per Capita per Day
    • Monitor the progress and recommendations of the Water Conservation Advisory Council and support the standardization of the “gallons per capita per day” measurement in order to assist Texas cities in uniformly measuring and evaluating their water use.
  • Desalination, Recycled Water Resources, and Aquifer Storage and Recovery
    • Continue to examine the advancement and commercial viability of water conservation technologies like desalination, recycling, and aquifer storage and recovery across the state.
  • Implementation/Consistency of Statewide Conservation Program
    • Evaluate the effectiveness of existing conservation programs and enhance any statewide water conservation education programs developed through a local and regional planning process that considers the unique challenges facing different areas of the state.
    • Consider providing incentives to the public for participating in conservation practices.
    • Continue to encourage localities to initiate projects that promote water conservation.

The full text of the report is available online at
http://www.house.state.tx.us/_media/pdf/committees/reports/82interim/House-Committee-on-Natural-Resources-Interim-Report-2010.pdf.

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.

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