Around the Texas Capitol: Sprint to the finale

Around the Texas Capitol: Sprint to the finale

Return to May 2023 newsletter

Note: Content below was posted and current as of May 16, 2023

Around the Texas Capitol
Sprint to the finale

By Lauren Fairbanks and J Pete Laney
TAD Governmental Affairs

Sine Die – the end of the legislative session – is on the horizon. Legislators adjourn their regular session on May 29, although Gov. Greg Abbott hints of a possible special session should some of his priorities not pass.

The advent of May marks the start of key bill passage deadlines kicking in:

  • May 8: Last day for House committees to report out House Bills and House Joint Resolutions
  • May 11: Last day for the House to consider bills on the floor on second reading
  • Week of May 15: Final week for committee hearings
  • May 24: Last calendar considered by the House and Senate

As of the midnight, May 11 House consideration deadline, more than 140 House bills were lost to the gears of the legislative calendar and political maneuvering. That number does not include the thousands that died in committee or were never placed on a calendar. Some measures can still find life as amendments to similar legislation. Others could have similar bills in the Senate that still have life. But the window for final passage is rapidly narrowing.

As of May 15, 194 bills have been sent to the governor – 40 House Bills and 154 Senate Bills. The Senate has passed 664 bills and the House has passed 1,500 bills. It remains to be seen how many more can make it through both chambers and onto the governor’s desk – a long way to go, with very little time to get there.

One measure that the dairy industry has supported this session has made it through the many hurdles of the legislative process and is on the governor’s desk. HB 692 by Rep. Glenn Rogers (R-Graford)/ Sen. Drew Springer (R-Muenster), relating to the authorization for certain land applications and disposal of dairy waste, would allow for the safe disposal of milk and milk by-products by land applications and proper disposal in retention facilities as long as those applications protect water quality. The bill provides specific directives to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to adopt rules to prescribe conditions to authorize proper disposal of milk and milk by-products. It was sent to the governor on May 15.

Another priority measure of TAD, HB 2827 by Reps. DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne)/Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville))/David Spiller (R-Jacksboro)/Glenn Rogers (R-Graford), relating to the permitting of and performance of annual soil tests for certain concentrated animal feeding operations by the TCEQ, has a steep climb to final passage. The bill would streamline the permitting process for dairy permits in the North Bosque River Watershed while maintaining key water quality protections. After a contentious floor debate and surviving two points of order that were ultimately overruled, HB 2827 passed the House 80-53. It has been referred to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Economic Development.

With only two weeks of work left, compromise is needed on several big-ticket items. Leadership priorities that have not yet been passed include property tax relief, the state budget, electric grid reforms and school vouchers. The clock is ticking, and it remains to be seen what will ultimately pass.

Other legislation we are monitoring for the Texas dairy industry includes:

Right to Farm

SB 1421 by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) relating to the effect of nuisance actions, other actions, and governmental requirements on certain agricultural operations – the Senate omnibus Right-to-Farm bill – passed the Senate on April 3. It was referred to the House Agriculture & Livestock committee on April 17. The House bills, HB 1750 by Rep. DeWayne Burns (R-Cleburne), HB 2308 by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) and HJR 126 also by Burns have cleared both chambers. HB 1750 has been passed by both the House and Senate and will be sent to the governor. HB 2308 has been sent to the governor. HJR 126 has passed both chambers and has been filed with the Secretary of State for a public vote on Nov. 7.

Water for Texas Fund Bills

SB 28/SJR 75 by Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and HB 10/HJR 130 by Rep. Tracy King (D-Uvalde) create the Water for Texas Fund at the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB). The fund is intended to boost water infrastructure projects across the state and increase water supply for the future. The fund will use existing programs to disperse grants and loans to small and mid-sized entities seeking assistance with water infrastructure. Additionally, the bill directs the board members to use a portion of the fund for new water supply projects such as produced water, brackish, and marine desalination facilities; water from neighboring states; and new technologies to create water supply not currently accounted for in Texas. Perry said the new bill would use money from the state’s budget surplus. SB 28/SJR 75 passed the Senate and are up under consideration in the House.

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