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Legislative Update

Transportation and air quality in the North Central Texas region are impacted by legislative decisions at the State and federal levels.

NCTCOG staff regularly update policy and technical committee members, transportation partners and others interested in monitoring legislative initiatives related to the Regional Transportation Council (RTC) legislative priorities.

Below is a summary of recent legislative news and action.

FRIDAY, JUNE 2, 2017

From Washington, D.C. | From Austin, Texas | Highlighted Bills | Monitored Bills | Hearings

Congress is in recess this week and will return on Monday, June 5.


The Texas Legislature ended its 85th regular session Monday, May 29. During the final weekend of the legislative session, lawmakers passed a two-year $217 billion budget, the TxDOT sunset bill, as well as other items of interest. The Governor has three options once a bill reaches his desk: he can sign it into law, veto it or let it become law without his signature. He has until June 18 to make that decision on hundreds of bills.


The looming question is will Governor Abbott call back legislators for a special session? If so, it would most likely be to resolve property tax or bathroom bill issues, or even to address the Texas Medical Board sunset bill that did not pass. He is expected to make an announcement soon. The Governor can call the Legislature back for as many special sessions as he wants, with each lasting no more than 30 days. In a special session, lawmakers cannot consider anything that isn't on the governor’s call, though they can file bills on other topics in hopes that the governor might add their issue to the agenda.


SB 1 – Budget


The House and Senate adopted the conference committee report on the 2018-19 statewide budget. In the final weekend, legislators approved a $217 billion two-year budget, which is $352 million more than the current budget. Legislators compromised and agreed to use almost $1 billion from the Rainy Day Fund and delay the transfer of $1.7 billion of Proposition 7 funds to the State Highway Fund (SHF) to the next fiscal year. $2.6 billion is included for highway construction and $300 million will be used to pay Proposition 12 debt.


TxDOT funding includes $26.6 billion in All Funds; this includes $2.9 billion in funding from anticipated state sales tax deposits to the SHF (Proposition 7, 2015); $2.5 billion in funding from oil and natural gas tax-related transfers to the SHF (Proposition 1, 2014); and all available SHF from traditional transportation tax and fee revenue sources (estimated to be $8.8 billion for the 2018–19 biennium).


SB 312 – TxDOT Sunset Bill


The House and Senate also agreed to a compromise of the TxDOT Sunset bill. The department will continue for the next 12 years. Earlier in the month, the House added several toll related amendments. Most of those amendments were included in the final version, but some amendments were softened. One amendment that would require any money contributed by TxDOT to a toll project to be repaid by the toll project entity now exempts any projects which began environmental review prior to January 2014.




The Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) funding was cut in the budget from $118 million/year in FY2016-17 to $77 million/year for FY2018-19. The bill updating and extending the TERP program, SB 26, was included in SB 1731 during the final weekend of session. SB 1731 was approved and has been sent to the Governor for his signature. This will extend TERP, currently set to expire on August 31, 2019, to the end of the biennium in which Texas attains the national ambient air quality standards for ground-level ozone. The Clean School Bus program, the New Technology Implementation Grant program, the Texas Clean Fleet program, and the Texas Natural Gas Vehicle Grant program would each be extended, and the Light- Vehicle Purchase or Lease Incentive program is renewed; this program expired on August 31, 2015. In addition, the bill creates the Governmental Alternative Fuel Fleet Grant program, which would provide grants to an eligible state agency, county, municipality, or political subdivision in purchasing or leasing new motor vehicles that operate primarily on compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas, liquefied petroleum gas, hydrogen fuel cells, or electricity, including fully electric motor vehicles or plug-in hybrid electric vehicles.


None of the bills proposing changes to LIRAP/LIP made it out of the Senate. The program was fully funded in the budget ($43 million/year) and will continue without any changes through the next biennium.


A detailed summary of all bills passed will be provided in the coming weeks.



The Texas Legislature bill list shows all bills being tracked for the 85th legislative session. The US Congress bill list shows only bills with action since the last legislative update. If you need information on all the bills being tracked, please contact Rebekah Hernandez.








Senate Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee hearing on June 7, 2017

  • Hearing on FAA reauthorization (Transportation Secretary Chao to testify)


Congress is in recess next week and no hearings are scheduled. Once they come back in June, a budget resolution and appropriations bills will be on the agenda, with possible consideration of FAA reauthorization legislation as well.


To view Committee Hearings for the Texas Senate click here:

To view Committee Hearings for the Texas House click here:

6/2/2017 RH/MG

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