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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, APRIL 28, 2017

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

FROM WASHINGTON, D.C.

The current Continuing Resolution for FY 17 appropriations expires today. Congress avoided a government shutdown by approving a one-week extension of 2016 spending levels to May 5. They approved the bill today and it now heads to the President’s desk for his signature. This will allow them with more time to agree on a 2017 budget that goes through September.

 

The US House of Representatives overwhelmingly passed S. 496 by a vote of 417-3 this week that would have required changes to many of the nation’s smaller MPOs. The bill repeals the USDOT rule entitled “Metropolitan Planning Organization Coordination and Planning Area Reform,” keeping decision-making authority for metropolitan transportation improvements at the local level. The final rule would have forced smaller MPOs in the same planning area to produce a single long-term transportation plan, agree to one list of transportation projects, and establish one set of performance targets or else merge into a single planning entity. The legislation now goes to the President’s desk for his signature.


FROM AUSTIN, TEXAS

HB 2321 passed the full House this week. This is the Rep. Turner bill relating to low-income vehicle repair assistance, retrofit, and accelerated vehicle retirement programs and local initiative projects (LIRAP/LIP) or the AirCheckTexasProgram. The bill was amended by removing the section allowing the leasing of vehicles as a purchase option and a section relating to vehicle registration was updated to allow participants to either be currently registered or registered for 12 of the past 15 months. Overall the bill modernizes the LIRAP/LIP program by doing the following: (1) add a maximum repair assistance amount of at least $800; increase the replacement incentive amounts $4,000 for cars/trucks and $4,500 for cleaner vehicles; expand replacement vehicle eligibility by one model year and increase the odometer limit to account for the additional model year; allow county oversight of LIRAP/LIP fund distribution while maintaining a minimum 50% threshold for LIRAP; and eliminate any LIP match requirements. It will now move to the Senate to be heard in committee.

 

SB 975 passed through the Senate this week. The bill amends current law relating to the security of high-speed rail operated by a private entity. With the assistance of the Department of Public Safety, a private high speed rail system will be required to plan, organize and implement the necessary measures to ensure the overall safety of those affected by the rail system. SB 975 aims to address any concerns regarding the cost of law enforcement activity being passed onto a state or local government entity by requiring a private high speed rail system to pay government law enforcement officers who may be hired to fulfill the requirements outlined in this bill. It has now entered into the House for discussion.

 

MONITORED BILLS - ACTION THIS WEEK

If you need information on all the bills being tracked, please contact Rebekah Hernandez at (817) 704-2545 or rhernandez@nctcog.org. The Texas Legislature link includes all bills being tracked in both the Texas House and Senate.

A table of bills related to the RTC Legislative Program can be found here.

 

HIGHLIGHTED BILLS - TEXAS LEGISLATURE

 

 

RECENT COMMITTEE HEARINGS

TEXAS SENATE

Senate Finance Committee hearing on Monday, April 24, 2017 at 4 pm.

  • The Conference Committee held an organizational meeting. Chair Nelson announced Senator Hinojosa as leading the work on Articles VI and VII (TCEQ and TxDOT), while Representative Larry Gonzales will be leading work on those articles on the House side. The Legislative Budget Board also provided a quick overview of the major issues and differences that the committee will need to address.

Senate Transportation Committee hearing on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 8 am.

  • SB 637 (Huffines) Relating to state audits of a regional mobility authority that receives a grant or loan from the Texas Department of Transportation. Voted favorably as substituted.
  • SB 812 (Kolkhorst) Relating to repayment of money contributed by the Texas Department of Transportation or the Texas Transportation Commission for toll projects. Requires a toll entity to repay the state any money contributed by the state for a toll project. Committee left bill pending.
  • SB 1351 (Watson) Relating to allowing the placement and maintenance of traffic-control signals in municipalities to permit emergency vehicles to safely enter a highway. Committee left bill pending.
  • SB 1437 (Schwertner) Relating to payment for the use of a highway toll project. Electronic toll collection payments. Voted favorably as from committee as substituted.
  • SB 1834 (Buckingham) Relating to the allocation of revenue from certain penalties for transportation project delays. Currently, a fine received by TxDOT for a late project in Central Texas could be used by the department for other actions or used to fund projects in other parts of the state. SB 1834 supports communities impacted by transportation delays by preventing the redistribution of received financial penalties to unrelated projects in counties elsewhere in Texas. Voted favorably by committee as substituted.
  • SB 2103 (Garcia) Relating to the authority of certain municipalities to alter prima facie speed limits. SB 2103 allows for neighborhoods that express safety concerns due to the speed limit to launch a pilot study in their area to assess if the speed should be lowered from the prima facie to 20 miles per hour. Committee left bill pending.
  • SB 2137 (Lucio) Relating to a fee associated with a required inspection of a motor vehicle for certain title transfers. SB 2137 adds language to Transportation Code, which would allow the tax assessor-collector to collect the $40 fee and credit the fee to the general fund to defray the agency's cost. Committee left action pending on this bill.
  • SB 2139 (Lucio) Relating to the creation of regional transit authorities. SB 2139 creates a regional transit authority among Hidalgo, Cameron, and Willacy counties in order to provide for a united comprehensive effort in the development and sustainability of regional public transit services in the area. As proposed, SB 2139 amends current law relating to the creation of regional transit authorities, grants the power of eminent domain, provides the authority to issue bonds and charge fees, and creates a criminal offense. Committee left bill pending.
  • SB 740 (Kolkhorst) Relating to the acquisition of property by an entity with eminent domain authority. Reported from committee as substituted.
  • SB 1588 (Huffines) Relating to the elimination of regular mandatory vehicle safety inspections. Reported from committee as substituted.
  • SB 637 (Huffines) Relating to state audits of a regional mobility authority that receives a grant or loan from the Texas Department of Transportation. Reported from committee as substituted.

TEXAS HOUSE

House Government Transparency and Operation Committee hearing on Monday April 24, 2017 at 2pm.

  • HB 526 (Schofield) Relating to certain persons' entitlement to public information. Under the bill, a governmental entity would no longer be required to accept or comply with a request for public information from a person whose primary residence was not in Texas. Rep. Schofield stated his bill would allow vexatious out-of-state requests for information to be disregarded. Committee left bill pending.
  • HB 793 (Capriglione) Relating to the definition of a governmental body for the purposes of the public information law. The bill would amend Chapter 552 of the Government Code, regarding public information, to change the circumstances under which a part, section, or portion of an organization, corporation, commission, committee, institution, or agency is included within the definition of "governmental body" for purposes of the public information law. Committee left bill pending.
  • HB 839 (Ortega) Relating to the availability under the public information law of information contained in a bid or proposal after a contract is executed or awarded. This bill was not heard in committee this week.

House Environmental Regulation Committee hearing on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 at 8 am.

  • HB 2753 (Reynolds) Relating to the analysis of inspection and maintenance requirements for air quality permits issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality for certain oil and gas facilities. Committee left bill pending.

House Defense and Veteran’s Affairs Committee hearing on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 10:30 am.

  • HB 3701 (Goldman) Relating to the notification requirements regarding certain proposed regulations and structures in an area near a military facility. This bill was not discussed because the committee was forced to reschedule due to extended floor activity.

House Transportation Committee hearing on Wednesday, April 26, 2017 at 8 am.

  • HB 3809 (Burns) Relating to the designation of the portion of Interstate Highway 35W in Johnson County as the Clifton Taylor Memorial Highway. Committee left bill pending.
  • HB 3951 (Gonzales) Relating to the functions of the Texas Department of Transportation relating to aircraft owned or leased by the state; authorizing an increase in rates charged for the use of state aircraft to provide for the acquisition of replacement aircraft. Committee left bill pending.
  • HB 3955 (Gonzales) Relating to the functions of the Texas Department of Transportation relating to transportation planning and projects. The bill would require TxDOT to develop and display on its website a statewide transportation plan dashboard that communicates to the public the transportation system strategies, goals, and other performance measures included in the statewide transportation plan, and TxDOT's progress in meeting the system strategies, goals, and other performance measures. Committee left bill pending. 
  • SB 312 (Nichols) TxDOT Sunset bill. Relating to the continuation and functions of the Texas Department of Transportation; authorizing an increase in rates charged for the use of state aircraft to provide for the acquisition of replacement aircraft. Committee left bill pending.

House Transportation Committee hearing on Thursday, April 27, 2017 at 8 am.

  • HB 3679 (Isaac) Relating to signs informing motorists of facilities providing alternative fuels. H.B. 3679 would expand the fuel options displayed on blue signs along the highways by allowing alternant fuel stations to be added within the current fuel stations. The new fuel stations would include compressed natural gas, liquified natural gas, hydrogen and electrical vehicle charging stations. The committee substitute would allow for propane to be added within the list of new fuel stations.  Left pending.
  • HB 3426 (Laubenberg) Relating to the use of habitual toll violator remedies by certain toll project entities. This bill would require Collin County to peruse the habitual toll violator in Section 372 of the Transportation Code. Remedies would include vehicle registration block for habitual violators.  Left pending.
  • HB 946 (Paul) Relating to vehicles exempt from vehicle safety inspections. H.B. 946 would amend the Transportation Code to increase the maximum gross weight under which a trailer, semitrailer, pole trailer or mobile home would be exempt from vehicle safety inspections from 4,500 pounds to 7,500 pounds. Left pending.
  • HB 1959 (Thompson) Relating to a study by the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles of alternative registration technologies for commercial motor vehicles. This bill would allow the DMV to investigate and study new for technologies for registration, permitting license plates, and management of commercial fleet vehicles. It would require the DMV to report back to the legislature next session. Left pending.
  • HB 1154 (Davis, Sarah) Relating to the offense of operating certain vehicles without a license plate. Left Pending.
  • HB 1294 (Minjarez) Relating to the economic impact of closures on the state highway system during certain periods. HB 1294 would require TxDOT to coordinate and communicate with highway closure with public officials from municipalities that would be affected by such closures and would seek to avoid any adverse economic impact during holidays and high-traffic commercial activity. There is currently a committee substitute in progress for this bill. Left Pending. 

House Transportation Committee hearing on Friday, April 28, 2017 at 11:20 am.

  • The Committee met to consider pending business. The meeting was announced from the house floor and additional information is not available at this time.

UPCOMING COMMITTEE HEARINGS

 

TEXAS HOUSE

Senate Business and Commerce Committee hearing on Tuesday, May 2 at 8 am.

  • HB 890 (Geren) Relating to providing information to the public and to purchasers of real property regarding the impact of military installations.

House Defense and Veteran's Affairs Committe hearing on Wednesday, May 3 at 10:30 am or upon adjournment

  • HB 3701 (Goldman) Relating to the notification requirements regarding certain proposed regulations and structures in an area near a military facility.

House Transportation Committee hearing on Wednesday, May 03, 2017 at 8 am.

  • HB 4163 (Cosper) Relating to the allocation of revenue from certain penalties for transportation project delays.
  • HB 4165 (Howard) Relating to the placement of certain highway signs that promote businesses or provide other information.
  • HB 2746 (Zedler) Relating to the designation of a portion of State Highway 360 in Ellis and Tarrant Counties as the Senator Chris Harris Memorial Highway.
  • HB 3524 (Sheffield) Relating to the prioritization of public transportation funding for areas disproportionately affected by the granting of ad valorem tax relief to disabled veterans.
  • HB 1368 (Israel) Relating to the prima facie speed limit in an urban district.

House Transportation Committee hearing on Thursday, May 4, 2017 at 8 am.

  • HB 2172 (Ashby) Relating to the use of state money for high-speed rail operated by a private entity.
  • HB 2167 (Schubert) Relating to state money or credit or a state guarantee used or provided for high-speed rail owned by a private entity.
  • HB 2163 (Wray) Relating to the elevation of high-speed rail tracks in certain counties.
  • HB 2104 (Bell) Relating to the filing of a bond by a private high-speed rail operator with the Texas Department of Transportation.

TEXAS SENATE

Senate Finance Committee hearing on Monday, May 1, at 10 am.

  • SB 84 (Hall) Relating to a pilot project for financing certain Texas Department of Transportation projects.

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To view Committee Hearings for the Texas Senate click here:

http://www.senate.texas.gov/av-live.php

To view Committee Hearings for the Texas House click here: http://www.house.state.tx.us/video-audio/

4/28/2017 CH

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