HBA-RBT H.B. 2901 76(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2901 By: Counts Natural Resources 4/12/1999 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE The Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) adopted a new set of rules regarding the Edwards Aquifer on September 23, 1998. The effective date for these rules is June 1, 1999. The rules are divided into two parts: Subchapter A concerns the Edwards Aquifer in Medina, Bexar, Comal, Kinney, Uvalde, Hays, Travis, and Williamson counties and applies to all regulated developments in the "recharge zone"; Subchapter B applies to the "contributing zone" in these same counties. The recharge zone has been regulated since the mid-1980s; therefore, the new rules amend existing regulations. However, the contributing zone had not been regulated until these rules were adopted in September. Due to concerns from the real estate industry, TNRCC specifically set June 1, 1999, as the effective date for the new rules in order to allow for legislative input. According to the real estate industry, several outstanding issues remain regarding the rules, including the possible lack of scientific data for the new requirements, duplication of the federal National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program and the negative impact of the rules on housing affordability. H.B. 2901 creates an interim select committee comprised of representatives from the regulated counties. Members include engineers, developers, city officials, builders, and TNRCC staff. This bill gives the committee specific direction for their study of the rules. The committee is responsible for issuing a report to the governor, lieutenant governor, speaker, and TNRCC. A moratorium on enforcement of the rules is in effect until the report of the committee is complete. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. SECTION BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1. APPOINTMENT OF INTERIM SELECT COMMITTEE ON THE EDWARDS AQUIFER. Requires the governor to appoint members to an interim select committee to study issues regarding the regulation of development of land in the Edwards Aquifer region. Sets forth the makeup of the committee. Requires the governor to make the appointments within 30 days of the effective date of this Act. Requires the members of the committee to elect a presiding officer at the first meeting of the committee. SECTION 2. COMPENSATION AND EXPENSES. Provides that a member of the committee is not entitled to compensation or to reimbursement for expenses. SECTION 3. DUTIES. Requires the committee to meet at least once each month and at the call of the presiding officer. Requires the committee to study rules adopted by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission that have not taken effect on the date this Act is adopted by both houses of the legislature; and govern land development or construction in counties under the jurisdiction of the Edwards Aquifer Authority; and to report the conclusions of the study as provided by Section 4 of this Act. Sets forth what the report of the conclusions of the study must include. SECTION 4. REPORT. Requires the committee to present its report not later than December 31, 1999, to the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission, governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house of representatives. SECTION 5. MORATORIUM. Prohibits, notwithstanding any other law, until the date the report required by Section 4 of this Act is presented as provided by that section, the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission from enforcing or acting on a rule, order, interpretation, decision, or opinion regarding construction activity in a county under the jurisdiction of the Edwards Aquifer Authority that was adopted, issued, or made by the commission on or after January 1, 1998. SECTION 6. EXPIRATION. Provides that this Act expires May 31, 2000. SECTION 7. Emergency clause. Effective date: upon passage.