Office of House Bill AnalysisS.B. 1690
By: Bernsen
Land & Resource Management
Committee Report (Amended)


There are 389 miles of Texas coastline, all of which is open to the public
as public beach. Currently, there is no permanent fund with which to shoes
beach erosion along the Texas coast. Consequently, Texas does not receive
federal funding for coastal erosion. S.B. 1690 creates an erosion fund out
of which the land commissioner may initiate erosion plans and local
communities may receive grants to help fight erosion. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority previously delegated to the commissioner of the General Land
Office is modified in SECTION 2 (Section 33.602, Natural Resources Code) of
this bill. 


SECTION 1. Sets forth legislative findings regarding public beaches, and

SECTION 2.   Amends Sections 33.136(a)-(e), Natural Resources Code, as

(a) Prohibits a person from undertaking, notwithstanding any law to the
contrary, in the coastal zone, rather than on the public beach (as defined
in Section 61.001(8), Natural Resources Code), an action relating to
erosion response that will cause or contribute to shoreline alteration
before the person has conducted and filed a coastal boundary survey in the
same manner as the survey of public land required by Chapter 21(Surveys and
Field Notes), Natural Resources Code, and any applicable rule of the
commissioner of the General Land Office (commissioner), and has obtained
any required lease or other instrument from the commissioner or the School
Land Board (board) (Section 33.004 (Definitions), Natural Resources Code),
as applicable. Provides that, on filing of the survey, the shoreline
depicted on the survey  is a fixed line for the purpose of locating a
shoreline boundary, subject to movement, rather than erosion, landward of
that line. 

(b) Makes conforming changes.

(c) Requires the commissioner to provide notice of the approval of a
coastal boundary survey, rather than the commissioner's action, within 30
days after the date the commissioner approves a coastal boundary survey,
rather than a coastal boundary survey fixing the location of the shoreline,
under this section by publication for two consecutive weeks in a newspaper
of general circulation in the county or counties in which the land depicted
in the survey is located; and filing a copy of the approval, rather than
the commissioner's decision, in the archives and records division of the
land office.   

(d) Provides that a person who claims title to permanent school fund land
as a result of accretion, reliction, or avulsion in the coastal zone on or
after September 1, 1999, must, in order to prevail in the claim, prove that
certain enumerated conditions exist. Makes conforming changes relating to
the public beach in an area where the shoreline was or may have been
changed by an action relating to erosion response. 

(e) Makes a conforming change.

SECTION 3. Amends Section 33.203(10), Natural Resources Code, to redefine
"critical erosion area," to have the meaning assigned to "critical coastal
erosion area" by Section 33.601 (Coastal Erosion Duties and Authority),
rather than meaning an area designated by the land commissioner under
Section 33.601(b). 

SECTION 4.  Amends Subchapter H, Chapter 33, Natural Resources Code, as


Sec. 33.601. New title: DEFINITIONS. Defines "account," "beach
nourishment," "coastal erosion," "critical coastal erosion area," "erosion
response project," "hard structure," "institution of higher education,"
"local government," "project cooperation agreement," "public beach,"
"qualified project partner," and "shared project cost." 

Sec. 33.602. COASTAL EROSION  DUTIES AND AUTHORITY.  (a) Requires the land
office to implement a program, rather than act as the lead agency for the
coordination, of coastal erosion avoidance, remediation, and planning.
Redesignated from existing Section 33.601. Makes a nonsubstantive change. 
(b)  Requires the commissioner to publish and periodically update a coastal
erosion response plan.  Requires the commissioner to develop the plan in
coordination with state and federal agencies and local governments and
provide for public input on the plan. Provides that the plan must, rather
than requires the commissioner to, identify critical coastal erosion areas
and prioritize coastal erosion response studies and projects, so that
benefits are balanced throughout the coast; federal and local financial
participation is maximized; studies and projects are scheduled to achieve
efficiencies and economies of scale; and the severity of erosion effects in
each area is taken into account. Transfers rulemaking authority to
Subsection (c). Makes conforming changes. 

(c) Authorizes the commissioner to adopt rules necessary to implement this

Requires the General Land Office (GLO) to undertake coastal erosion
studies, demonstration projects, and response projects if GLO receives
legislative appropriations or other funding for that purpose. Requires GLO,
if reasonable and appropriate, to work in conjunction with other state
agencies, local governments, federal agencies, including the United States
Army Corps of Engineers, or other qualified project partners in undertaking
those studies and projects. Redesignated from existing Section 33.602.
Makes conforming changes. 

(b)  Requires the studies and projects to address enumerated issues.

(c)  Provides that an agreement between the commissioner and a qualified
project partner to undertake a coastal erosion response study or project
must require the qualified project partner to pay at least 25 percent of
the shared project cost before completion of the project or following
completion of the project, in accordance with a schedule provided by the
agreement. Authorizes such an agreement to contain other terms governing
the study or project.  

(d)  Provides that this chapter does not authorize the construction of a
hard structure on or landward of a public beach.  
Sec. 33.604.  COASTAL EROSION RESPONSE ACCOUNT. (a) Authorizes the
appropriation of the coastal erosion response account, an account in the
general revenue fund, only to the commissioner and authorizes this fund to
be used only for the purpose of implementing this subchapter.  

(b) Provides that the account consists of a specified list of monies, fees,
and grants. 

Sec. 33.605.  USES OF ACCOUNT.  (a)  Authorizes the money in the account to
be used  for any action authorized by this subchapter.  

(b) Provides that the commissioner must approve an expenditure from the
account. Requires the commissioner to consider, in determining whether to
approve an expenditure for a study or project: 

(1)  the amount of money in the account;
(2)  the feasibility and cost-effectiveness of the study or project;
(3)  the locations of other existing or proposed erosion response projects;
(4)  the needs in other critical coastal erosion areas;
(5)  the effect of the study or project on public or private property; and
(6)  if the site to be studied or project to be conducted  will be located
within the jurisdiction of a local government subject to Chapter 61 or 63,
whether the local government is adequately administering those chapters.  

Sec. 33.606. GRANTS AND GIFTS.  Redesignated from Section 33.603, Natural
Resources Code. 

Subdivisions (1)-(4) from existing text. 

(b) Requires the commissioner, in consultation with the Bureau of Economic
Geology of The University of Texas at Austin and coastal county and
municipal governments, on an ongoing basis, to monitor historical erosion
rates at each location along the shore of the Gulf of Mexico. Makes
conforming changes. 

(c) Requires the commissioner to make historical erosion data accessible,
through the Internet and otherwise, to the public and persons receiving the
notice required under Section 61.025 (Disclosure to Purchaser of Property),
Natural Resources Code. 

(d) Encourages a local government subject to Chapter 61 (Use and
Maintenance of Public Beaches) or 63 (Dunes) to use historical erosion data
to prepare a plan for reducing public expenditures for erosion and storm
damage losses to public  and private property, including public beaches, by
establishing and implementing a building set-back line that will
accommodate a shoreline retreat, rather than a 50-year shoreline retreat.
Requires the local government to hold a public educational meeting on the
plan before proposing to implement it through the plans, orders, or
ordinances provided by Chapters 61 and 63. Redesignated from Section
33.604. Deletes requirement to report back to the legislature with
recommendations. Makes conforming changes. 

Sec. 33.608.  REPORT TO LEGISLATURE.  Requires the commissioner to submit
to the legislature, each biennium, a report listing certain enumerated
information related to erosion. 
Sec. 33.609.  LANDOWNER CONSENT.  (a)  Prohibits the commissioner from
undertaking a coastal erosion response project on permanent school fund
land without first obtaining the written consent of the school land board;
or on private property, other than that encumbered by the common law rights
of the public affirmed by Chapter 61, without first obtaining the written
consent of the property owner.  

(b) Provides that if the commissioner cannot determine the identity of or
locate a property owner, consent is considered to have been given if the
commissioner publishes a notice of the project at least once a week for two
consecutive weeks in the newspaper having the largest circulation in the
county in which the project is located; and the property owner does not
object on or before the 20th day after the last date notice is published
under Subdivision (1). 

Authorizes the commissioner to notify in writing the appraisal district
that appraises the land for ad valorem tax purposes and each taxing unit
that imposes taxes on the land if the commissioner determines that land has
become submerged by erosion or subsidence and as a result is dedicated to
the permanent school fund. Provides that the notice  must include a legal
description of the land.  

(b)  Requires the appraisal district, on receipt of notice under Subsection
(a), to remove the land from the appraisal roll, and requires each taxing
unit to remove the land from its tax roll.  

Sec. 33.611.  IMMUNITY.  (a) Provides that this state, the commissioner,
and land office staff are immune from suit for damages and from liability
for an act or omission related to: 

(1)  the approval, disapproval, funding, or performance of a coastal
erosion response activity, including an erosion response study or project
or a survey; or 
(2)  the failure of an erosion response project undertaken by the
commissioner under this subchapter to fulfill its intended purpose. 

(b) Provides that the immunity granted by this section does not apply to an
act or omission that is intentional, wilfully or wantonly negligent, or
committed with conscious indifference or reckless disregard for the safety
of others. 

Sec. 33.612.  JUDICIAL REVIEW.  (a) Provides that judicial review of rights
affected by an action of this state, the commissioner, or land office staff
under this subchapter is under the substantial evidence rule.  Provides
that a person seeking review must prove, in order to prevail, that the
action complained of was arbitrary, capricious, or otherwise not in
accordance with law. 

(b)  Provides that the venue for an action relating to this subchapter is
in Travis County.  

SECTION 5. Amends Sections 40.151(a) and (b), Natural Resources Code, to
include that another purpose of this subchapter (Payment of Costs and
Damages) is to provide immediately available funds for erosion response
projects. Provides that the coastal protection fund is established in the
state treasury to be used by the commissioner as a nonlapsing revolving
fund only for carrying out the purposes of this chapter (Oil Spill
Prevention and Response Act of 1991) and of Subchapter H (Management of
Coastal Public Land), Chapter 33. 

SECTION 6. Amends Section 40.152(a), Natural Resources Code, to authorize
the money in the fund to be disbursed, in an amount not to exceed the
interest accruing to the fund annually, for erosion response projects under
Subchapter H, Chapter 33, among the other enumerated purposes. 

SECTION 7. Amends Section 40.153, Natural Resources Code, to provide that
this section (Reimbursement) does not apply to sums expended under Section
40.152(a)(10) as amended in SECTION 6. 

SECTION 8.  Amends Section 40.161, Natural Resources Code, by adding
Subsection (c), to make a conforming change.  

SECTION 9. Amends Subsection (a), Section 61.025, Natural Resources Code,
to provide that the statement included in an executory contract for the
conveyance of coastal property state that the structures erected seaward of
the vegetation line (or other applicable easement boundary) or that become
seaward of the vegetation line as a result of natural processes such as
shoreline erosion are subject to a lawsuit by the State of Texas to remove
the structures. Adds text to provide that the purchaser should also
determine the rate of shoreline erosion in the vicinity of the real

SECTION 10.  (a) Effective date: September 1, 1999, except as provided by
SECTION 11 of this Act. 

(b) Provides that Subsection (d), Section 33.136, Natural Resources Code,
applies only to a cause of action that accrues on or after September 1,
1999. Makes application of this Act prospective. 

(c) Provides that Section 33.609, Natural Resources Code, applies only to
erosion response activity undertaken on or after September 1, 1999. 

 (d) Provides that Section 33.611, Natural Resource Code, applies only to a
cause of action that accrues on or after September 1, 1999.  

SECTION 11. Provides that this Act takes effect only if a specific
appropriation for the implementation of this Act is provided in H.B. 1
(General Appropriations Act), Acts of the 76th Legislature, Regular
Session, 1999. Provides that if no specific appropriation is provided in
H.B. 1, General Appropriations Act, this Act has no effect. 

SECTION 12. Emergency clause.


Amendment #1:

In SECTION 2, amends Section 33.136(a), Natural Resources Code, to add text
providing that a person is not required to obtain a lease or other
instrument from the commissioner or board if the action is confined to land
owned by a navigation district or municipality.