HBA-CBW H.B. 2719 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 2719 By: Noriega State Recreational Resources 3/25/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE In 1989, the 71st Legislature directed the Parks and Wildlife Department (department) to develop a state artificial reef plan (plan) to create and enhance reef fish habitats. The goals of the program are to enhance the fishery resources biologically, commercially, and recreationally. One of the main criteria of the program is to actively pursue complex, stable, and durable structures in form as close to their current form as possible. Oil and gas platforms are the primary reef building material of choice, since they already serve as artificial reefs in the Gulf of Mexico and also meet the material criteria of the program. The department has partnered with the energy industry in using obsolete oil rigs near coastal regions to enhance artificial reefs; however, the department does not have a partnership with the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to coordinate projects. Enhancement of artificial reefs may increase the economic development of the coastal region and contribute to the tax base of Texas, through fishing, tourism, and diving. According to a 1996 report by the American Sport fishing Association, the annual economic impact of sportfishing in Texas is almost $2 billion. House Bill 2719 requires TxDOT to coordinate with the department and local governments for the use of obsolete bridges, tunnels, and causeways to create artificial reefs and sets forth provisions regarding the funding for coordinating such efforts. 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. ANALYSIS House Bill 2719 amends the Parks and Wildlife Code to require the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to coordinate with the Parks and Wildlife Department (department) and local governments to use obsolete bridges, tunnels, and causeways to create artificial reefs. The bill authorizes TxDOT to transfer obsolete bridges, tunnels, and causeways to the department to create artificial reefs for use as a state park. The bill also authorizes the department to provide assistance, including money, to a local government to fulfill the purposes of the Act. The bill provides that any money appropriated to the department for the artificial reef program may be used for the purposes of the Act. EFFECTIVE DATE On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act takes effect September 1, 2001.