HBA-LJP H.B. 3017 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 3017 By: Chisum Natural Resources 3/20/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE The Texas Water Development Board (TWDB) was created in 1957 by the 55th Legislature to be the state's water planning and financing agency that provides leadership, technical services, and financial assistance to support planning, conservation, and responsible development of water for the State of Texas. Under current law, TWDB is subject to review of the Sunset Advisory Commission, but not abolishment under the Texas Sunset Act. House Bill 3017 implements the Sunset Advisory Commission's recommendations for TWDB from the review. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Water Development Board in SECTION 3 (Section 15.603, Water Code), SECTION 14 (Section 15.909 and 15.910, Water Code), SECTION 15 (Section 16.021, Water Code), and SECTION 20 of this bill. ANALYSIS House Bill 3017 amends the Water Code to provide for the continuation of the Texas Water Development Board (board) until September 1, 2013, and to set forth standard Sunset Advisory Commission recommendations for the board regarding equal employment, member removal, conflicts of interest, standards of conduct, policy implementation by the board, written complaints, development of an equal employment policy, member training, and a state employee incentive program (Secs. 6.013, 6.052, 6.054, 6.057, 6.058, 6.062, 6.106, 6.111, 6.154, 6.155, 6.188, and 6.196). The bill requires the executive administrator to develop and submit to the board for approval a capital spending plan setting water project priorities to be supported by state-funded programs, including the Texas water development fund, the agricultural water conservation fund, and the water assistance fund. The bill sets forth the considerations of the executive administrator in developing the plan and the contents of the plan. The bill requires the board to consider the plan at a regularly scheduled meeting and, on approval, submit the plan to the legislature and the Legislative Budget Board before January 1 of each odd numbered year. The bill authorizes the board to include the plan as part of its legislative appropriations request (Sec. 6.110). The bill authorizes the board to establish a separate account in the revolving fund, to be used solely for providing financial assistance to private entities for nonpoint source pollution control and abatement projects and sets forth the financing of the fund. The bill requires the board to adopt rules to establish the criteria for eligibility and the terms of assistance for private entities that receive financial assistance from the account (Sec. 15.603). The bill creates the rural community water and wastewater loan fund (fund) within the water assistance fund and provides for the appropriation of revenue and proceeds for the fund. The bill authorizes the board to provide loans of financial assistance, beginning no later than September 1, 2002, to rural communities for the construction, acquisition, or improvement of water and wastewater projects that serve a public purpose, as required by federal income tax law. The bill sets forth provisions relating to a loan agreement, including the use of a sales tax as loan security, review and approval of a loan agreement by the attorney general, registration of the record of proceedings of a loan agreement execution by the comptroller, the validity and incontestability in court of the loan agreement, and the enforcement of payment by mandamus. The bill requires the board to adopt necessary rules no later than March 1, 2002 to administer the fund, including rules to establish procedures for application for and award of loans (Secs. 15.902-15.909 and SECTION 20). The bill sets forth the information that an application for financial assistance from the fund must include and requires the board to adopt rules to prescribe the affidavit form the application must conform with for the board to accept the application. The bill also prohibits the board from adopting rules that restrict or prohibit the board from requiring additional factual material from an applicant (Sec. 15.910). The bill prohibits the board from delivering funds under an application for financial assistance from the fund until the executive administrator makes a written statement finding that an applicant proposing surface water or underground water development has the necessary water right authorizing the applicant to appropriate or use the water that the project will provide. The bill prohibits the board from delivering funds for a wastewater treatment plant until the applicant has received a permit for the construction and operation of the plant and approval of the plans and specifications for the plant from the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC). If the applicant proposes a wastewater treatment plant that is located outside the jurisdiction of this state and is not subject to the permitting authority of TNRCC, the board is prohibited from delivering funds for the plant until the board reviews the plans and specifications in coordination with TNRCC and makes certain findings (Sec. 15.911). The bill sets forth factors the board is required to consider in acting on or passing on an application from a rural community for financial assistance for a water project (Sec. 15.912). If there is insufficient money available to fund all applications for the fund, the bill requires the board to give preference to applications from rural communities that the board finds cannot reasonably finance the project without assistance from the state (Sec. 15.914). The bill authorizes the board to approve by resolution an application for a loan under certain conditions (Sec. 15.913). The bill sets forth content requirements regarding all contracts for the construction of a project of a governing body of each rural community receiving financial assistance from the fund and requires the rural community to file with the board a certified copy of each contract with the specifications, plans, and details of all work included in the contract. The bill sets forth provisions for the filing of construction project contracts, certification of approval of the contracts, inspection of the projects, and the alternation of project plans (Secs.15.915-15.919). The bill requires the board to report to the legislature on the fund no later than January 1, 2005 and sets forth the required contents of the report (Sec. 15.920). The bill authorizes the executive administrator, on behalf of the Texas Natural Resources Information System (TNRIS), to enter into partnerships with private entities to provide additional funding for the improvement of accessing TNRIS information. The bill requires the board to adopt rules for the process of establishing and defining the partnerships, fee collection, and determination of which private entities may enter into partnerships. The bill requires the Texas Geographic Information Council to prepare and provide, no later than September 1 of each even-numbered year, to the board, the Department of Information Resources, the governor, and the legislature a plan that inventories state agency geographic information systems projects and recommends initiatives to improve Texas' geographic information systems programs (Sec. 16.021). The bill requires the board and the State Soil and Water Conservation Board to jointly conduct a study of the ways to improve and expand water conservation efforts and sets forth the contents of a report of the findings to the legislature. The bill also requires that the report be issued as part of, or as a supplement to, the state water plan (Sec. 16.022). The bill amends the Government Code to rename the Colonia Advisory Committee as the Colonia SelfHelp Center Advisory Committee (Secs. 2306.584 and 2306.585). The bill also creates the Colonia Water and Wastewater Infrastructure Advisory Committee (advisory committee) and provides that the advisory committee is composed of seven members appointed by the governor, one colonia resident, one representative of a nonprofit organization that serves colonia residents, one local government representative, one person to represent private interests in banking or land development, one representative of a nonprofit utility, one representative of an engineering consultant firm involved in economically distressed areas program projects, and one public member. The bill provides that each advisory committee member, except the public member, must reside within 100 miles of the Texas-Mexico border and provides that the secretary of state is an ex officio member of the advisory committee. The bill requires the advisory committee to review the progress of water and wastewater infrastructure affecting colonias and present an update, and to make recommendations on the status of the infrastructure and the colonia projects to the board and the governing board of the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs (TDHCA) annually at a joint meeting (Sec. 2306.5851). The bill requires the board to meet annually with TDHCA to address progress in meeting the needs of colonia residents and to receive an update and recommendations from the advisory committee (Sec. 6.060, Water Code). EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.