Two bills – one good, one bad – get committee hearings

 

Two bills are scheduled for committee hearings on Monday, May 18.   If you can make it to the Capitol on Monday, please come register on these bills!  The witness lists really do make a difference, and it’s quick and easy to do.  Just come, sign it at the kiosks in the Capitol, register your position, and then go on with your day.  All of the details are below.

Both hearings are scheduled to begin at 2 pm or upon adjournment of the House & Senate.  Generally, the witness registration will open no later than 1 pm (and often by noon), and will stay open until the bills are heard.  Based on how the schedules have been recently, our best estimate is that the registration will stay open until at least 4 pm, if not later.

Note: it may seem confusing, but the House Bill (HB 3298) is being heard by the Senate Ag Committee, while the Senate bill (SB 474) is being heard by the House Land & Resource Mgmt Committee.  That’s because each bill has already been approved by the chamber in which they were originally filed, and have now moved over to the other chamber.  Just make sure to have the information below with you when you register.

Good bill: SB 474 Eminent Domain Reform

Property owners are often forced to accept unfairly low compensation for their land in eminent domain cases because they cannot afford the legal costs to challenge the offer through litigation. Condemnors are aware that property owners can rarely afford litigation and take advantage of property owners by “low-balling” their offers — offering much less than the property is actually worth.   SB 474 requires condemnors to reimburse property owners for attorney’s and professional fees in eminent domain proceedings where it is determined that the condemnor’s lowest offer for the property is 20 percent or more lower than the amount determined by a special commissioner or other court.  This bill will serve to discourage low ball offers, as well as to ensure that a property owner who fights unfair offers in court has a fair recovery.

Hearing information:

TIME: Registration will open by 1 pm.  The hearing is scheduled to start at 2 pm or upon adjournment of the House, so it will most likely actually start at 4 pm or later.  Witness registration will be open until the bill hearing starts.

WHERE: Capitol Extension, Floor E2, Room E2.016.  Maps  

WHAT TO DO: Come to Capitol Extension and sign in at one of the kiosks in support of SB 474.  You’ll be listed on the witness list even if you leave right after that. The witness list is important because the legislators look at it to see how many people were for the bill.  If you can stay for the hearing, grab a seat in the hearing room.

SIGNING IN: The House uses an electronic witness registration system on kiosks located throughout the Capitol Extension. Take the elevator down to Floor E1 or E2, and walk down the main hallway about halfway. Turn down one of the side hallways, then turn again so that you are going parallel to the main hallway. The kiosks are in the alcoves, where there used to be pay phones. You will need this information with you:

  • Bill number: SB 474 by Kolkhorst et al
  • House Land & Resource Management Committee
  • The time and location of the hearing: 2 pm, Room E2.016
  • Position: FOR
  • Not Testifying (unless you have a specific experience to share on the issue of eminent domain)

PARKING: Parking is usually available at the Capitol Visitors Center, located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets at 12th and 13th. You can find a map and other options also listed at  http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/SPB/Plan/Parking.htm

Bad Bill: HB 3298, studying statewide water markets and conveyances

HB 3298 directs the Texas Water Development Board to commission a $2 million study on how to create a “statewide marketing and conveyance grid” for water.  In practical terms, this approach will mean taking more water from rural areas to supply urban centers.  But average residential water usage ranges from 60 gallons to over 300 gallons per person per day in different cities in Texas.  Are perfect green lawns important enough to drain aquifers and destroy the future of rural communities and local food?

Ultimately, this approach hurts us all, by fueling unsustainable growth and using up the water resources we all need.  

You can read more about HB 3298 in our fact sheet and other ways you can take action to stop it here

 

TIME: Registration will open by 1 pm.  The hearing is scheduled to start at 2 pm or upon adjournment of the Senate, so it will most likely actually start at 4 pm or later.  Witness registration will be open until the bill hearing starts.

WHERE: Capitol Extension, Floor E1, Room E1.012.  Maps  

WHAT TO DO: Come to Capitol Extension and sign in at one of the kiosks against HB 3298.  You’ll be listed on the witness list even if you leave right after that. The witness list is important because the legislators look at it to see how many people were for the bill.  If you can stay for the hearing, grab a seat in the hearing room.

SIGNING IN: The Senate also uses an electronic witness registration system on kiosks, but they are ONLY located on floor E1, on one side. Take the elevator down to Floor E1, and walk down the main hallway about halfway. Turn right, down one of the side hallways, then turn again so that you are going parallel to the main hallway. The kiosks are in the alcoves, where there used to be pay phones. You will need this information with you:

  • Bill number: HB 3298 by Larson | Perry
  • Senate Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs Committee
  • The time and location of the hearing: 2 pm, Room E1.012
  • Position: AGAINST
  • Not Testifying (unless you have a specific experience to share on the issue of water transfers)

If you have problems registering on the kiosk, you can also go to the hearing room (E1.012, and ask the committee clerk for a paper registration — most Senate Committees are still doing paper cards as well.

PARKING: Parking is usually available at the Capitol Visitors Center, located between Trinity and San Jacinto Streets at 12th and 13th. You can find a map and other options also listed at  http://www.tspb.state.tx.us/SPB/Plan/Parking.htm