Legislation from the 78th Session
The document linked below summarizes some of the more significant bills passed into law during the 78th Regular Session of the Texas Legislature. The bills listed are only a subset of the many bills passed that affect or involve the TCEQ. These are the more significant measures, however, either in their degree of impact to the agency or its stakeholders, or because of their significant policy implications. In all, approximately 124 bills passed by the 78th Legislature will be implemented by the TCEQ.
Details on legislative implementation, including proposed rulemaking, will be made available from this page in the near future.
Despite the challenge of balancing a very difficult budget and addressing a number of other major policy issues, the 78th Legislature was focused on a significant number of natural resource and environmental quality subjects -- And this, despite the fact the previous legislature had conducted an extensive Sunset review of the agency and made several substantial changes in the agency's authority in response to both legislative findings and public input.
As the summary of House Bill 1, the General Appropriations Act, will indicate, the TCEQ faced significant budget reductions as its share of the statewide effort to live within the revenues available to the state. On the whole, while substantial reductions were made, the core functions of the agency are supported at levels for the 2004-05 biennium that will maintain productivity with minimal reductions in staffing.
Environmental Management Issues
The scope of the legislation summarized is also indicative of the range of environmental and natural resource management issues that continue to challenge a state that is faced with the growth and development pressures that are present in Texas today.
One of the most significant of these is the need to improve air quality to meet federal ambient standards. Efforts of the 77th Legislature helped with the passage of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (SB 5) in 2001, however, funding issues prevented the measure from having the complete benefits on air quality intended. This legislature has addressed that problem by passing HB 1365 which changes the funding structure of the program and makes other improvements intended to ensure that the air quality implementation plans for the urban areas of the state are successful.
Water resource issues also continue to be topics of much public debate and concern to anyone aware of the critical need to ensure an adequate water supply for a rapidly growing region. The 78th Legislature addressed many of these issues, including surface water rights, water conservation, and both local and statewide groundwater management issues. At the same time, the need for ongoing discussion of water resource policy was recognized and a number of committees and task forces were established to review and make recommendations on these matters, including policies related to instream flows in surface water rights and water conservation goals.
Solid Waste Issues
A state with a growing population has an obviously expanding problem with management of solid wastes. At the same time, the effects of an expanding waste collection, transportation and disposal infrastructure are more readily apparent to the population. A logical result is increased concern from the public about the location, operation and regulation of every type of waste management facility. Much of the environmental legislation initiated this past session was intended to increase oversight of facilities and strengthen regulations related to siting, technical requirements, recordkeeping and financial responsibility.