SENATOR VAN TAYLOR FILES ACCESS TO WATER LEGISLATIVE PACKAGE
AUSTIN, TX - State Senator Van Taylor today filed SB 225, the Streamlining Water Permit Hearings Act, and SB 226 the Streamlining Water Right Amendment Process Act. These two bills seek to eliminate bureaucratic red tape that prevents Texas from accessing the water it needs to grow.
“In a state as diverse as Texas, access to water is an important and challenging issue,” said Taylor. “Here in North Texas, our biggest challenge with water is the long, cumbersome, and bureaucratic permitting process. With no time limit to issue permits, projects have been stalled over a decade waiting on bureaucratic approval. This lengthy process adds significant expense and uncertainty in our efforts to provide long-term water solutions."
SB 225, the Streamlining Water Permit Hearings Act, proposes several reforms to ensure that contested case hearings for water rights are conducted within a reasonable timeframe. The bill limits the issues admissible to a water right hearing to those identified by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) before the hearing. Further, this bill grants party status to parties that objected to a water right application before TCEQ. Lastly, it requires that a contested case hearing be conducted within 270 days. While hearings must be completed within nine months, the bill allows a State Office of Administrative Hearings (SOAH) judge to extend a hearing, if needed, in order to ensure a party's right to due process or any other constitutional right.
Speaking about SB 225 Senator Taylor said, "Water infrastructure is a critical resource for our growing and drought-prone state. It is unacceptable that special interest committed to stopping all new development can game the contested case process with a host of delay tactics preventing us from building necessary water supply projects. This bill provides important reforms aimed at providing stability and certainly to the water permitting process."
Last session the Legislature recognized the need for environmental permit contested case hearing reform and passed SB 709 (84R) authored by Senator Troy Fraser (R- Horseshoe Bay). The Streamlining Water Permit Hearings Act proposes the same type of reforms for contested cases involving water rights. Like SB 709 (84R), SB 225 brings consistency and certainty to the contested case hearing process.
SB 226, the Streamlining Water Right Amendment Process Act, exempts three types of simple amendments from the notice, technical review, and possibly contested case hearing requirements applicable to amendment applications. These types of water rights amendments include adding a purpose of use, adding a place of use, and changing a diversion point within a continuous tract of land.
Streamlining the process for these types of amendments would allow applications to be processed more quickly and enable TCEQ’s water rights permitting technical staff to focus on more complex applications. SB 226 would also allow water purveyors across Texas, including cities, river authorities, and water districts, to receive amended water permits without having to go through a time consuming, costly process.
Speaking about SB 226 Senator Taylor said, "Receiving a water right permit is a lengthy, technical, and costly process. Once an applicant receives a permit if something comes up that even slightly alters the precise manner described by the permit they essentially have to start over. That is ridiculous. This burdensome process creates additional costs while stalling important water projects. My bill cuts unnecessary bureaucratic red tape impeding our ability to develop the water supplies we need to grow."
In 2013 Senator Taylor joint authored legislation providing timeline for inter-basin water transfers, capping the approval process from an unlimited time frame to three years.
A seventh generation Texan, local small businessman, and decorated Marine Officer, Van Taylor serves the majority of Collin County and a portion of Dallas County in the Texas Senate where he is widely recognized as a conservative leader. Taylor serves as Vice-Chairman of both the Nominations Committee and the Sunset Advisory Commission. He is also as a member of the Education, Health and Human Services, and Transportation Committees as well as the interim Committee on Property Tax Reform and Relief. Van and his wife, Anne, married after his return from Iraq and are the proud parents of three young girls. Van and his family reside in Plano near the land his great-grandfather farmed during the Great Depression.
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