Houston, TX

The 87th Texas Legislative Session Recap

Jackson Cutler

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HOUSTON, TX — There were some concerning items in the 87th Texas Legislative Session, from voting rights to reproductive health to the inadequate response to the crisis of Winter Storm Uri, and some good news.

Here’s a recap:

The Good

HJR 82 would have distributed state transportation funds to build more roads for oil and gas extraction sites, but it did not pass the Senate, even without receiving a hearing. Next, the community will need to continue advocating on the transportation funding issue to socialize the impacts of this type of legislation.

Meanwhile, on the industrial emissions and environmental enforcement front, the SB 900 requires the TCEQ to set new performance standards for large storage tanks located aboveground.

This legislation was filed by Senator Carol Alvarado and becoming a step forward in chemical facility regulation in Texas. However, there should be another legislative session to step up the mission of reducing public health impacts from air pollution and improve environmental justice. In line with this, HB 416 and SB 952 also passed in the session.

The Bad

HJR 109 would have reallocated transportation funds, formerly dedicated to constructing and maintaining the highway to more sustainable transportation substitution, which is inherently specific to the North Houston Highway Improvement Project (NHHIP). However, it did not pass the House transportation committee.

B 4515 would require TxDOT to look for an alternative project design if the local government has approved the design; HB 4520 would change the face of the Texas Transportation Commission to reflect Texan’s interests better. These bills were filed by Rep. Penny Morales Shaw as a response to the fight over the NHHIP and heard during the same hearing HJR 109. Unfortunately, both bills did not pass the committee.

Other bills left unheard or left pending were SB 2 and SB 3, HB 1820 and HB 1627.

It is important to note that losses at the state level can sometimes be recovered at the local and federal levels. For example, while HJR 109 died in the Texas House, the Biden administration is pushing forward a progressive federal transportation funding bill that may accomplish many of the same goals.

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