When Flower Mound voters elected me, Mayor Pro Tem Filidoro, and Councilmember Lyda, one of our highest priorities was to work with local legislators and monitor Austin regarding legislative issues that could impact Flower Mound. We vowed to fight legislation that would remove our ability to protect the community, and support bills that would help us maintain local control. Our legislative priorities included the preservation of municipal authority in relation to oil and gas drilling issues, appraisal and revenue caps, unfunded mandates, and eminent domain, promoting HOA education and transparency, and ensuring transportation funding remains available for the Metroplex.
The 82nd State Legislative session kicked off in January and more than 6,000 bills were filed. Of those, the Town identified approximately 200 bills of interest, actively monitored their progress through House and Senate committees, sent letters of support for those that would have a positive impact upon our community, and opposed those which would be detrimental. We traveled to Austin on numerous occasions to testify, meet personally with legislators, and work to ensure that those who are voting understand the impact their decisions have on our residents.
On a local level, we have also mobilized other cities to support positive legislation and oppose negative bills through letters of notification, phone calls, and personal visits. Some of the bills the Town Council passed resolutions in support of included two bills introduced by our State Representative Tan Parker – HB 2125 and HB 2126 – that would provide for more inspections of oil and gas wells and would also double the penalty for violations related to gas wells that occur in populous natural gas producing counties. We have also supported HB 3792, a bill that allows a municipality to regulate pipelines, with letters of support and testimony in Austin.
A resolution was also passed in opposition of HB 3105, a damaging bill that subjects municipalities to legal action if gas drilling activities are not permitted regardless of health effects or proximity to homes, schools, hospitals, public buildings, and water wells. HB 3105 was passed out of the Energy Resources Committee in April, and now has the potential be heard on the floor, or added as an amendment to another bill. We have contacted our legislators, involved other local municipalities, and traveled to Austin specifically to fight HB 3105. I also personally hand-delivered letters of opposition written by our residents to legislators who will be voting on the bill. We will watch this bill closely over the next couple of days.
As we work at the state level, big oil and gas money continues to lobby against us. Despite resolutions and letters of opposition, discussions with our local senators, SB 18 has been passed by both the House and the Senate and is currently awaiting the Governor’s signature. Providing private entities with the ability to utilize the right of eminent domain, SB 18 will allow oil and natural gas companies to construct transport pieplines under the guise of “public use.” For some good news, the legislature passed SB 527 and it was signed by the Governor on May 9. This particular legislation provides for the installation of 20 air quality monitors in North Texas.
These are just a few of the bills we are responding to and watching. While the deadline to submit new bills is May 12, we can’t rest or become complacent. The remaining weeks of the session are sure to be a flurry of activity. The potential for Governor Perry to call special sessions well into July is also likely. We will continue to monitor, support, and oppose legislation that impacts Flower Mound and have remained in close contact with our legislative delegation to ensure our voice is heard.