Texas State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, filed two pieces of legislation — one to establish a new court in Denton County and another to ensure that Texans receive advanced written notice when gas companies intend to enter their property.
SB 290 creates the 442nd Judicial District in Denton County — a new general jurisdiction court intended to help manage rising caseload growth. Caseloads have increased in fast-growing Denton County, which has increased in population by more than 63% since 2000 and is now home to more than 686,000 people. According to the Office of Court Administration, Denton County needs 1.6 new judges to meet caseload growth.
“Because of massive population growth in Denton County, our local courts have seen a significant increase in caseloads,” said Senator Nelson. “A new court is needed to ensure that our citizens have efficient access to the judicial system.”
SB 291 requires gas utilities to notify residents in writing five days before accessing its right-of-way on residents’ property and ensure that residents stay informed about gas utilities’ activities that may affect or damage their property. Currently, gas utilities may enter property without warning to conduct business that may negatively impact a person’s home. SB 291 authorizes the Railroad Commission to assess $200 penalty for each entry without proper notification, with exceptions for emergencies, service restoration and regularly scheduled service readings.
“Property rights are sacred in Texas, and at the very least, Texans should be notified in advance of plans to enter private property,” said Senator Nelson.
Senator Nelson has filed 33 bills so far in the current legislative session, which continues until May 28, 2013. To search legislation, visit the Texas Legislature online at www.capitol.state.tx.us.