The House has adopted the conference committee report for legislation restructuring the Texas Water Development Board and establishing the state water implementation fund. HB 4 by Rep. Allan Ritter (R-Nederland) and Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay):
- reduces the size of the Water Development Board from six to three members, disqualifies from appointment anyone who served on the board before or after 1/1/13, allows the governor, with the advice and consent of the Senate, to remove a board member, and limits an appointee to two six-year terms;
- disqualifies a person from appointment as executive administrator if that person served in that capacity on January 1, 2013;
- establishes the state water implementation fund and designates the Texas Treasury Safekeeping Trust Company as the trustee and manager of the fund;
- directs the board to apply a minimum investment of 10% for bond enhancement agreements to fund rural political subdivisions and agricultural water conservation, and 20% for projects for water conservation or reuse, including agricultural irrigation projects;
- establishes standards for bond enhancement agreements and other methods of finance, and requires the attorney general to approve each agreement;
- requires each regional water planning group to prioritize local projects in accordance with uniform standards established by a stakeholders committee composed of a representative of each planning group, and to submit the list of priorities to the board;
- directs the board to prioritize projects included in the state water plan and to give highest consideration to projects with a substantial effect, including serving a large population, providing assistance to diverse urban and rural populations, providing regionalization, or meeting a high percentage of water supply needs;
- requires the board to consider local participation in financing projects, the financial capacity of the applicant, the ability of the board and applicant to leverage state financing with local and federal financing, and whether an emergency need exists;
- establishes the State Water Implementation Fund for Texas Advisory Committee, composed of the comptroller and three members each of the House and Senate;
- establishes the state water implementation revenue fund under the control of the board and authorizes the board to issue revenue bonds to support the fund.
SJR 1, which is on the House Calendar later today, amends the Texas Constitution to create the State Water Implementation Fund and to clarify that money appropriated to the fund is considered to be constitutionally dedicated and not subject to the state’s spending cap. The general appropriations bill contains $2 billion in seed funding for the water implementation fund from the Rainy Day Fund, contingent upon voter approval of SJR 1 at the November 5, 2013 general election.