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Capitol Watch: Sunset bills
By the Office of State Representative Larry Phillips
Mar 18, 2017
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March 10th marked the 60th day of legislative session, which was also the last day to file new legislation.  In total, there were 6,495 of legislation filed. There were 4,256 bills and 111 constitutional amendments filed in the House, and 2,239 bills and 58 constitutional amendments filed in the Senate.  Over the next several weeks, I will discuss different bills the House will be considering.

Agencies come up for review before the legislature at least every twelve years, in a process that is commonly referred to as "sunset."  The reviews of agencies are staggered, so that an average of 25 agencies come up for review in any given session. This session there are 25 agencies up for review, including the Department of Transportation, the Railroad Commission (which actually regulates the oil and gas industries, not railroads), the State Board of Veterinary Medical Examiners, and the Texas Medical Board. Next week the House is expected to take up its first Sunset Bill.

The Sunset Commission holds hearings during the interim regarding proposed changes to state agencies up for review. The Commission then issues reports to the legislature with the commission's recommendations. Members who sit on the Sunset Commission author the bills that may include, but are not limited to, the Commission's recommendations.  Most importantly, a sunset bill must pass in order for an agency that is under review to continue to exist.  Sunset legislation is a priority in every session. 

HB 1818 is the Railroad Sunset bill, and is expected to be before the house this coming week.  HB 1818 requires the Railroad Commission to develop and implement a policy to encourage the use of appropriate alternative dispute resolution procedures under the to assist in the resolution of internal and external disputes under the railroad commission's jurisdiction.  It also  requires the oil and gas division of the railroad commission to develop and publish an annual plan to use the oil and gas monitoring and enforcement resources of the railroad commission strategically to ensure public safety and protect the environment. The bill  authorizes the commission to establish pipeline safety and regulatory fees to be assessed for permits or registrations for pipelines under the jurisdiction of the railroad commission's pipeline safety and regulatory program.
For more information on the legislative process, or to review legislation that has been filed, please visit the website
www.capitol.texas.gov.     You can contact my office by writing to P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910 or by emailing me at larry.phillips@house.texas.gov. My district office phone number is (903) 891-7297.