Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Reservoirs not up on Wednesday

Thankfully, probably due to the sizable Calendar for Wednesday, the House Natural Resources Committee has decided not to hear the House Bills dealing with the 19 proposed reservoirs: HB 1681 by Geren (pro), HB 2187 by Hartnett (pro), and HB 2470 by Robby Cook (anti) -- although they are hearing Rep. Puente said that he wants to hear Rep. Guillen's HB 2833, which would provide for a "voluntary" land stewardship program.

The main issue is not devastating unoccupied land by pouring concrete and filling it with water as much as it is eminent domain and the rights of private property owners. The reservoirs in SB 3 proved a contentious issue in the Senate, where Sen. Eltife lead the charge against the reservoirs. Sen. Averitt kept the language in, despite the fact that he considered moving SB 675 forward in its place, which is just the reservoir language.

Eltife was able to attach an amendment that basically makes the Marvin Nichols reservoir, the largest on the table, jump through some hoops before it's built, but the Senate pushed through all of the original reservoirs. Puente wants to hear testimony for them (on Geren's and Hartnett's two bills; Note: they're both D/FW rep's) and against (Cook's bill basically tries to levy some fines and make any exercise of eminent domain into more of an consensual agreement, but doesn't actually stop the reservoirs)

Cook's bill falls in line with his, Callegari's, and Otto's agenda as members of the Land & Resource Management's subcommittee on Eminent Domain: not trying to stop it or challenging the Supreme Court decision, but making it more viable and less harsh to rural folks.

Regardless, Puente has voted out his two stand-alone water bills: HB 3 (the scientific study of environmental flows) and, more recently, HB 4 (water conservation) -- both of which are from last session's SB 3 and neither of which contain provisions for reservoirs. Puente has put the debate on hold until at least after Easter. Thank goodness Swinford doesn't chair that committee.....


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