The Denton Frack ban, passed by 59% of Denton voters last year, has had the oil and gas industry in a tizzy. Their "compromise bill" HB 40, is in Calendars
We have joined the Local Control for Texas coalition to stop many bills that have been filed in this session against local control. Remember, we warned you about this many months ago.
Early on, we were urging the defeat of House Bill 540, introduced by Rep. Phil King, (R-Weatherford). This bill is an attack on the rights of citizens to petition for local initiatives and referendums. If passed, any local measure, AFTER petitioners have gone through the arduous task of gathering petitions, would then be subjected for review by one state elected official -- the Attorney General -- before voters get to vote on it. The Attorney General would give his or her opinion as to the constitutionality, rather than letting the courts decide IF the measure is passed and IF it is challenged. Therefore, it is a power grab for the Executive Branch, or as Rep. Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) pointed out, this is the "big hand of government, getting bigger." (Read this March 11 Dallas Morning News piece.)
It appears to us that HB 540 is so bad many House State Affairs Committee members, including the chair, Rep. Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) who wisely raised serious questions in the hearing on this bill on March 11.
What bothers us, however, is the plethora of bills filed in this session designed to take away local control of municipalities and citizens.
Many of these bills (like HB 40, introduced by Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo), House Energy Committee Chair, are designed to take a crude scalpel to citizens petition rights, by carving out oil and gas.
We wish to only remind you that the Denton "frack ban" passed by 59% of the voters came after years of asking state agencies, particularly the Texas Railroad Commission, to find a little gumption to regulate the industry from fracking too close (in the opinion of Denton voters) to their homes.
HB 40 is a retribution bill, pure and simple by the oil and gas industry to deter, inhibit and take away municipal government's ability to regulate oil and gas within their borders. Why has this become necessary? Because state agencies as so "under the influence", they refused to do their jobs.
The testimony on HB 540 on March 11 is most illuminating, video here.
The Denton City Attorney (who starts at 1:06) was most eloquent. She urges that we not allow the overreach of the Executive Branch to destroy 100 years of citizens' petition rights in Texas. All the against speakers made important points.
House State Affairs Committee: (obviously, if you live in their district, all the better!)
Chair, Rep. Byron Cook
Vice Chair, Rep. Helen Giddings
Rep. Marsha Farney
Rep. Tom Craddick
Rep. Jessica Farrar
Rep. Charlie Geren
Rep. Patricia Harless
Rep. Dan Huberty
Rep. John Kuempel
Rep. Rene Olivieri
Rep. John Smithee
Rep. Sylvester Turner