APRIL 13 UPDATE: This bill was killed in committee, 5-4. Unfortunately powerful lobbyists such as the Texas Association of Builders and TACA still carry more weight than hundreds of citizens who live in the area actually affected. These committee members voted against the bill: Dustin Burrows, Tom Craddick, Ramon Romero, Jr., David Spiller, Shawn Thierry.
It’s that time again: the next Texas legislative session is now in full swing and we’re closely watching a number of bills related to quarries, aggregate production operations (APOs), and protecting our state’s natural resources.
Good news! One of the most important bills for us this session has been (at the last minute) scheduled for a committee hearing Tuesday, April 6! We strongly support HB 3883.
What’s to Like?
Tired of hearing county commissioners tell you that they don’t have any tools in their toolbox? That unincorporated areas of the county are the “wild west”? 👎 With HB 3883, the legislature gives even more tools to Hill Country counties and provides them with appropriate local control to help protect our water supply, water quality, and other natural resources.
Some of the tools this legislation would provide to counties in unincorporated areas include:
- Appropriately manage and control growth
- Set reasonable lot size and minimum frontage restrictions (preventing high-density development)
- Require adequate water supply prior to subdivision development
- Establish infrastructure cost recovery fees (paid by developers)
This bill is not a quick fix: there are some high bars to be met before restrictions can be implemented. But it provides counties with additional local control options and tools to help prevent over-development of our Texas Hill Country. Kendall County Commissioner Richard Elkins stated that this bill “will provide the necessary development rules and regulations to protect our natural resources and quality of life while allowing new economic development.”
Milan Michalec, president of the Cow Creek Groundwater Conservation District, wrote this helpful editorial in the Boerne Star outlining the history of and reasons to support HB 3883.
Legislation like HB 3883 could positively affect the future of the Texas Hill Country for decades to come.
On Tuesday, the House Land & Resource Management Committee will consider HB 3883. Representative Biedermann and his staff have worked hard to draft this bill. Now we need to back it and help get it passed into law!
What to Do—NOW!
ASAP (by Tuesday morning, if possible), email 📧 and call 📱 8 members of the House Land & Resource Management Committee. Urge them to vote YES on HB 3883!
Your input will be especially meaningful if you mention you have seen first-hand how higher density development in unincorporated areas of the Hill Country is jeopardizing our aquifers and our water supply.
Key points provided by our friends at the Greater Edwards Aquifer Alliance:
- Population in Hill Country Priority Groundwater Management Area (PGMA) has exploded recently, growing over 30 percent in the last five years.
- The recent drought of 2010-2015 showed that in many areas, the Trinity Aquifer was not a reliable source for water. Additionally, the Guadalupe, Pedernales, and Blanco Rivers were inadequate sources of water during drought conditions.
- Other water sources must be found for the existing population and new people moving into the area.
- Some county commissioners have been working closely with their respective groundwater conservation districts. This bill further combines their efforts to determine the appropriateness of development in the Hill Country PGMA.
- Letter of support and full comments from GEAA can be found here.
- Report from 2002: Do Counties Need New Powers to Cope with Urban Sprawl?
Explain your reasoning from the points above, use our sample email template (personalize it as much as you can), or at a minimum, simply state your support for the bill. In addition to the email and phone call, if you can drop a letter in the mail to each member, that would be superb! (The bill is being presented on Tuesday, but they may not vote on it until later.)
(Some offices may be closed on Monday. If so, try calling on Tuesday morning.)
Joe Deshotel, Chair (Beaumont)
Ben Leman, Vice Chair (Brenham)
Dustin Burrows (Lubbock)
Tom Craddick (Midland)
Ramon Romero, Jr. (Fort Worth)
Jon Rosenthal (Far NW Houston)
David Spiller (Rural North Texas)
Shawn Thierry (SW Houston)
(Representative Biedermann is on the committee as well, but he’s the author of the bill.)
We know you are busy and this is super-short notice. But if you are able, it would be wonderful to have some citizens speak at the committee hearing on Tuesday afternoon or evening:
Tuesday, April 6; time TBA, but no earlier than 12 noon
Room EXT E2.136
1100 Congress Avenue
Austin, TX 78701
Map & Directions
Agenda (bills are not called in order)
How to Register to Speak
Allow plenty of time for Austin traffic and parking. Sometimes these hearings can last two or three hours, so be prepared (snacks, water, book, etc.). If you have any printed documents or graphics, bring ten copies. If you have any questions about the process—or anything else—simply reply to this email.
Don’t worry if you haven’t memorized every detail of this bill. That’s fine! Tell your personal story, focus on the fact that we need to protect our Hill Country water resources and counties need tools to do it.
If you plan to speak at the committee hearing, we recommend emailing Representative Biedermann’s policy specialist at Larry.Bailey@house.texas.gov to coordinate and run any questions or comments by him.
If you are unable to make it to the Capitol on Tuesday, you can submit public comments supporting HB 3883 online.
Want to Do More?
Write a letter to the editor of the New Braunfels Herald-Zeitung, the San Antonio Express-News, and/or your local newspaper outlining why you support HB 3883 and why it’s so important to the Texas Hill Country.
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