Texas Land Professionals Blog

Senate Bill 18

During its 2011 Regular Session, the Texas Legislature passed Senate Bill 18, which included a provision requiring each entity vested with the power of condemnation to provide certain information to the Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts.

Senate Bill 18 added Section 2206.101 to the Texas Government Code. That section requires all entities—both public and private—that are vested with the power of eminent domain to send to the Comptroller a letter stating that the entity has eminent domain authority and identifying the state law that gives the entity that authority. The information must be submitted no later than December 31, 2012, and must be sent by certified mail. If an entity does not make the required submission, then its authority to exercise the power of eminent domain expires on September 1, 2013.

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TRWA Partners with Aqua WSC to challenge SB 573

The Texas Rural Water Association has partnered with Aqua Water Supply Corporation (Aqua) to challenge Senate Bill 573, passed by the 2011 Legislature. The law amends Section 13.254 of the Water Code, adding subsections (a-5) and (a-6) which allow a landowner with 25 acres or more in 33 specified counties to opt out of a certificate of convenience and necessity if the landowner is not “receiving” water or sewer service. TRWA’s goal in the case is to obtain a final federal court judgment holding that these provisions in the Water Code are preempted by federal law, which would lessen the impact of Senate Bill 573 on TRWA member systems. TRWA’s Legal Defense Fund is helping to finance the lawsuit and Lara Zent, TRWA’s General Counsel, is a co-counsel in the case.

Background: Austin Community College (ACC) filed a petition to decertify its property from Aqua’s CCN, where ACC plans to build a campus. Aqua responded that it has the capacity and infrastructure in place to serve the area, including fireflow, and therefore is “providing service” to the area. TCEQ nevertheless granted the petition. Aqua filed an appeal in the Texas Court of Appeals in Austin and filed a lawsuit challenging the TCEQ’s decertification action in federal court pursuant to Title 7, United States Code, Section 1926(b). This federal law protects a water system from decertification and encroachment of their service area if the system is indebted to the U.S. Department of Agriculture – Rural Development.

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TxDOT reports construction on schedule for Grand Parkway north of I-10

Texas Department of Transportation officials say work on the Grand Parkway north of Interstate 10 is still on schedule, as various groups work toward a possible legal settlement concerning ancient bones discovered in the path of the new roadway through northwest Harris County.

The Harris County Historical Commission is appealing a recent state district court ruling that said TxDOT could move human remains discovered in two locations earlier this summer. The commission, which toured the sites last week with TxDOT, state historians and a University of Houston anthropologist, is seeking more time to study the area before highway work proceeds.

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