GOVERNOR’S VETOES INCLUDE CITY-RELATED BILLS

Governor Rick Perry has vetoed 35 bills passed by the legislature during the regular session. Two of the 35 were city-related bills described in the League’s final legislative wrap-up of June 11. Those two vetoes are detailed below:

H.B. 2820 – Professional Services: would have added landscape architectural and geoscientific services to the Professional Services Procurement Act. According to the governor’s veto message, the bill “would prevent price-based competition for services by geoscientists and landscape architects, and therefore does not guarantee the best value for taxpayers when government entities contract for these services.”

S.B. 686 – Gas Pipelines: this bill would have applied to a natural gas pipeline located or proposed to be located in: (1) a county in which a part of the Barnett Shale natural gas field is known to be located; (2) a county that is located within the boundaries of a metropolitan planning organization; or (3) the corporate limits of a city. The bill would have provided, among other things, that a gas utility is entitled to lay, maintain, and operate a natural gas pipeline through, under, along, or across a controlled access state highway only if: (1) the pipeline is subject to the jurisdiction, control, and regulation of the Railroad Commission of Texas and subject to safety standard requirements pertaining to gas pipeline facilities and transmission lines for the transportation of gas; (2) the pipeline complies with all applicable state rules consistent with the bill and all applicable federal regulations on the accommodation of utility facilities on the highway or right-of-way, including rules and regulations relating to the horizontal and vertical location of the pipeline; and (3) the highway and associated facilities are promptly restored to their former condition of usefulness after the installation or maintenance of the pipeline, as applicable, is complete. The bill would have provided that TxDOT may require a gas utility to relocate a facility at the cost of the gas utility to accommodate construction or expansion of a highway or for any other public work unless the gas utility has a property interest in the land occupied by the facility to be relocated. The bill was not to be construed to limit the authority of a gas utility to use a public right-of-way under any other law, and the bill was not to be construed to affect the authority of a city to regulate the use of a public right-of-way by a gas utility under any other law or to require payment of any applicable franchise fee.

The governor’s veto message stated the following: “[w]hile I agree that this bill would provide a benefit to communities and reduce the impact on private property owners, the bill conflicts with House Bill No. 2572, which was signed on June 19, 2009, and which accomplishes the same objectives statewide while ensuring that pipelines are installed using the highest safety standards.”

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