Legislative Advocacy

Every two years, the Texas Legislature convenes for a 140-day regular legislative session. During each legislative session, we 

  1. advocate for policies that reduce air pollution and their related health inequities, and 

  2. defend against bills that threaten to roll back the progress achieved to date.

In the interim period, we continue to work with elected officials, allies and community members to inform the upcoming legislative agenda.

87th Legislative Session

Below is a list of bills Air Alliance Houston supported and opposed this session:

Building Healthy Communities

Concrete Batch Plant Buffer Zones and Permitting

Bills We Support

  • HB 50 (Rep. Jarvis Johnson, Dist. 139): This legislation would require all newly proposed concrete batch plants to be located a minimum of 440 yards, creating a “buffer zone,” away from all residential areas, including homes, schools and places of worship. This legislation subsequently provides a critical foundation for proposals HB56 and HB65.
  • HB 56 (Rep. Jarvis Johnson, Dist. 139), HB 3604 (Duplicate, Rep. Jeff Leach, Dist. 67) and SB 953 (Identical, Sen. Juan Hinojosa, Dist. 20): These bills would double the “buffer zone” between homes and concrete batch patch plants from 440 yards to 880 yards. The legislation would also require facilities to implement additional precautions to reduce their overall dust emissions and entitle residents within 880 yards to request a public hearing.
  • HB 65 (Rep. Jarvis Johnson, Dist. 139): This legislation would require new concrete batch plants to provide all residents within 880-yard radius with information regarding the new facility including how to properly submit public comments, ensuring that communities have the opportunity to voice concerns. 
  • HB 289 (Rep. Nicole Collier, Dist. 95): This legislation would empower communities by allowing all persons who may be affected by a proposed plant to request a public hearing from the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ).
  • HB 416 (Rep. Armando Walle, Dist. 140) and SB 952 (Identical, Sen. Juan Hinojosa. Dist. 20): This legislation would standardize the required facility layout map concrete batch facilities must submit to TCEQ when applying for a construction permit, including information such as required “buffer zones” and all potential emissions points.
  • HB 1627 (Rep. Senfronia Thompson), SB 368 (Similar, Sen. Borris L. Miles) and SB 1350 (Identical, Sen. Borris L. Miles): These bills would give unzoned areas in municipalities of more than 2 million people and counties with more than 4.5 million people the right to deny concrete batch plant permits next to a sensitive site such as a home or school.
  • HB 1912 (Rep. Terry Wilson, Dist. 20) and SB 1209 (Identical, Sen. Charles Schwertner, Dist. 5): These bills would require facilities applying for a new permit or a permit renewal to take measures to monitor and minimize air, noise and light pollution, as well as other environmental and safety impacts.
  • HB 3603 (Rep. Jeff Leach, Dist. 67): This legislation would require all concrete batch plant permit applications withdrawn due to community concerns or otherwise, must wait an entire year before they are able to re-apply.

Building Healthy Communities

Environmental Enforcement and Accountability

Bills We Support

  • HB 355 (Rep. Ray Lopez, Dist. 125): This legislation would publicize environmental violations that cause “…hazard or potential hazard created to the health or safety of the public.” This legislation would require the notification of State Representatives and State Senators of those affected as well as providing those constituents information on how to properly submit their public comments in order to voice their concerns regarding the subsequent “proposed order or agreement.”  
  • HB 2974 (Rep. Christina Morales, Dist. 145): This bill would require public schools within 2 miles of potentially hazardous facilities to replace heating and air conditioning system filters in accordance with a schedule recommended by a qualified authority. In addition, the bill would make facilities liable for damages to schools resulting from an explosion or release.
  • SB 364 (Sen. Borris L. Miles, Dist.13) and SB 684 (Sen. César Blanco, Dist. 29): These bills would repeal the “affirmative defense” loophole which is often used by facilities to avoid the financial repercussions associated with unauthorized emissions releases.
  • SB 366 (Sen. Borris L. Miles, Dist.13): This legislation would establish a minimum penalty of $250 a day per violation for facilities that fail to comply with certain environmental regulations. Currently, there are no minimum penalty provisions in place.
  • SB 367 (Sen. Borris L. Miles, Dist.13): This legislation would require new oil fields or gas well applicants to disclose whether they had previously drilled near or through the same rock formations they are currently applying for and whether or not their previous operation resulted in the uncontrolled release of oil, gas or chemicals used in the drilling process.
  • HB 1820 (Rep. Erin Zwiener, Dist. 45): This omnibus legislation would (1) establish annual limits on the volume and frequency of emissions events a facility is allowed before their permit is suspended or revoked; (2) create minimum penalty requirements for emission events that meet certain criteria; (3) strengthen penalty requirements for certain environmental violations – particularly for repeat offenders or those violations that result in injury or death of first responders; and (4) tie penalty amounts to the inflation rate.

Protecting Against Chemical Disasters

Above Ground Storage Tanks

Bills We Support

  • HB 711 (Rep. Mary Ann Perez, Dist. 144) and SB 126 (Identical, Sen. Nathan Johnson, Dist. 16): These bills would require chemical storage tanks at facilities to be more resilient against natural and industrial disasters. The bills would instruct TCEQ to adopt more stringent standards for tanks in areas vulnerable to extreme weather events.

Sustainable and Equitable Transportation

Transportation Funding and Decision-making

Bills We Support

  • HJR 109 (Rep. Armando Walle, Dist. 140) and SJR 40 (Identical, Sen. Borris L. Miles, Dist.13): These bills propose a constitutional amendment to permit a large portion of the funds transferred each fiscal year to the state highway fund be used for the express purpose of building and maintaining non-tolled public roads, public transportation, sidewalks and bicycle paths. This proposed constitutional amendment shall be submitted to voters at an election to be held November 2, 2021.
  • HB 2219 (Rep. Terry Canales, Dist. 40) and SB 1455 (Sen. Robert Nichols, Identical): This legislation would provide the opportunity for more sustainable transportation planning practices by repealing strict design guidelines currently in place.
  • HB 2223 (Rep. Terry Canales, Dist. 40) and SB 1463 (Sen. Robert Nichols, Identical): This legislation would help ensure that highways and roads across the state have the funding needed to keep them properly maintained.
  • HB 4515 (Rep. Penny Morales Shaw, Dist. 148) would allow local governments to propose alternatives for TxDOT projects.
  • HB 4520 (Rep. Penny Morales Shaw, Dist. 148) would create a process for more equitable representation in the Texas transportation decision-making system.

Bills We Oppose

  • HJR 21 (Rep. Tom Craddick, Dist. 82) and HJR 82 (Duplicate, Rep. Tom Craddick, Dist. 82): This legislation would propose a constitutional amendment that would divert state funds, including existing transportation funds, to expand highways and infrastructure to support fossil fuel extraction.

Sustainable and Equitable Transportation

Texas Emissions Reductions Plan (TERP)

Bills We Support

  • HB 286 (Rep. Philip Cortez, Dist. 117): This legislation would encourage the construction of alternative fueling stations, such as electric vehicle (EV) charging stations, in smaller Texas counties, making the use of EVs more practical and reliable across the state.
  • HB 2221 (Rep. Terry Canales, Dist. 40): This legislation would establish policies to facilitate mass electric vehicle adoption in Texas. This legislation would create a new state entity, the Texas Transportation Electrification Council (TTEC), which would administratively be housed in TxDOT and be made of the heads of different state entities including TxDOT, PUC, ERCOT, TCEQ, and others. This bill would require TTEC to assess the current state of EV charging infrastructure and complete a study of future public charging needs to ensure sufficient capacity for a growing number of EVs. Their report would be updated biennially. The entity would develop policy recommendations for other state agencies to facilitate further electrification. The bill would also change some TERP funding allocations to benefit electrification, establish a fee structure for EVs to fund the Texas Transportation Electrification Council; leftover funds from the fee would go into the State Highway Fund.

Environmental Justice

Bills We support

  • HB 202 (Rep. Shawn Thierry, Dist. 146) and SB 1773 (Identical, Sen. Judith Zaffirini, Dist. 21): This Legislation would rename the Center for Elimination of Disproportionality and Disparities to the Office of Health Equity. The office will remain dedicated to addressing systemic health inequality and finding solutions to the health disparities that exist across racial, ethnic, and socio-economic lines in Texas.
  • HB 714 (Rep. Ron Reynolds, Dist. 37): This legislation would establish a Texas Environmental Justice Advisory Council and an Environmental Justice Review Board to help ensure the fair treatment of Texans regardless of race, class or creed. It will be the Council’s responsibility to review state programs, environmental permits, and community petitions and subsequently advise government officials on environmental justice issues.
  • SB 87 (Sen. Borris L. Miles, Dist. 13): This legislation would better protect public health by requiring TCEQ to consider the cumulative impacts to public health of emissions by taking into account the total impact of all facilities within a 3-mile radius in permit applications.
  • HB 710 (Rep. Garnet Coleman, Dist. 147) and SB 108 (Identical, Sen. Royce West, Dist. 23): This legislation would create a legal mechanism that would allow Texas lawmakers to better determine whether new legislation positively or negatively affects childhood racial disparities. Per request of the Lieutenant Governor or Speaker of the Texas HOR, state agencies potentially affected by new legislation are required to create a report assessing the legislation’s impact on childhood racial disparity, in an effort to create a more equitable Texas.
  • SB 365 (Sen. Borris L. Miles, Dist. 13): Under this legislation, permit seeking facilities are required to give time, notice and opportunities for affected communities to voice their concerns and to be heard concerning the need for, and terms of, a community environmental benefit agreement.

Climate Change

Bills We Support

  • HB 896 and HB 897 (Rep. Ron Reynolds, Dist. 37): These bills would restrict the health and climate-harming natural gas flaring and venting through the development of new state standards that limit the practices (HB 869) and further study of existing and potential regulations (HB 897).
  • HB 1044 Texas Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Act (Rep. Rafael Anchía, Dist. 103): This legislation would establish a Texas Climate Change Mitigation and Adaptation Commission to study and address the impacts of climate change in Texas.
  • HB 2015 (Rep.Ron Reynolds) and SB 170 (Identical, Sen. Cesar Blanco, Dist. 29): This legislation asks the Public Utility Commission to study the opportunities, challenges, and strategies for transitioning Texas to 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2050.
  • HB 2206 Texas Climate Action Act (Rep. James Talarico, Dist. 52): This legislation would mandate the state to combat climate change by establishing greenhouse gas emissions reduction targets, energy efficiency standards, and a resiliency plan with a framework for local involvement.
  • HB 2736 (Rep. Gina Hinojosa, Dist. 49): This bill would require the Public Utility Commission to prepare a report on the ability of electric generators to respond to abnormal weather conditions and to consider climate change in preparing the report.
  • SB 170 (Sen. Cesar Blanco, Dist. 29): This legislation would ask the Public Utility Commission to study the opportunities, challenges, and strategies for transitioning Texas to 50% renewable energy by 2030 and 100% by 2050.

Other Air Quality Related Bills of Interest

Bills We Support

  • HB 351 (Rep. James Talarico, Dist. 52): This legislation would help better protect children across Texas, by requiring child care facilities, including public and private schools, to meet the 2012 air filtration standards set by the National Air Filtration Association. Additionally, this legislation will require routine testing to ensure that these standards are met as well as making the test results easily available to the public.

Our Testimonies

[concrete batch plants] HB 1627 by Rep. Thompson – Supporting testimony of Air Alliance Houston, March 29, 2021 (written) | Watch the live recording

[concrete batch plants] HB 65 by Rep. Johnson – Supporting testimony of Air Alliance Houston, April 19, 2021

[sustainable & equitable transportation] HJR 109 by Rep. Walle – Supporting testimony of Air Alliance Houston, Apr. 20, 2021 (written) | Watch the live recording

[sustainable & equitable transportation] HB 2219 by Rep. Canales & HB 2223 by Rep. Canales, Rep. Wilson Supporting letter of Air Alliance Houston, Mar. 23, 2021 (written)

[environmental enforcement & accountability] HB 1820 by Rep. Zwiener – Supporting testimony of Juan Flores, Galena Park Resident and Air Alliance Houston’s Community Air Monitoring Program Manager, Apr. 12, 2021 (live recording)

[environmental enforcement & accountability] HB 2974 by Rep. Morales – Supporting testimony of Air Alliance Houston, Apr. 26, 2021 (written) | Watch the live recording

[environmental enforcement & accountability] HB 3477 by Rep. Rose – Supporting testimony of Air Alliance Houston, Apr. 26, 2021 (live recording) 

[climate change] Our letter to the Texas Senate Business and Commerce committee to remind our representatives about the climate crisis that made the February winter storm as devastating as it was. 

Want to see how your elected officials voted on air quality during the 86th legislative session?

Check our Legislative Score Card