UPDATE on SB 14
SB 14 has died in the House on a point of order raised by Rep. Phillip Cortez of San Antonio and sustained. The bill will not be resurrected this session. Modifying this bill from its original form was WHA’s primary legislative priority this session. Our reasons are detailed below.
WHA Opposes anti-mud sb/hb 14 in texas legislature
The Association strongly opposes SB/HB 14 and all of their derivates bills for the extremely negative impact on the ability of MUDs’ and local governments ability to finance infrastructure needed to support new growth. The Association registered in opposition at a hearing of SB/HB 14 Monday, March 18th and submitted the following statement to Senate and House subcommittee members:
The Honorable Jim Pitts
Texas House of Representatives
House Appropriations Committee, Chair
The Honorable Tommy Williams
Senate Finance Committee, Chair
Re: Senate Bill No. 14 and House Bill No. 14
Dear Chairmen Williams and Pitts:
The West Houston Association (WHA) has a 34-year history of planning for and supporting improvements in infrastructure and public policies that help accommodate the significant population and employment growth of Greater West Houston. Our membership works for a better living and working environment for the 1.5 million residents and 500,000 employees in Greater West Houston. WHA members are property owners, major employers and related interests who advocate for improved mobility, better infrastructure and a sustainable quality of living environment for the region.
We have deep concerns about the effects of SB/HB 14 on local governments’ ability to issue debt needed to build infrastructure and support growth and development, the key drivers of the robust and prosperous economies of Greater West Houston and the State of Texas. We know growth and development can only occur and be sustainable with proper infrastructure. The private sector is dependent upon local cities, counties, school districts and water districts to provide that infrastructure.
In this growth and expansion oriented economy, it is inevitable that local debt increases. Moreover, local governments face increasing responsibility for infrastructure financing as less money is available from state and federal sources and as federal regulation increases the costs of infrastructure. Fast growth areas, like Greater West Houston, struggle to keep up.
The growth of Greater West Houston infrastructure–streets, water, wastewater and drainage–can be most efficiently financed through the use of municipal utility districts (MUDs). It is logical that with this growth the number of MUDs has increased in Greater West Houston. This is a sign of prosperity; a testament to the increased number of homes and businesses being built in our rapidly growing communities. We believe the purposes of MUDs are self-evident, without need of bureaucratic self-evaluation reports.
SB/HB 14 will make it more difficult for local government to finance infrastructure through bonds. Provisions of SB/HB 14 will make ballots more confusing to voters. Voter education about the need for bonds begins well in advance of an election not at the voting booth. Our experience is that voters are inclined to vote against new taxes and bonds unless they are otherwise informed. Proponents of bonds must therefore work diligently to build consensus and support far in advance of an election.
The importance of developing the State’s water resources is a major topic this Legislative Session. It is important to recognize that the State’s water resources are delivered to individual customers via locally built and financed water systems. Municipal and MUD water systems are integral to the development of our State’s long term water supply.
Rather than imposing additional burdens and red tape, as we believe SB/HB 14 does, the State should work with and support our local governments in building quality roads and highways, environmentally sound water and sewer utilities, and classrooms in which our children are educated. Private enterprise depends on our local government partners.
For these reasons, the West Houston Association must oppose SB/HB 14.
This bill as originally written and currently filed essentially deals a death blow to the abilities of municipal utility districts to finance the building of roads, water supplies, wastewater facilities and drainage facilities to accommodate the 1 million forecasted residents of Greater West Houston by 2050. The bill, under the guise of transparency, also renders the financing abilities of cities, counties and schools difficult at best and is a practice in redundancy of accountability and reporting requirements.
- The Association has prepared the statement below and submitted it to Senate and House subcommittee members currently hearing the bill.
- Registered in opposition to SB/HB 14 at hearings Monday, March 18th
Parties such as the TAB and GHBA, TML, Association of Urban Counties have joined developers in opposing this bill. It is being supported by state newspapers and the Texas Public Policy Foundation.
In negotiations with the Comptroller Combs’ staff, the bill is being redrafted to exclude some of the more onerous elements but a substitute bill has not yet been filed (as of March 19, 2013). Companions or related bills to SB/HB 14 are: SB 636 (Paxton); SB 637 (Paxton); SB 843 (Paxton); SB 867 (Paxton); HB 1805 (Pitts); HB 1983 (Murphy); HB 2176 (Kolkhorst)