Governor Reportedly Pondering Special Session To Curtail Power Of Sub-Regional Planning Commissions
by Vince Leibowitz
There are rumblings in the Capitol that Texas Governor Rick Perry is looking at the possibility of calling a Special Session of the Texas Legislature to curtail the power of Regional Planning Commissions.
Why? Because Sub-Regional Planning Commissions have become the latest weapon in the arsenal of opponents of the Trans-Texas Corridor.
Perry is reportedly considering calling a special session on transportation issues with altering Chapter 391 of the Texas Local Government Code being the session’s number one priority.
Chapter 391, the codification of the Regional Planning Act of 1965 codified by the 59th Texas Legislature, has a proviso that has become particularly nettlesome to proponents of the Trans-Texas Corridor, Chapter 391.009(c):
In carrying out their planning and program development responsibilities, state agencies shall, to the greatest extent feasible, coordinate planning with commissions to ensure effective and orderly implementation of state programs at the regional level.
Because these commissions are considered political subdivisions of the state, they are on equal footing with state agencies like TxDOT.
One Sub-Regional Planning Commission in particular, the Eastern Central Texas Regional Sub-Regional Planning Commission, has become a particularly nettlesome thorn in the side of TxDOT. They have demanded, in a 28-page missive, that TxDOT conduct another Environmental Impact Study specific to their region. TxDOT, of course, is required under the National Environmental Policy Act, to conduct an EIS, and the current Draft Environmental Impact Study for TTC-35 is, according to the ECTRSRP, “deficient in issue analysis.”
Whether Perry will call the special session or not remains to be seen, but Austin sources tell Capitol Annex that the issue has been discussed between TxDOT and the governor’s office.
The funny part, however, is that the existing sub-regional planning commissions would be grandfathered, but legislative action could severely clip their wings and possibly stop new SRPCs from either forming or acting so boldly.
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