Water bill held hostage by opponent
April 25, 2013, 9:00 pm by James Walker
Legislation that would require the Lower Colorado River Authority to curtail water to rice farmers in the riverís lower basin before mandating or asking cities and municipalities to conserve is stalled in the Texas Senate because a key rice farmer ally is using legislative rules to keep it from being brought up for debate and a vote.
The bill, SB 1631, would require the LCRA to curtail water to interruptible customers such as the rice farmers before asking or mandating that firm customers, such as the cities of Austin and Burnet, conserve water when the combined storage of the Lake Buchanan and Lake Travis reservoirs fall below 850,000 acre feet.
"In checking on the status of the bill I was told that 11 senators have registered their opposition to it,Ē said Sen. Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay), the billís sponsor.
Senate rules require that two-thirds of the 32-member body have to vote to suspend regular business to bring a bill up for debate.
Sen. Glenn Hegar (R-Katy), who regularly champions rice farmer interests, told Fraser he has commitments from enough senators to keep the bill from garnering enough support to bring it to the Senate floor for debate and a possible vote, a Senate Natural Resources Committee staffer confirmed.
For more on this story, see Friday's Highlander.
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