S.B. 219
By: Armbrister (Saunders)
April 18, 1995
Committee Report (Unamended)


Current law authorizes the legislature to provide for the creation
of programs and for loans and grants of public money for the
development and diversification of the state's economy.  River
authorities engaged in the distribution and sale of electricity to
the public are authorized to employ staff and expend resources to
encourage participation in economic development activities.
However, because the statute authorizing participation lacks any
definition or example of "economic development," such river
authorities have been unable to pursue many community assistance
efforts that would benefit their service areas.


S.B. 219 authorizes the formation of economic development programs
by river authorities that distribute and sell electricity to the
public; authorizes the programs to involve grants or loans of
money, services, or equipment to persons or certain organizations
involved in economic development activities.


It is the committee's opinion that this bill does not expressly
grant any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer,
department, agency, or institution.


SECTION 1.  Amends Section 3, Article 717p, V.C.T.S., as follows:

(a) Applies this section to a river authority that generates at
least a 55 million KWH average annually and is engaged in the
distribution and sale of electric energy to the public.

(b) Authorizes a river authority to sponsor and participate in
economic development programs.  Limits programs to the river
authority's statutory district and electric or water service areas.
Prohibits participation from requiring receiving of electricity
from the authority.

(c) Requires each program to be established by formal action of the
river authority board of directors and to include program goals,
budget limits, requirements on program beneficiaries, and other
appropriate restrictions and procedures.

(d) Authorizes programs to include grants or loans of money,
services, or equipment to a person engaged in economic development
activity, including public fire-fighting organizations,
governmental entities, regional development councils, and nonprofit

(e) Authorizes a river authority to employ staff and expend
resources to further economic development programs.  Prohibits use
of ad valorem tax funds or direct legislative appropriations in
such programs.  Authorizes river authority to apply for and receive
money, grants, and other assistance from any source for a program
under this section.

(f) Authorizes a river authority to enter into agreements with any
other public or private entity  for economic development programs.

(g) Requires a river authority to establish specific guidelines for
scholarships, grants, or assistance provided to public fire-fighting organizations. Guidelines should include: eligibility,
limits, and uses.

(h) Provides that a determination by the river authority's
governing body is conclusive as to whether a program is intended to
carry out the program's purposes and whether the program satisfies
the purposes of Section 3.

(i) Prohibits a river authority from making receiving a benefit
from an economic development program conditional on receiving
electricity from the river authority. Also prohibits use of an
economic development program to promote fuel switching from another
fuel source to electric power or to promote the use of electric
power over other types of fuel.

(j) States that Subsection (i) does not limit a river authority's
power to promote use of electricity or switching from another power
source to electricity granted by other laws including other
sections of this Act.

(k) Provides that an economic development program does not include
promotion of retail wheeling of electric power and energy.

(l) Defines an economic development program as:
     encouraging economic diversification;
     contributing to the health and development of a community;
     improving the quality and quantity of essential services such
as: education, transportation,          recreation, and employment.

SECTION 2.  Makes a legislative finding that the economic
development programs authorized by Section 3, Article 717p,
V.T.C.S., are specific public purposes and governmental functions
of river authorities in accordance with Sections 52-a and 51-a-1,
Article 3, of the Texas Constitution.

SECTION 3.  Validates and ratifies previous economic development
actions of river authorities undertaken pursuant to the current
Section 3, Article 717p, V.T.C.S.

SECTION 4. Emergency Clause.
           Effective Date: Upon passage.


S.B. 219 was considered by the Energy Resources Committee in a
public hearing on April 18, 1995. Thomas Mason of the Lower
Colorado River Authority testified neutrally on the bill. The bill
was reported favorably without amendment, with the recommendation
that it do pass and be printed, by a record vote of 6 ayes, 0 nays,
0 PNV, and 3 absent.