BLS H.B. 1406 75(R)BILL ANALYSIS NATURAL RESOURCES H.B. 1406 By: Bosse 3-5-97 Committee Report (Unamended) BACKGROUND Legislation enacted in 1993, HB 690, allowed non-profit water districts to begin collecting volunteer contributions from customers for surrounding emergency services. Other types of districts also have this ability, although investor owned water companies do not. As a result, investor owned water companies who have been mistakenly collecting these voluntary contributions have been doing so without authority. PURPOSE To amend Chapter 13 of the Water Code by adding a section which would allow investor owned water companies to collect voluntary contributions for surrounding emergency services and validate past collections. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY 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 BY SECTION ANALYSIS SECTION 1: Adds Section 13.143 titled "VOLUNTARY CONTRIBUTIONS" to the Water Code to provide as follows: (a) Allows a utility to implement a voluntary contribution program through its billing process to collect voluntary contributions from its customers on behalf of a volunteer fire department or an emergency medical service. (b) Requires the utility company to provide a first-time customer and at least annually to all customers, a written statement that (1) describes the contribution procedure, (2) designates the emergency service that the contribution will benefit, (3) states that the contribution is voluntary, and (4) describes the deductibility status of the contribution under federal income tax law. (c) Requires that the utility company clearly states that the contribution is voluntary and may be deducted from the billed amount. (d) Provides that the utility company must promptly deliver contributions to the designated volunteer fire department or emergency service and stipulates that the utility may keep an amount of the contribution equal to the lessor of (1) the utility's expense in administering the program, or (2) five percent of the amount collected. (e) Specifies that the amounts collected are not rates and are not required to be shown in tariffs filed with the regulatory authority. SECTION 2: Provides that all acts of a utility before the effective date of this Act to implement a program described in this Act are validated as of the dates on which they occurred. SECTION 3: Emergency Clause. Effective upon passage.