By Naishtat                                     H.B. No. 3129

      75R2822 SMH-F                           

                                A BILL TO BE ENTITLED

 1-1                                   AN ACT

 1-2     relating to public access to information of the Texas Natural

 1-3     Resource Conservation Commission; providing a penalty.


 1-5           SECTION 1.  Section 5.121, Water Code, is amended to read as

 1-6     follows:

 1-7           Sec. 5.121.  PUBLIC INFORMATION.  (a)  The commission shall

 1-8     establish uniform procedures for providing access to public

 1-9     information of the commission in its offices in Austin and in all

1-10     district offices.

1-11           (b)  The commission:

1-12                 (1)  shall encourage all commission employees to assist

1-13     with access to public information; and

1-14                 (2)  may create an office in the agency to assist with

1-15     public participation.

1-16           (c)  The commission shall comply with Section 2001.004,

1-17     Government Code, by indexing and making available for public

1-18     inspection:

1-19                 (1)  all rules and all other written statements of

1-20     policy or interpretations formulated, adopted, or used by the

1-21     commission in the discharge of its functions; and [.]

1-22                 (2) [(b)  The commission shall comply with Section

1-23     2001.004, Government Code, by indexing and making available for

1-24     public inspection] all of the commission's final orders, decisions,

 2-1     and opinions.

 2-2           SECTION 2.  Subchapter D, Chapter 5, Water Code, is amended

 2-3     by adding Section 5.123 to read as follows:

 2-4           Sec. 5.123.  CONFIDENTIALITY.  (a)  The commission shall

 2-5     adopt rules for the submission to the commission of information

 2-6     excepted from disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code.

 2-7           (b)  A person who requests that the commission withhold from

 2-8     public disclosure any information contained in one or more

 2-9     documents must provide the commission:

2-10                 (1)  a list of each document or part of a document

2-11     claimed to be excepted from disclosure under Chapter 552,

2-12     Government Code, and a justification for the claim; and

2-13                 (2)  a copy of the document with the word

2-14     "confidential" marked conspicuously on each page that contains

2-15     information claimed to be excepted from disclosure under Chapter

2-16     552, Government Code.

2-17           (c)  If, before the commission completes its review of an

2-18     application, a person requests access to information that relates

2-19     to the application and is claimed to be excepted from disclosure

2-20     under Chapter 552, Government Code, the commission may not proceed

2-21     with any process involving public participation in the review of

2-22     the application or make a decision on the application until:

2-23                 (1)  the attorney general renders a decision under

2-24     Chapter 552, Government Code, on the claim; or

2-25                 (2)  the person making the request agrees the process

2-26     may proceed or the decision may be made.

2-27           (d)  If a person claims that information in an application or

 3-1     related document submitted to the commission is excepted from

 3-2     disclosure under Chapter 552, Government Code, and the commission

 3-3     disagrees, the commission shall:

 3-4                 (1)  deny the application; or

 3-5                 (2)  return the application or related document to the

 3-6     applicant and require the applicant to correct the application or

 3-7     related document and refile it.

 3-8           (e)  A person commits an offense if the person:

 3-9                 (1)  claims that information in a document submitted to

3-10     the commission is excepted from disclosure under Chapter 552,

3-11     Government Code; and

3-12                 (2)  knows or should know that the claim is erroneous.

3-13           (f)  An offense under Subsection (e) is punishable under

3-14     Section 26.122, 26.136, or 26.2121 in the same manner as a

3-15     violation of a reporting requirement.

3-16           SECTION 3.  The importance of this legislation and the

3-17     crowded condition of the calendars in both houses create an

3-18     emergency and an imperative public necessity that the

3-19     constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several

3-20     days in each house be suspended, and this rule is hereby suspended,

3-21     and that this Act take effect and be in force from and after its

3-22     passage, and it is so enacted.