By: Puente H.B. No. 2664
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
relating to the office of public interest counsel.
BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
SECTION 1. Subchapter G, Chapter 5, Water Code, is amended
by adding Section 5.2745 to read as follows:
Sec. 5.2745. BUDGET. (a) The office of public interest
counsel shall have a budget separate from the commission's budget.
Appropriations to the office and the commission shall be made
separately. The director of the Legislative Budget Board, in
preparing the state budget under Section 322.008, Government Code,
shall provide for separate appropriations to the office of public
interest counsel and the commission and shall treat the office of
public interest counsel as a separate agency for that purpose. The
public interest counsel shall submit the biennial legislative
appropriations request to the Legislative Budget Board.
(b) The public interest counsel may spend money
appropriated to the office of public interest counsel. Commission
approval of expenditures for the office of public interest counsel
is not required.
(c) The budget for the office of public interest counsel
must provide not less than $100,000 for outside technical
(d) This section does not affect the administrative
attachment of the office of public interest counsel to the
commission and does not affect the support the commission provides
to the office of public interest counsel for administration of the
office, including office facilities and equipment. This section
applies only to compensation, reimbursement, and expenses for
personnel and outside expertise.
SECTION 2. Section 5.275, Water Code, is amended to read as
Sec. 5.275. APPEAL. (a) The counsel may appeal a
substantial amendment by the commission to a proposal for decision
from the State Office of Administrative Hearings if the appeal is
necessary to serve the public interest.
(b) The counsel may contest under Section 2001.038,
Government Code, the validity of a package of rules adopted by the
commission if the counsel believes that the rules were adopted
without proper legal procedure or exceed the commission's authority
A ruling, decision, or other act of the commission may not be
appealed by the counsel].
SECTION 3. (a) This Act takes effect September 1, 2003.
(b) Section 5.275(b), Water Code, as added by this Act,
applies only to rules finally adopted or a proposal for decision
issued on or after that date. Rules finally adopted or a proposal
for decision issued before that date is governed by the law in
effect on the date the rules were finally adopted or the proposal
for decision issued, and that law is continued in effect for that