By: Fraser S.B. No. 709
  relating to environmental permitting procedures for applications
  filed with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
         SECTION 1.  Section 2003.047, Government Code, is amended by
  adding Subsections (d-1) and (d-2) and amending Subsections (e) and
  (e-1) to read as follows:
         (d-1)  The applicant's filing with the administrative law
  judge of the draft permit, the executive director's preliminary
  decision, and any other supporting documentation in the
  administrative record is a prima facie demonstration that:
               (1)  the draft permit meets all state and federal
  statutory, regulatory and technical requirements; and
               (2)  a permit issued in the same form of the draft
  permit would be protective of the public's health and physical
  property and the environment.
         (d-2)  After the applicant has made a prima facie
  demonstration pursuant to Subsection (d-1), each protesting party
  shall be given an opportunity to present evidence to demonstrate
  that the draft permit does not meet the requirements of Subsection
  (d-1) based on the number and scope of issues that have been
  referred by the commission.  After the submission of evidence by the
  protesting parties, the applicant and the executive director may
  present evidence to support the draft permit.
         (e)  In referring a matter for hearing pursuant to Water Code
  Section 5.556, the commission shall provide to the administrative
  law judge a discrete list of disputed factual issues and [. The
  commission] shall specify the date by which the] administrative law
  judge must [is expected to] complete the proceeding and provide a
  proposal for decision to the commission, which may not exceed 180
  days after the preliminary hearing.
         (e-1)  In matters referred to a hearing pursuant to Water
  Code 5.556 or 5.557, the administrative law judge:
               (1)  may extend the proceeding only if the
  administrative law judge determines that failure to grant an
  extension would deprive a party of due process or another
  constitutional right; [. The administrative law judge]
               (2)  subject to Subsection (e-1)(1), shall establish a
  docket control order designed to complete the proceeding and
  provide a proposal for decision no later than 180 days after the
  preliminary hearing or by the date specified by the commission,
  whichever is earlier.
         SECTION 2.  Section 5.556, Water Code, is amended by adding
  Subsection (c-1) to read as follows:
         (c-1)  In determining under Subsection (c) whether a person
  seeking a contested case hearing is an affected person, the
               (1)  may weigh and resolve matters relating to the
  merits of the underlying application, including whether the
  application meets the requirements for issuance and the likely
  impact of the regulated activity on the health, safety, and use of
  the property of the hearing requester;
               (2)  may evaluate the administrative record, including
  the permit application and any supporting documentation, the
  analysis and opinions of the executive director, and any other
  expert reports, affidavits, opinions, or data submitted to the
  commission by the executive director, the applicant or a hearing
  requester within the applicable deadlines to submit hearing
  requests and briefing to the commission; 
               (3)  may not find that a group or association is an
  affected person unless the group or association identifies, by name
  and physical address in a timely request for a contested case
  hearing, a member who would be an affected person in the person's
  own right; and
               (4)  may not find that a hearing requester is an
  affected person unless the hearing requester timely submitted
  comments, and may only refer an issue pursuant to Subsection (d) if
  requested by the affected person who raised the issue in a timely
  submitted comment.
         SECTION 3.  The changes in law made by this Act apply only to
  an application for a permit that is filed with the Texas Commission
  on Environmental Quality on or after the effective date of this Act.  
  An application for a permit filed before the effective date of this
  Act is governed by the law in effect on the date of filing, and that
  law is continued in effect for that purpose.
         SECTION 4.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
  a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
  provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this
  Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
  Act takes effect September 1, 2015.