The 85th Texas Legislature convened on Jan. 10 and is set to adjourn on May 29, 2017. With the Texas House and Senate meeting only six months every two years, thousands of bills are drafted and brought to a vote every legislative session in a very short amount of time.
The Permian Basin Petroleum Association [PBPA] keeps its membership informed and protected by tracking the hundreds of bills that could adversely affect the petroleum industry, according to PBPA President Ben Shepperd.
“The main oil and gas issue of focus during the 85th Regular Session is and will continue to be the sunset legislation regarding the Railroad Commission of Texas [Commission],” said Stephen M. Robertson, PBPA executive vice president. “The Railroad Commission has come under sunset review in three of the last four legislative sessions.
“So that the employees of the Commission, in particular the commissioners themselves, can focus on their job, the Commission needs to be authorized to operate for more than just two years as the pre-eminent regulator of oil and gas operations in the State of Texas,” Robertson continued.
Most reauthorizations for state agencies are for either eight, 10, or 12 years.
“We are hopeful that the sunset legislation reauthorizes the Railroad Commission to continue to operate without major change for the next 12 years,” Robertson concluded.
The PBPA has always had a standing Legislative Committee. Prior to this session, the committee addressed both Texas and New Mexico issues; however, due to an increased focus on New Mexico, there are now two committees, one focusing on each state, that meet weekly throughout the sessions.
“These meetings are for members of the respective committees, only,” Robertson detailed. “If a member of the PBPA is interested in attending these meetings and is currently not on the roster for these committees, he or she needs to contact the PBPA staff directly for more information.”
PBPA members are the staff’s greatest asset, Robertson declared, and they will be called on to provide testimony and visit elected officials at the Capitol to help argue the position of the PBPA.
“These testimonials from constituents, and not just from employed lobbyists, give great weight to the arguments presented by the PBPA and industry,” Robertson emphasized.
As major decisions are made by the PBPA Legislative Committees or as pieces of legislation are brought up in the Texas and New Mexico Legislative Committees, debated on the floor, or voted on, the PBPA will be updating its membership through weekly or as-needed emails. Updates will also come through the PBPA Luncheons during the spring.
As of press time, the specific date for the Texas PBPA Legislative Day had not been finalized. The itinerary for this meeting will greatly depend on the status of certain pieces of legislation, such as the Railroad Commission sunset bill.
The Texas Oil and Gas Association recently announced its priorities for the 85th Texas Legislature, which, like the PBPA’s, include the sunset review of the Railroad Commission of Texas, along with issues related to taxes and critical infrastructure.