Senate Bill 1160 by Sen. Larry Taylor will create the Gulf Coast Protection District (GCPD) to manage projects identified in the Coastal Texas and Sabine Pass to Galveston studies in five counties: Harris, Chambers, Galveston, Orange and Jefferson.
SB 1160 will provide the authority for the GCPD to issue bonds, impose fees, impose a tax and grant the power of eminent domain. This bill builds on SB 2212 passed during the 86th session which allowed the three existing drainage districts in the Sabine to Galveston study to become local partners on these projects.
This bill is a requirement by the federal government to access up to $30 billion of federal money. Currently, there is no entity in Texas that has the authority to sign a project partnership agreement (PPA) for projects in the Coastal Texas Study. In order to sign a PPA with the USACE (becoming the local partner), an entity must have the following: the ability to tax, eminent domain, and authority to sign a PPA.
- A local partner is required in order for the state to receive federal funding for these improvements.
SB 1160 meets the USACE requirements, but more importantly, makes the state eligible for billions of federal infrastructure dollars. While this bill creates a mechanism to facilitate the Coastal Texas and Sabine to Galveston projects, it is not endorsing a specific design element. Construction will be handled by the Corps, and design will continue to be refined as the Corps works with the locals through the design and build process.
The bill was substituted in committee to remove Brazoria County (they are signing a PPA on their own) and fill out board composition, which will be 11 members. There will be members, one from each of the five counties chosen by the county. The Governor will appoint two additional members from Harris county (due to size), one member representing ports, one member representing the environmental sector, one member representing industry and one member representing municipalities
SB 1160 passed the Senate 31-0 and it passed on a voice vote in the House. The Governor signed the bill on June 16th.
This project has the potential to be transformational to the coast and provide lasting protection to our coastal residents and the state’s economy for generations to come.