HBA-LJP S.B. 1175 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisS.B. 1175 By: Wentworth Agriculture & Livestock 5/1/2001 Engrossed BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE The weather modification program helps cities, counties, organizations, and individuals in the design and implementation of cloud-seeding programs and provides oversight of weather-modification research. Proper weather management strategies are vital for the success of agricultural activities in Texas, where agricultural commodities add about $14 billion to the state's economy, making agriculture the second largest industry in Texas. Currently, all aspects of the weather modification program are under the control of and administered by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC). Senate Bill 1175 transfers the authority of the weather modification program from TNRCC to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation and establishes a weather modification and control grant program administered by the Department of Agriculture. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation in ARTICLE 1 (SECTIONS 1.11, 1.32, 1.41, 1.64, and 3.07) and to the Department of Agriculture in ARTICLE 2 (Section 20.004, Agriculture Code) of this bill. ANALYSIS Senate Bill 1175 transfers the authority of the weather modification program from the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation (department). The bill sets forth the powers and duties of the department and authorizes the department to adopt rules necessary to exercise the powers and duties under these provisions (SECTIONS 1.111.20). The bill sets forth permitting and licensing requirements relating to weather modification (SECTIONS 1.31-1.48). The bill provides that the fact that a person holds a permit issued by the department does not relieve that person from liability for the violation of the provisions of the Act or rules adopted and sets forth penalties (SECTIONS 1.51 and 1.53). The bill sets forth the procedures and criteria for the revocation and suspension of permits and licenses (SECTIONS 1.61-1.72). The bill provides for the immunity of the state, its officers, and employees from liability for all weather modification and control activities conducted by private persons and groups (SECTION 1.71). The bill provides that these provisions do not affect private legal relationships, except that an operation conducted under the license and permit requirements is not an ultra hazardous activity which makes the participants subject to liability without fault. The bill provides that the fact that a person holds a license or permit or that the person has complied with these provisions or regulations is not admissible as evidence in any legal proceedings brought against the person (SECTION 1.72). The bill amends the Agriculture Code to establish a weather modification and control grant program (grant program) under the authority of the Department of Agriculture (TDA). TDA is required to develop and administer a program awarding matching grants to political subdivisions of this state for weather modification and control. The bill authorizes TDA to adopt rules necessary to administer the program and to enter into contracts with public or private entities to assist TDA in the administration or evaluation of the grant program or to conduct research relating to the effectiveness of weather modification and control activities. The bill authorizes TDA to accept appropriations and to solicit and accept gifts, grants, and other donations from any source to administer the grant program (SECTION 2.01). The bill amends the Water Code to delete references relating to weather modification programs and repeal the Weather Modification Act (SECTIONS 3.01-3.06). The bill sets forth provisions regarding the transfer of authority over the weather modification program from TNRCC to the department and the weather modification grant program to TDA (SECTION 3.07). EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.