Office of House Bill AnalysisC.S.S.B. 637
By: Armbrister


Under current law, the term local government pertains only to cities and
counties.  Local government corporations (LGCs) are used to pursue various
economic development projects.  For example, through LGCs the City of
Houston is creating tax increment reinvestment zones, the Houston Housing
Finance Corporation is financing moderate income housing, Ellington Field
Airport is financing bonds for an aircraft repair facility, the Houston
Convention Center is constructing a hotel, and Harris County is attracting
development to various parts of the county.  Because navigation districts
are excluded from the definition of local government, the broader authority
and flexibility that cities and counties enjoy through the use of LGCs is
not available to the Port of Houston Authority.  Texas port officials
possess valuable expertise concerning the development and operation of
ports.  Authorizing navigation districts to incorporate will allow the Port
of Houston Authority and other Texas ports to sell the expertise of their
officials, which could nurture and expand trade with foreign and domestic
ports and defray the costs taxpayers and customers incur from the temporary
losses of such experts.  Senate Bill 637 allows navigation districts to
incorporate as local governments.   


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does
not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state
officer, department, agency, or institution. 


Senate Bill 637 amends the Transportation Code to include a navigation
district in the meaning of local government when referring to local
government corporations (LGC).  The bill provides that an LGC created by a
navigation district must comply with all state law related to the design
and construction of projects that applies to the navigation district that
created the LGC.  The bill prohibits an LGC formed by a navigation district
from condemning a right-of-way through any part of an incorporated city or
town without the consent of the governing body of that city or town.   


On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act
takes effect September 1, 2001.