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2011-03-17

BCRAGD drops support of HB 1086

By Carolyn B. Edwards BCC

Any concerns held by local residents regarding a bill aiming to change the date of elections for board members serving the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District (BCRAGD) became moot last week.
General Manager David Jeffery advised State Representative Doug Miller’s office to drop the bill. Miller’s office had notified the BCRAGD via email that the Bexar-Medina-Atascosa Counties Water Control & Improvement District No. 1 (BMA) had submitted some amendments to HB 1086.
According to Assistant General Manager David Mauk, the BCRAGD board only approved changing the election date. “The amendments change the bill so that it goes beyond what the board authorized,” said Mauk.
In October 2010, the directors of the Bandera County River Authority and Groundwater District (BCRAGD) voted to change their election date from May to November. As a result, Miller filed HB 1086 in the Texas House. Miller represents District 73, which includes Bandera County.
Members of the BCRAGD board acted to change the election dates in the hope that holding the district election on the November General Election date would bring out more voters and save the district money.
According to the Texas Constitution, Section 59, Article XVI, altering the qualifications or terms of office of the members of the governing body of the district require an act of the Legislature, which is why Miller submitted the bill at the request of the BCRAGD board of directors.
According to Lara Meyer, legislative aide for Miller, the BMA added wording to two sections of the proposed legislation.
The underlined phrases below were added to HB 1086 by BMA:
“Sec. 8847.102. LIMIT ON WATER CONTROL AND IMPROVEMENT DISTRICT POWERS. The district may exercise the powers of a water control and improvement district, including the powers provided by Chapters 49 and 51, Water Code, in the areas of the district that do not include the territories of the Bandera County Fresh Water Supply District No. 1 or any body or stream of water, or any body of land, or any easement owned or controlled by the district subject to regulation by the Bexar-Medina-Atascosa Counties Water Control & Improvement District No. 1.
“Sec. 8847.103. CONFLICT OF LAWS.
(a) To the extent of a conflict of laws between Chapters 36 and 49, Water Code, Chapter 36 prevails.
(b) To the extent of a conflict between the rules adopted by the district and the rules adopted by the Bexar-Medina-Atascosa Counties Water Control & Improvement District No. 1 within territory subject to the rules of both the district and the Bexar- Medina-Atascosa Counties Water Control & Improvement District No. 1, the rules of the Bexar-Medina-Atascosa Counties Water Control & Improvement District No. 1 shall prevail.
(c) The Bexar Medina-Atascosa Counties Water Control & Improvement District No. 1 shall be exempt from the rules adopted by the district.”
BMA’s explanation for the changes said that “While the BMA’s boundaries do not currently include territory located in Bandera County, the BMA may regulate certain activities and privileges on ‘any body or stream of water, or any body of land, or any easement owned or controlled by the district’ pursuant to Tex. Water Code, section 51.127(4). We don’t want two water district issuing rules that are conflicted, forcing the layman to choose which rule to obey.”
There was no explanation as to why changing the date for electing the BCRAGD board of directors would cause a conflict with BMA’s responsibilities.