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                                                                  S.B. No. 1413




AN ACT
relating to county brownfield cleanup and economic redevelopment programs. BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS: SECTION 1. This Act does not place primary responsibility on a county for brownfield remediation or redevelopment but allows a county to leverage state or federal money that may be available for that purpose. SECTION 2. Chapter 361, Health and Safety Code, is amended by adding Subchapter X to read as follows:
SUBCHAPTER X. COUNTY PROGRAMS FOR CLEANUP AND ECONOMIC REDEVELOPMENT OF BROWNFIELDS
Sec. 361.901. DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter: (1) "Assessment" means an environmental assessment described by Section 361.904. (2) "Brownfield" means real property the expansion, redevelopment, or reuse of which may be complicated by the presence or potential presence of environmental contamination. (3) "Brownfield program" means a county brownfield cleanup and economic redevelopment program described by Section 361.902. (4) "Eligible owner" means the owner of a brownfield who demonstrates to the commissioners court of the county in which the brownfield is located that the owner: (A) became the owner after the contamination occurred; (B) did not contribute to the contamination as an owner responsible for contamination or through association with previous owners responsible for the contamination; (C) exercises appropriate care at the brownfield by taking reasonable steps to stop continuing releases, prevent any threatened future releases, and prevent or limit human, environmental, or natural resource exposure to any previously released hazardous substance; and (D) complies with local, state, and federal laws with respect to land use and requests for information. (5) "Eligible site" means a property or facility that is owned by a county or, if not owned by a county, for which the owner applies to a county for brownfield assistance or certification and a county determines is a brownfield under the county's brownfield program. (6) "Licensed professional engineer" means a person licensed by the Texas Board of Professional Engineers. (7) "Remediation" means an action included within the meanings of "remedial action" and "removal," as those terms are defined by Section 361.003. Sec. 361.902. COUNTY BROWNFIELD CLEANUP AND ECONOMIC REDEVELOPMENT PROGRAM. (a) The commissioners court of a county with a population of 250,000 or more may establish a program for the cleanup and economic redevelopment of brownfields located in the county, as authorized by Section 52-a, Article III, Texas Constitution. (b) A brownfield program must include: (1) procedures to: (A) identify eligible sites; (B) conduct assessments; (C) prioritize the remediation of eligible sites, with consideration given to: (i) the number of jobs related to the remediation; and (ii) the resulting economic and environmental benefits to the county; (D) conduct the remediation of an eligible site; (E) conduct the inspection of a property or facility after remediation; and (F) guide eligible owners in applying for county assistance under the program; and (2) standards by which the county can determine: (A) the eligibility of a person for a grant or loan under the program; (B) the eligibility of a person to enter into a contract with the county to perform remediation or inspection; and (C) the completeness of the remediation of a property or facility. (c) The county shall make available to the public and to the commission a draft of the proposed program at least 60 days before a public hearing to receive comments on the proposed program. (d) The county shall review comments received and make amendments to the draft as appropriate before adopting and implementing the program. (e) The county shall submit a copy of the final draft of a program adopted under this section to the commission and shall make the final draft available to the public. (f) The county may amend a program adopted under this section by applying the procedures described by Subsections (c), (d), and (e) to the proposed amendment. (g) The county may assign current or employ additional staff to implement a program adopted under this section. Sec. 361.903. BROWNFIELD CLEANUP AND ECONOMIC REDEVELOPMENT FUND. (a) The commissioners court of a county may establish a fund for a brownfield program and deposit to the credit of the fund any money the commissioners court considers appropriate, including revenue from property taxes, sales taxes, fees, gifts or grants, principal and interest payments made to repay loans from the fund, proceeds from the issuance of bonds, and contributions of other resources. (b) Money from a fund established under this section may be used only to provide for economic growth and development of the county by paying for all or part of: (1) the cost of an assessment; (2) the cost of remediating a brownfield; (3) the cost of inspecting a property or facility after remediation; (4) a loan to an eligible owner or licensed professional engineer to conduct assessment, eligible site remediation, or inspection of a property or facility after remediation; or (5) administrative expenses associated with implementing the brownfield program. (c) For the purposes of the county's brownfield program, a county may solicit and leverage money from other sources, including federal money that may be available for brownfield assessment and eligible site remediation. (d) Before a county may issue bonds payable from ad valorem taxes to provide money for a fund, the bond issuance must be approved by a majority of the voters voting on the issue at an election held for that purpose. Sec. 361.904. ENVIRONMENTAL ASSESSMENT. An assessment under this subchapter must include: (1) a legal description of the property or facility; (2) a description of the physical characteristics of the property or facility; (3) the operational history of the property or facility to the extent that history is known by the owner; (4) information of which the owner is aware concerning the nature and extent of any relevant contamination or release at the property or facility and immediately contiguous to the property or facility, or wherever the contamination came to be located; and (5) relevant information of which the owner is aware concerning the potential for human exposure to contamination at the property or facility. Sec. 361.905. TAX ABATEMENT AGREEMENT INCENTIVES. Subject to the requirements of Subchapter C, Chapter 312, Tax Code, a county may designate an area of the county that contains a brownfield as a reinvestment zone and enter into a tax abatement agreement based on the remediation of the brownfield with the eligible owner of the brownfield. Sec. 361.906. CONTRACTS FOR SITE REMEDIATION OR INSPECTION. (a) A county may contract with a licensed professional engineer or contractor to: (1) conduct remediation for an eligible site owned by the county; or (2) inspect a property or facility after remediation to determine whether it meets county standards for completeness of the remediation. (b) To be eligible to enter into a contract with a county under this section or to receive a loan under Section 361.907, a licensed professional engineer or contractor at a minimum must provide evidence to the county of previous success in conducting remediation or inspection, as applicable, of at least one brownfield or other property or facility contaminated by a hazardous substance. Sec. 361.907. GRANTS AND LOANS. To help finance an assessment, eligible site remediation, or inspection, a county may provide money as a grant or a loan from a county fund established under Section 361.903 to: (1) an eligible owner; or (2) a licensed professional engineer or contractor who meets the requirements of Section 361.906. Sec. 361.908. LIAISON TO ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION AGENCY. A county that establishes a brownfield program may act as a liaison between an eligible owner, licensed professional engineer, or contractor and the Environmental Protection Agency to assist in obtaining a federal grant for an assessment or eligible site remediation under the Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation, and Liability Act (42 U.S.C. Section 9601 et seq.). Sec. 361.909. LIAISON TO COMMISSION. A county that establishes a brownfield program may act as a liaison between the commission and an eligible owner, licensed professional engineer, or contractor to assist in obtaining any available commission assistance for an assessment, eligible site remediation, or property or facility inspection after remediation. Sec. 361.910. LIMITATIONS ON LIABILITY. (a) A person who is an eligible owner, licensed contractor, or licensed professional engineer engaged in an assessment, eligible site remediation, or property or facility inspection after remediation under a program adopted under this subchapter is not liable for damages or costs resulting from a release or threatened release of a hazardous substance that occurs during the assessment, remediation, or inspection unless the person: (1) qualified as an eligible owner, licensed professional engineer, or contractor by fraud, misrepresentation, or knowing failure to disclose material information; or (2) negligently or knowingly contributed to or caused the release or threatened release. (b) The county shall inspect a property or facility after remediation is completed to determine whether the remediation meets county standards for completeness under the brownfield program. On a finding that the remediation meets the standards, the county shall issue a certificate signifying the satisfactory remediation to the owner of the property or facility and shall file a copy of the certificate in the county property records. The owner or a subsequent owner of a remediated property or facility is not liable for the costs of any additional assessment or remediation for environmental contamination that occurred before the issuance of the certificate. (c) This subchapter does not limit or impair any immunity or defense to liability or suit that may be available to a county under any other provision of law. Sec. 361.911. FAILURE TO PASS INSPECTION. The owner of a property or facility who is denied a certificate under Section 361.910: (1) is entitled to receive a detailed description of actions needed for the property or facility to meet county standards; and (2) may apply for additional county assistance under the county's brownfield program. Sec. 361.912. COMMISSION ASSISTANCE. The commission may provide: (1) educational, advisory, and technical services concerning assessment, remediation, and inspection of brownfields to a county that establishes a brownfield program under this subchapter; and (2) assistance to a county in obtaining federal grants for assessment and remediation of brownfields. SECTION 3. This Act takes effect September 1, 2005.
______________________________ ______________________________ President of the Senate Speaker of the House
I hereby certify that S.B. No. 1413 passed the Senate on April 21, 2005, by the following vote: Yeas 31, Nays 0; and that the Senate concurred in House amendment on May 28, 2005, by the following vote: Yeas 31, Nays 0. ______________________________ Secretary of the Senate I hereby certify that S.B. No. 1413 passed the House, with amendment, on May 25, 2005, by a non-record vote. ______________________________ Chief Clerk of the House Approved: ______________________________ Date ______________________________ Governor