S.B. No. 1118
  relating to the creation and administration of the On-The-Ground
  Conservation Program by the State Soil and Water Conservation
         SECTION 1.  Chapter 201, Agriculture Code, is amended by
  adding Subchapter J to read as follows:
         Sec. 201.351.  DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:
               (1)  "Priority conservation measure" means a priority
  soil and water conservation land improvement measure designated
  under Section 201.355.
               (2)  "Program" means the On-The-Ground Conservation
               (3)  "Soil health characteristics" means the physical,
  chemical, and biological characteristics of soil for optimal
  production, including lower bulk density, good gas exchange, lower
  surface temperature during growing season, high cation exchange
  capacity, high soil organic matter, and active soil microorganisms.
         Sec. 201.352.  CREATION OF PROGRAM. The state board may
  develop and administer the program to maximize public benefits by
  facilitating priority conservation measures and other soil and
  water conservation land improvement measures by landowners and
  operators in this state.
         Sec. 201.353.  PROGRAM FUNCTIONS. (a) The state board may
  provide through the program:
               (1)  technical assistance;
               (2)  cost-share assistance;
               (3)  direct grants; and
               (4)  help in obtaining technical assistance,
  cost-share assistance, and direct grants from other public or
  private sources.
         (b)  The state board may create rules, forms, and procedures
  necessary for the administration of the program.
         (c)  The state board may:
               (1)  obtain grants, cost-sharing assistance, or other
  forms of funding from other state or federal governmental entities;
               (2)  coordinate, receive, and use gifts, grants, and
  donations from private sources;
               (3)  work with qualified nonprofit organizations and
  universities to provide technical assistance; and
               (4)  designate one or more conservation districts to
  administer the program locally.
         Sec. 201.354.  PROGRAM COST-SHARE RATES. The state board
  may establish cost-share rates for eligible soil and water
  conservation land improvement measures under the program.
         Sec. 201.355.  PRIORITY CONSERVATION MEASURES. (a) The
  state board may designate and give priority under the program to
  priority conservation measures that maximize public benefits to the
  state. Priority conservation measures include measures that:
               (1)  improve soil health characteristics;
               (2)  conserve and manage water resources;
               (3)  prevent and manage flooding;
               (4)  control invasive and nuisance species;
               (5)  improve resilience to weather extremes, climate
  variability, and natural disasters;
               (6)  protect and enhance native habitats, including the
  protection of endangered species;
               (7)  mitigate and reduce soil erosion;
               (8)  restore land damaged by development; and
               (9)  sequester carbon to provide environmental
         (b)  The state board may:
               (1)  establish standards and specifications for each
  priority conservation measure designated under this section; and
               (2)  consider local priorities and needs in designating
  a priority conservation measure under this section.
         Sec. 201.356.  CERTIFICATION. The state board may provide
  certification that specific soil and water conservation land
  improvement measures have been implemented in accordance with any
  standards and specifications established under Section 201.355(b).
         Sec. 201.357.  REPORT. The state board shall include
  information regarding the program's activities in the annual report
  required by Section 201.028.
         SECTION 2.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2021.
  ______________________________ ______________________________
     President of the Senate Speaker of the House     
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 1118 passed the Senate on    
  April 19, 2021, by the following vote:  Yeas 31, Nays 0.
  Secretary of the Senate    
         I hereby certify that S.B. No. 1118 passed the House on      
  May 6, 2021, by the following vote:  Yeas 143, Nays 1, two present
  not voting.
  Chief Clerk of the House