Tree bill hits potentially fatal roadblock


Legislation to limit the ability of local governments to regulate trees ran into a roadblock Saturday when House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, returned House Bill 7 to the Senate, saying it had been inappropriately changed by senators.

With only four days remaining in the special session, the move leaves HB 7 in danger of being left behind.

The original bill created tree planting credits to offset local tree mitigation fees — “the sole purpose” of HB 7, Straus said in a written notice to the Senate.

SCORECARD: Where Gov. Abbott’s 20 special session priorities stand

But when the bill arrived back in the House, senators had added a ban on cities regulating trees and vegetation in their extraterritorial jurisdiction. A Senate amendment also prohibited cities from regulating the removal of trees that are less than 10 inches in diameter.

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham and the Senate sponsor of HB 7, said the changes were made to bring the bill closer in line with the wishes of Gov. Greg Abbott, who pressed the Legislature to void all tree-removal ordinances by local governments.

But, Straus wrote, the changes are not germane to the bill, which relates only to tree mitigation fees. Allowing the changes to remain could make the bill vulnerable to challenges from the floor.

The bill was returned to the Senate around 5 p.m. Saturday, and no action was taken before the Senate recessed until Sunday evening.

All work in the special session must be completed by midnight Wednesday.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

Jacksonville officer in critical condition after shooting 
Jacksonville officer in critical condition after shooting 

One Florida officer is in critical condition and another is stable after being shot Friday, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said. The officers were responding to an attempted suicide call, Sheriff’s Office Director Mike Bruno said. The suspect was shot by police and later died, deputies said. The injured officers were taken to UF Health...
Central Florida police officer shot and killed, another gravely wounded
Central Florida police officer shot and killed, another gravely wounded

One central Florida police officer was shot and killed Friday night and one is in grave condition, Kissimmee Police Chief Jeffrey O’Dell said. O’Dell said that Officer Matthew Baxter was killed and Sgt. Sam Howard was shot and is in grave condition. The uniformed officers were responding to a call at 9:30 p.m. in Kissimmee. It appears that...
Georgetown’s new bus service launches Monday
Georgetown’s new bus service launches Monday

Hop on board. Georgetown’s new bus service with four fixed routes across the city starts at 7 a.m. Monday. The 16-passenger buses, operated by the Capital Area Rural Transportation System, are free for the first two weeks. They will run from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Mondays through Fridays and from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturdays. There is no bus service...
After Charlottesville, Austin’s Confederate monuments get a second look
After Charlottesville, Austin’s Confederate monuments get a second look

After a rally by white supremacists fighting removal of a Confederate monument turned deadly in Charlottesville, Va., last weekend, the response in Austin came swiftly. Austin City Council members immediately began paperwork to rename Robert E. Lee Road, near Zilker Park, and Jeff Davis Avenue, near Allandale. At the Capitol, state Rep. Eric Johnson...
Where to watch the solar eclipse in Central Texas

Want to get in on the solar eclipse frenzy? If you haven’t made your Eclipse Day plans yet, there are tons of events in the Central Texas area for family-friendly, astronomical fun. Here is a collection of places to go and things to do on Monday, Aug. 21: AUSTIN Balcones Park Viewing Party, 1:10 p.m., 12017 Amherst Drive, Austin: Join neighbors...
More Stories