Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 3230
By: Walker
Agriculture & Livestock


The weather modification program helps cities, counties, organizations, and
individuals in the design and implementation of cloud-seeding programs and
provides oversight of weather-modification research. Proper weather
management strategies are vital for the success of agricultural activities
in Texas, where agricultural commodities add about $14 billion to the
state's economy, making agriculture the second largest industry in Texas.
Currently, all aspects of the weather modification program are under the
control of and administered by the Texas Natural Resource Conservation
Commission (TNRCC).  House Bill 3230 establishes the Weather Modification
Act and transfers the authority of the weather modification program from
TNRCC to the Texas Department of Agriculture. 


It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that rulemaking
authority is expressly delegated to the Texas Department of Agriculture in
SECTION 1 (Section 20.011, 20.032, 20.041, and 20.124, Agriculture Code)
and SECTION 8 of this bill. 


House Bill 3230 amends the Agriculture Code to establish the Weather
Modification Act and to transfer the authority of the weather modification
program from the Texas Natural Resource Conservation Commission (TNRCC) to
the Texas Department of Agriculture (department).  The bill sets forth the
powers and duties of the department and authorizes the department to adopt
rules necessary to exercise the powers and duties under these provisions
(Secs. 20.011-20.020).  The bill sets forth permitting and licensing
requirements relating to weather modification (Secs. 20.031-20.048).  The
bill sets forth procedures and criteria for handling violations and
administrative, civil, and criminal penalties for such violations (Secs.
20.051-20.074, 20.081-20.89, and 20.041-20.105).   The bill provides if a
person can establish that an event that would otherwise be a violation of a
statute within the department's jurisdiction or a rule adopted or order or
permit issued under a statute was caused solely by an act of God, war,
strike, riot, or other catastrophe, then the event is not a violation of
that statute, rule, order, or permit (Sec. 20.111).  The bill sets forth
the procedures and criteria for the revocation and suspension of permits
and licenses (Secs. 20.121-20.128).  The bill provides for the immunity of
the state, its officers, and employees from liability for all weather
modification and control activities conducted by private persons and groups
(Sec. 20.131).   

The bill provides that these provisions do not affect private legal
relationships, except that an operation conducted under the license and
permit requirements is not an ultra hazardous activity which makes the
participants subject to liability without fault.  The bill provides that
the fact that a person holds a license or permit or that the person has
complied with these provisions or regulations is not admissible as evidence
in any legal proceedings brought against the person (Sec. 20.132). 

The bill amends the Water Code to remove provisions providing that TNRCC
has jurisdiction over the state's weather modification program.  The bill
deletes references from the Water Code relating to weather modification
programs and repeals the Weather Modification Act (Secs. 5.013, 7.052,
7.102, 7.302,  7.303, 7.144, and Chapter 18). 

The bill sets forth provisions regarding the transfer of authority over the
Weather Modification Act from TNRCC to the department (SECTION 8). 


September 1, 2001.