The Texas Legislature’s 2017 special session is underway. Among the items on their plate are bills that would affect the ability of municipalities to regulate protection and removal of trees on private property. With over 100 municipalities in Texas having some form of tree protection in place, the Special Session could have a huge impact on the state’s canopy in urban areas. This could hit high growth cities like Austin particularly hard. In Austin alone, over 90,000 trees have been preserved over the past 5 years, many of which are heritage size (over 24” in diameter). As summer hits and energy bills start climbing it is important to recognize the value trees bring to the entire community through urban heat and energy reduction, and stormwater abatement.
Texas Tree-related Legislative Bills at a Glance:
- SENATE | SB14 was introduced by Senator Bob Hall (District 2) and would prohibit tree protection ordinances statewide. This bill was heard and voted out by the Senate Business and Committee on Saturday July 22. The date it will be heard on the House floor has not been set.
- SENATE | Sen. Donna Campbell (District 25) introduced SB86, which would specifically prevent tree protection ordinances in a city’s extraterritorial jurisdiction. No committee assignment or hearing date has been set.
- SENATE | Sen. Lois Kolkhorst (District 18) has introduced SB107, which would limit the extent of required mitigation for tree removals (this bill is the same as SB744, which was passed in the regular session but was vetoed by Governor Abbott). No committee assignment or hearing date has been set.
- HOUSE | Representative Paul Workman (District 47) has introduced HB70, which would cancel and prevent municipal tree protection ordinances statewide. This bill was heard on Tuesday July 25 in the Urban Affairs Committee. The bill was left pending in committee.
- HOUSE | Representative Dade Phelan (District 21) introduced HB7, which limits the extent of required mitigation for tree removals (a similar bill was passed in the regular session, but vetoed by Governor Abbott). The House approved HB7 and it is scheduled for the Senate's Committee on Business & Commerce on August 8th at 9:00 am.
Want to stay up to date on the Tree Bills?
- For the latest updates on all pending legislation visit Texas Legislature Online.
- For more information and resources related to trees in Austin visit www.austintexas.gov/trees.
Want to get involved?
- Learn more at https://www.texasenvironment.org
- Use Twitter and Facebook #txlege, #specialsession, and/or #defendtxtrees to help spread the word about this issue.
Article Updated August August 4th, 2017