In the December 31st Texas Register, a number of agencies proposed rule changes. Highlights can be found below. Click the links to the rules below for more information on how to submit public comment and meeting dates/times. 

 

Emergency Rules 

HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES COMMISSION 

 

LICENSING STANDARDS FOR ASSISTED LIVING FACILITIES 

26 TAC §553.2003 

  • The Health and Human Services Commission is renewing the effectiveness of emergency new §553.2003 for a 60-day period. The text of the emergency rule was originally published in the September 3, 2021, issue of the Texas Register. 

 

Proposed Rules 

PUBLIC UTILITY COMMISSION OF TEXAS 

 

SUBSTANTIVE RULES APPLICABLE TO ELECTRIC SERVICE PROVIDERS 

16 TAC §25.57 

  • The Public Utility Commission of Texas (commission) proposes new 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §25.57 relating to Power Outage Alert Criteria. This proposed rule will establish the criteria for the content, activation, and termination of regional and statewide power outage alerts as required by Tex. Gov’t. Code §411.301(b), enacted by SB 3 87(R). 

 

TRANSMISSION AND DISTRIBUTION APPLICABLE TO ALL ELECTRIC UTILITIES 

16 TAC §25.218 

  • The Public Utility Commission of Texas (commission) proposes new 16 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §25.218, relating to Middle Mile Broadband. This proposed rule will implement Public Utility Regulatory Act (PURA) Chapter 43 as revised by HB 3853 87(R). This rule will allow amenable utilities with excess fiber capacity to establish Middle Mile Broadband Service with internet service providers (ISPs) in unserved and underserved areas of Texas. 

 

TEXAS EDUCATION AGENCY 

 

SCHOOL DISTRICTS 

19 TAC §61.1009 

  • The proposed amendment would reflect the new calculation and establish specific weights for each growth category beginning with the 2021-2022 school year and continuing through the subsequent school years. The total statewide allocations for the 2021-2022, 2022-2023, and 2023-2024 school years are subject to limitations. 
  • The proposed amendment would implement the amended mathematical calculation of the allotment by redefining the student enrollment growth value to cumulative enrollment growth over 250 to derive the percentile of growth for each district, while freezing the hold harmless calculations for the 2021-2022 school year and assigning different funding weights per enrolled student in the top, middle, and bottom tier of districts. 

 

TEXAS COMMISSION ON ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY 

 

COMPLIANCE HISTORY 

30 TAC §60.4 

  • The commission proposes, concerning Site Classification Under Review, to establish that the executive director may designate a site’s current compliance history classification as “under review” if the executive director determines that exigent circumstances exist due to a significant emergency event at the site. For circumstances to be “exigent,” they must meet specified criteria as identified in three categories. For the executive director to move forward with the designation prescribed in this proposed rule, the event must meet all three categories of exigent circumstances. 
  • First, the circumstances must result in significant disruption to one or more local communities of people. Second, the circumstances must cause significant commitment of emergency response resources by a federal or state governmental authority to address an actual, unauthorized release of pollutants, contaminants, or other materials regulated by the agency. Third, for circumstances to be “exigent,” they must have resulted in the occurrence of at least one of the conditions listed in proposed subsection (a)(3)(A) – (C) or one of the conditions listed in proposed subsection (a)(3)(D)(i) – (iv). 

 

UNDERGROUND INJECTION CONTROL 

30 TAC §331.11 

  • This rulemaking implements HB 1284 87(R) addressing agency jurisdiction over regulation of injection and geologic storage of anthropogenic carbon dioxide (CO2) in Texas. Although permitting of Class VI injection wells under HB 1284 is delegated solely to the RRC, the TCEQ will be required to issue a letter of determination to an applicant who is pursuing a Class VI permit from the RRC stating that Class VI injection operations will not impact or interfere with any previous or existing Class I injection well, including any associated waste plume, or any other injection well authorized or permitted by the TCEQ. 
  • The commission proposes to amend 30 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §331.11 by removing subsection (d), which states “The commission has jurisdiction over the injection of carbon dioxide produced by a clean coal project into a zone that is below the base of usable quality water and that is not productive of oil, gas, or geothermal resources.” 

 

TEXAS WATER DEVELOPMENT BOARD 

 

INTRODUCTORY PROVISIONS 

31 TAC §353.32 

  • Proposes amendments to 31 Texas Administrative Code (TAC) §353.32, Sick Leave Pool, to incorporate provisions of a new employee family leave pool. The amended rule authorizes the family leave pool administrator to prescribe procedures relating to operation of the family leave pool program. 

 

REGIONAL WATER PLANNING 

31 TAC §§357.10 – 357.12 

  • The purpose of the proposed amendments is to reduce certain unessential reporting requirements, address stakeholder concerns raised during the previous planning cycle and preliminary input period, and clarify rule language by removing outdated references to past planning cycles and revising references to updated public notice rules in §357.21. The purpose of the proposed repeals is to implement legislative changes from HB 1905 87(R). 

 

31 TAC §357.21, §357.22 

  • This proposal sets guidance principles and notice requirements. Each RWPG and any committee or subcommittee of an RWPG are subject to Chapters 551 and 552, Government Code. A copy of all materials presented or discussed at an open meeting shall be made available for public inspection prior to and following the meetings and shall meet the additional notice requirements when specifically referenced as required under other subsections. Each RWPG shall create and maintain a website, provide a means for public comment, and solicit interested parties.  

 

31 TAC §§357.31 – 357.34 

  • This proposal sets planning activities for needs analysis and strategy recommendations. RWPs shall present projected population and water demands, evaluate current contractual obligations, adjust municipal demands, among other recommendations. 

 

31 TAC §357.42 

  • This section covers RWPs responsibility in impacts, drought response policy recommendations, and implementation.  

 

31 TAC §357.50, §357.51 

  • This proposal states the REPGs shall submit their adopted RWPs to the Board every five years on a date to be disseminated by the EA. Prior to the adoption of the RWP, the RWPGs shall submit concurrently to the EA and the public an IPP. The RWPGs shall consider any written or oral comments received from any federal agency, Texas state agency, or the public after the first public hearing notice is published. 

 

STATE WATER PLANNING GUIDELINES 

31 TAC §358.3, §358.4 

  • Section 358.3(2) is revised to clarify that regional water planning groups, at their discretion, may plan for drought conditions worse than the drought of record. Section §358.3(8) is revised to include water management strategy projects. The term water management strategy projects is added through the section to align the state water planning guidance principles terminology with Regional Water Planning administrative rules. 

 

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS 

ECONOMICALLY DISTRESSED AREAS PROGRAM
31 TAC §§363.502 – 363.506, 363.508, 363.510 – 363.514 

  • The purpose of the new rules and amendments is to implement legislative changes from SB 2452 86(R) and to implement changes in program management, including the use of an intended use plan to assist in administering the program. The intended use plan may include structure and method, criteria, and other requirements. Eligible applicants who wish to submit a project for inclusion in the Intended Use Plan and on the initial project priority list must submit a complete and accurate abridged application by the date specified by the board. The proposal includes requirements concerning information for full applicants. 

 

FINANCIAL ASSISTANCE PROGRAMS 

  • The TWDB proposes to repeal and amend the rules because new rules 31 TAC §§363.504 – 363.508 and 31 TAC §§363.510 – 363.512 are being proposed elsewhere in this issue of the Texas Register to implement legislative changes from HB 2452 86(R). Repeals to 31 TAC §§363.1304(12) and language within §363.1309(b)(2) are also proposed to implement changes by HB 1905 87(R) relating to relieving regional water planning groups of certain duties. 

 

COMPTROLLER OF PUBLIC ACCOUNTS 

 

BROADBAND DEVELOPMENT 

34 TAC §§16.1 – 16.17 

  • The new sections are proposed to comply with HB 1505 87(R) which establishes the broadband pole replacement fund and the Texas broadband pole replacement program, and require the comptroller to prescribe rules for the program.  
  • The proposed rule states The Broadband Development Office may distribute funds by geographic location and issue a NOFA for less than the amount available in the pole replacement fund. The NOFA may be published in the Texas Register. The office may require applicants to submit preliminary information to the office prior to submitting a completed application. 
  • Applicants are eligible to apply if they are a pole owner or a qualifying broadband service and if they pay or incur eligible pole replacement costs of removing and replacing an existing pole in an unserved area for the purpose of accommodating the attachment of an eligible broadband facility. 
  • If CCPF or any other federal funding is used to make a reimbursement award, the office may establish eligibility and program requirements and preferences, and make award decisions, based upon any criteria required by federal law, regulation, or guidance applicable to the type of funding used to make the reimbursement award. 
  • The office may give preference to applications based upon: geographic location, latest state/federal broadband data, number of households that will be served, involvement of broadband networks, completion/payments of cost of pole replacement, investments in fiber-optic infrastructure, achievement of last-mile connections or middle-mile projects that have commitments in place to support new or improved last-mile service, affordability of broadband services in an area, participation in federal programs that provide low-income consumers with subsidies for broadband internet access services, documentation of existing broadband internet service performance, download/upload speeds, community involvement, and business practices and workforce information. 
  • The office must provide a notice of a reimbursement award or a notice of denial to an applicant, in writing, not later than 60 calendar days after the date that the office receives a completed application from the applicant. Funding decisions from the office are final and not subject to appeal.  
  • The proposed rule additionally outlines reimbursement awards, payment, reports, noncompliance, records retention, audits, and additional reimbursement requirements. 

 

STATE BOARD FOR EDUCATOR CERTIFICATION 

 

REQUIREMENTS FOR EDUCATOR PREPARATION PROGRAMS 

19 TAC §§228.2, 228.10, 228.30, 228.35 

  • The SBEC proposes amendments concerning requirements for educator preparation programs (EPPS). The proposed amendments would implement SBs 226 and 1590 and HBs 139 and 159 87(R). The proposed amendments would allow EPPs the flexibility to conduct certain required formal observations virtually; would provide for training requirements for all educators with regard to students with disabilities and virtual instruction and virtual learning; and would allow service members, spouses, and veterans to get credit toward educator certification requirements for clinical and professional experience. 

 

PROFESSIONAL EDUCATOR PREPARATION AND CERTIFICATION 

19 TAC §230.111 

  • The proposed amendments would provide clarification and updates to requirements for individuals licensed in other states to obtain a standard Texas educator certificate. 

 

GENERAL CERTIFICATION PROVISIONS 

19 TAC §232.7, §232.11 

  • The proposed amendments would implement the statutory requirements of SBs 199, 1267, and 2066 87(R). The proposed amendments would require that all educators receive continuing professional education (CPE) training in educating students with disabilities; would update the CPE training requirements for classroom teachers, principals, and school counselors; and would provide for the SBEC to determine the training guidelines for CPE credit regarding the use of an automated external defibrillator (AED). 
  • The proposed amendments would also allow for a school district to request a hardship exemption for an educator who has an invalid certificate due to not having the required CPE hours for certificate renewal; would require educators to receive dyslexia training for certificate renewal; and would add CPE activities to the list of topics that educators can receive for certificate renewal. 

 

CERTIFICATION OF EDUCATORS FROM OTHER COUNTRIES 

19 TAC §§245.1, 245.5, 245.10, 245.15 

  • The proposed amendments would update the requirements for certification of educators from other countries. Language has been added that an applicant may qualify an individual for exemption from required state examinations leading to issuance of the Texas standard certificate. The proposed amendment would clarify that demonstration of English language proficiency is required prior to issuance of a Texas one-year certificate. 
  • The proposed amendment would delete the requirement that individuals licensed in other countries must obtain an original written statement, provided by the authorizing licensing agency in the issuing country, that the educator’s certificate is in good standing, and has not been revoked, suspended, or sanctioned for misconduct and is not pending disciplinary or adverse action.