AUSTIN, Texas--(BUSINESS WIRE)--In one of the last acts of the 85th Texas Legislature, lawmakers on Sunday gave the final go-ahead to House Bill 931 to help expand the state’s networks of hike-and-bike trails — but at virtually no cost for the underlying land.
Jointly authored by state Rep. Rick Miller and state Sen. Lois Kolkorst, the legislation lifts some of the legal hurdles that previously discouraged public utilities from working with cities in the development of trail networks.
In the absence of such legislation, land acquisition for inner-city hike-and-bike trails can run into the millions of dollars. But HB 931 clears the way for cities and other political subdivisions to more easily enter into agreements with utilities for the use of their rights of way.
The Steering Committee of Cities Served by Oncor, a coalition with more than 150 municipal members, joined other city coalitions to help push HB 931 across the finish line.
“This is great news for outdoor enthusiasts and Texas taxpayers,” said Thomas Brocato, an attorney for the coalition. “HB 931 will encourage public-private partnerships for the purpose of creating additional recreational spaces in Texas. We see this as a victory for our cities and our taxpayers.”
House Bill 931 is modeled after an earlier bill, House Bill 200 from the 2013 legislative session. But HB 200 — which was lauded by city leaders, editorial writers and Democrat and Republican lawmakers — was restricted in effect only to the Houston area. The reach of HB 931 is statewide.