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Estimated Two-year Net Impact to General Revenue Related Funds for HB942, Committee Report 1st House, Substituted: an impact of $0 through the biennium ending August 31, 2017.
The bill would make no appropriation but could provide the legal basis for an appropriation of
funds to implement the provisions of the bill.
(The second chamber sponsor is Senator Birdwell.)
HB 942, if passed, would make a number of changes to the Agriculture Code, Health and Safety Code, and Water Code. All of these changes reflect the creation of a unified regime regarding ammonium nitrate, instituted at the state level, and designed to replace the current piecemeal regulatory regimes put in place at a more local level.
The provisions of this bill would regulate the storage, use, and transit of ammonium nitrate. The bill would grant inspection authority, set inspection guidelines, set reporting guidelines, enforce compliance, and set forth penalties up to $500 per day (capped at $5,000) for noncompliance.
We view the regulatory regime proposed by HB 942 as an unnecessary form of government over-reach. It is true that ammonium nitrate can be a dangerous substance. It is also true that sometimes there are significant accidents. Creating a single, statewide, overarching regulatory regime is not the best solution. Such a plan is made significantly worse when there are increased regulatory requirements in the shape of new forms, increased enforcement mechanisms, and increased fines.
HB 942 is not merely a form of egregious over-reach, but also a potentially serious threat to property rights given the new power it would bestow upon fire marshals to inspect private property. Individuals who possess ammonium nitrate are probably well familiar with the risks involved. The assumption that the state must inspect property to ensure safety, when individuals can bear the responsibility themselves is slightly patronizing.
A more workable solution to the problem of ammonium nitrate storage (if it is a problem) would be to develop a series of best practices which local governments could institute is they so choose. If there is deviation from these best practices there is likely good reason for doing so. (The bill also carries a fiscal cost of roughly $600,000 a year.)
HB 942 is a threat to private property, an indictment of personal responsibility and an unnecessary extension of state control by creating a strict, bureaucratic, fine-laden regulatory regime. On these grounds we oppose HB 942.