Texas House Votes to Give Polluters Immunity with Bonnen Amendment to SB 875

In the last days of the 82nd Legislative Session, industry has finally shown how far they will go to protect their power to pollute at will. Tuesday night, Rep. Dennis Bonnen (HB 25, Angleton), offered an amendment to SB 875 that would provide industry an affirmative defense against civil suits. This amendment would severely restrict Texans’ ability to protect their property by giving industry immunity from nuisance and trespass action on nearly every type of regulated activity.

Wednesday afternoon, Rep. Craig Eiland (HD 23, Galveston) led an hour-long debate on the Bonnen amendment. When the House voted on an amendment to remove the Bonnen amendment from SB 875, the vote was 82-63 to take it off the bill. But the motion failed because, as an amendment on 3rd reading, a 2/3rd majority was required for passage. In other words, even though a majority of representatives opposed the Bonnen amendment once they understood what it did, the amendment remains on the bill. And the bill passed on 3rd reading with the Bonnen amendment on it, even though the majority of representatives had voted to take the amendment off just moments earlier.

Now, only the Texas Senate can stop this assault on Texas property owners’ ability to protect their property. This may sound familiar to those who have followed the TCEQ Sunset legislation and industry’s attempt to weaken the public’s ability to contest a permit.

The Senate should not concur with SB 875 as it comes back from the House. The Bonnen amendment goes too far in giving industry a free pass to pollute without fear of consequences and restricts our ability to defend our property. Texans believe in private property rights–and they will rightly object to laws passed to restrict these rights. Call your state senator today and tell her or him that Texans do not want polluting industry to have a free pass to pollute in any of our backyards, pastures or communities. The Bonnen amendment needs to come off SB 875.

If you’re not sure who represents you, you can find out here. Here’s a list of the senators’ Capitol phone numbers:

Sen. Brian Birdwell (SD 22, Granbury)  512-463-0122

Sen. John Carona (SD 16, Dallas) 512-463-0116

Sen. Wendy Davis (SD 10, Fort Worth) 512-463-0110

Sen. Robert Deuell (SD 2, Greenville) 512-463-0102

Sen. Robert Duncan (SD 28, Lubbock) 512-463-0128

Sen. Rodney Ellis (SD 13, Houston) 512-463-0113

Sen. Kevin Eltife (SD 1, Tyler) 512-463-0101

Sen. Craig Estes (SD 30, Wichita Falls) 512-463-0130

Sen. Troy Fraser (SD 24, Horshoe Bay) 512-463-0124

Sen. Mario Gallegos (SD 6, Houston) 512-463-0106

Sen. Chris Harris (SD 9, Arlington) 512-463-0109

Sen. Glen Hegar (SD 18, Katy) 512-463-0118

Sen. “Chuy” Hinojosa (SD 20, McAllen) 512-463-0120

Sen. Joan Huffman (SD 17, Southside Place) 512-463-0117

Sen. Mike Jackson (SD 11, La Porte) 512-463-0111

Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr (SD 27, Brownsville) 512-463-0127

Sen. Jane Nelson (SD 12, Flower Mound) 512-463-0112

Sen. Robert Nichols (SD 3, Jacksonville) 512-463-0103

Sen. Steve Ogden (SD 5, Bryan) 512-463-0105

Sen. Dan Patrick (SD 7, Houston) 512-463-0107

Sen. José Rodriguez (SD 29, El Paso) 512-463-0129

Sen. Kyl Seliger (SD 31, Amarillo) 512-463-0131

Sen. Florence Shapiro (SD 8, Plano) 512-463-0108

Sen. Carlos Uresti (SD 19, San Antonio) 512-463-0119

Sen. Leticia Van De Putte (SD 26, San Antonio) 512-463-0126

Sen. Kirk Watson (SD 14, Austin) 512-463-0114

Sen. Jeff Wentworth (SD 25, San Antonio) 512-463-0125

Sen. Royce West (SD 23, Dallas) 512-463-0123

Sen. John Whitmire (SD 15, Houston) 512-463-0115

Sen Tommy Williams (SD 4, The Woodlands) 512-463-0104

Sen. Judith Zaffirini (SD 21, Laredo) 512-463-0121


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