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Texas House Votes to Rename Railroad Commission

A bill that would change the name of the Railroad Commission of Texas (RRC) to the Texas Oil and Gas Commission, as well as make other reforms, was approved Monday by the Texas House of Representatives. The legislation is slated for a conference committee with the state Senate.

The Senate earlier approved a measure that would make more sweeping changes to the RRC, most notably reconfiguring the body to have one elected commissioner instead of the current three. The one-commissioner proposal is generally opposed by the state's oil and gas industry (see Daily GPI, April 15). The House measure, which was approved 101 to 43, would retain three elected commissioners.

However, the House bill would add a "resign-to-run" requirement, making sitting RRC commissioners step down before they seek another state elected office. The RRC and commissioners have been criticized in the past for allegedly using the RRC as a stepping stone to higher office. The House measure also would limit fund-raising activities of sitting commissioners and calls for one of the three commissioners to be elected chair of the commission.

Both the House and Senate measures would make the regulatory body self-funding from fees on industry, eliminating the RRC's reliance on the state's general fund, which most recently supported the RRC with $24 million.

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