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Water Conservation, Contract Bidding Bills Fall Victim to Abbott's Veto

Gov. Greg Abbott has vetoed two more pieces of legislation in the wake of the 84th legislative session.

Gov. Greg Abbott discusses HB40 with the press prior to its ceremonial signing in the Governor's Reception Room on May 18, 2015. The bill gives the state exclusive control over regulation of oil and gas operations, and preempting local laws against fracking.

Editor's note: This story has been updated to include responses from the bills' authors. 

Gov. Greg Abbott has vetoed two more bills in the aftermath of the 84th legislative session, including a proposal that aimed to curb water use by prisons, particularly in times of drought. 

House Bill 2788, authored by Republican Rep. Drew Springer of Muenster, would have let a local water utility require correctional facilities to effectively follow the same measures private businesses and citizens use to conserve water. In some Texas counties, prisons are the biggest consumers of water and are often looked upon to scale back during dry periods. 

In a veto statement Wednesday, Abbott said HB 2788 "goes too far" in pursuit of water conservation, giving a local water utility authority that belongs to the state.

"Ceding control of the state's correctional facilities' water use to local water utilities creates the potential for interference with a core function of government," Abbott said. "If the Legislature wishes to require prisons and jails to use less water, it should do so directly rather than outsourcing the decision to local water utilities."

Springer said Wednesday he was "a little bit surprised" by Abbott's veto, adding that he had not heard any objections to the legislation from the governor's office until Tuesday. He expressed hope he could retool the proposal next session to address Abbott's concerns.

Abbott this week also vetoed Senate Bill 408, which would have slightly increased the amount of preference a county could give a local business bidding on a contract for property. In a veto statement Wednesday, Abbott suggested the proposal would have wasted taxpayer dollars by de-emphasizing best value as a priority in the bidding process. 

Sen. José Rodríguez, the El Paso Democrat who authored SB 408, tied Abbott's veto to efforts throughout the session to roll back local control.

"The governor's action does not protect taxpayers," Rodríguez said in a statement Wednesday. "Instead, it interferes with the ability of communities to determine and meet their own needs through their locally elected representatives."

Abbott has so far vetoed four bills and one resolution, including HB 2788 and SB 408. He has until June 21 to sign or veto bills passed during the session. Bills that aren't signed — but aren't vetoed, either — become law automatically. 

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Energy Environment State government 84th Legislative Session Greg Abbott Texas Legislature