Bill Text: TX HB12 | 2021-2022 | 87th Legislature | Engrossed


Bill Title: Relating to a study on a statewide disaster alert system and implementation of that system and to notice to elected officials of a widespread power, water, or natural gas outage or emergency.

Spectrum: Slight Partisan Bill (Republican 26-14)

Status: (Engrossed - Dead) 2021-05-03 - Left pending in committee [HB12 Detail]

Download: Texas-2021-HB12-Engrossed.html
 
 
  By: Raymond, Paddie, Hernandez, Bonnen, H.B. No. 12
      Button, et al.
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to a study on a statewide disaster alert system and
  implementation of that system and to notice to elected officials of
  a widespread power, water, or natural gas outage or emergency.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Chapter 418, Government Code, is amended by
  adding Subchapter J to read as follows:
  SUBCHAPTER J. STATEWIDE DISASTER ALERT SYSTEM
         Sec. 418.301.  DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:
               (1)  "Alert system" means the standardized statewide
  disaster alert system described by this subchapter.
               (2)  "Commission" means the Public Utility Commission
  of Texas.
               (3)  "Disaster" has the meaning assigned by Section
  418.004 and includes a widespread power outage lasting longer than
  24 hours.
               (4)  "ERCOT" has the meaning assigned by Section
  31.002, Utilities Code.
               (5)  "ERCOT organization" means the independent
  organization certified under Section 39.151, Utilities Code, for
  the ERCOT power region.
               (6)  "Public utility" means an entity that generates,
  transmits, or distributes electric energy to the public, including
  an electric cooperative, an electric utility, a municipally owned
  utility, or a river authority.
         Sec. 418.3015.  STUDY ON STATEWIDE DISASTER ALERT SYSTEM.
  (a)  The division shall conduct a study on the efficacy of existing
  mass notification deployments by local governmental entities
  throughout this state and the feasibility of establishing a
  statewide disaster alert system. The study must:
               (1)  identify the costs to local governmental entities
  associated with existing local disaster alert or notification
  systems;
               (2)  examine the potential benefits to local
  governmental entities of implementing an alert system in
  coordination with this state, including:
                     (A)  improving this state's ability to coordinate
  state and local responses to disasters; and
                     (B)  eliminating barriers to successful mass
  notification and communication encountered by local governmental
  entities during disasters;
               (3)  examine the importance of a local governmental
  entity's discretion regarding the entity's level and manner of
  participation in the alert system;
               (4)  examine potential costs to local governmental
  entities or this state associated with implementing the alert
  system;
               (5)  examine the ability of local governmental entities
  to communicate with the ERCOT organization, the commission, and
  public utilities that serve the jurisdictions of the local
  governmental entities and make recommendations on methods to
  improve communication and coordination between local governmental
  entities, the ERCOT organization, the commission, and public
  utilities that serve the jurisdictions of the local governmental
  entities, if necessary; and
               (6)  identify any state or local governmental entity
  actions necessary to implement a comprehensive alert system
  designed to communicate information about disasters, including an
  extended and widespread power outage.
         (b)  On request of the division, the ERCOT organization, the
  commission, and any public utility shall provide information
  necessary to evaluate the implementation of a comprehensive alert
  system. Information provided to the division under this subsection
  is confidential and not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552.
         (c)  Not later than March 1, 2022, the division shall prepare
  and submit to the governor, the lieutenant governor, and the
  legislature a report on the findings of the study.
         (d)  This section expires September 1, 2027.
         Sec. 418.302.  ESTABLISHMENT OF ALERT SYSTEM. (a) The
  division, with the cooperation of the office of the governor, the
  commission, and the ERCOT organization, shall develop and implement
  a statewide disaster alert system to activate in the event of a
  disaster affecting any location in this state.
         (a-1)  An alert system developed under this subchapter must
  be based on the findings of the study conducted under Section
  418.3015. This subsection expires September 1, 2027. 
         (b)  A local governmental entity may use available local
  funds for the purpose of participating in an alert system
  implemented under this subchapter and may contract with the
  department for services associated with the alert system. A local
  governmental entity is not required to use local funds to assist a
  public utility with participating in the alert system.
         (c)  Each local governmental entity and public utility in
  this state shall participate in an alert system implemented under
  this subchapter.
         (d)  An alert system implemented under this subchapter shall
  be:
               (1)  operated in conjunction with any other emergency
  alert system required by federal or state law; and
               (2)  designed to notify persons statewide of a disaster
  affecting any location in this state.
         (e)  An alert system implemented under this subchapter and
  designed to communicate information about an extended and
  widespread power outage must apply to areas outside of ERCOT.
         Sec. 418.303.  ACTIVATION OF ALERT SYSTEM. (a) When the
  division determines a disaster has occurred or the occurrence or
  threat of disaster is imminent or is notified of a declaration of
  disaster under this chapter, the division shall immediately
  activate any alert system implemented under this subchapter.  A
  local governmental entity shall, in coordination with the division,
  choose the manner in which the alert system is activated and
  notifications are issued within the entity's geographic region.
         (b)  The division, or local governmental entity, as
  appropriate, shall issue updated notifications for the duration of
  the disaster.
         (c)  A public utility shall notify the following of a
  widespread power outage that is likely to last more than 24 hours:
               (1)  the division;
               (2)  the commission;
               (3)  the ERCOT organization, if the utility's service
  area is in ERCOT; and
               (4)  customers served by the public utility.
         Sec. 418.304.  CONTENT OF ALERT SYSTEM NOTIFICATION. A
  notification issued under an alert system implemented under this
  subchapter:
               (1)  must be issued in English, Spanish, and any other
  language that the division considers necessary; and
               (2)  shall include information necessary to:
                     (A)  assist a person affected by the disaster with
  making informed decisions regarding the person's safety; and
                     (B)  enable a person in another location in this
  state to assist an affected person.
         Sec. 418.305.  TERMINATION OF ALERT SYSTEM. The division
  may terminate the activation of an alert system when:
               (1)  the division determines that:
                     (A)  the threat or danger has passed; or
                     (B)  the disaster has been addressed to the extent
  that emergency conditions no longer exist;
               (2)  the extended and widespread power outage that
  prompted the division to activate the alert system ends; or
               (3)  the state of disaster is terminated as provided by
  this chapter.
         Sec. 418.306.  RULES. (a) The division shall adopt rules
  necessary to implement this subchapter.
         (b)  The division may consult with the ERCOT organization,
  the commission, or a public utility in adopting rules under
  Subsection (a).
         SECTION 2.  Subchapter A, Chapter 31, Utilities Code, is
  amended by adding Section 31.006 to read as follows:
         Sec. 31.006.  NOTICE TO ELECTED OFFICIALS REQUIRED. As soon
  as practicable after an electric utility, municipally owned
  utility, or electric cooperative experiences a widespread power
  outage or a widespread electric service emergency, the utility or
  cooperative shall notify by telephone and e-mail each:
               (1)  United States senator who represents this state;
               (2)  member of the United States House of
  Representatives who represents a district affected by the
  disruption or emergency;
               (3)  statewide elected official;
               (4)  member of the legislature who represents a
  district affected by the disruption or emergency;
               (5)  elected official of a county government who
  represents an area affected by the disruption or emergency; and
               (6)  elected official of a municipal government who
  represents an area affected by the disruption or emergency.
         SECTION 3.  Subchapter A, Chapter 104, Utilities Code, is
  amended by adding Section 104.009 to read as follows:
         Sec. 104.009.  NOTICE TO ELECTED OFFICIALS REQUIRED. As
  soon as practicable after a gas utility, municipally owned utility,
  or electric cooperative experiences a widespread natural gas
  shortage or a widespread natural gas service emergency, the utility
  or cooperative shall notify by telephone and e-mail each:
               (1)  United States senator who represents this state;
               (2)  member of the United States House of
  Representatives who represents a district affected by the
  disruption or emergency;
               (3)  statewide elected official;
               (4)  member of the legislature who represents a
  district affected by the disruption or emergency;
               (5)  elected official of a county government who
  represents an area affected by the disruption or emergency; and
               (6)  elected official of a municipal government who
  represents an area affected by the disruption or emergency.
         SECTION 4.  Subchapter E, Chapter 13, Water Code, is amended
  by adding Section 13.1397 to read as follows:
         Sec. 13.1397.  NOTICE TO ELECTED OFFICIALS REQUIRED. As
  soon as practicable after a retail public utility experiences a
  widespread water service outage or a widespread water service
  emergency, the utility shall notify by telephone and e-mail each:
               (1)  United States senator who represents this state;
               (2)  member of the United States House of
  Representatives who represents a district affected by the
  disruption or emergency;
               (3)  statewide elected official;
               (4)  member of the legislature who represents a
  district affected by the disruption or emergency;
               (5)  elected official of a county government who
  represents an area affected by the disruption or emergency; and
               (6)  elected official of a municipal government who
  represents an area affected by the disruption or emergency.
         SECTION 5.  (a)  As soon as practicable after the effective
  date of this Act:
               (1)  the Texas Division of Emergency Management shall
  conduct the study required by Section 418.3015, Government Code, as
  added by this Act; and
               (2)  based on the results of the study, the chief of the
  Texas Division of Emergency Management shall implement an alert
  system under Subchapter J, Chapter 418, Government Code, as added
  by this Act.
         (b)  In the period beginning on the effective date of this
  Act and ending on the date that the Texas Division of Emergency
  Management implements an alert system under Subchapter J, Chapter
  418, Government Code, as added by this Act, until the division
  implements that alert system, the division shall provide notices,
  through delivery methods and means commonly employed to ensure
  delivery during a hurricane, tornado, or other severe weather
  event, to individuals in this state located in areas that are likely
  to be impacted by severe weather emergencies. A notice must include
  information necessary to assist an individual with making informed
  decisions regarding the individual's safety.
         SECTION 6.  This Act takes effect immediately if it receives
  a vote of two-thirds of all the members elected to each house, as
  provided by Section 39, Article III, Texas Constitution. If this
  Act does not receive the vote necessary for immediate effect, this
  Act takes effect September 1, 2021.
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