Bill to clarify the “Operator” of a landfill being held up in committee

Posted in 81st Legislature, Around The State, Commissioners Court, Hutto, Landfill, The Environment, Uncategorized at 2:57 pm by wcnews

Anyone who followed the contract negotiations between Williamson County and Waste Management, Inc. over the last couple of years, regarding a new contract for the county landfill, knows the “Operator” issue was a main sticking point. The issue went to who would have the final say regarding what happened at the county landfill. Local control versus corporate control of the county owned landfill. It was a main reason the Hutto Citizens Group had such a problem with the landfill.

The Hutto Citizens Group, in conjunction with the Two Bush Community Group and the Texas Campaign for the Environment, have a press release [.pdf] on a bill to correct this which has stalled in a house committee.

According to representatives of citizens groups, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) has begun implementing a policy involving publicly-owned municipal solid waste landfills which risks transferring control of those facilities to private companies. Grassroots advocates say that state legislation is needed now to protect the public from trash permits going awry.

According to Jeff Maurice, chairman of the Hutto Citizens Group’s landfill committee, Senate Bill 2235 which has already passed the Texas Senate to fix the problem has stalled in the House because the chairman of the Environmental Regulation Committee, Rep. Byron Cook, won’t call the bill up for a committee vote even though it appears that a majority of the committee supports the bill.


The essential provision of SB 2235 simply defines the term “Operator” in the Texas Health & Safety Code. It ensures the same meaning of a solid waste facility’s “Operator” as has been used for the past three decades,” Maurice said. “This clarification in the bill is important, because it ensures that
the holder of the permit remains in charge of the permit and that a valuable, publicly-owned asset is not transferred to the ownership and control of a private entity without adequate compensation. This is not an internal squabble among trash companies as Chairman Cook alleges.”

Looking at who testified in the Senate committee on this bill (SB 2235) shows similar fault lines as the landfill fight in Williamson County. More from the release:

According to [Robin Schneider, Executive Director of Texas Campaign for the Environment], this vulnerability that could put contractors in charge of publicly owned landfills can only be fixed by the legislature passing SB 2235. “It looks like TCEQ is willing to do whatever the influential solid waste companies want,” Schneider said, “so the only recourse left is for the legislature to cure the problem. Unfortunately, Rep. Cook is thwarting the will of a majority of his own committee using a power tactic which he previously has said he detests.”

Schneider continued, “It’s a simple fix to make sure that a practice which was in place for some 30 years isn’t compromised by this changed practice at TCEQ. It would correct the interpretation of the law by TCEQ and insure that such an extremely valuable public asset is not taken for the benefit of a private company who is only a landfill contractor and private companies don’t attempt to hide behind local governments when they are proposing new trash facilities.”

It would certainly be best for the taxpayers of Williamson County to keep the landfill in the county’s control. Once the people of Williamson County get accountability on the commissioners court again we will need that local control.

Contact Rep. Bryon Cook and the House Environmental Regulation Committee to urge action on this SB 2235.

Leave a Comment

You must be logged in to post a comment.