On June 5, 2019, Texas Governor Greg Abbott (R) vetoed a widely supported domestic violence bill due to the inclusion of a late amendment related to radioactive waste disposal. Abbott called the measure, Senate Bill (SB) 1804, a “laudable effort” that lost his support when “someone slipped in an ill-considered giveaway to a radioactive waste disposal facility.”
Overview of SB 1804
Senate Bill 1804, as introduced by State Senator Lois Kolkhorst (R), would require that bond information about domestic violence offenders be entered into a statewide data repository. Representative Poncho Nevárez (D), one of the bill’s sponsors in the House, added an amendment about the Waste Control Specialists (WCS) nuclear waste disposal facility to the measure. Nevárez told lawmakers that the amendment added “economic competitive incentives” to the bill.
As written, the amendment would have delayed an increase to a surcharge and state fee paid by WCS – the private operator of a waste disposal facility in West Texas. The amendment pushed back the date of a fee increase for the WCS radioactive waste disposal company from 2019 to 2021. Nevárez characterized the move as a matter of creating jobs. The Texas House approved the amendment by a vote of 142-0.
Governor Abbott’s Veto
The following is the text of the Proclamation of the Governor of the State of Texas on his veto of SB 1804 on June 5, 2019:
Pursuant to Article IV, Section 14, of the Texas Constitution, I, Greg Abbott, Governor of Texas, do hereby disapprove of and veto Senate Bill No. 1804 as passed by the Eighty-Sixth Texas Legislature, Regular Session, because of the following objections:
Senate Bill 1804 was a laudable effort to address domestic violence, until someone slipped in an ill-considered giveaway to a radioactive waste disposal facility. Unfortunately, the bill author’s good idea about domestic violence has been dragged down by a bad idea about radioactive waste.
Since the Eighty-Sixth Texas Legislature, Regular Session, by its adjournment has prevented the return of this bill, I am filing these objections in the office of the Secretary of State and giving notice thereof by this public proclamation according to the aforementioned constitutional provision.
Various bills were introduced during the Eighty-Sixth Texas legislature related to low-level radioactive waste disposal in the State of Texas including:
- House Bill No. 2269 and Senate Bill No. 1021, which are identical pieces of legislation that, amongst other things, seek to lower certain charges and reserve disposal capacity for Texas and Vermont at the WCS facility; and,
- Senate Bill No. 1753 that, among other things, seeks to addresses emergency planning and fees related to the transportation of radioactive waste; impose new requirements related to contingency planning; impose new requirements for the implementation of biannual, independent inspections of a radioactive waste site; and, require adjustments to the amount of financial security to account for information received from the state auditor before a license may be issued or renewed.
In addition, on April 26, 2019, Governor Abbott sent a letter to U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Secretary Rick Perry and U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) Chair Kristine Svinicki in which the Governor expresses his opposition to any increase in the amount or concentration of radioactivity authorized for disposal at the WCS low-level radioactive waste disposal facility in Andrews County, Texas.
For additional information, please contact the Governor’s Office of the State of Texas at https://gov.texas.gov/ or at (512) 463-5739.
For additional information about Senate Bill 1804, please go to https://capitol.texas.gov/BillLookup/Text.aspx?LegSess=86R&Bill=SB1804#.