I want to wish you and your families a very Merry Christmas and a festive holiday season. Although we some challenges ahead of us, I am looking into the New Year with great optimism and hope for mineral and royalty owners. As NARO-Texas President I am here to carry out our mission and to keep everyone informed and up-to-date with all the important details surrounding the industry.
We are pleased to announce the 2011 NARO-TX Convention will be held on June 29th – July1st at Barton Creek Resort and Spa in Austin, Texas. Save the date, mark your calendars and make plans to attend next year’s convention. For all you golf lovers, let me inform you that Barton Creek is the number one golf course in all of Texas. For a meeting or event to be successful, it all starts with the space! And under our big Texas sky, the resort has more than 43,000 square feet of it. Barton Creek is committed to meeting the specific needs of every client, by offering a professional, yet relaxed, setting with gracious service and warm, Texas hospitality set in the beautiful Texas Hill Country. We have negotiated an excellent nightly rate and are planning some exceptional meals and gatherings to take place at this convention. As 2011, is quickly approaching, now is the best times to start your trip planning.
The 82nd Texas Legislature convenes at noon on Tuesday January 11, 2011. As the Texas Legislature prepares for its 82nd session, the prospect of an $18-25 billion deficit is looming large. Since the legislators are required to present a balanced biennial budget, what lies ahead are new fees and taxes or drastic cuts to existing services and departments. Among the items that have been studied by the House and Senate during the interim period have been the expansion of the sales tax to new items, the expansion of the franchise tax to certain service industries and even discussions regarding gambling.
The long awaited Sunset Advisory Commission Report on both the Railroad Commission and the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality were finally released on November 26th. As you may remember, the Sunset Advisory Commission is a legislative body that reviews the policies and programs of state government agencies every 12 years. The staff report on the Texas Railroad Commission alone was 79 pages, and it suggests many changes that may impact the future of your mineral and royalty interests.
The first suggestion in the report would take away the election of the three commissioners from voters and replace them with a part-time, appointed board of five administrators. Since this agency governs the oil and gas industry, the report recommends the name be changed to the Texas Oil and Gas Commission.
The Sunset Review staff also wants the oil and gas industry to pay for its regulatory operations. Currently, the Texas Legislature approves an RRC budget that is paid for from the general funds of the state. The industry already pays $27.5 million in fees, fines and other miscellaneous revenues, but they would have to come up with an additional 23.4 million annually. Keep in mind, the state of Texas general fund collected more than $3 billion in oil and gas severance and production taxes in 2009. The report also recommends abolishing the Oil Field Cleanup Fund Advisory Committee, improving enforcement policies, eliminating the promotion of propane, and enforcing damage prevention for interstate pipelines – just to name a few.
I have only begun to scratch the surface of these provisions. I recommend going to www.sunset.state.tx.us and reading the report, however, I do have the “short” version and happy to pass it along to anyone who is interested.
Sunset Advisory Commission will hold a hearing December 15 and vote on recommendations mid January. NARO-TX will be continually working to keep you informed as the session progresses. P.S. I look forward to seeing everyone at Barton Creek in June!