May 31, 2019 Weekly Round Up

We’ve reached the end of May…I’m not sure how time goes so quickly.  Here are a few ag law stories in the news recently.

*Texas judge finds 2015 WOTUS Rule violated Administrative Procedures Act.  A federal judge here in Texas found that the 2015 WOTUS rule violated the Administrative Procedures Act.  Specifically, the judge found that the proposed rule, for which public comment was allowed, differed too greatly from the final rule.  In other words, because there were portions of the final rule that were significantly modified from the proposed rule, the public did not get an adequate opportunity to comment.  One such substantial change the court relied upon was the definition of “adjacent” wetlands.  The proposed rule provided that this meant all wetlands adjacent to jurisdictional waterways.  The final rule included all waters within 100 feet of waterways and those within the 100-year floodplain of a waterway or jurisdictional water.  This type of substantial change between the proposed rule and final rule, the court reasoned, was not permitted.  [Read Opinion here and article here.]

*Eminent domain reform dies as Legislative session ends.  One of the most-watched bills in the Texas Legislature related to eminent domain reform.  Senate Bill 421, sponsored by Lois Kohlkorst, did not make its way out of the legislature.  The bill passed the Senate, but after modifications were made in the house, the Conference Committee was unable to agree on a final version.  [Read article here.]  I’ll have a blog post and/or podcast episode recapping the 86th Legislative Session coming soon.

*Texas House and Senate unanimously pass bill related to growing industrial hemp; selling and using CBD oil. Another bill that had been of interest to many farmers in Texas was HB 1325, which requires the Texas Department of Agriculture to promulgate a state plan to regulate hemp production in Texas.  This plan will include many rules and regulations related to growing industrial hemp, including procedures for inspection and testing of the THC content.  Keep in mind, industrial hemp is required to have less than .3% THC.  Importantly, producing industrial hemp is not allowed until this plan has been promulgated by TDA.  The USDA is working on developing federal guidelines as well. The bill also allows the sale of CBD oil, but limits this to permitted establishments governed by the Texas Health and Human Services Department and provides for testing of THC levels. This bill is currently on the Governor’s desk.  [Read article here and  bill text here].

* Article outlines arguments in lawsuit against Permian Highway Pipeline.  As I mentioned in this previous post, a lawsuit has been filed by several landowners, cities, and groups against Kinder Morgan and the Texas Railroad Commission related to the Permian Highway Pipeline.  I thought this article did a good job setting forth the arguments of the plaintiffs–namely that the challenge does not expressly relate to the right of the project to condemn land, but really challenges the oversight of the routing process (or lack thereof as the plaintiffs argue) by the Texas Railroad Commission.  [Read article here.]  Both Kinder Morgan and the Railroad Commission have filed motions to dismiss, which were argued before Judge Lora Livingston this week.   [Read article here.]

* One Dandy of a Scheme.  I’m fortunate to have the opportunity to write for Progressive Farmer’s “Our Rural Roots” column.  My most recent article tells one of my favorite stories about my Gran and a scheme she pulled off on our family’s farm.  If you want to read it, click here.

Upcoming Programs

Next week will be a busy one as I’m headed south.  On Thursday, I’ll be speaking in Fredericksburg at the Hill Country Cattle Women meeting. [Click here for more info.]  On Friday, we’re expecting a big turn out at our Owning Your Piece of Texas program on the top laws Texas landowners need to know in San Antonio.  For more info and to register, click here.]  As always, you can check out all of my upcoming presentations by clicking on the tab at the top of the page, or by clicking here.

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