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Senate says “good-bye” to Railroad Commission

Something like this has been talked about for a long time, now we’ll see if it actually happens.

The Senate approved a bill [Monday] that would change the name of the Railroad Commission to the Texas Oil and Gas Commission and reduce the size of the commission from three elected members to one elected commissioner.

Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, who authored the bill, said the new name would more aptly describe the functions of the commission, which include regulating the regulating the oil and gas industry and have nothing to do with railroads. The measure, he said, would also save $1.2 million this budget cycle. Gov. Rick Perry would appoint the first new commissioner as soon as possible. But if Perry didn’t appoint someone before the 2012 general election, the last elected commissioner, David Porter, would serve until voters chose a new commissioner. The Sunset Advisory Commission made similar recommendations for the agency in early January.

Porter is the one RRC Commissioner who is not running for the Senate next year, so I’d presume we’ll have him around till his term ends in 2016 regardless of what happens with this bill. Rep. Warren Chisum had said that he would run for the RRC next year, which would help make the decision about how to shrink the West Texas House delegation in redistricting a little easier; I wonder if he’ll reconsider now. I’ve no idea what the prospects are for this in the House, so we’ll see how it goes from here.

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