As we have learned, the Texas Legislature only meets for a few months every other year. Accordingly, a lot of the decision-making in state governments is delegated to the administrative bureaucracy.
In modern times, though, the legislature has take more care to see that administrative rulemaking does not take place behind closed doors. Just as the federal government has the Federal Register, where proposed federal rules are published for public comment, Texas has the Texas Register.
The Texas Register is published weekly by the Texas Secretary of State, and contains a variety of proposed and final state agency rules, as well as emergency rules, notices, and official legal opinions from the Texas Attorney General.
To see how this works, go to the Texas Register website. Look under “Previous Issues” and find the edition issued on December 20, 2013. At the top, you’ll see an “Attorney General” section where there are some requests for legal opinions and some opinions that have been issued. Next, you’ll see a section on “Emergency Rules,” then one for “Proposed Rules.” These are rules being proposed by various state agencies, and public comments are generally invited. Under “Texas Parks and Wildlife,” look for a proposed rule entitled “Special Provisions to Prevent the Spread of Exotic Aquatic Species.”
You’ll see a rule they’re adopting about zebra mussels, “a highly invasive, small freshwater mussel that multiplies rapidly and can cause tremendous environmental and economic damage.” Originally from Russia, these were first discovered in Lake Texoma in 2009, and have spread rapidly, destroying native species and clogging water pipes.
Write a 2 – 5 page essay about state agency rulemaking in Texas, using this rule as an example. Tell your reader what the agency is trying to do and why. If your reader has a comment about the proposed rule, to whom should it be directed, and when? When might this proposal actually be adopted as a final rule? The legislature passed House Bill 1241 last year to deal with this issue. Why do we need rules in addition to that law?
Submit in Word. Cite your sources.
As the summer semester begins, Texas is in the process of expanding this rule statewide: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/newsmedia/releases/?req=20140522f
The Dallas Morning News covered the rule expansion here: http://www.dallasnews.com/news/metro/20140522-officials-extend-zebra-mussel-regulations-to-all-texas-lakes.ece
Read all about Zebra Mussels here: http://www.texasinvasives.org/zebramussels/
and here: http://stateimpact.npr.org/texas/2013/07/02/lake-invaders-zebra-mussels-continue-to-spread-in-north-texas/
Check out this letter from Texas Governor Dolph Briscoe welcoming Texans to the first issue of the Texas Register in 1976: http://texashistory.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metapth252780/m1/4/