Building recreational trails along Harris County electrical power line easements became easier on May 16 as Governor Perry signed into law HB 200 by Representative Jim Murphy (R-Houston). The bill, applying only to Harris County, better clarifies liabilities for utility companies so that they are more comfortable permitting trails in their easements. This bill will provide connectivity between the north-south utility corridors and the predominantly east-west bayou trail system, creating a more comprehensive grid of trails in Harris County.
Rep. Murphy had plenty of bipartisan company on the bill with fellow authors Reps. Senfronia Thompson, Wayne Smith, Garnet Coleman and Sarah Davis and co-authors Reps. Alma Allen, Carol Alvarado, Dwayne Bohac, Bill Callegari, John Davis, Gary Elkins, Jessica Farrar, Allen Fletcher, Patricia Harless, Dan Huberty, Eddie Lucio III, Boris Miles, Mary Ann Perez, Ron Reynolds, Debbie Riddle, Hubert Vo, Armando Walle, and Gene Wu. Is your representative on this list? Take a moment to send a thank-you email!
Other legislators expressed interest in the bill and future sessions will probably see measures introduced to expand to other parts of the state. A companion bill, Senate Bill 633 by Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), was filed but not needed because of the momentum of HB 200 through the legislative process. HB 200 passed 144-0 in the House and 31-0 in the Senate.