Legislative Update on Texas Dry Cleaning Remediation Program
By Frank J Corte Jr and Harvey Hilderbran, Capitol Chairman’s Alliance, LLC
As many of you know, the Dry-Cleaning Remediation Program (DCRP) will expire on September 1, 2021. This program was created in 2003 by the Texas Legislature to assist the dry-cleaning industry in Texas with remediating the dry-cleaning solutions that they are using in their businesses. The DCRP is funded by industry operators through the registration fees and fees on the use of certain dry-cleaning solvents. The Texas Dry Cleaners promoted and advocated for the creation of this program that is administered and regulated by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. Without the DCRP, many dry-cleaning operators would assume insurmountable liability for the contamination of soil and property due to the use of solvents like perchloroethylene also known as PERC. The DCRP is critical to the stability and vitality of the dry cleaning and garment care industry in Texas.
Therefore, the dry cleaning and garment care operators from Texas have taken action to have this critical public policy not expire. They engaged Capitol Chairman’s Alliance back in May 2020 to assist them in passing legislation to extend the DCRP to 2051 in the upcoming legislative session that begins on January 12, 2021. However, just like the initial legislation that was passed in 2003, an effort like this did not start on the first day of the legislative session. This is an update for the Southwest Dry Cleaners Association members and leadership to the importance and continuation of the DCRP.
We had the opportunity to meet many Texas dry cleaners at the semi-annual meeting of the Southwest Dry Cleaners Association in the Woodlands on October 31. During a brief time before the general session, we updated the members with our actions. It was reported that we already had legislation drafted and ready to file. We also discussed some details about the leadership changes in the Texas House with the new Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives. Additionally, we spoke about the potential change in many of the members of both the Texas House and Senate, depending on the outcome of the general election on November 3rd.
Much has taken place since that meeting in the Woodlands. While many are focused on the national election of our President, the news of the elections in the challenged legislative seats in Texas have been overlooked. It was projected that there may have been a change in political party majorities. However, that did not take place, in fact the Republican party held on to its majority in the Texas House and Senate with the same numbers as the previous session.
For the last 40 days we have used this time to continue to communicate with legislative leaders about the DCRP and its importance to continue. Harvey and I were able to meet with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick to discuss the extension of the DCRP. We also met with other members of the House and Senate to continue promoting the passage of the prospective legislation. Last week, two members of SDA attended a conference call with State Representative Trey Martinez-Fischer of San Antonio about the DCRP. State Rep Martinez-Fischer is the Chairman of the House Committee on Business and Industry that has heard and has jurisdiction of this program as public policy.
We plan to continue organizing more meetings like this either in person or by virtual means with other important legislative decision makers. We have targeted some key members in both chambers to be leaders in the passage of the extension of the DCRP. We hope to have commitments from House and Senate members on being primary authors by the end of December. By the time the legislative session starts on January 12th, we will have determined when the bill will be filed as well as the sponsors in both the House and Senate.
Your assistance is needed in this effort as well. It is important for elected members of the Texas House and Senate to hear from their constituents when important legislation is being proposed and passed. Therefore, once committee assignments are made in both chambers, it will be critical to communicate with those on the committee who will determine the passage of the extension of the DCRP as well as your State Senator or Representative. Please contact us to let us know if you wish to be a part of this effort to communicate with these members. We can be reached at 210-325-6898 or firstname.lastname@example.org for Frank and 512-796-7951 or email@example.com for Harvey.
For more information on the DCRP Coalition or to contribute, click here.