Sec. 59. CONSERVATION AND DEVELOPMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES; DEVELOPMENT OF PARKS AND RECREATIONAL FACILITIES; CONSERVATION AND RECLAMATION DISTRICTS; INDEBTEDNESS AND TAXATION AUTHORIZED.
(a) The conservation and development of all of the natural resources of this State, and development of parks and recreational facilities, including the control, storing, preservation and distribution of its storm and flood waters, the waters of its rivers and streams, for irrigation, power and all other useful purposes, the reclamation and irrigation of its arid, semi-arid and other lands needing irrigation, the reclamation and drainage of its overflowed lands, and other lands needing drainage, the conservation and development of its forests, water and hydro-electric power, the navigation of its inland and coastal waters, and the preservation and conservation of all such natural resources of the State are each and all hereby declared public rights and duties; and the Legislature shall pass all such laws as may be appropriate thereto.
(b) There may be created within the State of Texas, or the State may be divided into, such number of conservation and reclamation districts as may be determined to be essential to the accomplishment of the purposes of this amendment to the constitution, which districts shall be governmental agencies and bodies politic and corporate with such powers of government and with the authority to exercise such rights, privileges and functions concerning the subject matter of this amendment as may be conferred by law.
(c) The Legislature shall authorize all such indebtedness as may be necessary to provide all improvements and the maintenance thereof requisite to the achievement of the purposes of this amendment. All such indebtedness may be evidenced by bonds of such conservation and reclamation districts, to be issued under such regulations as may be prescribed by law. The Legislature shall also authorize the levy and collection within such districts of all such taxes, equitably distributed, as may be necessary for the payment of the interest and the creation of a sinking fund for the payment of such bonds and for the maintenance of such districts and improvements. Such indebtedness shall be a lien upon the property assessed for the payment thereof. The Legislature shall not authorize the issuance of any bonds or provide for any indebtedness against any reclamation district unless such proposition shall first be submitted to the qualified voters of such district and the proposition adopted.
(c-1) In addition and only as provided by this subsection, the Legislature may authorize conservation and reclamation districts to develop and finance with taxes those types and categories of parks and recreational facilities that were not authorized by this section to be developed and financed with taxes before September 13, 2003. For development of such parks and recreational facilities, the Legislature may authorize indebtedness payable from taxes as may be necessary to provide for improvements and maintenance only for a conservation and reclamation district all or part of which is located in Bexar County, Bastrop County, Waller County, Travis County, Williamson County, Harris County, Galveston County, Brazoria County, Fort Bend County, or Montgomery County, or for the Tarrant Regional Water District, a water control and improvement district located in whole or in part in Tarrant County. All the indebtedness may be evidenced by bonds of the conservation and reclamation district, to be issued under regulations as may be prescribed by law. The Legislature may also authorize the levy and collection within such district of all taxes, equitably distributed, as may be necessary for the payment of the interest and the creation of a sinking fund for the payment of the bonds and for maintenance of and improvements to such parks and recreational facilities. The indebtedness shall be a lien on the property assessed for the payment of the bonds. The Legislature may not authorize the issuance of bonds or provide for indebtedness under this subsection against a conservation and reclamation district unless a proposition is first submitted to the qualified voters of the district and the proposition is adopted. This subsection expands the authority of the Legislature with respect to certain conservation and reclamation districts and is not a limitation on the authority of the Legislature with respect to conservation and reclamation districts and parks and recreational facilities pursuant to this section as that authority existed before September 13, 2003.
(d) No law creating a conservation and reclamation district shall be passed unless notice of the intention to introduce such a bill setting forth the general substance of the contemplated law shall have been published at least thirty (30) days and not more than ninety (90) days prior to the introduction thereof in a newspaper or newspapers having general circulation in the county or counties in which said district or any part thereof is or will be located and by delivering a copy of such notice and such bill to the Governor who shall submit such notice and bill to the Texas Water Commission, or its successor, which shall file its recommendation as to such bill with the Governor, Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House of Representatives within thirty (30) days from date notice was received by the Texas Water Commission. Such notice and copy of bill shall also be given of the introduction of any bill amending a law creating or governing a particular conservation and reclamation district if such bill (1) adds additional land to the district, (2) alters the taxing authority of the district, (3) alters the authority of the district with respect to the issuance of bonds, or (4) alters the qualifications or terms of office of the members of the governing body of the district.
(e) No law creating a conservation and reclamation district shall be passed unless, at the time notice of the intention to introduce a bill is published as provided in Subsection (d) of this section, a copy of the proposed bill is delivered to the commissioners court of each county in which said district or any part thereof is or will be located and to the governing body of each incorporated city or town in whose jurisdiction said district or any part thereof is or will be located. Each such commissioners court and governing body may file its written consent or opposition to the creation of the proposed district with the governor, lieutenant governor, and speaker of the house of representatives. Each special law creating a conservation and reclamation district shall comply with the provisions of the general laws then in effect relating to consent by political subdivisions to the creation of conservation and reclamation districts and to the inclusion of land within the district.
(f) A conservation and reclamation district created under this section to perform any or all of the purposes of this section may engage in fire-fighting activities and may issue bonds or other indebtedness for fire-fighting purposes as provided by law and this constitution.
(Added Aug. 21, 1917; Subsec. (d) added Nov. 3, 1964; Subsec. (e) added Nov. 6, 1973; Subsec. (f) added Nov. 7, 1978; Subsec. (c) amended Nov. 2, 1999; Subsec. (a) amended and (c-1) added Sept. 13, 2003.) (TEMPORARY TRANSITION PROVISIONS for Sec. 59: See Appendix, Note 1.)