S 0536 - Water/Wastewater Public Enterprise Reform
Tracking Level: High

Sponsor: Paul Newton
House Committee:
Senate Committee: AENR
Last Action: 4/9/2019 - Senate - Re-ref to Agriculture/Environment/Natural Resources. If fav, re-ref to Finance. If fav, re-ref to Rules and Operations of the Senate

Makes recommendations that grew out of discussions by an interim legislative committee that examined financially distressed water and wastewater utilities. Defines a “distressed unit” as one that fails to address its financial or operational needs. Creates a new fund to provide grants to qualifying distressed units, funded by a mandatory monthly surcharge on all public water/wastewater customers across the state. Lists specific purposes for which the grant may be spent. Requires approval of the Local Government Commission (LGC) before any grant award and gives the LGC authority to place additional performance requirements on the local government recipient as a condition of the grant award. Establishes criteria by which the LGC would evaluate financially distressed units of local governments, then prescribes actions any identified units must take upon being designated as a distressed unit. Those actions include, among other measures, required training of elected officials and staff in the unit as well as development of an action plan. In another related measure, details a process by which certain water/wastewater units may merge or dissolve. That process would involve significant procedures and multiple state agencies overseeing the merger or dissolution. Finally, directs two statewide studies: one of the necessity of the state’s interbasin water transfer laws, and another of how to develop a process for transitioning “defunct” municipalities to “historical charter” status. (First Edition)