Legislation Protecting Property Rights Passes Senate

April 9, 2013

The Texas Senate today unanimously passed SB 291 by Senator Jane Nelson to protect property owners by requiring gas utilities to notify residents in writing five days before accessing its right-of-way on residents' property.

"During the interim, dozens of Denton County residents learned a local gas provider intended to clear a 50-foot easement over a 12 mile stretch of right of way, including trees on private property," said Senator Nelson. "I was told that residents were only notified of the project as a courtesy. This legislation puts into law a requirement that residents be notified in advance of entry to their property."

SB 291 ensures that residents stay informed about gas utilities' activities that may affect or damage their property. Currently, gas utilities may enter property without warning to conduct business that may negatively impact a person's home. The bill authorizes the Railroad Commission to assess $200 penalty for each entry without proper notification, with exceptions such as emergencies, service restoration and regularly scheduled service readings. The bill now moves to the House of Representatives for further consideration.