Coronavirus (COVID-19)

Hide Alert Show Alert

Stay up-to-date on operations adjustments and temporary closure of TPWD offices, state parks, recreation facilities and water access points due to COVID-19. Please follow guidance from local authorities, Governor Greg Abbott and the Texas Department of State Health Services.

 

TPW Commission

Work Session, May 21, 2019

Transcript

TPW Commission Meetings

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE COMMISSION

May 21, 2019

TEXAS PARKS AND WILDLIFE DEPARTMENT
COMMISSION HEARING ROOM
4200 SMITH SCHOOL ROAD
AUSTIN, TEXAS 78744

COMMISSION WORK SESSION & EXECUTIVE SESSION

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: All right. Good morning. I call our Work Session for May 21st to order at 9:08 a.m. Before we proceed with our business, Carter needs to make his traditional statement.

MR. SMITH: I do. Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners.

Public notice of this meeting containing all items on the proposed agenda has been filed in the Office of the Secretary of State as required by Chapter 551 Government Code, referred to as the Open Meetings Act. Mr. Chairman, I would like for this fact to the noted in the official record of the meeting. Thank you.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Thank you.

First order of business is approval of the minutes from the March 19th, 2019, session. Is there a motion for approval?

Commissioner Latimer.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Second.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Second Commissioner Bell. All in favor?

(Chorus of ayes)

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Hearing no opposition, the motion carries.

All right. Update -- Work Session Item 1, Update on the Progress in Implementing the Land and Water Resources Conservation and Recreation Plan. Carter, will you make your presentation and just --

MR. SMITH: Stay right here? Okay.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Please.

MR. SMITH: Thank you, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Carter Smith. Just as a point of departure, let me say a few words about items related to the plan and then I'll jump into a legislative update right after that, Chairman.

Just as is customary, quick update on our Internal Affairs team. Jon and his officers continue to do an excellent job helping to manage risks throughout the Agency, as all of you know. Also, they've been very proactive on a number of training and education related issues for our employees, not the least of which was an officer-involved shooting related training provided to one of our Law Enforcement regions. Obviously, something that you hope never happens; but when it does, you want to make sure that your officers are well prepared for it. So I appreciate Jon and his team making things like that a real priority.

Second item, I want to welcome some new folks to our team; but also herald some promotions and first of which is Richard Hildreth. Richard, are you here? I don't know if I see Richard.

He works with Scott Stover. He's our new Emergency Management Coordinator and Richard brings 15 years of experience in this realm. Lots of history with FEMA Incident Command. He's a master trainer with FEMA. He's going to be helping with all of our interdivisional coordination on emergency planning and response and it's fitting to bring him on board as we approach hurricane season. And so, you know, it's never a question of if we're going to get another fire or flood or hurricane. It's just a matter of when. And so having some expertise and leadership in this regard is going to be a big help to the Agency and so we're excited to have Richard's expertise and welcome him on board, Scott. Great, great hire.

Next one I want to congratulate -- he's not a new employee, he's been with us for over 25 years -- Calvin Richardson in the back. Hey, Calvin.

Calvin's a longstanding wildlife biologist with us. He was a technical guidance biologist. He managed our Big Game Programs out in West Texas and said grace over Pronghorn and Bighorn sheep and Mule deer. Most recently he's been our district wildlife biologist up in the panhandle and was promoted to be our Regional Director in West Texas for our Wildlife team. So Billy Tarrant is retired from the Agency. Gone to work for the Borderlands Research Institute at Sul Ross, so he'll still stay involved and close to the Department on wildlife related issues out there; but we're thrilled to have Calvin in his new position. And so welcome to the leadership team of Wildlife, Calvin. So, excited to have you there.

Our next colleague is also no stranger to the Department, Greg Creacy. Is Greg -- Justin's pointing. Greg's hiding in the back. Typical Parks and Wildlife employee. Nice try, Greg.

Greg's a wildlife biologist. He was with our Wildlife Division for -- I don't know -- seven or eight years and then for a dozen or more years, he was our Natural Resource Coordinator for parks in kind of the Central Texas area, stationed out of Bastrop. And Greg, I think as at least some of you know, has been our point person on all things recovery at Bastrop and Bishop -- Buescher State Parks following the fires and the floods there.

Greg has been promoted to be our new Natural Resources Coordinator for all of state parks. A position that we have not had open for 40 years, Rodney. So that says something about the tenure of our colleagues. Either that or we just hire in a slow fashion, Commissioner. I'm not sure.

But Greg is going to be responsible for really any natural resource issue on state parks. So monitoring, research, invasive exotic species, public hunts, environmental compliance. You name it, Greg and his team of natural resource specialists will play that role. So we're excited about Greg's expertise and long history with the State Parks team. So congratulations, Greg.

Next one is one of our new majors in State Parks, Roger Dolle. I don't know if Roger is hiding in the back. He's a little bigger. He's hard to hide. Roger has had a long career in law enforcement. He was a police officer in New Braunfels. Came to work with us as a superintendent and super -- assistant superintendent at Fairfield and then Bastrop and then he's been a lieutenant and captain with our State Park police and now he's our Regional Major overseeing our State Park police operations in West Texas and Central Texas and Roger does a great job and has been long involved in the operations of state parks. So he understands the law enforcement side and the operation, as well, and that's a very important nexus. So congratulations to Roger on his promotion.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Before you move on, what -- has anything happened that you can discuss on Fairfield?

MR. SMITH: Not at this juncture. No developments on that front. Yeah.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: All right.

MR. SMITH: Good question. Obviously, we'll keep you posted once we hear anything in that regard.

Moving on, this was the 17th year that Robin and the Coastal Fisheries team had the annual crab trap removal along the coast. As you can see, it's been a multi-partner effort with the bays and estuaries program and Fish and Wildlife Service. It happens every February. We'll shut down the crab season for ten days and we'll have a gaggle of volunteers that will go out in their boats and help pick up these abandoned traps, which, you know, just catch all kinds of marine organisms from Blue crab all up and down the food chain. And so it's incredibly destructive, but it's a great way to engage volunteers in the stewardship of the bays by picking up these traps and really proud of that program, Robin, that you and the Coastal Fisheries team have launched. I know you get good support from our Law Enforcement team and, again, many partners and volunteers that participate in that and there's a wonderful kind of esprit de corps and camaraderie as folks get out in the bays and help to pick up those abandoned traps and so good stuff.

Chairman?

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Your slide says more than 36,000 abandoned traps were removed, which is sad that we've got people leaving that number of traps out there. But how does that number compare to previous years?

MR. SMITH: Well, and so we picked up 1,100 traps this year. The 36,000 is in the aggregate over the entire --

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Oh.

MR. SMITH: -- 17 years.

This one, is it pretty comparable, Robin, this year in terms of the number of traps as past years or maybe a little lighter because of the weather or --

MR. RIECHERS: We ended up about the same.

MR. SMITH: About the same. Okay. All right. Yeah.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: If there is anything that, Robin, that you and your team can come up with as suggestions for the Commission to consider to try to deal with this, we'd welcome your thinking and suggestions on that. Just it's part of an overall challenge we seem to have with abandoned -- and we're going to get briefed, I realize this, on abandoned limb lines and juglines and it's just -- anyway, please keep that in mind.

MR. SMITH: We will, yeah, absolutely. We'll come back with any suggestions, Chairman. Thank you. I appreciate the interest in that.

Last thing I'll mention before we move on to the legislative retreat, I just want to herald Rachel Kellner for a wonderful activity she put on out in Uvalde. Rachel is a long-time game warden with us out in Uvalde County and she put on a huge women's outreach event out there that she partnered with the Chamber and the EDC and the Hill Country Rivers Region, Garner State Park, lots of local businesses to bring women out to the Hill Country for a weekend in Concan. And over 600 women came out and participated in fly fishing demonstrations, learned how to kayak, stand-up paddle boarding, outdoor cooking, you name it. It was a very festive weekend.

Rachel organized it in concert with the Parks and Wildlife Foundation -- I see Susan and Jay out there -- and ended up raising a little over $30,000 to support the search and rescue efforts of our Law Enforcement team. And so again, just a wonderful outreach event and kudos to Rachel. She's had that idea for a long time and was the one who led it and actualized it and not sure if it will be an annual event or not, but it was a terrific event and just got great reviews. So excited about her leadership in making that happen.

Mr. Chairman, with that, I'm going to move over to an update on legislative related priorities unless there's any more questions about any of that. Good?

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: You bet.

MR. SMITH: I guess maybe as a point of departure, Chairman, I -- there's a couple things I want to say. First, I just want to thank you and the Commission for the very active engagement this session. That leadership, that visibility, that support has helped a lot with respect to the execution of our myriad financial and statutory priorities. And so just cannot thank you and the Commission enough for being so accessible and engaged when we needed you. It's helped a lot.

Secondly, I want to compliment David Eichler and Allison Winney for their very capable leadership and efforts this session. They have just been just tremendous in their roles in intergovernmental affairs and have literally lived down at the Capitol and just want to acknowledge their hard work and want to make sure that the Commission is aware of that.

Let me cover a couple of things. I guess I'm not going to do an exhaustive overview of the budget. We talked about that enough at the last couple of Commission meetings. This slide is essentially a slide that shows our eight exceptional item requests that we put in front of the Legislature. But just as a reminder, we started in a really good place with the Legislature with respect to the proposed base budgets that both the House and the Senate started in. They made a number of changes that we had asked for. And so again, our starting place was really good.

Thinking about their response to our additional requests in the from of the eight exceptional items, Mr. Chairman, I think a couple of things are notable. First, they are proposing to appropriate all of the available sporting goods portion of the sales tax and so that would be the second time that they have done that in its entirety and so that's very positive. And then really if you look up and down at these eight special requests, the Legislature in some form or fashion is proposing to fund all or part of them and in some cases, even more so than we had originally requested. So we feel very, very positive about where we stand on that.

I'll highlight a number of them. The first line item has to do with operational costs associated with our state parks and dealing with that increasing demand from visitation and then the costs associated with managing all of that demand and increase over time. We had asked for 15.4 million and 52 FTEs. The Conference Committee is recommending, you know, a little less than 30 percent of that; but also giving us the flexibility to hire all those FTEs. Again, assuming that the budget passes the House and Senate as contemplated by the Conference Committee. So again, it's still a help.

You'll see here that the request for Palo Pinto Mountains State Park, Chairman, that you worked so hard on personally, is being recommended for full funding. So we're very pleased about that.

Just to remind the Commission, the Chairman has made a commitment on behalf of all of us that we would help leverage these state dollars with somewhere between eight to ten and a half million dollars that we would raise privately through our partnership with the Parks and Wildlife Foundation, as well as funds that we would procure from other sources that were non-state in nature, again to help, again, show the leverage there; but this would be very significant bringing it online once that comes to fruition. Last state park that we formally opened -- meaning that we acquired, developed, and opened to the public -- happened in early 2008 with the opening of Resaca de la Palma down in Brownsville. So it's been a long time since we've opened a new state park and I don't need to tell this body just the demands and the interest for seeing more recreational land be made available. So the Palo Pinto Mountains would be a huge move forward.

The capital construction and repair, this slide is little bit misleading; but as you can see, we had originally asked for $40.6 million above and beyond funding that we had presumed to be in our base to fund our capital repairs and deferred maintenance in our state parks, our fish hatcheries, our wildlife management -- wildlife management areas, our law enforcement offices. The Conference Committee is recommending that full funding, plus some.

Ultimately, Jessica, I think all in over the next biennium, there's proposed to be about $118 million in funding for capital construction and repairs across the Agency and so -- is that the largest appropriation we've ever had, Jessica?

MS. DAVISSON: Yes.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. So that clearly shows the priority that the Legislature is putting on addressing deferred maintenance needs and capital construction repair across the Agency.

Law enforcement training, equipment, and aircraft. One of the areas that we had highlighted and really emphasized was the whole interoperability issue and the critical need to replace failing radios, radios that were going out of service with all-band/all-frequency radios so our officers could communicate effectively with other first responders and law enforcement officers in whether it was in their daily act of responsibilities or during emergency related events or whatever. We'd also asked for some funding for equipment and training and with the hope of being to add either a helicopter or a fixed-wing aircraft to our aviation related team.

Ultimately, what is proposed to be funded by the Conference Committee and the Legislature would be $5 million through the supplemental budget -- so the separate supplemental budget -- to help address our interoperability, our radio requests; and then a million dollars there to address various equipment needs that we have across our Law Enforcement team. So, again, we got part of the way there; but everybody put a huge amount of effort and emphasis on the replacement of radios and I think they heard that loudly and clearly.

I won't go through the remainder of these; but you can, again, see how the Legislature has proposed in conference to address all of these items in some form or fashion and I'll come back to the Battleship Texas in just a minute.

Let me stop there and just see if there's any questions from the Commission about any of those items.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: You don't have to come back to the Battleship.

COMMISSIONER BELL: I have one question.

MR. SMITH: Yes, sir. Yeah.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Just in terms of the asterisks next to three and four --

MR. SMITH: Uh-huh.

COMMISSIONER BELL: -- in terms of their numbers. Is that asterisk just for the additional explanation you gave or --

MR. SMITH: Yeah, that's exactly right. That was exactly what it was for. It was really a reminder for me to elaborate a little bit on that. Yeah, yeah, thank you.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, now, Carter, on the Senate side, I know they had put back in the money for that plane.

MR. SMITH: They had.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So did it get taken out on the House side?

MR. SMITH: It got taken out in conference. Yeah, so it didn't survive the conference recommendations. So we've had a lot of discussion with the conferees about that. Had been asked by, you know, members on the conference and House appropriation and Senate finance staff: You know, what was Law Enforcement's priority? Was it a helicopter or fixed-wing? And Law Enforcement said we really need to replace that fixed-wing first. It's the oldest essentially in our two -- we've got one plane, one helicopter. It's the oldest one. Also, it just doesn't have the power to deal with patrols offshore, can't carry much cargo. And so ultimately, that was a priority; but it didn't make it through conference. Yeah, uh-huh.

What else? Any other questions about that? Anything? Anything?

Okay. Let me move on to some of the legislative priorities more on the programmatic side and I want to go through these and let you know where they stand. Start off, obviously, the one that I think the Commission has been the most focused on has to do with the proposed constitutional dedication and appropriation of that portion of the sales tax that we know as the sporting goods sales tax. Bills that passed the Senate and the House is led by Senator Kolkhorst and Chairman Cyrier.

I'll point out that in the House, Chairman Cyrier was able to get a 149 out of 150 members to serve as co-authors of the bill. That's unheard of. And it passed the House with, I think, one dissenting vote; but sailed through. And then on the Senate side, the companion legislation that's led by Senator Kolkhorst passed with no dissenting votes. So, again, very, very strong support from the Legislature and want to thank the Commission and all the partners who worked so hard on this.

There are some differences between the two bills, and I want to make sure that the Commission is aware of that. On the House side, it calls for a temporary clawback provision that let's say that the State is in a position of economic duress where the Legislature is looking to have to cut back on funding for, you know, government related services and the House bill provides that upon a two-thirds vote of both chambers, that for a period not to exceed two years -- essentially meaning one biennium -- that the Legislature could decide not to appropriate up to 50 percent of the collection of that portion of the sales tax that we know as the sporting goods sales tax.

Chairman Cyrier made it abundantly clear that that provision was critical to him getting the level of support that he did in the House. That has passed. It's gone back over to the Senate. Senator Kolkhorst has indicated that she has concurred with that and it is placed on the Senate intent calendar and so the Senate will take up that revised version hopefully here in the next day or two and then hopefully then go to the Governor for signature. And then if that's the case, there will be a provision on the ballot for voters in November to make a decision whether or not they want to constitutionally dedicate those funds, which as you know would go to state parks, historic sites, and our important local park grant program. So a huge game changer, but very good progress there.

Managed Lands Deer Program participation fee, that legislation carried by Chairman Perry and Chairman Cyrier is on its way to the Governor and that would essentially give the Commission the authority to set a fee for enrollees in the Managed Lands Deer Permit Program, with the understanding that those funds, in turn, would be set aside to invest in hiring more wildlife biologists to help service the needs, the growing needs, the demands of private landowners across the state.

And so, Clayton, candidly we don't expect a rule package to come to the Commission on that potentially for at least one and probably another two hunting seasons. Is that fair?

MR. WOLF: Well, we'll come earlier.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Again, assuming it gets signed into law.

MR. WOLF: For the record, Clayton Wolf, Wildlife Division Director.

Carter, I've asked the team to put together a timeline; but we will -- do anticipate within the next several months coming -- working with stakeholders, first, our advisory committees to come up with a proposal to come to the Commission. We'll need to do that in advance so that we understand the business requirements for the programming for the Land Management Assistance Program, that application that people use because there will be online payments. So we're going to have to walk back from that development. Ultimately, what we anticipate is in the -- that it would be for the 21-22 hunting season that we would be live with a fee if the Commission chose to adopt a fee.

MR. SMITH: Okay. All right. So just kind of wanted to give everybody a timeline for that. So with the hunting season coming up in September, I just don't want landowners that are enrolled in the Managed Lands Deer Permit to think that there's going to be a fee for the upcoming season.

MR. WOLF: That's correct. It will be a while.

MR. SMITH: Right. Yeah, okay. Anyway, and I'll -- there have been a lot of partners involved in working on this, not the least of which has been Texas Wildlife Association, and I want to say a few words about some of our partners in just a minute.

Another important piece of legislation, SBH 10 -- again, carried by Chairman Perry in the Senate, Chairman Cyrier in the House -- has to do with identification of breeder deer. Obviously, a critically important piece of legislation to the Commission and many, many interested constituencies around the state, both for being able to track individual deer that are held in captivity and possession and then ultimately moved or released; but also from a disease management and risk perspective. Making sure that we can trace back the origin of any deer that may show symptoms or, indeed, be carrying a potential disease like Chronic Wasting Disease that we're concerned about.

Been a lot of effort put into this particular piece of legislation and I really do want to compliment Clayton and Mitch, David and the Texas Wildlife Association have worked very hard on trying to find compromise legislation. The Deer Breeders Corporation and others have been intimately involved in trying to find something that everybody can agree with or at least not disagree with too strenuously.

And so where the legislation has landed essentially right now to perhaps over simplify, a deer, a breeder deer in the pens is required to have one form of identification. It's required to have an ear tag, but that ear tag is not required to display on its front and in a legible manner the unique ID number by which we can identify and trace back that deer. And then upon release of that deer from those pens, the deer is required to have a legible tattoo in the ear. So essentially right now, the standard is one form of identification in the pens and not, candidly, a very good one or one that our wildlife biologists and game wardens can readily read when inspecting pens and then one form of identification in the pasture.

This piece of legislation would require essentially two forms of identification in the pens and two forms in the pasture. The two forms in the pens would be the ear tag, as aforementioned; but also a new requirement that on the front of the tag that could be legible and visible would be the State's unique ID number. So that would make it much easier for our game wardens and biologists to be able and get in and out when inspecting deer in the pens.

The redundant requirement would be an allowance for breeders to have some kind of electronic identification device on that deer and that could be in the form of an RFID button tag in the ear or a microchip that was implanted subcutaneously. So, again, two forms of ID in the pens. Once the deer leaves the pens, whether it be transported to a new facility or released in the pasture, a legible tattoo would have to be placed on that deer and so that would then, again, ensure that we had now two forms of ID in the pasture: The tattoo and either the microchip that's implanted subcutaneously or the RFID button tag. So, again, ensuring that from an epidemiological perspective if there was a need to trace back an animal, we'd have a couple of options to be able to affect that. So a lot of discussion about that. The folks that I mentioned worked very hard on that issue and so that's on the Senate intent calendar and so appreciate everybody's hard work on that. Helps to address some really important issues and Chairman Cyrier and Perry have both worked very, very diligently to try to move that forward.

SB 1511, the operation of the Battleship Texas and I -- Chairman, just given the complexity of this and all of the hypotheticals here, let me try to characterize what this legislation purports to do if signed into law. And again, there's a lot of contingencies here.

In it's simplest and straightforward form, the legislation is carried by Senator Nichols and Chairman Cyrier. And by the way, bills have passed both the Senate and the House. Although, there was an amendment added to the House version that has gone back to the Senate. Senator Nichols didn't concur. So now they're having a conference about the bill. But the core elements of the bill would -- again, contingent upon some decisions by the Legislative Budget Board -- would compel the Department to enter into a 99-year lease agreement and companion management plan for the operation and maintenance of the Battleship Texas. That would be with a qualified nonprofit, which most likely would be the Battleship Texas Foundation, which has, of course, been our longstanding partner there at San Jacinto and at the Battleship.

The interest in the Battleship Texas Foundation is really predicated on a solution that would require the approval of the Legislative Budget Board to essentially wet-tow the ship out of its current berth in San Jacinto, wet-tow it through the Houston Ship Channel, and either wet-tow it across the Gulf or load it onto a big, large marine transport vessel for a dry-tow to a port internationally and either domestically or internationally. Essentially, replace the hull and much of the framing in the ship and then be brought back to berth.

Now, obviously, there's a lot involved with an engineering solution like that and a potential transport of the ship. The Battleship Texas Foundation has contracted with a company called Valkor, which last week completed its initial feasibility analysis of this kind of a solution and it looked at the possibility of essentially using buoyancy pontoons which it would attach around the rim of the ship, conduct that associated with additional compartment sealing to create some redundancies to be able to manage the leaks, of course, and the water that the ship takes on and then secure requisite approvals from the Coast Guard and the Historical Commission to be able to, again, wet-tow the ship out of the berth, through the Houston Ship Channel, and then into the Gulf, where it would be wet-towed to a port, say, in Florida or Alabama or overseas to a place, someplace, a shipyard in Italy or South Korea.

Obviously, the Coast Guard is critical to that and while they don't permit dead-ship tows, per se, they will render feedback and opinions on dead-ship tow plans, which they would be required to -- or not required -- they would submit to the Coast Guard, again to make sure that they had the Coast Guard's best feedback on the viability of the plan. And then, of course, the Texas Historical Commission would have to issue a permit from the Commission to replace and repair the hull. And so those two regulatory entities come into play here.

The legislation is devised such that ultimately the Legislative Budget Board would have to sign onto and approve a plan to accomplish all of this. Right now we have, again, a fairly detailed preliminary study that looks at the viability of the plan, the cost, the possibility for insuring the tow, what would have to be done with the Coast Guard and the Historical Commission to secure requisite input or approvals, whether or not the proposed 35 million that the Legislature is looking at in a contingency rider for this legislation would be sufficient to fund that action by the Battleship Texas Foundation, and that preliminary plan has been submitted to the Agency and to a number of decision-makers inside the Legislature.

So, again, right now that bill sits in conference. The difference between the House and Senate versions are that the Senate version does not stipulate where the ship, if it were to be moved and the hull were to be replaced and if it were to be towed back, where the ship were to go. And so that leaves open the possibility that the Legislative Budget Board could select another location besides San Jacinto for the ship to return to.

An amendment was placed onto the House version of the bill that would require that the ship, upon its repair, be brought back to its berth at San Jacinto and that's the subject of contention among a number of legislative members and the key area that's being discussed in conference right now. And so we're waiting resolution on that issue and for that to happen, if it does, a bill to go back to the House and Senate to be voted on. So stay tuned. We've got four or five days for all of this to get wrapped up. So we'll keep you posted on the fate of the Battleship. Obviously, a lot of interested parties on that front. Of course, not the least of which are our very, very capable team that continue to do a terrific job stewarding that museum ship and taking good care of it; but we'll keep you posted on that front.

Maybe, Chairman, I'll just stop there because that was -- I've got some more things I want to talk about, but the Battleship one had so much detail. Is there any questions about any of that?

A lot of contingencies. A lot of what-ifs. None of which are completely answered obviously right now, including whether or not the bill will even pass. But any questions from y'all on that?

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Members?

COMMISSIONER BELL: I have a side comment related to SB 810, and it's not really directly related to the bill; but it is related to Clayton and his folks sitting down with me and helping me understand CWD and some other -- they spent about four hours with me going over that and tagging and updating me on that information. So to the extent that that's moving in the right direction, I also wanted to just publically thank him and the group for helping me understand that better and spending time with me to get me up to what I will call a little level of knowledge on that.

MR. SMITH: Some proficiency, yeah.

COMMISSIONER BELL: I'll tell you, there's a lot of information there. So I appreciate that.

MR. SMITH: You bet. You bet. Thank you, Commissioner. And he and Mitch and Bob and Todd and Robert and the others have been really involved in that and it's just been terrific. So thank you for that.

Commissioner.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, I have another issue on this thing and we're probably going to need to talk about it in Executive Session. Right now, my understanding -- and this thing's going crazy -- because the agreement that y'all had last week with a bunch of them is totally different than what the one is today. Y'all changed some very important points, and I haven't gotten those yet. And the reason I bring this up is I need some additional information. I'm not comfortable at all with what I'm hearing on the --

MR. SMITH: On the 810?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: On 810 and mainly the 810. And since this is not the exact language that y'all agreed to last week, this is getting hit kind of late and I've got heartburn.

MR. SMITH: Sure. So I don't know what you're referring to. All I had known was that the parties had signed on to a letter for the legislation that Chairman Cyrier had proposed and that included -- but so I don't know what's changed. What am I -- what's happened here?

MR. WOLF: Yeah, I'm not aware of that. I mean, I'll speculate a little bit, Commissioner, that we're talking about the movement qualification rules that Mitch is going to brief this Commission on here in a little while. That's -- because I've had some conversations with Tim Condict about --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I'm just -- I'm just getting these notes and, obviously, I don't have the information either; but if it got changed from last Friday until today, I don't like the way that looks.

MR. SMITH: So -- so the --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I've got to get information --

COMMISSIONER BELL: You bet.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- is what I'm saying.

MR. SMITH: And I think, Commissioner, what Clayton may be saying is there's a couple of things happening with breeder deer right now. You know, this is the legislation and then there's a proposal to talk about another way to provide flexibility for -- that the Commission would consider. They wouldn't approve it at this session, but would hear it and would give us permission to go out and publish for comment, to provide another mechanism by which breeders who weren't able to test their way out of reaching movement compliance, would have some --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Once again, I've got to get --

MR. SMITH: Okay.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I've got to get --

MR. SMITH: All right.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- additional information.

MR. SMITH: Sure.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And I'll get that today.

MR. SMITH: Perfect.

MR. WOLF: And I believe --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I may have -- we may need to discuss that in Executive Session, if that's the appropriate place.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Well, yeah, we can sure -- well, I think it's on the agenda to discuss potential solutions for how these breeders who are challenged by the current rules, that's up for discussion; and I think that's the time for you to --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Probably, probably.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: -- weigh in. I don't think your heartburn has anything to do with 810. I think those are different --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And I think that's accurate.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Yeah.

MR. WOLF: That's correct. And we can provide some more clarification when Mitch gets up here on some strategies that we believe will allow for the discussion for this difference of understanding and what we were coming forward with.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Okay.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. And just, Commissioner, there's no decision today, too. I want to be clear about that. So we've got time to work through that.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's what I just ascertained. So that was my other question.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, yeah. We've got time to work through whatever the issue is. Okay.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: It's still in --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: It's not going to be a voting item today?

MR. SMITH: No. No, it's not.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: So that's okay.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, yeah. Okay. I'm going to move forward, just hit a couple of these other legislative priorities again for the Commission where, again, we've made a lot of headway on some important things, HB 1300 and then HB 2321 related to oyster related issues. Both of those are on the way to the Governor for his consideration.

The oyster mariculture bill would, of course, enable the Commission to set up a framework for permitting mariculture of oyster along the coast. Obviously, a lot more work that would have to go into that before any proposals were brought to the Commission; but this would give the Commission the authority to do that under rules that you set up. And so, again, another important tool for the management of oysters on the coast and Robin and Lance and their teams have worked very closely, Bob and others, with CCA and A&M Corpus and the local delegation on that front.

At the bottom, HB 2321, oyster harvesting regulation in closed areas. This has to do with additional penalties to disincentivize the illegal harvesting of oysters in areas that we've closed to facilitate the recovery of those reefs after they have been commercially harvested. And so, again, this builds onto HB 51, which was passed last session.

Our Law Enforcement team has done a terrific job with the enforcement of the new oyster regs on the coast and this, again, would help round out the tools and that one's headed to the Governor's Office.

HB 1422, the Texas Historical Commission Sunset Bill also has passed both chambers. Is headed to the Governor for his consideration. The THC Sunset Bill would do a couple of things relating to Texas Parks and Wildlife Department. A couple of important things, not the least of which would compel the transfer of six historic sites from Parks and Wildlife to the Texas Historical Commission. That does not include Fort Leaton out in West Texas, and it obviously does not include the Battleship; but it does include the San Jacinto Battleground and Monument. It includes Washington-on-the-Brazos. It includes Kreische Brewery and Monument Hill, Lipantitlan, includes the Port Isabel Lighthouse, and it also includes Fanthorp Inn. And so the Department would enter into a transfer agreement with the Historical Commission by the 1st of September and then would be working diligently over the summer and beyond for those sites and all of the resources and assets associated with those six to transfer.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Would you repeat? It was Washington-on-the-Brazos, San Jacinto, Kreische Brewery, Lipantitlan, Port Isabel, and what was the other one?

MR. SMITH: Fanthorp Inn.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Yeah, that's right.

MR. SMITH: Yep, yep. The other thing that the sunset bill would do, would modify the proposed split of the sporting goods portion of the sales tax and change that from the 94/6 split to a proposed 93/7. Meaning that Parks and Wildlife -- again, if the constitutional amendment and dedication were to go through -- would be eligible for 93 percent of those funds. The Historical Commission would be eligible for 7 percent and so that takes into account, again, the transfer of those six sites, the funding needed to operate those sites, as well as the funding needed to help maintain them. And so that is proposed in the sunset bill, and I want to make sure that the Commission is aware of that.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: So --

MR. SMITH: Chairman.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: -- it's not dependent though on passage of the constitutional amendment.

MR. SMITH: No, it's not. I'm sorry. The -- you're right. You're right. It would still be in effect and if the amendment went into effect, that would just ensure that happened. That's right. Yeah, good clarification.

Last couple or bills. The sand, shell, and gravel proceeds, proceeds that we get for sand and gravel permits right now, largely in the Brazos River. This is one of our oldest permits. It's been around since -- gosh, Bob -- the 20s or 30s. Are required to be invested in fish hatcheries. This would allow our Inland Fisheries team to be able to access those funds for riparian -- or restoring, you know, creeks and rivers and aquatic related habitats. So you have disturbance in a river, we could use those funds to more directly offset those kind of impacts by enhancing or restoring habitats in similar environments or in nearby places. So provides some more flexibility with that revenue stream and that's been carried by Senator Flores and Representative Murr and that bill has -- I think it's in conference, as I understand that.

The penalty enhancement on finfish sales, HB 1828, again, provides a graduated penalty that gets stiffer and stiffer for those commercial entities that are purchasing or securing illegally begotten fish. This kind of goes back to the important work our game warden team made on some restaurants and other commercial entities that were contracting out with fishermen to illegally procure, you know, game fish commercially for them to sell at restaurants and so forth.

This provides some more enforcement teeth for our Law Enforcement team to help, again, protect those resources and this one has passed both chambers and is on its way to the Governor and so --

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: When you say "contracting out," they're really conspiring --

MR. SMITH: Conspiring, yeah.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: -- with the fishermen to break the law.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: To catch game fish and --

MR. SMITH: Yeah, they --

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: -- sell them in restaurants?

MR. SMITH: That's right.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Correct.

MR. SMITH: Off the menu and so forth.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: Does this stiffen it enough to get their attention?

MR. SMITH: It does, yeah. It takes it away before, you know -- Danny or Jarret if he's here -- basically -- or Cody -- you know, our game wardens could right of simple Class C for every one of those citations. This provides a poundage threshold that depending on how much poundage is secured from fish that were gotten illegally -- come on up, Jarret -- the fines would gradually escalate.

And so, Jarret, do you want to say anything, something about it?

MR. BARKER: Yeah. Jarret Barker, Assistant Commander for Fisheries Enforcement. This bill, as Carter laid out, kind of sets out a scalable value for the aquatic products. It's not limited to finfish; but based upon the poundage, it allows the violation to be filed in a court where they can access a fine value that is in proportion to the value of the aquatic products.

As it stands right now, if somebody sells a thousand pounds of Red snapper, it's the same violation as if they had sold one fish. You know, one 8-ounce fish. So this allows us to file a case in county court or district court because it does get up to a felony offense if the weights are egregious enough. It's not a situation where an individual is actually going to go to jail. They might get arrested at the time of the offense; but the real purpose behind it is to allow a judge to assess a $2,000 fine when the value of the fish is $2,000 or $3,000. It just puts it in a relationship that is an actual deterrent to the individual who is no longer going to look at the transaction as a cost of doing business if I get caught.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: Who gets penalized? The seller or the buyer or both?

MR. BARKER: In this situation, the way the law is written, it's the purchaser who is purchasing for resale. So it's targeted to go after dealers who are driving the industry to harvest fish in illegal situations. The law does allow for an affirmative defense if an individual purchases or, say, a dealer purchases the aquatic products from a licensed fisherman, he would have no knowledge that the fisherman harvested those fish in violation. But what we come across, a lot of the transactions are dealers who are purchasing fish and aquatic products from individuals who do not have a license.

Many of our fisheries -- crabs, finfish, shrimp -- operate under a limited entry system. So the individuals who purchases our licenses, it actually adds value to those licenses and value for them to hold them because now they are truly the only ones who can harvest those resources and sell them to dealers. A lot of what we come across is individuals who want to get into the harvest of fish and selling them, but they can't acquire a limited entry license. And so we have those measures in place to prevent the overharvest and, again, this is just another layer of the penalty structure that prevents individuals from, well, I can't get a license, I'll go harvest it anyway if I can get away with it two or three times, it's going to offset the one time that I do get a fine or a violation.

So, again, this puts a little bit tighter measures around our other laws and business practices that we have in place for the fisheries industry; but it's geared towards the dealers.

Any other questions?

MR. SMITH: So we see it as a real help here, Jarret, to say the least.

MR. BARKER: Oh, absolutely.

MR. SMITH: And, obviously, this was an issue that the Commission talked quite a bit about following a fairly high-profile case our Law Enforcement team made in the Houston area in particular, but -- and so just wanted to make sure y'all were aware of the follow up on this issue.

And so anything else, Jarret, that we've missed here?

MR. BARKER: Well, I mean it just -- on face value you look at it and you think, well, it just has to do with that one transaction of how people purchase aquatic products; but it does reach into the other aspects of our laws where we're adding value and putting a real structure around those limited entry licenses and not violating and having unregulated harvesters and different things around it. So in a lot of situations, the actual harvester himself has -- he operates in tight parameters because he's the one if he receives the violation of harvesting illegally, he's going to pay the civil restitution for whatever resource that he's overharvesting or utilizing in an illegal fashion. That civil restitution adds up on individuals very quickly, and so it alone serves as a powerful deterrent.

They may only get a Class C violation, but that civil restitution value is a powerful deterrent, where the dealers are less subject to that. And so you know, again, it just really firms up a lot of aspects of our Code.

MR. SMITH: Good. Great. Thank you, Jarret.

MR. BARKER: You bet.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, appreciate it.

With that, Mr. Chairman, let me just wrap up. As all of y'all know, during the session there are going to be bills that are passed that require the Commission to enact rules that will go into effect by the 1st of September. And so with that is the anticipation we're going to be asking for your permission to move forward to publish any necessary rules to help essentially effect or execute any legislation that requires Commission rule-making.

These are a couple of pieces of legislation that ultimately would require rule-making. Certainly, the top two are not any that we would propose to go forward with right now. We'd obviously come back, as we talked about, on the MLDP and the proposed oyster mariculture related bills. So nothing is going to happen there. But I do think the bill regarding the verification of hunting and fishing license information is one such example. And just so you know, it basically puts into law what our game wardens are already practicing out there that, you know, if you show a digital photo/electronic photo of your hunting or fishing license or evidence from our license system of the purchase of your hunting and fishing license to a game warden that checks you in the field, that will constitute proof of possession. And so, again, this essentially just puts into law really what has been practiced out there by our Law Enforcement team.

The -- Vice-Chairman, you asked about the status of the artificial reef funding, which was an important mechanism to provide --

VICE-CHAIRMAN MORIAN: House Bill 2065.

MR. SMITH: House Bill -- yes, that's passed both chambers and is on the way to the Governor's Office.

So with that, I'll stop and just, again, formally request permission to publish rules in the Texas Register as necessary to implement legislation passed by the regular session of the 86th Texas Legislature. Again, these are going to be those acts of legislation that require fairly perfunctory action on our part of which we need to publish and propose those rules so that we can get them to you in August.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Any objection?

Okay, so approved.

MR. SMITH: Okay. Great. Yeah, thank you. Thank you, Mr. Chairman. I know there was a lot to cover there; but, again, just want to thank the Commission for the very active engagement on things during the session, many partners that have worked on issues of interest to them and the Department and made a huge difference. So we're very grateful for all that support. So thank you.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Thank you very much for your presentation.

All right. Mike Jensen, I think you're up next to talk about financial overview.

MR. SMITH: Oh, sorry. Sorry, Mike. Thanks.

MR. JENSEN: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. I'm Mike Jensen, Division Director of Financial Resources. This is going to be a familiar presentation. It's similar to the one we did in March, just updated with data through April. I wanted to go through the three primary revenue streams that the Department relies upon and show you how we're comparing for the same period of last year and against also the prior four years.

We'll start first with the state parks revenue. I've shown you this slide before. I want to show this slide and make a couple comments. I think last Commission Meeting I mentioned we've gone to a new state park business system and the process has significantly changed. In the past, you could make a reservation. You would make a prepayment for the first night's stay. Now, you can make a reservation and you make a prepayment for the entire stay. So you're going to see more revenue up front before there's a visit. And in the new system, they also prepay the entry fees. So we're going to see a change to the cycle. Probably when we get a full cycle of next fiscal year, we'll have a better idea. We're still expecting the same levels of revenue; but it's just going to come in probably a little bit earlier than it has in the past.

This is the cycle that it's been for the past ten years since I've been here. It's a backloaded system. The first six months account for about 35 percent of the revenue. The last six months account for about 65 percent of the revenue. The peak months typically are the summer months, with spring break being usually the highest.

Here's where we are for the first eight months. Six out of eight months we're doing better as compared to last year, and two of the months we're behind compared to last year. The best year of record is 2017. And I think the primary reason why we're tracking ahead of last year is because of the change with the new state park business system with people making reservations, prepaying the full duration of the stay and prepaying the entry fees. Year to date, we're actually up 12.7 percent, about 3.8 million.

Just to give you an idea of the change in the system, you can see February up here. That's 4.93 million that we collected. Most of that is due to collecting in advance visit for the future because typically, February is about a $2 million month, two and a half million dollar month. So that's how it can change the cycle in the pattern.

Through April, if we look back at the prior fiscal years, we can see that we're doing better than the last year, '18, by about almost 13 percent. We're about seven-tenths of a percent better than fiscal year '17, about 10 percent better than '16, and 23 percent better when compared to fiscal year '15.

Total receipts are up 12.7 percent, 3.8 million. And this slide shows you the variances among the top five categories. Entrance fees are up 4.7 percent. Facility fees are up 27 percent because we're collecting in advance, and concessions are down 11.2 percent. State park passes, 11.7 percent. Miscellaneous is up nearly 70 percent and total visits are down about 4 point [sic] percent. And paid visits, this slide says 17.9. I got the data on Friday, and it was bothering me this morning. So I asked the staff to take a closer look at that. Paid visits are actually up a little over 4 percent because the number that they had was including some waived visits for children. So they'll get their data reporting corrected in the future moving forward.

Boat revenue is another backloaded system. It's a Fund 9 revenue stream for boat registration, titles, and sales tax. And this is what it looked like for the full 12-month and the prior fiscal year. The peak is May and the summer months and the first six months account for about 30 percent of the revenue. The last six months about 70 percent of the revenue. Typically, May, June, and July are the best months. Since this is only going through April, you're not seeing the best months yet. So we're about even when we've compared it to fiscal year 2018, and last year was actually the best fiscal year on record.

We're about even. Four of the months are tracking better than the prior fiscal year, and four of them we're tracking behind. So we're about two-tenths of a percent ahead. So when we look at comparing this against '18, we're about two-tenths of a percent ahead; against '17, about three-tenths of a percent ahead; '16, we're behind. '16 started off strong and kind of tapered off in the summer. And '15, we're 4.4 percent ahead of '15.

So the total revenue is up about 22,000 or two-tenths of a percent. And the variance, most of this is coming from sales tax. You can see that in '18, we collected 1.6 million in sales tax. In '19, 1.7. I pointed out last meeting that 95 percent of the sales tax total that we collect actually stays with the State of Texas and goes into the General Revenue Fund. So we've collected a total of 34.1 million in sales tax so far this year for boat transactions. We're allowed to retain 5 percent of that, 1.7 million. The remainder of 32.4 million is in the State Treasury for the State's use.

As I mentioned, we're tracking about even with the prior year. Registrations are behind about 1.7 percent. New registrations are behind a little over 4 percent, transfers down 2.3 percent, and renewals down about eight-tenths of a percent and titles are down 4 percent. And I asked the boat staff what this really means, and we looked at the data. It means that the quantity of vessels that are actually being bought is getting smaller, but the value and size of the vessels is increasing.

License revenue, 2017 is the best year on record. License year 2017 before the hurricane. And it's heavily front-loaded. The first six months account for about 73 percent of the revenue. The last six months about 27 percent of the revenue. The best months being September, November, and October. We started off very strong this year. September was significantly ahead of September, but we have -- even though we have five months tracking ahead compared to last year and three months tracking behind, those three months that track behind were killers.

The month of March, we were behind by almost 1.5 million. And the month of November and October, we're significantly behind. So we're tracking about three-tenths of a percent behind the prior license year, about $242,000. And if you compare against license year '18, we're three-tenths of a percent behind. License year '17 being the best period, best year. We're behind that about 4.6 percent. We're behind license year '16 about two and a half percent and we're ahead of license year '15 2.7 percent. So we're not quite at a recovery level we need to be from the hurricane. We're tracking closer between license year '15 and '16. We want to get back to the license year '17 level. I'm not sure we're going to do that this year. Hopefully we will next year.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Before you move on, Mike, back to that last -- yes. What strikes me about that is that nonresident hunting revenues, license revenues, have continued to increase and yet resident hunting revenues have declined and that's troubling.

MR. JENSEN: That's correct. It goes with fishing, as well. You can see that on this slide here.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: And the combo.

MR. JENSEN: That shows the variances for it. The nonresident hunting and fishing has been a great help to our revenue streams and when you combine those together for fishing, for example, we're behind about two-tenths of a percent when resident and nonresident are combined. So we're tracking behind the prior year about 50,000. When you combine hunting resident and nonresident, we're tracking behind about 2.3 percent. That's about 470,000 behind last year.

What troubles me the most is the combination licenses. This is the first time I've ever seen it actually tracking behind a prior year. They're about 201,000 behind. The other category is about up about 5.4 percent. And you can see from this slide here, what we're going to rely on for the remainder of the year is primarily fishing license revenues and it was odd -- what happened in the month of March and April, they're about the same; but they pretty much washed each other out. So that's why we're still tracking slightly behind and we expected March to be a little bit better than what it was and April was really great compared to the prior year.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: I have a question.

MR. JENSEN: Sure.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Do you think some of that could be -- I mean, lifetime licenses didn't increase a lot over the previous year; but do you think some of that was instead of getting a combination license, you converted to lifetime?

MR. JENSEN: The volumes of lifetime licenses in the course of a year are pretty small. You're talking less than 600 licenses; but it is an important revenue stream because this biennium, we have the opportunity to spend some of the balance of the lifetime license, about 8 million. And so that balance grows approximately 1 point -- 1 million to 1.3 million a year. But it doesn't have a large volume because of the cost.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Because -- yeah, because it's a bigger cost per person.

MR. JENSEN: Okay.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Okay, thank you.

MR. JENSEN: This is the budget adjustment slide. It has three months worth of the adjustments. So that's why the adjustments are relatively large. I have the five categories listed up here. Back in January, the approved budget -- adjusted budget -- was 596.19 million. The first line on there, operational and noncapital UB of 2.93 million, that's primarily general revenue, 1.2 million and Fund 9 of 1 million. The second adjustment you can see it's a negative because what we have going on here are 21 different varieties of federal funds. Some of them were increasing and some of them were decreasing.

When we built this budget, we used the estimates from the Legislative Budget Board and they overestimated on our primary federal fund streams, wildlife restoration, sport fish restoration. So this is the net effect. So basically, we had 13 sources of federal funds that were increasing or additive and we had eight sources that were reductive for a net of 1.3 million reduction.

The third item is appropriated receipts and UB. Most of that is from donations, about 75 percent of that 5.1 million. The fourth item is capital and capital construction UB of 7.65 million. Federal funds are about 65 percent of that 5 million. Then Fund 64 is 1.6 million, and Fund 9 is about 540,000.

Then the last item on there is just a true-up for employee and unemployment fringe. It's 656,000. So the total adjustments are 15,037,233. So the adjusted budget at the end of April is 611.23 million.

And that's all I've prepared for you this morning and just to give you -- I just wanted to give you an update on the revenue streams and what the budget adjustments were. If you have any questions, I'll be happy and try to answer them.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Members, any questions? Comments?

Okay. Thank you, Mike.

Internal Audit Update, Cindy Hancock.

MS. HANCOCK: Good morning. For the record, I'm Cindy Hancock, Director of Internal Audit; and I want to update you on the completion status of our internal audit plan and any external audits.

We have quite a few projects going on and just going down the list briefly, the IT audit regarding the Texas Wildlife Information Management System, or TWIMS, has been completed and issued. As noted in the report, overall the system needs some upgrades and management is taking action to perform these changes.

We're conducting another IT audit to determine the extent of software or systems used outside the IT Division's awareness. This audit is at the end of the fieldwork stage. The last IT audit for the year regarding security of field network, data, and systems has not started; but it will begin very soon.

The grant audit has been completed and no issues were noted for the two grants we reviewed. The contract audit is in the planning phase and here this year we're going to look at revenue contracts in the State Park Division. I have two auditors conducting the law enforcement fiscal control audits. We've completed fieldwork at 12 selected field sites and have issued nine reports. The three reports left to issue are for the Waco, College Station, and Laredo offices.

Fiscal controls at the selected wildlife management areas is in the quality review stage. I just received that in the mail today. Our follow-up audit has been ongoing throughout the fiscal year and since our last update to you in March, seven external and four internal audit recommendations have been implemented and management is currently working to resolve the other 15 external and 16 internal audit findings.

Currently, advisory projects ongoing at this time is FEMA, land conservation, toll tags, and encumbrance monitoring projects and the ADA coordination advisory project as been completed. For ongoing external audits, fieldwork for the Comptroller's post-payment audit continues. That's been going on over a year, almost a year and a half now, and I think it's at its final stages. The State Auditor's Office has conducted an audit of the Texas Comptroller's vendors performance tracking system, where they're looking at the accuracy of information and user access to the system. Tentatively, I expect this report to be issued sometime in May.

The FBI Criminal Justice Information Security Division conducted a security audit in April. This audit occurs every three years, and we have not received final report on that. FEMA just conducted a review of the law enforcement port security grant, and I don't expect a report to be issued for that audit for another month or so. And finally, the Comptroller requested information from our Agency regarding promotional items and it's planning for another audit. We have not heard anything further on this potential audit.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Cindy, what do you refer to when you say "promotional items"?

MS. HANCOCK: It's items that we're authorized to buy to promote programs or the Agency -- not the Agency, but for programs that we -- that we -- say Outdoor Fishing. They might have little flashlights or key chains or little lures, things like that that they give away at some of our programs.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: And are those within each of the major divisions?

MS. HANCOCK: There are -- many of the divisions do buy promotional items.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: And how are those approved at this point typically?

MS. HANCOCK: Mike, you did some -- we have -- we have authority to buy promotional items. I know that Mike did a lot of work in looking at our rules and Administrative Code. We provided financial information on the items that we purchased as an Agency and then Mike provided all the Texas Administrative Code and anything that we had in Parks and Wildlife Code to the Comptroller's.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: But if Inland Fisheries wants to conduct a promotion, fishing promotion, who approves the expenditure?

MS. HANCOCK: It would be the person over the program.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: I'm sorry?

MS. HANCOCK: I would assume it's the person over the program.

MR. SMITH: Yeah. So if Inland Fisheries was having a neighborhood fishing related event and they wanted to have some water bottles or some lures marked with "Life's Better Outside" -- and I'm just making that up -- you know, to give away to participants, then the program staff with Inland Fisheries, subject to State, you know, procurement related laws, would then make that decision if they had funds available to help support that event.

MS. HANCOCK: And then the purchaser --

MR. SMITH: They're fairly nominal expenditures here.

MS. HANCOCK: Yeah, it was kind of a surprise to have them ask for that information; but also interesting to see it gathered.

So since there are not any completed external audits at this time, this concludes my presentation and I'll be glad to answer any questions.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Members, any questions? Comments?

All right. Thank you, Cindy.

MS. HANCOCK: All right, thank you.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: With regard to Work Session Item 5, Public Lands Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments? If not, I'll place that on tomorrow's agenda meeting for public comment and action.

All right. I'll place the Public Lands Proclamation, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes on Wednesday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Also with regard to Work Session Item 6, Public Hunting Program, Establishment of an Open Season on Public Hunting Lands and Approval of Public Hunting Activities in State Parks, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments?

Hearing none, I will place the Public Hunting Program, Establishment of an Open Season on Public Hunting Lands and Approval of Public Hunting Activities on Wednesday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

With respect to Work Session Item 7, Disease Detection and Response Rules, Containment Zone Boundaries, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments?

Hearing none, I will place Disease Detection and Response Rules, Containment Zone Boundaries, Recommended Adoption of Proposed Changes on the Wednesday's Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item 8, Commercial Nongame Permits and Miscellaneous Wildlife Division Permits, Refusal of Permit Issuance or Permit Renewal and Review of Agency Decision, Request Permission to Publish Proposed Changes in the Texas Register, Meredith Longoria.

MS. LONGORIA: Good morning, Chairman Duggins, Commissioners. My name's Meredith Longoria, Nongame and Rare Species Program Leader within the Wildlife Diversity Program. I'm going to talk to you this morning about a suite of amendments and new rules that would extend standard provisions for refusal of permit issuance or renewal that have already been established for several game related permits to our wildlife diversity permits.

Over the course of the last several years, the TPW Commission has approved a similar set of rules for the following Wildlife Division issued permits that articulate consistent provisions pertaining to refusal or permit issuance and renewal. These include permits for aerial management of wildlife and exotic species, the alligator proclamation, the Managed Lands Deer Program, as well as authority to refuse to issue or renew permits for trapping, transporting, and transplanting game animals and game birds, deer management permits, and deer breeder permits.

The proposed amendments and new rules would extend the standard provision for refusal of permit issuance or renewal established for the previously mentioned permits to the following: Commercial nongame permits; permit for possession of live furbearing animals; scientific, educational, and zoological permits; scientific plant research permit; commercial plant permits; and wildlife rehabilitation permits.

Again, the purpose of the proposed amendments and new rules is to establish a standardized set of provisions regarding refusal of permit issuance or renewal for all Wildlife Division permits. The proposed amendments would extend the set of standard provisions that allow the Department to refuse permit issuance or renewal to any person who has been finally convicted of major violations of Parks and Wildlife Code, Lacey Act violations, and prevent a person from acting on behalf of or as a surrogate for a person prevented from obtaining a permit. In addition to help ensure that the decisions to refuse permit issuance and renewal are correct, the proposed amendments would also establish a standardized review process for the refusal of permit issuance or renewal.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Meredith, before you go on -- you go ahead.

VICE-CHAIRMAN MORIAN: I just have one question. Under the first bullet point, why do we have "finally" in that sentence?

MS. LONGORIA: Finally? There are situations where a person may have been convicted and -- or I'm sorry. May have -- maybe a citation has been dismissed and it wasn't final conviction and in those cases, we would not then --

MR. SMITH: Or it may be under appeal. Bob, Todd, do you want to address that?

VICE-CHAIRMAN MORIAN: It doesn't seem necessary to have that word there.

MR. GEORGE: So for the record, I'm Todd George, Assistant General Counsel with the Legal Division. "Finally" is just in the slide for the PowerPoint. In the text of the rule, it's convicted, pleaded nolo contendere, et cetera.

VICE-CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Right.

MR. GEORGE: But we need an actual conviction before we can take this act, as opposed to a pending case.

VICE-CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Right.

MR. SMITH: But the word "finally" is not in the rule. So this was superfluous I guess is your point and --

VICE-CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yes, that's my point.

MR. SMITH: Yeah, okay.

MR. GEORGE: It may be in the rule. I want to be clear. But it does specify the various types of pleas, the various types of procedures that happen in the criminal court that constitute a conviction for which the Department may base a decision refuse to issue or renew a permit.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Well, I'd just say to Vice-Chairman Morian's point, let's look at the proposed language and make sure it doesn't. It just says, "A conviction or a plea," as you described.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: It says it under 65.376(g). It says, "Finally convicted of, pleaded nolo contendere."

MR. GEORGE: And that language is -- already exists in several other Administrative rules and it also exists in the statutes, the Parks and Wildlife Code. Several of the permits related to deer breeders and some other deer related permits were moved by the Legislature a few sessions ago to Chapter 12 of the Parks and Wildlife Code and I believe that language also uses the term "finally."

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Then we probably should track the Code.

VICE-CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Yeah. If it's in the code, you've got to track it. I didn't know.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: What about -- this says to refuse permit issuance or renewal. What about revoking a permit based on a conviction under the Lacey Act? I think we've talked about this before, but could you refresh our recollection on what --

MR. GEORGE: We do. The Department has the authority under the Parks and Wildlife Code to revoke any permit issued by the Department based on its broader -- on any violation of the Parks and Wildlife Code. I do not believe it includes federal offenses like the Lacey Act. However, that process requires formal notice and a hearing. We rarely, if ever, use that process. We would need to refer to the State Office of Administrative Hearings for a full contested case hearing. That process typically takes up to or more than a year. The duration of the vast majority of our permits is less than a year. So it's more efficient to just wait for the permit to expire, and then refuse to renew; but the Department does have that authority. There are a few violations, which I don't have memorized, for which the Department may revoke immediately.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Okay. Thank you, Todd.

Any other questions or comments about that?

Okay, thank you.

MS. LONGORIA: Thank you. Consistent with the Commission's position that it is appropriate to deny permits to persons who exhibit a demonstrable disregard for the laws governing the resources regulated by TPWD and the public trust, the Department has determined that the decision to issue a permit to take into account an applicant's history of violations involving the capture and possession of live animals or the collection of plants, any major violations of the Parks and Wildlife Code, including Chapter 43 subchapters C, E, L, R, or R-1, all of which authorize individuals to possess wildlife, any relevant Class A or B misdemeanors or felonies, permit violations, Lacey Act violations, as well as compliance with applicable recordkeeping and reporting.

The denial of a permit issuance or renewal would not be automatic and would maintain departmental discretion. Factors that may be considered include, but are not limited, to the following factors: Number of final convictions of Administrative violations; seriousness of conduct, existence, number and seriousness of additional offenses or Administrative violations; length of time between final conviction or Administrative violations and application for issuance or renewal; whether violations were the result of negligence or perhaps intentional; accuracy of information provided to the Department; or whether the applicant complied with special provisions or conditions as agreed upon under the terms of the permit.

This is to say we wish to maintain flexibility to consider the totality of factors when making a decision to deny permit issuance or renewal. As stated earlier, the proposed amendments would also provide a standardized method for the review of a decision to refuse permit issuance or renewal to ensure that the decisions affecting permit issuance and renewal are correct, including establishment of a review panel that consists of three Department managers with appropriate expertise in the activities conducted under the permit in question.

Once more, the proposed amendments and new rules would extend the standard provisions for refusal of permit issuance or renewal to the wildlife diversity permits listed here. As such, staff respectfully seek your permission to publish the proposed changes to the Texas Register. And at this time, I'm happy to take any questions you may have.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: All right. Any discussion by members?

All right. I'll authorize staff to publish the proposed changes in the Texas Register for the required public comment period. Thank you.

MS. LONGORIA: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Work Session Item 9, Deer Breeder Regulations, Additional Testing Options for Breeders to Regain Movement Qualified Status, which is the -- Mitch Lockwood. This is the item that Commissioner Scott earlier referred to.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, sir. Good morning, Mr. Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, my name is Mitch Lockwood. I'm the Big Game Program Director. And during your last meeting in March, this Commission adopted proposed amendments to deer breeding rules that created an additional Chronic Wasting Disease or CWD testing option for deer breeding facilities that are currently prohibited from receiving or transferring deer.

As a refresher, the comprehensive CWD rules that this Commission adopted back in June of 2016, require deer breeders to test the greater of either 80 percent of the eligible aged mortalities in that facility or 3.6 percent of the eligible aged herd. So there's surveillance requirements for every deer breeding facility in this state, regardless of how many mortalities may occur. If the number of mortalities is less than the number that would be achieved by testing 3.6 percent of the eligible aged herd, then those facilities can still or those deer breeders can still achieve the CWD testing standards by utilizing antemortem or live animal testing.

In fact, even for facilities that have a significant number of mortalities, if they missed some mortalities -- in other words, if some mortalities are not -- if samples are not able to be collected from some deer in time to where those samples are still suitable for testing purposes, those deer breeders still have the ability to meet these standards by using the antemortem or live animal testing. They basically would substitute a live animal test result for a postmortem test result at a three-for-one ratio. In other words, for every one missing postmortem test result, you can submit three antemortem test results. And the reason for that three-for-one substitution is that a sample that is collected from a seemingly healthy deer alive today in that facility is not nearly as valuable as a sample that's collected from a deer that dies of natural causes, at least not when trying to surveil for Chronic Wasting Disease.

Well, as we've discussed previously, there are several deer breeding facilities in this state that are currently not movement qualified because of inadequate CWD surveillance and some of these facilities are not able to regain movement qualified status for several years, if ever, because of the limited number of deer that are alive in their facility at this time.

And so to address that concern, this Commission adopted an amendment to the rules back in March to provide these facilities an ability to achieve that movement qualified status in a shorter period of time and that would be through undergoing two rounds of antemortem testing of the whole herd of all the eligible aged animals in the herd at 12-month intervals. So while there are not currently any facilities that are in this position today that would require this length of time that I'm about to share, it is possible that there could be facilities that end up in this situation that still would be not movement qualified for as long as two years, even with that amendment that you adopted back in March.

And so with that in mind, this Commission directed staff to reconvene our CWD task force to further explore options that might enable deer breeding facilities that are in this situation to achieve movement qualified status in less time than that. And so the Co-Chairs of the CWD task force -- both Dr. Bob Dittmar, our State Wildlife Veterinarian, and Dr. Susan Rollo, the State Epidemiologist with Texas Animal Health Commission -- did, indeed, convene the CWD task force again and that meeting occurred on May the 2nd.

And after much more discussion on this topic, the task force recommended another option to allow facilities in this situation to achieve a movement qualified status. Those facilities would operate under a herd plan written by this Department in consultation with Texas Animal Health Commission and components of that herd plan would include the antemortem test of all age eligible deer that are -- to occur at least 12 months after a herd inventory was verified or documented.

Now, this part of the proposal is -- up to this point -- is similar to the proposal that you adopted in March. But as you'll recall, the proposal adopted in March required another whole herd test to occur 12 months after this initial test before the facility could be movement qualified and, therefore, release animals or otherwise transfer animals from the facility.

This proposal would allow facilities to be -- to achieve that movement qualified status as soon as not-detected test results are received for all the animals after that first round of whole herd testing. Now, these facilities would be movement qualified with a TC 3 status or a Transfer Category 3 status. You may recall that from the comprehensive CWD rules. With that, the TC -- these TC 3 facilities would be required to test 100 percent of the mortalities that occur in that facility. They could then release deer at that time and they -- any release site that receives deer from these facilities would then inherit a Class 3 status. And as some of you will recall, that Class 3 status does bring some additional requirements.

For one, any deer released from a TC 3 facility would have to be marked or identified with either a NUES tag or an RFID tag, which are USDA tags with an 840 prefix on their number. The other requirement that is associated with Class 3 release sites is testing requirements for hunter-harvested deer. In fact, there are requirements to harvest and test deer.

To refresh your memory, at least as many deer must be -- let me rephrase that and say the number of deer that must be harvested and tested, must be equal to or exceed the number of deer that are released on that site that year or the year immediately preceding that season.

Now, this status and these testing requirements would not last forever. I certainly can't envision any situation in which they would last forever. The -- as soon as these sites could upgrade or are able to upgrade to a Class 2, then those testing requirements would cease to exist. And to be able to upgrade to a Class 2, that site would need to establish 95 percent confidence that CWD would be detected if it occurred at a 5 percent prevalence. Now, this is a standard that Texas Animal Health Commission has been using in their herd plans for CWD exposed sites in the state ever since the initial detection of CWD in a breeding facility back in the summer of 2015. Typically -- and I'll come back to this slide here in a little bit to address what I believe may be some of the question that Commissioner Scott has and I'd like to do that here after I get through a couple more slides, if I may. Typically, what would -- the way that the model established by Texas Animal Health Commission works, is that you would wait two years after exposure occurs before you would begin applying test results to achieve that 95 percent confidence. And I could certainly elaborate on that if you'd like.

But we can envision some situations in which that two-year -- that period, that window or period of time before achieving that 95 percent confidence, may not need to last two years. In fact, it may be able to be established or begin immediately and I'll come back and touch on that here momentarily.

The herd plan would likely also address how a TC 3 facility may regain a TC 2 status and that may occur after receiving a sufficient number of not-detected test results following a second round of antemortem testing of all age eligible deer. So, again, this differs from the proposal you adopted in March in that you had to wait and you currently do have to wait until you get not-detected test results to even release deer after that second round of testing. And here what we're suggesting is release after the first round of testing and then be able to upgrade back to a TC 2 status after the second round of testing.

And then another way that that TC 3 facility may achieve a TC 2 status, which may occur even sooner, would be after all the recipient release sites upgrade to a Class 2 status. And I think it's important to note at this time that we do recognize that some deer breeders have found themselves in this situation at no fault of their own. However, irrespective of culpability, it is critical that we maintain some testing standards to provide confidence that this Agency is not inadvertently permitting the transfer of CWD around this state.

But, of course, we also strive to provide flexibility to help deer breeders meet those minimum standards. And the proposal that this Commission adopted last March, as well as this proposal that I'm presenting this morning, both are attempts to provide that flexibility without compromising those minimum standards.

And so if I may, I would like to just jump back to this bullet regarding the requirements for Class 3 sites.

Commissioner Scott, I believe this may be where there's some confusion and this might be where there's some concern that you addressed this -- that you brought up this morning. The CWD task force has recommended what I presented to you this morning and Dr. Bob Dittmar did submit the meeting minutes out to the membership and we've received no comments in opposition or corrections to that. The one comment we did receive from a member -- Tim Condict with Texas -- with -- excuse me -- Deer Breeders Corporation -- is that this task force -- what was reflected in the notes is that this task force recommended during both meetings that they had, that this be a one-time option. That breeders that find themselves in this situation be provided this option, but it not be available for use time after time after time again. And there was pretty strong sentiment amongst the committee about that.

However, after these meeting minutes were distributed with those comments in there, Tim Condict did reply, stating that he could envision from some situations where somebody who would utilize this option could legitimately and should legitimately be able to utilize this option again sometime down the road, such as maybe in response to a natural disaster. And we didn't receive any comments arguing with that point of view and staff certainly didn't have any conflicting comments with that point of view either.

Since then though, I understand that this same individual as early as yesterday, has presented some concern to Clayton on the phone and Clayton may want to even come up and elaborate on some of this conversation. I know that one thing he's concerned with is this idea of having to test 100 percent of the deer on release sites for some period of time. As I shared with you earlier -- or I certainly intended to -- the Class 3 release site testing requirements require individuals to harvest and test for CWD at least as many deer as have been released on that site in the year immediately preceding that hunting season and, again, also to test 100 percent of the deer harvest in the event they harvest even more deer than that minimum number required. And as I shared with you, these requirements would go away after 95 percent confidence has been established that CWD would have been detected at that site if it occurred at a 5 percent prevalence.

Well, again, the way -- typically, the way this works under the Texas Animal Health Commission model is you may have a release site, a deer breeding facility that is TC 3. They're allowed to be movement qualified today. They release deer today and they've got to harvest and test for the next two years and then it's not until year three that you would begin utilizing test results towards achieving that 95 percent confidence. So you would have at least three years of potentially pretty intensive testing on some of these sites, and that's something that created a lot of concern for Tim Condict with the Deer Breeders Corporation.

But one thing I should state is that's the typical model and the reason for that is, is because of the nature of this disease, you could release deer that -- let's say an infected deer gets released from the facility. You're not required -- these sites and the people who hunt on these sites are not required to harvest those deer that are released. They're just required to harvest a minimum number of deer, but it doesn't have to be the released deer. And so let's say an infected deer is released onto the release site and not harvested and tested and ultimately dies out there of natural causes. We're never going to get a sample from that deer or other deer that were infected from that facility. We're having to rely on deer that that deer exposed and ultimately get infected and because of the nature of the disease, the chance of actually detecting the disease in deer they exposed in the same year that they're released is very slim and so that's why there's that two-year window.

However, there have been some good points made here in just the last day or so that there could be some situations in which sites that have been receiving deer from this same breeding facility for years -- they've been releasing from the same pens year after year after year -- if that facility does, indeed, have CWD, then deer in the pasture likely have already been exposed and that two-year -- that clock to establish 95 percent confidence may be able to start immediately upon release and potentially where these testing requirements don't exceed the first year.

And so that's something that -- that's the beauty of a herd plan and operating under the herd plan that both the breeder user group and the CWD task force recommended, is it provides staff and some experts some latitude to be able to take factors like that into consideration and helping make final decisions on getting a facility either back to movement qualified or upgrading from, say, a Class 3 to a Class 2 site.

And so does that begin your address your concerns, Commissioner Scott?

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: No. My understanding -- and I would not have supported the March issue if -- I thought we were making good progress with the different groups. Y'all did. As of last week, everybody was good. And then wording and stuff has changed since then and I'm getting all these texts and everything saying it's not what was discussed and everything.

I'm not happy at all that they didn't get any further than they did. I think there's -- I think we need to get into some more issues on this, Carter.

MR. SMITH: Well, and I'm happy for us to do that; but I want to make sure that there's not a simple confusion here about the complexity associated with what Mitch just described vis-à-vis being able -- subject to the 95/5 confidence level, which we've got to have a threshold of confidence to meet the Animal Health Commission standard and the directive from the Commission in the past, that we have the flexibility with a herd plan to prescribe the number of tests to meet that, depending on the situations.

If there is some simple confusion between our team and an organization that was part of that, I think we can resolve that very quickly.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And this is strictly a briefing. So we're not even going to do anything off of it today or tomorrow, right?

MR. SMITH: The only thing that we would ask, Commissioner, for y'all to consider is to authorize us to proceed with publishing proposed rules so we could at least get the process in motion to be able to come back in August with a proposed rule, which obviously may be changed between now and then; but it keeps the process moving. If you decide not to go forward with that, which is obviously your prerogative, means that the existing rules are in effect and there will be no other options or flexibility provided.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I don't have a problem with keeping the ball rolling. I'm just disappointed that we didn't get any further than what we had in March.

MR. SMITH: Well, I --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: But once again, like I said, I just got hit with this an hour ago and so I don't have -- I don't have good information and I don't like making decisions, as you know --

MR. SMITH: Sure.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: -- without good information. And right now, I don't know.

MR. SMITH: And I want to make sure that whoever that is that is concerned about that, is caught up with all of the information to date. And so maybe you and I could talk to that individual and --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: That's very --

MR. SMITH: -- make sure that that individual is caught up. So I --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I agree a hundred percent.

MR. SMITH: Okay.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: I agree a hundred percent.

MR. SMITH: All right.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: All right. Any other --

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: Mr. Chairman. Yeah, I'm not getting any communication. So this is just based on this meeting. But this is significantly complex enough for me to not really understand what I just heard. So in March we voted to get -- to help people get out of the box for the highly unlikely situation that they were in the box. I don't know if this is more liberal or more conservative. I think it's more liberal.

MR. SMITH: It is.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: So I think I heard you say there's no one that qualifies now that is in the box. We just did something in March, and we're even giving -- we're even loosening or giving more liberal -- quite confusing to me and I tend to want to err towards conservative on CWD. And so 95 percent confidence, I don't like the "confidence" word. However, typical, could be, likely, I'm hearing all these kind of things that -- so, we just did this in March and now it's May and I think we're talking about --

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: But we're not talking about taking any action certainly today nor tomorrow. What I'm going to do is authorize staff to publish what Mitch just described in the Texas Register to allow the public to understand it, get their arms around it, to allow this Commission --

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: I probably don't understand, Ralph. What prompted -- what did we not do in March that is left a problem or an issue?

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Go ahead, Mitch.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Chairman, it sounds in the last five minutes I've gathered that I have failed miserably in conveying the message here because nothing has changed in the last week. In fact, nothing has changed since the CWD task force on May the 2nd. But a lot changed from that date -- on that day -- from the March Commission Meeting.

So in March, Commissioner Aplin, what this Commission did was it allowed deer breeders who are not movement qualified potentially for many years -- and in some cases forever -- you adopted a rule that allowed facilities in that situation to get movement qualified in less than two years --

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: Got it.

MR. LOCKWOOD: -- through two rounds of whole herd testing and in many cases, in just over a year. In one case, in one month. And so -- and I shared some of those numbers with you at the last meeting. But knowing that there could be some situations in which a facility that we haven't observed yet, but tomorrow we may learn about a new facility in a situation, then that facility may have to wait two years under a not movement qualified status.

Being that two years is a long time, this Commission directed staff to reconvene the task force and let's further explore options to -- and this is the way I understood it, Mr. Chairman -- let's further explore options. Maybe we can find a way to get there -- get movement qualified even sooner. And we made a lot of progress since March by -- if the goal is to get there sooner, we shaved a whole year off of it, allowing facilities to get movement qualified after one round of whole herd testing; but to do so with a TC 3 status. Because as you said, it is adding some risk and so adding additional risk to the public resource by exposing them to animals that are coming out of a herd of relatively high risk and that's why the task force feels very strongly that we -- if we do release the disease into the pastures as a result of this, we have some measures in place to detect it as soon as possible. Does that help address your question?

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: Yes, thank you.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: To clarify, the TC 3 and the TC 3-2 release sites are all still high-fenced release sites?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Yes, ma'am.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Okay.

VICE-CHAIRMAN MORIAN: And I have one question. The 95/5, did you say that came from the Animal Health or is that our number?

MR. LOCKWOOD: So that's a very good question. There are different standards out there and different agencies may pick and choose which flavor they like the best. 95/5 is one common standard; but so is 99 percent confidence with 5 percent prevalence, with 1 percent prevalence. The higher the percent confidence you're trying to achieve and the lower prevalence you're trying to detect it at, the higher your surveillance requirements are. 95/5 -- to get back to maybe Commissioner Aplin's point, 95/5 is really the lowest bar that any agency, federal or state, that I'm aware of is comfortable with. Nobody is really comfortable of going lower than that when considering --

VICE-CHAIRMAN MORIAN: No. That seems -- it seemed low to me in that if I've got a hundred deer and four of them are infected, I can release those and they would not be detected -- could -- might not be detected.

MR. LOCKWOOD: The reason it's -- the reason that some would say it's low is because -- or at least another reason while some might think it's low is because the likelihood that CWD is going to be at a prevalence as high as 5 percent -- because that's pretty high, relatively speaking -- and the likelihood that the disease is at that high of a prevalence --

VICE-CHAIRMAN MORIAN: You say it's high and not having been detected, that it would be high or --

MR. LOCKWOOD: Correct. And for it to be that high -- let me rephrase that to say the likelihood that it's that high is low. And so if we really look -- said, well, we think if it's out there, it may only be at a 1 percent prevalence. Then the testing requirements would be significantly higher. To get 95/5, you would need -- to have 95 percent confidence, you would detect it at a 5 percent prevalence, you need -- it depends on the population size, but between 50 and 60 samples. But to get 95 percent confidence at a 1 percent prevalence, you need several more samples. It's up in the hundreds of samples and so -- but some would argue that that's not realistic and so we believe that the proposal laid out before you still provides sufficient confidence to be able to opt to move forward and that's why staff is requesting permission to publish this.

VICE-CHAIRMAN MORIAN: To get to the Class 3, the release site, do they have to test 100 percent of the mortalities or is there a requirement there?

MR. LOCKWOOD: Class 3 release sites today are required to test 100 percent of the deer that are harvested and they are required to harvest a certain number of deer, at least as many as they released out there in the previous year. So you can't release deer and just don't hunt. You have to harvest at least as many as you release.

VICE-CHAIRMAN MORIAN: Okay.

MR. LOCKWOOD: The real question -- and, Clayton, please feel free to elaborate on any of this -- the real question that I heard that was presented yesterday by Mr. Condict was having to test -- if this site is going to harvest 150 deer a year, having to test 150 deer for each of the next two years before anything goes towards achieving that 95/5. And so it's a third year of testing after already collecting 300 samples. A third year of testing before they can get out of this and be test free.

MR. WOLF: That's correct. That was -- when we had the meeting last week when the task force met, clearly staff talked about Class 3 release site testing requirements and they also talked about this 95/5. And the reason there's a misunderstanding -- I just talked with Mr. Condict -- is when people left, Mr. Condict, in his mind, believed that the only standard to meet was 95/5. He heard Class 3; but he also understands that there are other Class 3 requirements, like testing all the deer. And so understands why our team left with this other understanding of the requirements and so it was only when I was talking with Mr. Condict and then also talking to staff, that I recognized that there was a difference of opinion when people left that group.

But fortunately, as Carter indicates, when I had my conversation with Mr. Condict is we -- you know, we have time. We have time to rectify this and get back together to resolve this misunderstanding and have a rule that hopefully addresses most of the concerns without compromising, you know, our CWD risk mitigation.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: And let me make one comment, Commissioner Aplin, for your deal. Those of us that had fight this battle from the get-go, you know -- and it was not any fun, let me assure you. The staff put in more hours than you can imagine. We have always taken the conservative approach, in our estimation, because we had just as many people came into this big meeting from all over the state that don't support the idea. I mean, it was amazing how many -- y'all remember. I mean, we had them coming in from everywhere.

And so what we kind of tried to strike as a middle ground, as I affectionately say, I think everybody was mad when we finally voted on what we voted on. So I figure we had to be somewhere halfway -- somewhere in the middle, right? But they made some more changes here that are not following up what I remembered and what I was trying to get the point across. So anyway, that's just kind of where we are; but I do want you to know that we have always taken the conservative approach on CWD because we knew it was going to be a mess.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: From the symposium I went to and the states that were there, it's horrific some of the states that didn't get on top of it like --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Oh, it's terrible.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: -- this Commission did early on.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: No, no, no. They're terrible.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: And I wasn't here; but at that symposium, it's horrible.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: No, it is. No question.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: It can get away from you quick.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: All right. I will authorize staff to publish the proposed changes in the Texas Register for the required public comment period so that over the next couple of months, people can continue to carry on discussions with the user groups and to tweak as appropriate and then this Commission at the August meeting can determine what action, if any, to take on the proposed rule. So thank you both very much.

MR. LOCKWOOD: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: All right. Work Session Item 10, State -- Texas Statewide Recreational Trail Grants Funding, Recommended Approval of Trail Construction, Renovation, and Acquisition Projects, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments?

All right. I'll place the Statewide Recreational Trail Grants Funding on the Wednesday Commission agenda meeting -- the Wednesday mission -- sorry -- Wednesday Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

All right. Work Session Item 11, Local Park Grants/Outreach Grants Scoring Rules, Request Permission to Publish Proposed New Scoring Rules. Dana Lagarde and Dan Reece, will you please make your presentation.

MS. LAGARDE: Good morning, Mr. Chairman and Commissioners. My name is Dana Lagarde, and I'm the Director of Recreation Grants in the State Park Division.

MR. REECE: And I'm Dan Reece. I'm the Local Park Grant Program Coordinator.

MS. LAGARDE: So today we're here to present proposed evaluation criteria for two of our grant programs. One is the Local Park Grant Program and the other is the Community Outdoor Outreach Program.

Just as a refresher, the Local Park Grant Program, the purpose of the Local Park Grant Program is to acquire and develop public outdoor and indoor recreation facilities. Any parks that receive funding through this program are dedicated as parkland in perpetuity. Funding sources included a portion of the sporting goods sales tax and federal land and water conservation funds. This program does require a 50 percent match and eligible entities include local governments, such as cities, counties, and special districts.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: So, Dana, the eligible entities would include, for example, a water district?

MS. LAGARDE: Yes.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Yes. All right, thank you.

MS. LAGARDE: The other program we'll be reviewing today is the Community Outdoor Outreach Program. We call it CO-OP for short. The purpose of CO-OP is to engage underserved populations in mission-oriented outdoor recreation, conservation, and environmental education activities. The funding source is also the sporting goods sales tax. There is no match required and eligible entities include tax-exempt organizations.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: And am I right that this is capped at $50,000?

MS. LAGARDE: It is, yes.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Okay. And the former were up to a million dollar match, right? I meant up to a million dollar grant?

MS. LAGARDE: We do -- we have -- so the Local Park Grant Program has -- there are five different programs under Chapter 24 of the Parks and Wildlife Code. They are divided by population, as well as the types of facilities. So the first one is the urban outdoor, and that one is for cities and counties over 500,000 in population. Then there's the urban indoor, which is also for over 500,000 in population; but the indoor is for, like, recreation centers, that type of thing. And then we have the nonurban outdoor and nonurban indoor programs and those are for communities 500,000 and less. And we have a fifth program that is just for small communities, and that is for under 20,000 in population.

So the urban -- currently the urban grants can request up to $1 million. The nonurbans can request up to 500,000 and the small communities can request up to 75,000. And I would like to mention that during our public meetings and surveys, we did discuss the caps and we may be coming back in August to request that that be raised, but that -- we weren't going to discuss that today, but if you have questions.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: No. I think that's where I was going with this. I think you should consider a recommendation to the Commission about whether to increase the nonurban, for example. It's kind of hard to reconcile why they would be capped at 500 and eight cities, I guess -- or can go up to a million. So I would encourage you to look into that and come back with a recommendation to the Commission.

MS. LAGARDE: We will do that. So both of these programs are very competitive and we have a lot of people who talk to us and they're interested in the evaluation criteria and so we did do quite a bit of public outreach. We took about a six-month period and we held public webinars, public meetings across the state. We attended two TRAPS to present to. And TRAPS is the Texas Recreation and Parks Society. That is one of our main partners for the Local Park Grant Program. And we also conducted public surveys and specifically provider surveys and the provider surveys were targeted to recreation, like park directors and people who run outdoor education programs. We -- in order to reach these people, we have a TPWD e-grants newsletter that has over 15,000 subscribers and so we sent multiple announcements through the newsletter over that period of time.

We also have our Recreation Grants Online Program. That is how people apply for our grants and there's -- we reached out to over 10,000 people through the Recreation Grants Online to let them know about this public -- their opportunity for public input.

So some of the outcomes that we feel we were able -- that we feel that we were able to accomplish with the proposed criteria, is that we feel we have improved program relevancy and effectiveness. We've aligned rules with TPWD goals and core values, fulfilled state and federal requirements, streamlined grant programs, consolidated and modernized the language for the Texas Administrative Code. I'd like to mention that these programs -- the Texas Administrative Code and the Chapter 24 was originally done back in 1979 and it's been around a while and it needed a little updating, so.

So as far as the Local Park Grant Program, the Local Park team decided to focus on the Agency's core values and this is just a pie graph showing the percentage of points for each of those core values: Excellence, integrity, service, teamwork, and stewardship. This is a very general overview.

I'd also like to say that there's 100 points now for each of the programs and also for those of you who are new, the five programs I discussed earlier, currently they each have their own scoring system that is slightly different for each program. What we've done is created one scoring system for all five programs, and we will use that system for each of the programs. However, the small communities will still only compete against small communities. They're not competing against urban. So we'll still keep that separate; but this way, we felt like it would simplify the process for a lot of our applicants and hopefully for all of you.

So the first -- the first core value is excellence and we have put zero to 25 points. The three areas that would be scored are goals and objectives for zero to five points; timeline and cost, zero to ten points; and site design, zero to ten points.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: So before you move on --

MS. LAGARDE: Yes.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: -- is this one you're proposing change, the excellence?

MS. LAGARDE: So that's a good question. We are actually -- this is all new. We are rescinding all of the old scoring criteria. The scoring criteria started back in the late 70s and over the years, it has been band-aided -- I guess you might want to say -- to try to make some changes over time, but we felt it was a good opportunity this year to scratch the old and go out and get some public feedback about what everybody would want to make it relevant today.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Well, I ask --

MS. LAGARDE: So all of this is new.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Sorry. I ask because in looking at the excellence scoring, it would seem to me that the goals and objectives should predominate over timeline and cost. I mean, it -- you're -- are we unduly emphasizing a quick fix, a quick build or a build out and lower costs over goals and objectives and the design of the site? It seems like the quality of the project ought to predominate instead of timeline and cost.

MS. LAGARDE: Do you want to answer that?

MR. REECE: So these are -- the point totals are predominately based on the public input that we've received throughout the last year or so, and so there has been some staff input regarding these point totals; but predominately they're based on public input.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: But what's your viewpoint on whether that middle factor ought to predominate the first and the third?

MS. LAGARDE: I -- I'll go ahead and -- so I know part of the evaluation criteria for timeline and cost, it's not that it doesn't cost a lot. It's not about how much it costs. It's about: Does the timeline and the cost seem relevant? Is it manageable? Does it make sense?

So sometimes what we see is that applications will turn in a timeline that's completely unrealistic and when you compare it to the budget, they may also have very unrealistic numbers on how much they think something is going to cost versus how much it really does. And so it's more looking at the quality of the timeline and the cost and how much they've -- how much planning has gone into it. They have to write a narrative as well about all of that. Does that help at all?

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Well, I'm not saying it's not -- those factors aren't important. I just -- it would seem to me that one, for example, is -- should be the most important of these three.

MS. LAGARDE: We can certainly increase those points if the Commission --

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Anybody else have any ideas or comments on that?

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: I mean, I see your point. You gave me some clarity that this is something that's being requested and what -- the timeline and cost isn't so much about that. It's the reality. Is it a reasonable consideration of a timeline and cost? How much have they done their homework on the overall package?

MS. LAGARDE: Correct.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: Not so much as does it meet a goal. It's is it just kind of out there and unattainable. So that did help some; but I certainly get your idea, as well.

MS. LAGARDE: And I'd like to mention that site design is the same. It's not about what they're putting on the park. It's more about: Did they actually do their homework? Did they think about the design of the site and what makes sense for that park? Not --

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: If you'll notice on the next one, Chairman, you get ten points for completing the application.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Yeah.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: Integrity, so.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: I'd like to suggest you go from zero to ten on goals and objectives.

MS. LAGARDE: Okay.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Just score it equally with the other two.

MS. LAGARDE: We can do that.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Everybody okay with that?

MR. SMITH: So bump up that excellence category to 30 points total?

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Yes.

MR. SMITH: Okay. And find five points to -- okay, got it.

MS. LAGARDE: Sure.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Find five points to --

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Well, Ralph, if you go on down to the one under stewardship -- I'm just getting ahead a little bit -- it also has one for sustainable design that's zero to ten. That kind of picks up that same idea that you're talking about.

MR. SMITH: Yep, yep.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: Same concept. So put it all together.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Okay. On to integrity.

MS. LAGARDE: So the second core value of our Agency is integrity and we have zero to 20 points here. Zero to ten points for complete application, up to five points for organizational capacity, and up to five points for past performance.

The next one is service, up to 25 points. We have up to ten points for community need, five points for geographic distribution, up to five points for underserved populations, and up to five points for accessibility. And I would like to mention that accessibility in this case is referring to going above and beyond ADA and the state and federal guidelines. So they're already required to comply with the guidelines.

And stewardship, up to 20 points for conservation and sustainable site design. Ten points for each of those, up to ten. These are all on a scale. And the final one is teamwork, up to ten points. The two bullets would be coordination with subject matter experts. This could be our own wildlife biologists. It could be the Corps of Engineers, Texas Historical Commission, various subject matter experts in the field. And the second one would be partnerships and they -- we're proposing zero to five points for each of these.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Dana, if you go back to integrity.

MS. LAGARDE: Yes.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: It seems like a complete application, while important, is fairly perfunctory and I'd suggest maybe doing that zero to five like the other two bullet points there.

Anybody else have a problem with that?

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: Add the five on the other one.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Yeah, okay.

MS. LAGARDE: That sounds good.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Go ahead, Oliver. Sorry.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Well, I've just been kind of mulling over the -- kind of that entire process. And, you know, one of the things that we are talking about a lot just in the park system in general, is that whole touch around -- I'll call it diversity access, siting -- and to make sure that as we're looking at the scoring criteria and I notice that in the service piece there was a component of that there; but to make sure that we've got -- that this process allows us to have the distribution of facilities that also helps us with the goal if we're talking about access for all and encouraging all different groups to utilize park facilities, that somehow or another that this process helps facilitate or encourages the siting of future facilities in areas where people can reach them.

So whether that's in an urban area, whether that's in a rural area because there's a -- and I'm not familiar enough with the park system, but some -- there are some folks out there that would argue that, you know, so to speak, that more people that do better financially visit the parks more frequently and that folks that don't do as well -- right? And so that's not a -- that's not a race issue. We're talking socioeconomics. How do we also distribute our parks that so socioeconomically we can get people more exposed to the resources of the state so that everyone can enjoy them better and it's there, but it's around how do we make sure that -- as best we can -- that's a factor generally that whether it's -- so whether it's a rural park siting or whether it's an urban park siting, that people who might not otherwise get out and see them are encouraged to because now it's sited a little bit closer to them and it's not so much of a -- to use the park term hike --

MS. LAGARDE: Right.

COMMISSIONER BELL: -- to get there.

MS. LAGARDE: Absolutely, and I couldn't agree more. So I will say that one of -- as part of our evaluation criteria, we do -- we do give points in -- under community need if --

COMMISSIONER BELL: Sure.

MS. LAGARDE: -- the city or county has a parks and recreation master plan, a city-wide one where they have assessed that sort of thing and they have to turn that into -- actually, I'll let Dan talk about it because he's our master plan reviewer.

MR. REECE: So, and kind of the primary objective of the master plan is to inventory our existing park system, determine needs; but also engage the public throughout the whole master planning process. And so, you know, we have a lot of criteria based on need. So frequently, a lot of those requirements are met through that master planning process.

COMMISSIONER BELL: And then what -- just the notion -- and I know especially for the -- I'll call it the larger urban areas that are -- you know, we have this thing -- I call it "sub-cities" in my terminology where, you know, you have Houston; but Houston is really probably -- Greater Houston is how many cities? And depending on how an area is sited you might say ZIP code-wise, they might be called Houston by everyone else. They don't consider themself to be Houston. They consider themself to be whatever this little community is. Can they -- are they applying as part of Houston, or are they applying as part of that community?

MS. LAGARDE: That's an excellent question, too. And the way it is written is that -- and it's in the Chapter 24 of the Parks and Wildlife Code -- is that it's based on population of the city. So if it's Georgetown, which is not city of Austin, they would not be -- they would -- like, Georgetown, Cedar Park, they would be under the nonurban. Where only the city of Austin and Travis County would really be under the urban program.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Okay.

MS. LAGARDE: So...

MR. REECE: However, a lot of the urban entities do break out their city limits on -- based on planning districts and we do allow them to use a demographics for each specific planning district when --

COMMISSIONER BELL: Okay.

MR. REECE: -- preparing an application.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Okay. Well, just so -- just so that that's being --

MS. LAGARDE: Absolutely.

COMMISSIONER BELL: -- we have a consideration there for how do we get to that greater distribution of assets.

MS. LAGARDE: And that's part of what geographic distribution is about, the second bullet. We ask for a map and part of the master plan is also facility inventory. So they -- they're supposed to show us a map of where the parks are, as well as what facilities in a spreadsheet type thing, like, exists in what parks and what the need is. So that is -- the hope is that that would also take into consideration what they are applying for.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Right.

MS. LAGARDE: And then we give points based on geographic distribution just flatout and then give points on where their priorities are in their master plan, if they're addressing the top priorities. So hopefully those were priorities. And then we also have one specifically just for underserved populations, which include ethnic minorities and low income, so -- and that's based on the most recent census.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Sure.

MS. LAGARDE: So we are trying. But if you have any suggestions on how to do that, we are more than willing to sit down with you.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: I do.

MS. LAGARDE: Of course you do.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: I like Commissioner Bell's thought. It occurs to me just looking at this, we shouldn't be giving any points for a complete application. If you don't have a complete application, you don't even get considered. So let's take that five -- we just --

MS. LAGARDE: Okay.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: -- suggested reducing that to five and add that to underserved populations. I think that's really important to hit both socioeconomics and minority.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: That takes the whole yellow section up to 30 percent, which is probably what weight --

MS. LAGARDE: Should be --

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: -- should probably be given to those kinds of categories I think would think --

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Everybody okay with that?

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: -- to Commissioner Bell's point.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Okay. You understand? Let's just drop the application, the points for a complete application because that's got to be a given to even be in the hopper.

MS. LAGARDE: Sounds good to me.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Okay. Good deal. Good suggestion, Oliver.

MS. LAGARDE: So just for an overview, this is all of the different -- hopefully, you can read that. But this is all the different criteria that we went through and the percentage of points. So we can go ahead and make those adjustments for --

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: Can I ask you question? Past performance, that's if a community has participated in a grant before, you go back and look at --

MS. LAGARDE: That's correct.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: -- the past performance?

MS. LAGARDE: Yes. And so if there's been no grant prior, they get the five points. If -- see, so because the Local Park Grant Program is parkland in perpetuity, we're required by the -- by feds to conduct site visits every five years and make sure that park is still a park and that it's being run as a park.

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: Sure.

MS. LAGARDE: So --

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: If they haven't done it, there's nothing there. And you only have five allocated and I don't know that you have any to take anywhere else; but a past performance of a community that got money to put in a park or to add to one, but let it run down, didn't upkeep it, didn't take care of it, to me is as big as anything on the whole list because I just hate to just -- you know, you get at it -- you get another shot to let the weeds grow on another place and if they don't have the local pride to keep up the park -- and I don't know that you have any more percentages to rob anywhere else, but I'm glad y'all go back and look and see what do they do with the last time they got a grant.

MS. LAGARDE: Correct, right.

COMMISSIONER BELL: And just for clarity, was -- I thought I -- I might have misunderstood. I thought you said in part, past performance was if you didn't have one, you got -- if you never had a park, you got more points. So I'm just trying to make sure I heard it versus Commissioner Aplin's point, which I think is also very valid, if you have a park, how well have you done taking care of the park so that we can give you -- so there's a past performance that says you've been awarded and you've done a great job and so if we were going to award you again, we're going to take this into consideration and then there's the past performance piece that says you've not had the opportunity, it's been void, so because you've not had an opportunity previously, you -- and I don't know that it would be called "past performance" in that case; but you were saying that we would give you five points because you hadn't had a chance, so now we're -- because you haven't had a chance, we're giving you a chance; but that's probably the wrong -- "past performance" is probably the wrong term where that's --

MS. LAGARDE: Maybe it is.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Or maybe we need a different explanation.

MS. LAGARDE: No, I understand what you're saying. The way we were thinking about scoring it was that everybody starts out at five points. Like, you're -- everybody. And then we look at past performance. So if you haven't had a grant, you have no past performance. So you stay at five. But we can change that. And then if you have had previous grants with us, then we look in -- we look at the history and if it's something very simple, like they were missing the sign -- because we do require a sign that says "Texas Parks and Wildlife Local Park Grant Program" -- if that sign is missing and we've asked you to replace it, then you might drop a point or something. If you're in serious trouble, like you actually built a fire station on that park, you're not going to be allowed to come back in. I mean, we do have some rules where you can't apply again until that gets fixed, but -- and that's happened. I hear people laughing.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Would there be a way, to Commissioner Aplin's point, to have some precondition or condition preceding where an entity or an applicant had been awarded a grant and had, in the staff's view, completely disregarded its obligations under the grant just to not permit them to apply until they've corrected that situation? Could we do that?

MS. LAGARDE: Yes. We -- if they are -- if they have done that, then we do not -- well, they can apply --

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Is that a present rule?

MS. LAGARDE: -- but we will not score it. It will be a zero.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: No. But I mean not to even let them be considered.

MS. LAGARDE: I don't think there's any way that we can keep them from applying. It's a public -- open public application.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Well, then maybe get -- to his point, we should increase the points so that it has a greater impact because a few points or five is not going to make that much difference.

MS. LAGARDE: I know that the staff would definitely be in support of that. I think it's less supportive of the public.

MR. SMITH: Dana, is there a way to look at that organizational capacity category there? That would strike me as a logical place to build in more emphasis on this past performance issue and then maybe open up, you know, that space if you need it for, you know, if they haven't ever had a park before, you know, and we've got small communities around the state that do not have a park.

MS. LAGARDE: Yes.

MR. SMITH: And so where we have an opportunity to fill that need, that's a big deal. But to your point, if there's a history of neglect, why should we be investing more until y'all are confident that that community is going to make the kind of commitment to be good stewards or fiduciaries of those resources. So maybe that organizational capacity could also be realigned to address that concern.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Because the land resource still stays with them. This is just really a funding resource. So we're not -- we're not -- if they didn't comply, we're not clawing back the land or anything like that or going in and trying to take it over. It's their --

COMMISSIONER APLIN, III: No, we just gave them --

COMMISSIONER BELL: -- it's their resource. We just gave them money. So it's a matter of how do we, you know, best manage that resource going forward or you might say not recoup our loses; but in this case, mitigate any -- mitigate our loses because they decided to put a fire station on it or even, I mean, if they decided, "Hey, you know what? You gave us this grant, but now we're going to turn this into a subdivision."

MS. LAGARDE: Exactly. And honestly, the main reason we are able to work with communities when they are in noncompliance is because we still provide money, frankly, because they know they can come back and apply. So that's their incentive to get back into compliance --

COMMISSIONER BELL: Sure.

MS. LAGARDE: -- is for them to come back.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: I would almost think it would be more a communication from your staff to the grant -- grantee --

COMMISSIONER BELL: Grantee.

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: That they need to get everything in order before they -- because then that's wasting your time to even sort through an evaluation that's for an entity that's not in previous compliance. So I don't know that it has to be rule. I would almost say it's more a communication with you. You have all this newsletter stakeholders.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: But if they submit an application and are out of compliance --

COMMISSIONER LATIMER: It just goes --

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: -- it still has to be considered. So I would like to say let's raise past performance to ten points. Instead of zero to five, zero to ten and that will have impact -- have a greater impact on new applicants who have never been -- who've never received a grant before and also to Beaver's point, if you've got a bad actor who's just blown off a commitment --

MS. LAGARDE: Right.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: -- then it has a much greater impact on that current application.

MS. LAGARDE: And currently, if they had done something like that, we would not score it; but if we have -- there are those in-betweens and that's why we have, you know, past performance in there. We don't necessarily want to kick them out because they can -- they've put together a process to fix what they've done. And I also want to let you know just for your information that when -- because this program has been around since the 60s, as far as the federal side, we do occasionally have cities that didn't realize it was funded back in '69 and they did something with their park that they weren't supposed to and we have a process called a conversion process where they have to go through and replace that parkland and we work pretty closely with cities and communities on that.

And we are trying to do a better job of reaching out proactively to make sure that everybody knows that they have this park and that it does have requirements. Being such an old program, we have thousands of parks in the State of Texas, which is amazing and wonderful; but with a staff of four, it's also very difficult to keep in communication with all of those different people because they turnover, we have turnover, and we're trying to put in a new system so that we will be able to do that more automatically rather than piece by piece, so.

But I do -- I think the past performance is important and I think I should also mention that I believe that we switched it to -- this is slightly off. We actually switched it to a negative five to a positive five, so. Is that correct?

MR. REECE: Uh-huh.

MS. LAGARDE: So we can actually subtract points.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Go to ten.

MS. LAGARDE: That's fine. We can do that, too. I think staff will be very supportive.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Great.

MS. LAGARDE: So are there any other questions regarding the Local Park Grant?

COMMISSIONER BELL: Not to stretch your staff more.

MS. LAGARDE: No, no, no. That's okay.

COMMISSIONER BELL: However, it might be -- and you may already have this, but maybe there's a whole kind of -- for lack of a better description, I'll call it an inventory list of all the parks that we have done something with over time and just to look at it because there's a -- maybe there's a story to be told there just about how helpful this organization is trying to be to local communities and to continue to interact and maybe we could get that into some kind of a database and periodically, maybe it's a chance to -- you know, people check what you inspect.

MS. LAGARDE: Right.

COMMISSIONER BELL: So if we cycle back periodically and just say, "Hey, look, there's a resource there and maybe" -- there might even be an opportunity for them to apply for some more money to enhance it going forward because it's already in the system a bit.

MS. LAGARDE: And absolutely. We do actually have it all in a database and we had also in the last few years, Dan has led up a team to get GIS points for every park. So we have been able to also cross-reference all the parks for each legislative district or by county, city, all of that. So the -- it is there. Running the reports is time consuming; but we are in the process of getting a new system that we are hoping once that new system is in place, that the reports will be almost, you know, push a button and it runs. So we are hoping that that should be in place -- we're hoping September or October.

COMMISSIONER BELL: That's great because y'all are doing a lot of work. That's for sure.

MS. LAGARDE: Yeah, thank you.

COMMISSIONER BELL: It will be nice to make sure you can have all that, so to speak, documented and supported.

MS. LAGARDE: Well, and I appreciate your interest.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: In that vein, Commissioner Bell, I will tell you -- and you'll see it when we award them -- a lot of these cities will come up and their people are so profusely thankful for how well our staff works with them. I mean, the staff really does a great job trying to coach them through the deal because as you can well imagine, it's a world of paperwork.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Oh, sure. Sure.

COMMISSIONER SCOTT: But we -- they always are very, very thankful for all the help the staff gives them. So we've got a lot to start from. We ain't got to go very far.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: All right. Keep -- carry on. Sorry.

MS. LAGARDE: So if there are no other questions on Local Park Grants, I wanted to move over to the CO-OP grants and Cappy and Carly will be doing that presentation. Are there any other questions?

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Do you understand the tweaks we've made?

MS. LAGARDE: I believe so, yes.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Okay, great. Thank you both.

MS. LAGARDE: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Cappy Smith, Carly Blankenship.

MS. CAPPY SMITH: Mr. Buggs, you can't leave. It's just getting good.

Good morning or almost afternoon. Thank you for having us here. I'm Cappy Smith.

MS. BLANKENSHIP: And I'm Carly Blankenship, the CO-OP Grant Coordinator.

MS. CAPPY SMITH: And I'm the manager of the program. So this next -- so what we are going to be discussing in the next six slides is the CO-OP proposed evaluation criteria and you're going to see a lot of similar categories that you saw in the Local Parks; but one of the things I want to point out is that unlike Local Parks, which is a construction grant, this -- the CO-OP Program is a program grant. So we're giving funding to tax-exempt organizations to get underserved populations involved in outdoor recreation, environmental education, and restoration projects. So that's just different.

So the pie chart that you're looking at here shows you the categories that we have put the evaluation criteria into. It starts with the CO-OP priorities and for 15 percent and I'm going to go into each of these in a little more depth. Underserved populations have a larger piece of the pie at 30 percent. Expected impact is in reference to the participants and also the environmental benefits and the timeline and budget, 20 percent, and then organizational capacity, 5 percent.

So the first one is the CO-OP priorities and this category reflects the desire to closer align CO-OP scoring criteria with the Agency's priorities and that includes the quality and efficacy of the proposed project outcomes relative to the CO-OP priorities and these priorities are derived from the Land and Water Plan. So that outlines the strategies that we have for the Agency and we're trying to better align that with our scoring criteria.

And then secondly, we're also looking at the quality of the proposed projects' involvement of the participants relative to a sustained direct correlation to the Department's sites, our programs, and also direct connection to our personnel.

Okay. I'm going to move forward. The next criteria is underserved populations. There are zero to 30 points assigned here. The first being the extent to which the project includes our target populations and these target populations are outlined in statute and they include females, ethnic minorities, low income, and physically and mentally challenged. And for each of those four demographics, there's a potential range of zero to six points for that total of the 24 points. So the larger percentage of that demographic that you're serving, then the higher the number of the points that are awarded.

So, for example, if you are only targeting 50 percent minorities, you're not going to score as well as an organization that is targeting 100 percent minorities that they're serving with the proposed project.

The next is demographic assurances and what we're referring to there is that the project has provided a clearly articulated plan that provides us reasonable assurances that they will in actuality be able to serve the demographics that they are targeting. And then finally, we would like to see a feasible plan to track and report demographic information and this provides assurances to us that they will, indeed, be able to serve the proposed population that they are including in their project.

Expected impact is potential to zero to 30 points and the first being we are looking for a narrative that illustrates goals that are feasible and fully developed based on SMART goals and that stands for: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time Bound. We found that a project that includes these has much higher potential for success.

Next, the development of lifelong behaviors because ultimately that's what we want for our Department and we are looking for projects that will develop that with preference given to projects that engage participants in multiple experiences over an extended period of time. Then next, we want those next leaders, too. So we're looking for projects that will contribute to the development of successful generations of not only natural resource and outdoor recreation professionals, but also potential informal leaders and advocates for us.

The fourth element is active engagement and that includes a hands on active engagement approach to skill development. So not only do you see something, you watch somebody kayak, you get to kayak as opposed to that. And then finally, we're looking at the quality of the tangible benefits that are resulting from the activities of the actual participants in the program. So, for example, we have an entire school right now, Jefferson ISD, that every child in that school district is part of a restoration project at Caddo Lake State Park and the wildlife management area. That's going to -- that's going to definitely maximize the benefits there.

And then our next category is timeline and budget and there's zero to 20 points there. Here we're looking for a project that includes a detailed timeline that accounts for all project phases from the beginning to the implementation and follow-up and it correlates with the project narrative. And we're also looking for a budget that all of the items are allowable under administrative guidelines; but not only that, that they're also reasonable and that they're clearly supported by the proposed activities.

And then finally, we're looking at a budget that reflects conscientiousness of cost effectiveness and provides a reasonable return on investment with respect to participant impact.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Wait, can you --

MS. CAPPY SMITH: Yes.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: What about adjusting these bullet points so that the timeline -- take maybe two of that and go to cost effective and add two there so it's five. It seems like the -- given the size of the grants --

MS. CAPPY SMITH: We're completely open to that, sir. Yeah.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Everyone okay with that? We go to -- on cost effective go zero to five. On timeline, zero to eight. Let's do that.

MS. CAPPY SMITH: Okay, we can certainly do that.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Please.

MS. CAPPY SMITH: And finally, we'll move on to the last element of that pie -- or that category and that's organizational capacity. And much like what we saw in Local Parks, one of the things that we're looking at is: Is the project that is proposed, is it within the scope of the organization? Is this something that they're adding on because they saw that there's money, or is this part of who this organization is? And we're also looking for an application that demonstrates that the staff is qualified and has the resources in place from the inception of the project to the completion and the reporting and those -- all those elements. Or if they don't have those resources in place, have they secured partnerships that brings on the qualified staff and the resources that they need to supplement that project so that they can be successful?

And then finally, we would like assurances that they will continue to do these types of projects after the completion of this grant so that the equipments and the supplies and the investment that we've made are leveraged into future activities.

And then the last piece is a point deduction for past performance. The scoring deduction would be imposed if the applicant is not in compliance with the conditions of previously funded grants and those deductions would be assessed upon using a range based on the severity of the noncompliance issue. And what we're looking at is remaining unspent funds, unmet project elements, and a lot of times these project elements are one of the things that got them the grant in the first place. So if they did not do those elements, there needs to be some sort of consequence for that and also a lesser deduction for unresponsive communication. You wouldn't think that would be an issue, but it is. And also consistently late or incomplete reporting, which is the way that we are able to track whether they are on track with their project or not. These deductions would only -- they would be in place for two years following the closing date of the grant that was in noncompliance. So this would not preclude an organization from reapplying, but it would just mean that there would be points that would be deducted to their final score when they've gone through this competitive process.

Do you have questions for us?

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Members, questions or comments?

COMMISSIONER BELL: I have one follow-on and that was just when you did go through your underserved populations, the one thing -- I heard you when you were talking about target demographics. What I didn't hear -- and maybe I just missed it -- do we talk about economics at all, socioeconomics?

MS. CAPPY SMITH: Yes, low income.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Okay. So --

MS. CAPPY SMITH: And the way that we base that, it seems the easiest way to do that is for individuals that are eligible for free and reduced lunches, that is something that is, you know, pretty standard across the board and so we felt like that that was the best way to look at that. But that is definitely one of our important target audiences. So female, low income, minorities, and also physically and mentally impaired.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Okay. Because I just wanted -- because I think that it's one of those odd things, but I think sometimes -- well, you can look at a lot of the demographics; but sometimes actually economics trumps all and so if we've got that factored in, then we're good.

MS. CAPPY SMITH: And you know, I'm glad that you bring that up because a lot of organizations that we've seen, say, "Oh, yeah, we serve, you know, low income."

And we said, "Well, how do you know you're serving low income? Do you track that information?"

And they're like, "No. It's just that part of the population."

So the assurances that we're asking for that are a part of this is we need to know that you have the ability to track that and that you are doing that.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Another data point you might be able to use. There was some recent federal legislation that came out. I think it might tie into the tax bill, but they call it "opportunity zones." They've 8,500 census tracts as lower income across the country and I think Texas has -- there was a piece identified in Texas. So the Governor had an opportunity to identify, within the subset that the federal government provided, identify addition of select areas there as opportunity zones for Texas. So those could be urban areas. Those could be rural areas. But they were areas that fit a certain profile that they're perhaps maybe they're not where they would like to be in the market yet, but they've got all the right tendencies and kind of -- you might say the right characteristics to emerge and blossom.

MS. CAPPY SMITH: Oh, this sounds like --

COMMISSIONER BELL: And that might -- that might tie in to a criteria --

MS. CAPPY SMITH: We'll definitely take a look at that.

COMMISSIONER BELL: -- you could utilize.

MS. CAPPY SMITH: Thank you.

COMMISSIONER BELL: Don't -- don't -- I'm not fulling understanding it --

MS. CAPPY SMITH: We will definitely look into that.

COMMISSIONER BELL: -- because it's new legislation; but, you know, that might play in.

MS. CAPPY SMITH: We will definitely look at that.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: All right.

MS. CAPPY SMITH: Okay. That concludes our presentation.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Thank you for your presentation.

I'll authorize staff to publish the proposed changes with the directed adjustments that we made today --

MS. CAPPY SMITH: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: -- in the Texas Register for the required public comment period.

MS. CAPPY SMITH: Thank you.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Thank you very much.

All right. With regard to Work Session Item 12 -- and this will be true with the next several items -- Acquisition of Land, Aransas County, Approximately .33 Acre at Goose Island, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments?

With regard to Work Session Item 13, Granting of Pipeline Easement, Parker County, Approximately a tenth of an Acre at Lake Mineral Wells State Park, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments?

With regard to Work Session Item 14, Disposition of Land in Montgomery County, Approximately 6 Acres at Lake Houston Wilderness Park, does any Commissioner have any questions or comments?

And with regard to Work Session Item 15, Acceptance of Donation of Land, Aransas County, Approximately 25 Acres at Goose Island, this will be heard in Executive Session.

So going back to Work Session Items 12, 13, and 14, I will place each of those items on the Wednesday Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

So back to Item 15, the Donation of Land of Approximately 25 Acres at Goose Island, that will be heard in Executive Session.

With regard to Work Session Item 16, Acquisition of Land, Marion County, Approximately 110 Acres at the Caddo Lake WMA, that will be heard in Executive Session.

So that takes us to Work Session Item 17, Acquisition of Land, Navarro and Freestone Counties, 286.5 Acres at Richland Creek WMA, Stan David.

MR. DAVID: Good morning, Chairman, Commissioners. For the record, I'm Stan David with the Land Conservation Program. This presentation is regarding an acquisition of land in Navarro and Freestone Counties. It's approximately 286 and a half acres at the Richland Creek Wildlife Management Area. That's the area of Texas the WMA is at. It is approximately 25 miles east of Corsicana, Texas.

Richland Creek WMA was created to compensate for habitat losses associated with the construction of the Richland Chambers Reservoir. The mission of the WMA is develop and manage populations of resident and migratory wildlife species.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Stan, could you hold on a second?

MR. DAVID: Sure can.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: I may have erred here. I think this may be a matter we hear --

MR. DAVID: There's some details that will be discussed in the Executive Session for sure.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Just a second.

Okay. Why don't we have a very high level overview on this and then we'll hear it -- the rest of it in more detailed fashion in Executive Session. Sorry for the interruption.

MR. DAVID: That's fine. The WMA provides quality public recreation in a manner that stands and conserves native habitats. Available for purchase is 286 and a half acres that are adjacent to the WMA. The tracts have been owned by the same families and undisturbed for several decades. Acquiring these tracts will eliminate inholdings within the WMA and add strategic and operational value without requiring additional staff or resources for management.

This is the northern part of WMA and the blue polygons are where the tracts, the available tracts are at. That northern tract is actually two tracts. I just didn't draw the lines in so you could see through it. So that's about a 19-acre and a 17-acre and a half-acre tract. The larger tract below is what we would discuss in Executive Session. It's an undivided interest tract. We propose to try to buy some interest in. And we've received no public comments regarding the proposed transaction, and we request that it be placed on the agenda for tomorrow.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: All right.

MR. DAVID: That concludes --

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: We'll hear the balance of this in Executive Session.

MR. DAVID: Yes, sir.

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Thank you very much.

Work Session Item 18, Litigation Update on Oyster Litigation and CWD Litigation will be heard in Executive Session, as will PUC Litigation Regarding a Transmission Line in Brazoria County.

So at this time, pursuant to 551 of the Government Code, the Open Meetings Act, an Executive Session will be held for the purpose of deliberation of real estate matters under 551.072 and seeking legal advice under 551.071 of the Open Meetings Act, including advice regarding pending or contemplated litigation. So we will recess for the Executive Session at 11:58 a.m.

(Recess taken for Executive Session)

CHAIRMAN DUGGINS: Okay. I'm going to reconvene the Work Session, May 21, 2019, at 1:43 p.m.

Work Session Item 15, Acceptance of Donation of Land, Aransas County, Approximately 25 Acres at Goose Island State Park, I will place on the Wednesday Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action by the Commission.

Work Session Item 16, Acquisition of Land, Marion County, Approximately 110 Acres at the Caddo Lake WMA and Related Lands, I'll place that on the Wednesday Committee Meeting agenda for public comment and action by the Commission.

Work Session Item 17, Acquisition of Land in Navarro and Freestone Counties, Approximately 286.5 Acres at the Richland Creek WMA, I will place on the Wednesday Commission Meeting agenda for public comment and action.

Work Session Item 18, Litigation Action -- Litigation Update, no further action is required at this time.

Works Session Item 19, PUC Litigation, Transmission Line in Brazoria County, no further action is required at this time.

So I declare the Work Session adjourned at 1:44 p.m. Thank you.

(Work Session Adjourns)

C E R T I F I C A T E

STATE OF TEXAS ) COUNTY OF TRAVIS )

I, Paige S. Watts, Certified Shorthand Reporter in and for the State of Texas, do hereby certify that the above-mentioned matter occurred as hereinbefore set out.

I FURTHER CERTIFY THAT the proceedings of such were reported by me or under my supervision, later reduced to typewritten form under my supervision and control and that the foregoing pages are a full, true, and correct transcription of the original notes.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand and seal this Turn in date _____ day of ________________, ________.

___________________________________

Paige S. Watts, CSR, RPR

CSR No.: 8311

Expiration: December 31, 2020

7010 Cool Canyon Cove

Round Rock, Texas 78681

(512)779-8320

TPW Commission Meetings