Commissioners Court May Authorize County Judge, Fire Marshal to Lift Burn-Ban Order
In 1999, the commissioners court was granted the authority to prohibit or restrict outdoor burning in all or part of the unincorporated areas of the county. In times of drought, this authority has been exercised to prevent loss of life and property. At the present time, 248 counties have a “burn-ban” order in effect.
Under Section 352.081, Local Government Code, these burn-ban orders must specify the period during which outdoor burning is prohibited or restricted. The period may not extend beyond the 90th day after the date the order is adopted. However, the commissioners court may renew the order.
Until now, action by the commissioners court was required to rescind or repeal a burn-ban order. The order could only be lifted upon a determination by the commissioners court that the circumstances no longer required a burn-ban. This created a problem when rainfall brought temporary relief. Agricultural producers were forced to await a meeting and action by the commissioners court before initiating crop or brush burning.
During the recent regular session, legislation was adopted to provide an additional option for the lifting of a burn-ban order. House Bill 1174 by Rep. Workman/Sen. Wentworth and Senate Bill 1233 by Sen. West/Rep. Coleman contain identical language to amend Section 352.081, Local Government Code. Both bills were signed by the governor, effective June 17, 2011.
Under this legislation, the commissioners court may authorize either the county judge or the county fire marshal to rescind a county burn-ban order. To implement this legislation, the commissioners court should include the following language in the adoption, amendment, or extension of its burn-ban order:
“The County Judge/County Fire Marshal (select one) may rescind this Order upon a determination that the circumstances that required the Order no longer exist.”
While such action by the county judge or county fire marshal does not require any public notice, the media should be notified. Action by the commissioners court will be required to re-instate or renew the burn-ban order after it is lifted by the county judge or county fire marshal.
For more information, please call me at 1-800-733-0699.