First bill since West blast met with GOP pushback


PAUL J. WEBER, Associated Press

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – The first bill drafted by Texas lawmakers in response to the West fertilizer plant explosion that killed 15 people is already getting pushback from Republicans.

GOP House members said Tuesday they worried about small fertilizer operators in rural Texas counties paying for new regulations intended to improve safety. Republican state Rep. George Lavender called the early proposals “overkill.”

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The draft includes requiring ammonium nitrate to be stored in non-combustible containers.

The Texas Legislature doesn’t reconvene until January. El Paso Democrat Joe Pickett authored the unusually early draft bill after the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety spent the past year investigating the 2013 explosion in West.

Pickett, who chairs the committee, said Texas will have another “major disaster” without any changes to the law.