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Click here for the full text of this decision FACTS:Juliff Gardens applied to the Commission on Environmental Quality for a permit to build a landfill in Brazoria County. The county government adopted a resolution opposing the permit, but the CEQ made a preliminary decision to recommend issuing the permit. While Juliff’s application was still pending, the 2001 Legislature passed a provision that became Health & Safety Code �361.122. The statute prohibited a landfill of the kind Juliff proposed if it is within 100 feet of a canal used for public drinking water or irrigation source; if it’s proposed for a site in a county with more than 225,000 people and is adjacent to the Gulf of Mexico; and when it is opposed by a resolution of the government of the county where the landfill would be located. Juliff amended its permit to move one of the landfill’s boundaries to comply with the 100-feet requirement. Landfill opponents designated other features on the proposed site they said qualified as a protected canal. Juliff sought a contested case hearing with the State Office of Administrative Hearings, which abated the proceeding until a district court could make a determination on the constitutionality of the new statute. In the trial court, CEQ filed a motion to dismiss, which the court granted on the ground that CEQ had exclusive or primary jurisdiction to determine the proper characterization of the canals (which Juliff calls ditches, and the court calls draws) before the statute’s constitutionality is examined. The trial court also granted CEQ’s motion for summary judgment, endorsing the constitutionality of the statute. The trial court rejected Juliff’s argument that the statute was an improper local or special law. HOLDING:Reversed motion to dismiss; affirmed summary judgment. The court confirms that Juliff’s case is ripe for judicial review, despite CEQ’s contention that such a determination is contingent on its own characterization of the draw. The court points out that the determination of the draw affects only the applicability of �361.122, not the substantive constitutionality of that statute. The court explains that if Juliff succeeds in obtaining a declaration that the statute is unconstitutional, the controversy regarding its application will be resolved and a determination of the proper characterization of the draw will be unnecessary. CEQ’s reliance on exclusive and primary jurisdiction arguments is misplaced, the court adds. To have either, the agency has to have authority to determine the controversy at issue, and here, CEQ has no authority to determine the constitutionality of �361.122. Nonetheless, even though the trial court should not have granted CEQ’s motion to dismiss, the court rules that summary judgment was properly granted. Article III, �56(a)(1)-(30) of the state constitution prohibits local or special laws. Local laws are those that are limited to a specific geographic region of the state, while special laws are limited to particular classes of people. The court begins with a presumption of validity, and then proceeds to recount the legislative history leading to the passage of what was to become �361.122, ultimately concluding that the statute was neither a prohibited local or special law. The court notes that the reference to the proposed Juliff landfill during a committee debate as being targeted by the legislation merely indicates that issues in the legislators’ home districts were the precipitating causes of legislation. Specific events have led to numerous statutes that were enacted as laws of general applicability, the court adds. The court cites with approval CEQ’s reasons why it interprets the statute as a law of general applicability: five counties meet the definition of population and proximity to the Gulf of Mexico; the density of a county’s population is a necessary consideration for landfill location; coastal counties present special environmental considerations; hydrological differences make canals more susceptible to pollution than other waterways; and because counties are partners in the regulatory process, it is reasonable to afford them a voice in whether a landfill application should be granted. “We find that the Commission’s justifications for the classifications within section 361.122 are reasonable, and although Juliff has presented arguments attempting to rebut some of the Commission’s justifications, Juliff’s arguments are insufficient to overcome the presumption of validity.” OPINION:Kidd, J.; Kidd, Puryear and Pemberton, JJ.

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