HOUSE INTERIM CHARGES

In accordance with charges issued by Texas House Speaker Joe Straus, committees of the Texas House of Representatives will be examining the following issues of interest to cities during this legislative interim. TML will closely monitor the process.

Charges to be studied by all Substantive House Committees

  • Study and make recommendations for significantly improving the state’s manufacturing capability.
  • Find ways to increase transparency, accountability and efficiency in state government.

House Committee on Agriculture & Livestock

  • Evaluate the role of community gardens and urban farming efforts that increase access to healthy foods and examine the possible impact that state and local policies have on the success of programs of this type. Determine the feasibility of policies to support these efforts, especially in high-population areas. (Jointly with the House Committee on Urban Affairs.)
  • Study the wildfire response performed by the Texas Forest Service and cooperating state agencies. Examine specifically how state laws and regulations could be enhanced to improve response effectiveness across the state. Study both the available causes of wildfires and mitigation and make recommendations as needed.
  • Monitor the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the Eighty-Second Legislature. Specifically, monitor the consolidation of the Texas Department of Rural Affairs into the Texas Department of Agriculture's Rural Economic Division, ensuring that rural communities are not negatively affected by the consolidation.

House Committee on Appropriations

  • Review and make recommendations for improving the level of funding of the Crime Victims Compensation Fund. (Jointly with the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence.)
  • Examine the effectiveness of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) since its inception in 2001. Determine whether the emissions reduced justify the amounts that have been appropriated since 2001. (Jointly with the House Committee on Environmental Regulation.)
  • Study transportation funding reforms and develop long-term state funding recommendations, with an eye on any federal reforms that become law. Explore options to eliminate “diversions” from Fund 6 to non-transportation-related programs. (Jointly with the House Committee on Transportation.)
  • Examine strategies to maximize state funding for programs designed to prevent and end homelessness, with an emphasis on programs that have demonstrated a successful coordination of state and local resources. (Jointly with the House Committee on Urban Affairs.)

House Committee on County Affairs

  • Study county-related issues arising from population growth in unincorporated areas with regard to existing and new developments and the provision of services, including garbage disposal, fire protection, road maintenance, electricity, and water and wastewater service. Make necessary legislative recommendations for improving problems in these areas of the state.

House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence

  • Review and make recommendations for improving the level of funding for the Crime Victims Compensation Fund. (Jointly with the House Committee on Appropriations.) (Editor’s Note:  significant current-law revenue for the Fund comes from the state traffic ticket tax.)
  • Study and make recommendations regarding the current procedures used in the testing of DNA evidence in Texas. Include a review of the feasibility of certifying additional DNA testing centers.

House Committee on Culture, Recreation & Tourism

  • Recommend approaches to improve long-term funding for state park acquisition, development, and maintenance.
  • Study the effects the drought and wildfires have had on tourism and recreation in Texas. Make recommendations for ways to prevent future losses.

House Committee on Defense & Veterans' Affairs

  • Monitor the implementation and impact of the MOVE Act on the state and on municipalities. Make legislative recommendations, as needed, to ensure a smooth implementation of the law. (Jointly with the House Committee on Elections.)
  • Study and make recommendations on how the state and local governments can work together to protect our federal military installations from unnecessary encroachment while still allowing appropriate use of land near bases to be used for nonmilitary purposes.

House Committee on Economic & Small Business Development

  • Examine the state's efforts to encourage new business growth and retain existing businesses in order to strengthen our state's economy. Determine whether a consolidated approach to statewide economic development would be more effective.
  • Examine the economic impact of the automobile industry in Texas and the state's ability to compete with other states for future automotive manufacturing facilities. Identify policies, regulations, and current statutes that either hinder or facilitate job growth and investment by the automotive industry. Review opportunities available to partner manufacturers' research and development with Texas colleges and universities, including technology enhancements in safety or alternative fuel systems.
  • Examine Texas' industry cluster initiatives in an effort to remain competitive in today’s economic development arena. Review the implementation of recommendations made by the Governor's Competitiveness Council and consider new recommendations for Texas to remain an economic development leader.
  • Examine current economic development programs available in urban areas in Texas and other states. Report on successful programs and make legislative recommendations for innovative economic development programs. (Jointly with the House Committee on Urban Affairs.)

House Committee on Elections

  • Examine the benefits and risks of using mobile voting stations in Texas.
  • Monitor the implementation and impact of the MOVE Act on the state and on municipalities. Make legislative recommendations, as needed, to ensure a smooth implementation of the law. (Jointly with the House Committee on Defense & Veterans’ Affairs.)

House Committee on Energy Resources

  • Examine state regulations governing oil and gas well construction and integrity and pipeline safety and construction and determine what changes should be made, if any, to ensure that the regulations are adequate to protect the people of Texas and its natural resources.

House Committee on Environmental Regulation

  • Examine the federal eight-hour ozone standard under the National Ambient Air Quality Standards program and its impact on the State Implementation Plan. Identify counties expected to be in nonattainment, the state's proposed designations of those counties, the timelines for meeting the applicable standard, and the status of the state's ability to attain the standard.
  • Examine the effectiveness of the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan (TERP) since its inception in 2001. Determine whether the emissions reduced justify the amounts that have been appropriated since 2001. (Jointly with the House Committee on Appropriations.)
  • Examine new and proposed Environmental Protection Agency rules that may impact permits for Texas facilities. Make recommendations, if needed, for changes in state regulatory programs or potential incentives to comply with federal mandates.
  • Study the environmental review process for transportation projects and monitor the implementation of reforms newly passed by the Eighty-Second Legislature. Continue to work with all stakeholders to develop any necessary changes. (Jointly with the House Committee on Transportation.)

House Committee on Government Efficiency & Reform

  • Examine and make recommendations on purchasing cooperatives created under Chapter 791 of the Texas Government Code, including the bid process and the role of inter-local contracts. Clarify for consistency the following terms: purchasing cooperatives, inter-local contracts, and inter-local agreements.
  • Examine the utilization of alternative project delivery methods, such as design-build and construction-manager-at-risk, by municipalities, water districts, and authorities, and other local governmental entities since the passage of H.B. 1886, Eightieth Legislature.
  • Examine areas of potential privatization of state services in an effort to achieve a higher level of service and greater efficiency for Texas taxpayers. (Jointly with the House Committee on State Affairs.)
  • Examine state agency rulemaking and consider ways to improve procedural efficiencies and public transparency, and to better inform policymakers as to their use, purpose, and cost-effectiveness, including an examination of the financial and other impacts such regulations have on both the license holder and the public. (Jointly with the House Committee on State Affairs.)

House Committee on Homeland Security & Public Safety

  • Determine the feasibility and need for a digital emergency public service messaging network to be developed on established evacuation routes.
  • Examine the role of law enforcement personnel assigned to school district campuses and postsecondary education campuses and determine whether any changes to laws concerning the enforcement of safety and discipline are necessary. Determine whether additional training of law enforcement personnel assigned to school district and secondary education campuses is necessary.

House Committee on Insurance

  • Monitor the agencies and programs under the committee's jurisdiction, including the implementation of HB 3 (82-1) regarding the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.

House Committee on Land & Resource Management

  • Examine the Cabin Program managed by the General Land Office. Review the history of the program, the current fee structure, and the renewal process and whether the program is achieving the goals for which it was created. Make appropriate legislative recommendations.
  • Monitor and examine the ongoing litigation of Severance v. Patterson and its impact on the Texas Open Beaches Act.
  • Examine the effectiveness of the Texas Private Real Property Rights Preservation Act (Chapter 2007, Government Code).
  • Examine current regulatory authority available to municipalities in their extraterritorial jurisdiction. Make necessary legislative recommendations to ensure a proper balance between development activities and municipal regulations.

House Committee on Licensing & Administrative Procedures

  • Review the alcoholic beverage licensing and permitting process. Explore possible reforms with interested stakeholders to streamline and improve the process. o

House Committee on Natural Resources

  • Monitor the ongoing statewide drought and the performance of state, regional, and local entities in addressing it. Examine the impact of the drought on the state water plan, including an evaluation of how well the state's existing water resources can meet demand, the need for additional funding sources to implement the plan, and the effectiveness of current drought planning and drought management policies. Identify short-term and long-term strategies to help the state better cope with drought and assess any obstacles, including state and federal regulations, to implementation of these strategies.
  • Examine the interplay of water and energy resources and needs in the state. Study the economic, environmental, and social impacts of water use in energy production and exploration, including the impacts of this use on regional and state water planning. Determine the current and likely future water needs of power generation and energy production, and evaluate options to develop new or alternative supplies. Include an evaluation of current issues involving water use for oil and gas production and related water quality issues.

House Committee on Pensions, Investments & Financial Services

  • Review local retirement systems that are not a part of statewide systems, the administration of these retirement systems, and current liabilities. Study and make recommendations aimed at curbing rising pension costs to local governments.
  • Review the Texas County and District Retirement System and the Texas Municipal Retirement System and examine plan provisions offered to individual participating counties and cities.

House Committee on State Affairs

  • Examine the issue of resource adequacy in the Texas electricity market, federal and state interventions in the marketplace that may be negatively impacting future adequacy, and the best way to maintain resource adequacy.
  • Examine whether current law ensures broadband provider access to an electric cooperative's utility poles and facilities pursuant to reasonable, cost-based, and nondiscriminatory rates, terms, and conditions. Study methods for improving access to electric cooperative utility poles to reduce unnecessary costs and delays for the delivery of broadband service to Texas consumers.
  • Identify inefficiencies in the regulation of public utilities in order to minimize the cost of regulation to consumers.
  • Examine state agency rulemaking and consider ways to improve procedural efficiencies and public transparency, and to better inform policymakers as to their use, purpose, and cost-effectiveness, including an examination of the financial and other impacts such regulations have on both the license holder and the public. (Jointly with the House Committee on Government Efficiency & Reform.)
  • Monitor the agencies and programs under the committee's jurisdiction, including the implementation of S.B. 1048 regarding public-private partnerships on state-owned property.

House Committee on Technology

  • Examine the benefits and financial costs associated with modernizing 911 call centers with the newest technology to connect dispatchers with callers using mobile means of communication in the fastest and most accurate manner possible during a time of emergency.
  • Study the impact of federal broadband expansion programs on rural areas. Coordinate this review with the Public Utility Commission's evaluation of the state Texas Universal Service Fund and the Federal Communications Commission's national broadband plan.

House Committee on Transportation

  • Review the state of our current transportation infrastructure, including studying roadway, bridge, and waterway quality and long-range plans by the Texas Department of Transportation for maintaining these assets. Explore future needs of our infrastructure for the next decade and make recommendations to ensure long-range sufficiency.
  • Conduct a thorough review of the operations of transit organizations in Texas. Explore possible reforms to streamline and improve services to Texans.
  • Study the environmental review process for transportation projects and monitor the implementation of reforms newly passed by the Eighty-Second Legislature. Continue to work with all stakeholders to develop any necessary changes. (Jointly with the House Committee on Environmental Regulation.)
  • Study transportation funding reforms and develop long-term state funding recommendations, with an eye on any federal reforms that become law. Explore options to eliminate "diversions" from Fund 6 to non-transportation-related programs. (Jointly with the House Committee on Appropriations.)

House Committee on Urban Affairs

  • Evaluate the role of community gardens and urban farming efforts that increase access to healthy foods and examine the possible impact that state and local policies have on the success of programs of this type. Determine the feasibility of policies to support these efforts, especially in high-population areas. (Jointly with the House Committee on Agriculture & Livestock.)
  • Examine current economic development programs available in urban areas in Texas and other states. Report on successful programs and make legislative recommendations for innovative economic development programs. (Jointly with the House Committee on Economic & Small Business Development.)
  • Examine strategies to maximize state funding for programs designed to prevent and end homelessness, with an emphasis on programs that have demonstrated a successful coordination of state and local resources. (Jointly with the House Committee on Appropriations.)

House Committee on Ways & Means

  • Evaluate the state’s tax structure and determine its impact on the competitiveness of the Texas business climate. Specifically, determine the impact of the state's major taxes, including the sales tax and franchise tax, as well as tax exemptions, exclusions, and credits on economic growth, capital investment, and job creation in Texas. As part of this review, evaluate the franchise (margins) tax and determine whether the tax structure should continue to exist in its current form or in a revised form, or whether the existing tax structure should be repealed and replaced with a different business tax.
  • Analyze the results of the reviews of appraisal district operations as conducted through the comptroller's Methods Assistance Program (MAP) and determine whether appraisal districts are applying uniform standards and procedures for the appraisal of property for ad valorem tax purposes as required by the Texas Constitution.
  • Evaluate whether current property tax notice requirements effectively serve the intended “truth-in-taxation” purpose of informing taxpayers about the property taxes they pay and who is responsible for deciding how much they pay.
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Texas Municipal League.

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