INTERIM STUDY 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.
House Committee on County Affairs
- Examine how local governments can better inform the public about local government debts.
House Committee on Elections
- Examine the prevalence of fraud in Texas elections. Study new laws in other states regarding voter identification and recommend statutory changes necessary to ensure that only eligible voters can vote in Texas elections.
House Committee on Energy Resources
- Survey current local ordinances governing surface use of property in oil and gas development.
- Recommend changes, if any, to the authority of the Railroad Commission to regulate the operation of oil and gas industries in urban areas of the state, particularly the Barnett Shale.
- Consider the establishment of uniform statutes and codes relating to liquid petroleum gas permitting and operations as a means to resolve conflicts of interpretation between state and local jurisdictions.
House Committee on General Investigating and Ethics
- Review state law in light of the effects of Texas Ethics Commission Advisory Opinion No. 484 relating to acceptance of benefits provided to officeholders. Recommend any necessary legislative changes.
- Review the definition of political advertising and determine whether the definition should be expanded to include content contained in blogs and other types of Internet communications.
House Committee on Land and Resource Management
- Examine unresolved issues relating to eminent domain legislation introduced during the 81st Legislative Session. Monitor any pending litigation.
House Committee on Natural Resources
- Evaluate groundwater regulations and permitting processes throughout the state, including the role of state agencies in groundwater management, the development of desired future conditions, and the adoption of groundwater management plans in relation to regional and state water planning.
- Monitor the effects of current and proposed federal initiatives that could impact the implementation of the State Water Plan. Evaluate the policies and investments developed by other states dealing with water issues similar to the State of Texas.
- Monitor ongoing drought conditions and initiatives to promote water conservation through the review of the following: state requirements for the submittal of water conservation plans and annual reporting; the trigger for use of drought contingency plans; recommendations by state agencies and the Water Conservation Advisory Council; and progress toward the development of recycled water resources and desalination projects.
- Evaluate the regulatory model for investor-owned water and sewer utilities, including rate case process and timing, consultant fee recovery, overall cost reductions, and more effective consumer participation.
House Committee on State Affairs
- Review state compliance with federal law regarding undocumented immigrants. Evaluate the costs of services and benefits provided to undocumented immigrants by state agencies and local governments.
House Committee on Transportation
- Review federal, state, and local programs to promote traffic light signalization, improve traffic flow, and reduce congestion.
House Committee on Ways and Means
- Examine the state's major tax exemptions to determine how the current costs and benefits compare with the original legislative objectives. Make recommendations for adjustments as needed.
- Study methods for improving the quality and uniformity of, and communications to taxpayers about, property tax appraisals.
- Study the tax structure as applied to cable versus satellite service to determine if any unfair competition results from state tax policies.
- Monitor the implementation of property tax appraisal and alternative valuation appeal reforms enacted by the 81st Legislature.