House Speaker Dennis Bonnen has directed committees of the Texas House to study various state government issues during the interim ahead of the 2021 legislative session.
Many of the "interim charges" affect Texas' construction industries, touching on issues such as design defect legislation; local control and paid sick leave ordinances; higher education construction funding; and Capitol Complex construction plans.
Over the course of the next year, House lawmakers will meet to discuss these issues with stakeholders and experts, ultimately preparing a report before the start of the 2021 legislative session. Bonnen also announced he will create, "several Select Committees addressing issues of extraordinary interest and concern." We will continue to monitor the progress of these committees.
The full list of interim charges along with descriptions
can be found here
. Below are highlights of some of the significant charges related to contractors and related industries that Bonnen has asked lawmakers to consider:
Committee on House Administration
Study the impact of the Capitol Complex Master Plan and ongoing construction as it relates to the operation and management of the Texas State History Museum, specifically its visitor admissions, educational programming, exhibit space, and facility rental.
Examine the connectivity of the Capitol Complex Master Plan Mall area to ensure a consistent, dynamic, and sustainable relationship with the State Preservation Board, Texas State History Museum, and Texas State Capitol in its programming and use. Evaluate the infrastructure needs of the Texas State Capitol and the Capitol Visitors Center to ensure the ongoing preservation and operational needs of the historical structures and grounds. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Culture, Recreation & Tourism)
Committee on Corrections
Evaluate funding provided to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice for the repair, maintenance, and upgrade of prison facilities. Determine areas of the facilities that are in most need of repair, maintenance, or upgrade and examine the costs associated with such repairs, maintenance, or upgrades.
Committee on Higher Education
Evaluate current and future capital infrastructure needs at Texas public universities, health-related institutions, and Texas State Technical Colleges in preparation for potential legislation to be considered by the 87th Legislature. Identify and evaluate alternatives to tuition revenue bonds for the State's funding of higher education capital infrastructure needs, including options for addressing deferred maintenance needs at aging campuses.
Review progress toward the goals of the 60X30TX plan, including institutional strategies for responding to diverse and rapidly changing workforce needs and demands, including workforce education, industry certification, and degree programs to address healthcare shortages.
Specifically review community colleges' capacity to meet the goals of 60X30TX, including a review of taxing districts and service areas versus geographic areas of need. Review the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative's work-based learning, industry-aligned internships, and industry credential initiatives. Consider whether legislative action may be needed to expand work-based learning and recruitment efforts for adults who have previously completed some college level coursework.
Committee on Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence
HB 2899, which specifies that highway construction contractors are not liable for design defects. Investigate whether expansion of those policies to other areas of public/private contracting is in the best interest of the state
Committee on Urban Affairs
Examine municipal ordinances and policies and their impact on local businesses and citizens and the overall impact on the economic health of the state and well-being of residents. Examine and make recommendations regarding municipal ordinances relating to the short-term rental industry, paid sick leave policies, and homelessness issues.
Committee on State Affairs
Examine whether adequate ethics laws, including reporting requirements, exist relating to legislator solicitation of non-state funds, including lobby and corporate funds, used to sponsor both national and international travel for junkets and so-called "fact-finding" trips. Make recommendations for potential statutory changes relating to transparency or prohibitions.
Committee on Energy Resources
Study the adequacy of the workforce currently available to the industries responsible for energy production and how state policies may facilitate investment in public infrastructure and workforce development. Examine the labor needs within oil and gas exploration, production, and transportation to identify workforce gaps and the resulting effects on industry expansion, economic growth, and increasing population.
Committee on Appropriations
Monitor progress on construction of state hospitals and the capacity of the state hospital system to provide mental health support in all regions across Texas.
Monitor the status of the operation, maintenance, and structural repairs of low hazard and high hazard dams throughout the state, as well as implementation of funds appropriated to the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board's Flood Control Program during the 86th Legislature. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Agriculture & Livestock)
Evaluate funding provided to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the repair, maintenance, and upgrade of state park facilities. Determine the facilities that are in most need of repair, maintenance, or upgrade and examine the costs associated with such repairs, maintenance, or upgrades.
Committee on International Relations & Economic
Study Texas' current and future workforce pipeline structure, with a focus on input from the state's largest industries and middle skill employers. Examine what skill gaps exist within our state; identify methods of improving regional coordination and alignment between industry, the public workforce system, public schools, higher education institutions, and community-based organizations to create college and career pathways; and provide recommendations to overcome barriers in the workforce pipeline and to enhance career path options.
Study the state's seaport infrastructure and the infrastructure at land ports of entry to facilitate international trade and economic growth. Examine seaport infrastructure and the auxiliary rail and roadway needs connected to each port as well as the port's ability to keep pace with oil and gas production. Make recommendations to maximize the economic flow of goods and products to and from seaports and study the feasibility and economic impact of dredging and widening Texas ports in order to remain competitive in international trade.
Examine the infrastructure at international border ports of entry in Texas and identify transportation-related impediments to international trade that negatively impact the state. Make recommendations to reduce border wait times, facilitate economic growth, and expedite trade. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Transportation)