DON'T MISS IT
COLLIN COUNTY DAYS
Network with Collin County community and business leaders during two days of speakers, meetings, and meals in Austin from
March 28-29, 2017
second block of hotel rooms
is still available at the Embassy Suites.
PUBLIC POLICY COMMITTEE
Join the Plano Chamber of Commerce for our monthly Public Policy Committee meeting. This committee discusses legislation and issues that affect the business community. Attended by business professionals, elected officials, and key community representatives, these meetings are open to all members in good standing.
for more details.
- Senate Health & Human Services Committee will meet March 20 at 8:30 AM to take up sunset bills for Texas Board of Chiropractic Examiners, State Board of Dental Examiners, Texas Optometry Board, and Texas Board of Physical Therapy Examiners.
- Senate Agriculture, Water, & Rural Affairs Committee will meet March 20 at 2 PM to take up SB 864.
- Senate Education Committee will meet March 21 at 9 AM to take up SB 3.
- House Business & Industry Committee will meet March 20 at 10 AM to take up HB 285, HB 326, HB 475, HB 548, HB 577, HB 840, HB 924/HJR 56, HB 937, HB 954, and HB 992/ HJR 57.
- House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee will meet March 20 to take up HB 1424.
- House Government Transparency & Operation Committee will meet March 20 at 2 PM to take up HB 8, HB 9, HB 347, HB 1452, HB 1604, and HB 1605.
- House Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee will meet March 21 at 8 AM to hear invited testimony on cybersecurity.
- House Environmental Regulation Committee will meet March 21 at 8 AM to take up HB 1515, HB 1856, and HB 1874.
- House Public Health Committee will meet March 21 at 8 AM to take up HB 13, HB 63, HB 84, and HB 727.
- House Insurance Committee will meet March 21 at 8 AM to take up HB 1566.
- House Public Education Committee will meet March 21 at 12 PM or upon adjournment to take up HB 22.
to view the full list of bills the Plano Chamber is tracking.
The Senate was in session Monday-Wednesday of last week. On March 15, they recessed so there would be reading and referral of bills on Thursday, but the Senate did not transact any other business that day.
The Senate will reconvene on Monday, March 20 at 2 PM. CLICK HERE to view upcoming schedules.
The House was in session Monday-Thursday of last week. On March 13, they conducted routine business. T
he House will reconvene on Monday, March 20 at 2 PM.
to view upcoming schedules.
BILL FILING DEADLINE
The deadline for legislators to file bills to be considered by the Texas Senate and House this session was March 10. The filing deadline does not apply to local bills, concurrent resolutions, or simple resolutions. A total of 4,361 HBs/HJRs and 2,293 SBs/SJRs were filed for a total of 6,654 bills. 2,374 were filed in the last week. That compares to:
- 2017 bills filed by the deadline: 6,654
- 2015 bills filed by the deadline: 6,107
- 2013 bills filed by the deadline: 5.672
- 2009 bills filed by the deadline: 7,136
On March 13, Gov. Abbott hosted a reception for tech industry leaders at the Governor's Mansion as part of SXSW. During the reception, he discussed the importance of the tech industry in Texas and what the state is doing to continue to attract startups and tech entrepreneurs to Texas. Gov. Abbott said, "
Texas has long been home to innovative individuals and institutions because of the Lone Star State's friendly business environment. ... We are wide open for business, and I invite all tech leaders to join the innovation renaissance in Texas." CLICK HERE to read more.
SB 4: SANCTUARY CITIES
On March 15, the House State Affairs Committee took up SB 4 by Charles Perry and Charlie Geren, which would eliminate "sanctuary cities." The committee heard 10 hours of testimony and 570 witnesses signed up to testify. It was left pending.
SB 6: "BATHROOM BILL"
On March 14, the Senate debated and gave preliminary approval to SB 6 by Lois Kolkhorst, which would require school districts, political subdivisions, and state agencies to develop policy requiring multiple-occupancy bathrooms or changing facilities to be designated for and used only by persons of the same biological sex as reflected on the person's birth certificate. It was passed to third reading by a vote of 21 to 10 with all Republicans and Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) voting for the bill and the other 10 Democrats voting against it. SB 6 received final approval on Wednesday by the same vote.
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick commended the Senate for passing SB 6 saying, "The Texas Privacy Act reflects common decency and common sense and is essential to protect public safety. It protects Texas businesses and codifies what has always been common practice in Texas and everywhere else - that men, women, boys, and girls should use separate, designated restrooms, locker rooms, and showers in government buildings and public schools."
- Senate Democratic Caucus member Judith Zaffirini said, "Forcing transgender men to use the women's restroom and other intimate facilities and transgender women to use the men's restroom would create a public safety hazard that would put persons at risk, without any increase in safety for other Texans. During the public hearing on SB 6, we heard stories about the beatings, humiliations, bullying, assaults, death threats, and arrests endured by transgender men, women, and children. SB 6 would endanger the lives of transgender and gender non-conforming Texans under the pretext of protecting women and children. Transgender people are four times more likely to be victims of sexual assault than the general population, and up to a third of those report being harassed by law enforcement when they do report crimes."
- Texas Association of Business President Chris Wallace commented on behalf of TAB and Keep Texas Open for Business saying, "We're disappointed the Texas Senate would choose to pass discriminatory legislation like SB 6, despite clear indications that its passage will have an economic impact in Texas. TAB remains committed to fighting and defending the Texas economy against bills that discriminate and run counter to Texas values. Our members believe everyone deserves to be treated fairly and equally, and we have heard what they know - equity and non-discrimination is a twenty-first century economic imperative. SB 6 is simply not worth the risk, and it will do nothing to improve personal safety."
- Texas Values President Jonathan Saenz commented, "We're thankful for the leadership of Senate author Lois Kolkhorst, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and the strong majority of the Texas Senate for standing up to protect privacy, dignity, and safety in our public school locker rooms and restrooms. We call on the members of the Texas House to now consider the merits of the Texas Privacy Act, which respects private business while making it clear that boys do not belong in the girls' room in our public schools."
SB 8 and SB 415
On March 15, the Senate passed
by Charles Schwertner, which would prohibit
except in cases where the mother's life is endangered, and prohibit the donation of fetal tissue by anyone or any facility except a hospital, ambulatory surgical center, or birthing center, by a vote of 24 to 6. The Senate also gave preliminary approval to
by Charles Perry, which would create a state jail felony offense for any person who knowingly performs a
except as necessary in a medical emergency, by a vote of 22 to 8. It will be considered on Third Reading on Monday.
Total number of bills reported out of Senate Committees this week: 54
Total number of bills passed by the Senate this week: 10
On March 14, the House had its first General State Calendar for the session. They gave preliminary approval to 4 bills including:
- HB 744 by Farrar would include other legal entities (except governmental entities) among individuals and corporations, from which a person may recover reasonable attorney's fees.
- HB 799 by Andrew Murr would allow a justice from another county to conduct a death inquest in a county that does not have a medical examiner's office.
- HB 1073 by John Smithee would authorize the Texas Dept. of Insurance to issue a provisional permit to life insurance agents if the certifying agent certifies that the applicant has completed training and passed the required examination.
- HB 1197 by Dennis Paul would require insurers to provide 40 hours of training within 30 days (instead of 15 days) for temporary insurance agent license applicants.
On March 15, the House debated
Alex Brown Memorial Act
, by Tom Craddick, which would ban the use of wireless communication devices for texting while operating a motor vehicle. 16 amendments were debated, 5 of which were adopted. It passed to Third Reading and received final approval on March 16 by a vote of 114 to 32.
Total number of bills reported out of House Committees this week: 16
Total number of bills passed by the House this week: 6
SENATE NATURAL RESOURCES & ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
- SB 99 by Bob Hall would abolish the Music, Film, Television, & Multimedia Office in the Governor's Office of Economic Development. CLICK HERE to read the individuals and organizations in support and opposition. It was left pending.
- SB 105 by Bob Hall would abolish the Major Events Trust Fund. CLICK HERE to read the organizations and cities in opposition. 3 organizations were in support. It was left pending.
- SB 634 by Craig Estes would require participants in the Skills Development Fund to refund state funds if the entity fails to submit required reports and would prohibit the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) from awarding any future funds to that entity. CLICK HERE to read the list of those in support. It was left pending.
- SB 794 by Borris Miles would require the governor to report the number of Texas Enterprise Fund grants to historically underutilized businesses in the biennial report to the legislature. In support were reps of Texas Association of Business and the San Antonio Chamber of Commerce. There was no opposition. It was left pending.
SENATE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
- HB 202 by Mary Gonzalez would require TWC to provide on its website a list of employers that have been assessed an administrative penalty, ordered to pay wages, or convicted of an offense involving wage theft. CLICK HERE to read the list of those in support and opposition. It was left pending.
- HB 317 by Terry Canales would prohibit an employer from requiring an employee or applicant to consent to a request for a credit report unless the employer is a financial institution, the credit report is required by law, the employer reasonably believes that the employee or applicant has violated a law related to employment, or the report is substantially related to the employment position or prospective employment position of an employee or applicant. CLICK HERE to read the list of those in support and opposition. It was left pending.
- HB 373 by Ramon Romero would require (instead of allow) TWC to assess an administrative penalty against an employer for failure to pay wages. CLICK HERE to read the list of those in support and opposition. It was left pending.
- HB 786 by Gary VanDeaver would prohibit employment discrimination against an employee who is a volunteer emergency responder who is absent from or later to work because the employee is responding to an emergency. CLICK HERE to read the list of those in support and opposition. It was left pending.
- HB 285 by Roberto Alonzo would increase the state minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.
- HB 326 by Terry Canales would prohibit an employer from collecting or receiving any portion of gratuity paid to or left for tipped employees.
- HB 475 by Ron Reynolds would increase the state minimum wage to $15.00 per hour.
- HB 548 by Joe Deshotel would prohibit an employer from inquiring about an applicant's criminal history record information on an initial employment application form.
- HB 577 by Paul Workman would prohibit a political subdivision from adopting an ordinance that prohibits, limits, or regulates a private employer's ability to request, consider, or take employment action based on criminal history record information of an applicant or employee.
- HB 840 by Lina Ortega would allow counties and municipalities to adopt a minimum wage greater than the state's minimum wage to be paid by an employer for services performed in the county or municipality.
- HB 924/HJR 56 by Chris Turner would increase state's minimum wage to $10.10 an hour.
- HB 937 by Senfronia Thompson would increase the minimum wage to the higher of $10.10 or the federal minimum wage.
- HB 954 by Justin Rodriguez allow counties and municipalities to establish a local minimum wage greater than the current federal minimum of $7.25.
- HB 992/HJR 57 by Amando Walle would increase the state minimum wage to $15.00.
HOUSE ECONOMIC & SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
SPEAKER STRAUS' OP-ED ON THE BUDGET
House Speaker Joe Straus penned an op-ed that was picked up by several newspapers. "Of all the decisions that the Texas Legislature will make this year, none may be more important than this: How do we manage the state's resources in a way that is prudent, responsible and supportive of economic growth? The Texas House Appropriations Committee is working diligently to close the shortfall. To be clear, tax increases are not on the table. The committee is making meaningful spending reductions in health care, education, government contracts and economic incentive programs. Texas will continue to have one of the lowest per-capita spending rates in the country. But should we balance the budget with spending reductions alone?"
to read more.
SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE
On March 14, the Senate Finance Committee took up:
- SB 2 by Paul Bettencourt is an omnibus property tax reform bill. In laying it out, Bettencourt said, "The taxpayers of Texas know property taxes are rising too fast and the only question we have to ask is what we are going to do about it. How can homeowners continue to pay 8, 9, 10% a year and business owners 15 to 20% more each and every year? They can't, and SB 2 is the solution to stop ever-rising property tax bills." Testifying in support were 33 witnesses. 108 people testified in opposition. 257 people registered opposition. CLICK HERE to read the full list. It was reported out favorably as substituted. It is on the Senate Intent Calendar (first placement) for March 20.
- SB 669 by Jane Nelson would reform the property tax appraisal process. CLICK HERE to read the organizations in support and opposition. It was voted out favorably as substituted.
- SB 717 by Van Taylor would require (instead of allow) a chief appraiser to reappraise a damaged property located in a disaster area designated by the governor. CLICK HERE for the list of organizations in support and opposition. It was voted out favorably as substituted.
- SB 730 by Bettencourt would exempt income-producing tangible personal property from ad valorem taxes if it has a taxable value of less than $2,500 instead of $500. CLICK HERE to read the organizations in support. There was no opposition. It was reported out favorably and is on the Senate Intent Calendar (first placement) for March 20.
- SB 731 by Bettencourt would raise the ceiling on the value of a property eligible for binding arbitration as an alternative to appealing to district court from $3 million to $5 million. In support was David Mintz of Texas Apartment Association. In opposition was Brent South of Texas Association of Appraisal Districts. It was reported out favorably and is on the Senate Intent Calendar (first placement) for March 20.
- SB 870 by Bettencourt would prohibit appraisal review boards from setting protest hearings on Sundays. There was no opposition. It was reported out favorably.
- SB 945 by Paul Bettencourt would allow the chief appraiser to correct an erroneous denial or cancellation of a homestead exemption if the applicant is over 65 or a surviving spouse of a person over 6t or a disabled veteran. CLICK HERE to read the list of those in support. It was reported out favorably.
- SB 946 by Bettencourt would set June 1 as the date for a chief appraiser to accept, approve, or deny a request for a Freeport exemption. It would move up rendition requirements for the Freeport exemption to April 1. In support were reps of Texas Association of Appraisal Districts and the Travis and Webb County Appraisal Districts. It was reported out favorably.
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
House Appropriations Committee
met March 15 and took up riders, unfinished and pending business, and
. It met on March 17 to discuss riders, Articles IX and X, and receive testimony.
HOUSE WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE
On March 15, the
House Ways & Means Committee
- HB 27 by Drew Springer would require determination of market value to include consideration of whether the highest and best use of property is continuation of the current use of property; and would require comparable property to have the same highest and best use as property value in dispute. Springer said, "HB 27 would provide important clarifications to ensure that all property in Texas is appraised at market value using generally accepted appraisal standards." It was left pending.
- HB 455 by Will Metcalf would allow property owner to appear by telephone at an appraisal review board hearing if evidence is submitted by affidavit prior to hearing. It was left pending.
- HB 804 by Tony Dale would clarify that a property owner is required to send a copy of the notice of appraised value to a lessee who is contractually obligated to reimburse the property owner for taxes imposed on the property. It was left pending.
- HB 1199 by Justin Rodriguez would establish a franchise tax credit or insurance premium tax credit for rehabilitation of a certified historic structure. It was left pending.
- HB 1370 by Springer would require the Comptroller to provide info to a local entity with a population of less than 150,000 on the amount of sales taxes paid to the local entity by each person doing business in local entity who annually remits state & local sales tax payments of more than $100. It was left pending.
- HB 1454 by Matt Rinaldi would require school districts facing tax ratification election that is mailing out its tax bills to include a statement that voters will be able to vote on whether to approve the adopted tax rate and state date and maximum amount of taxes school district may impose on the property if voters do not approve adopted tax rate. It was left pending.
- HB 1496 by Greg Bonnen would change the date for a school district's tax ratification election to the first uniform election date that allows sufficient time to comply with other legal requirements. It was left pending.
- HB 1632 by Bonnen would extent the provision allowing a deferred payment of ad valorem taxes for persons serving in the armed forces during a declared war or national emergency to any member of the armed forces. It was left pending.
- HB 1634 by Bonnen would allow a taxing unit to waive penalties and interest on delinquent tax if the property for which the tax is owed is subject to mortgage if the mortgagee failed to mail a copy of the bill to the property owner and the delinquent taxes are paid within 21 days of notice to the property owner. It was left pending.
- HB 1719 by Ed Thompson would require county tax assessor-collectors to complete at least 40 hours of continuing education on the assessment and collection of property taxes, including a course related to the computation of effective rollback tax rates within 1 year of taking office. It was left pending.
- HB 1738 by Bonnen would exempt a county tax assessor-collector or his/her employee from registration with the Texas Dept. of Licensing & Regulation. It was left pending.
SUPPLEMENTAL APPROPRIATIONS BILL
STATE BOARD OF EDUCATION
On March 14, the Senate unanimously confirmed Gov. Abbott's appointment of Donna Bahorich as chair of the State Board of Education. Chairman Bahorich said, "Along with my fellow board members, I look forward to continuing our efforts to strengthen curriculum standards, approve high quality textbooks, increase transparency in both curriculum standards development and textbooks adoption, and provide oversight to the $37 billion Permanent School Fund." Bahorich was initially elected to the board in 2012. The governor, who selects the chair from one of the 15 elected board members, first appointed Bahorich as chair in June 2015. On January 24, he reappointed her to a term that runs through February 1, 2019.
SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Senate Education Committee
will meet on March 21 to take up
SB 3 by Larry Taylor, which would establish an education savings account program with funds to be used for educational expenses including tuition, fees, textbooks, instructional materials, or tutoring services. Payments per student would be 60% of the state average expenditure per student if family's income exceeds 200% of the guidelines for free or reduced-price lunch program. For lower income families, payment would be 75% of the state average. It would allow an insurance premium tax credit for companies contributing to Certified Educational Assistance Organization for scholarships & assistance for qualifying educational expenses to eligible students who demonstrate the greatest financial and academic need. To qualify a student must be in foster care, institutional care, or have a household income under 100% of the income guidelines necessary to qualify for the free or reduced-price lunch program and must have attended a public school during the entire preceding academic year.
HOUSE PUBLIC EDUCATION COMMITTEE
by Cecil Bell, Jr. would add
CTE and workforce
to the mission of public education.
to read the list of support. There was no opposition.
It was left pending.
- HB 404 by Rafael Anchia would require the Commissioner of Higher Education to appoint a higher education curriculum review team to review each subject undergoing a Texas Essential Knowledge & Skills (TEKS) curriculum review to make recommendations to the State Board of Education to ensure the proposal is factually accurate and aligned with contemporary scholarship and serve to prepare students for college. CLICK HERE to read the full list of those in support and opposition. It was left pending.
by Charles "Doc" Anderson would allow school districts to purchase
to cover students participate in career or technology training programs to provide immunity for participating businesses.
to read the organizations in support. There was no opposition.
It was left pending.
- HB 728 by Boby Guerra would allow students to substitute an advanced computer science course for the third math or science credit if the Commissioner of Education certifies that it meets rigorous standards. CLICK HERE to read the list of those in support. There was no opposition. It was left pending.
- HB 1389 by Helen Giddings would include Pre-K in the class size limitation of 22 students in kindergarten through 4th grade classrooms. In support were 26 reps of teachers, children's groups, and charitable organizations. There was no opposition. It was left pending.
The House Public Education Committee will meet March 21 to take up HB 22 by Dan Huberty - a public school accountability reform bill.
SENATE HIGHER EDUCATION COMMITTEE
On March 15, the
Senate Higher Education Committee
- SB 802 by Kel Seliger would require Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct a study by Sept. 1, 2018 to identify best practices in ensuring that dual credit courses provided by an institution of higher education and courses transferred to an institution of higher education for course credit apply toward a degree program at the institution. CLICK HERE to read the list of those in support. There was no opposition. It was reported out as substituted and recommended for the Local & Uncontested Calendar.
- SB 1091 by Seliger would require dual credit courses to be in the core curriculum of public institution of higher education providing college credit; CTE course; or foreign language course. CLICK HERE to read the list of those in support. There was no opposition. It was reported out favorably and recommended for the Local and Uncontested Calendar.
HOUSE DEFENSE & VETERAN'S AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
On March 15, the House Defense & Veteran's Affairs Committee took up HB 66 by Ryan Guillen, which would provide that if a student appointed to receive a Texas Armed Services Scholarship fails to maintain eligibility, the elected official who appointed the student would be allowed to appoint another student. It was left pending.
HOUSE HIGHER EDUCATION COMMITTEE
On March 15, the House Higher Education Committee took up:
- HB 655 by Travis Clardy would require junior college students to file a degree plan by the end of the second semester or term in which the student earns a cumulative total of 30 semester credit hours. CLICK HERE to read the list of organizations in support. There was no opposition. It was left pending.
- HB 1198 by Justin Rodriguez would require junior college students enrolled in associate degree program to file a degree plan by the end of the student's second regular semester. In support were the same groups as for HB 655. There was no opposition. It was left pending.
On March 13, the Senate State Affairs Committee took up the Alex Brown Memorial Act (SB 31) by Judith Zaffirini. It would ban use of wireless communication devices for texting while operating a motor vehicle. 73 people testified or registered support. One individual registered opposition. (Note: It is the companion to HB 62, which passed the House on March 16.) It was reported out favorably and is on the Senate Intent Calendar (first placement) for March 20.
SENATE AGRICULTURE, WATER, & RURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
- SB 226 by Van Taylor would prohibit the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from referring an amendment to a water right application to the State Office of Administrative Hearings for contested case hearing if the amendment adds the purpose of use that does not alter the nature of the right. CLICK HERE to read those in support and opposition. It was left pending.
- SB 865 by Charles Perry would authorize groundwater conservation districts to use electronic fund transfers for payroll disbursements or for other disbursements.13 reps of groundwater districts and river authorities registered support. There was no opposition. It was reported out favorably and recommended for the Local & Uncontested Calendar.
- SB 1009 by Charles Perry would allow a groundwater conservation district to require in a permit or permit amendment application other info for administrative completeness and information reasonably related to an issue that a district is authorized to consider. CLICK HERE to read the list of those in support. There was no opposition. It was reported out favorably and recommended for the Local & Uncontested Calendar and is on the Senate Intent Calendar for March 20 (first placement).
Next week, the Senate Agriculture, Water, and Rural Affairs Committee will meet March 20 to take up SB 864 by Charles Perry, which would require Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to identify any proposed alternative source of water in the notice for a water rights permit.
HOUSE ENVIRONMENTAL REGULATION COMMITTEE
SENATE BUSINESS & COMMERCE COMMITTEE
On March 14, the Senate Business & Commerce Committee took up SB 103 by Bob Hall, which would prohibit municipalities from adopting or enforcing bag ordinances. CLICK HERE to read the list of organizations and businesses in support and opposition. It was left pending.
- HB 402 by Dan Huberty would allow low-income vehicle repair assistance, retrofit, and accelerated vehicle retirement program (LIRAP) money to be used for local initiative projects to improve air quality; and would require at least 90% of the revenue derived from fees collected in Harris County to be used on the LIRAP program in Harris County. In support were reps of League of Women Voters of Texas, Texas Conference of Urban Counties, and Harris County. There was no opposition. It was voted out favorably.
- HB 484 by Drew Springer would require training provided to license holders by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to be provided at a location within 100 miles of the place of employment of a person required to receive the training; or provide online training; or reimburse the person for travel and lodging expenses incurred in attending training if it is not available at a location within 100 miles of place of employment. In support were reps of Texas Municipal League and National Federation of Independent Business-Texas. There was no opposition. It was left pending.
- HB 1515 by Gary Ekins would extend the sunset date on the Dry Cleaner Environmental Response Program from Sept. 1, 2021 to Sept. 1, 2050.
- HB 1856 by Ken King would exempt a person that is arranging recycling from liability under Solid Waste Disposal Act if the person would not be liable under federal law for recyclable material.
- HB 1874 by Rodney Anderson would prohibit a producer, wholesaler, or retailer of a battery from selling a battery unless the producer or a stewardship organization implements a used battery stewardship program approved by Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.
HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE
On March 15, the
House Natural Resources Committee
heard invited testimony from Dr. Robert Mace with the Texas Water Development Board on the projected effects of a five-year drought on surface water and groundwater resources in Texas. They also took up:
- HB 1318 by Eddie Lucio, III would require (instead of allow) a groundwater conservation district that regulates the production of groundwater to consider the aggregate acreage owned by the retail public utility and the utility's customers inside the district and allow the subtraction of permitted wells from that acreage. It was left pending.
- HB 1863 by Eddie Lucio, III would allow the state water pollution control revolving fund to include financial assistance for projects eligible for assistance under the Federal Water Pollution Control Act. It was left pending.
House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee
will meet March 20 to take up
by Jim Murphy, which would prohibit the
operation of an unmanned aircraft
over a correctional facility and over a sports venue if the unmanned aircraft is lower than 400 feet above ground level, unless it is operated by a government entity, law enforcement agency, or the owner or operator of the sports venue, or person under contract with the owner or operator of the sports venue.
HOUSE GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY & OPERATION COMMITTEE
by Giovanni Capriglione, which would make several changes regarding
cybersecurity for state information resources
. It would:
- Require Sunset Commission to assess agency cybersecurity practices as part of its review;
- Allow the Dept. of Public Safety (DPS) to enter into an agreement with the National Cybersecurity Preparedness Consortium to address risks and incidents in the state. An agreement can include training, developing cybersecurity information sharing programs, and incorporating cybersecurity risk and incident prevention and response methods into existing state and local emergency plans;
- Require Governor's Homeland Security Council to conduct a study regarding cyber attacks on state agencies and critical infrastructure, develop state response plan, and submit secret report no later than Sept. 1, 2018.
- Require the Dept. of Information Resources (DIR) to develop a cybersecurity task force responsible for consolidating and synthesizing existing cyber resources and best practices, developing guidelines, providing opportunities for state agency technology leaders and members of the legislature to participate in programs and webinars on critical cyber policy, and providing recommendations to the legislature. The task force is abolished Sept. 2019, unless extended by DIR to Sept. 2021.
- Require DIR to provide mandatory guidelines to state agencies regarding continuing education, cyber training and certification that must be completed by all info resources employees in state agencies;
- Amend data breach laws and requires 48-hour notice to DIR after the discovery of a breach, suspected breach, or unauthorized exposure;
- Require agency heads and CISOs to annually review and approve state agency information security plans, which should follow NIST's Cybersecurity Framework;
- Require each state agency to conduct independent risk assessments at least every 5 years;
- Require agencies to develop data security plans;
- Require technology vendors to address known cybersecurity risk associated with technology and any costs associated with addressing the identified risks;
- require state agencies to destroy materials with PII;
- Require DIR to periodically review guidelines on state agency information that may be stored by cloud computing service and the cloud computing systems available to state agencies for that storage to ensure that an agency purchasing a major info resources project selects the most affordable, secure, and efficient cloud computing service available to the agency; and
- Require Texas Rangers to conduct a study regarding cyber attacks on election infrastructure by Dec. 1, 2018.
by Capriglione is a
bill that would
make it a third degree felony for a person to intentionally interrupt or suspend access to a computer system or computer network without the effective consent of the owner. It would make it a Class A misdemeanor to alter data as it transmits between 2 computers in a computer network or computer system without effective consent of owner or introduces malware, including ransomware, in computer, computer network or computer system without consent. It would include enhanced penalties for intent to defraud or harm another person.
by Terry Canales would establish a
pilot program for driver's licenses and identification certificates that displays digital identification on a wireless communication device.
by Cesar Blanco would require the Secretary of State to study
cyber attacks on election infrastructure
- An investigation of vulnerabilities and risks for a cyber attack against voting system machines, the list of registered voters, and election administrators' websites;
- Info on any attempted cyber attack on voting system machines, the list of registered voters, and election administrators' websites; and
- Recommendations for protecting voting system machines, the list of registered voters, and election administrators' websites from cyber attack.
by Cesar Blanco would require state agencies to include in the
agency's information security plan
a written statement signed by the executive agency head acknowledging that the executive is aware of the vulnerabilities and risks identified in the plan.
by Cesar Blanco would require DIR to report to the legislature and governor the identifying preventive and recovery efforts the state can undertake to improve
- An assessment of the resources available to address the operational and financial impacts of a cybersecurity event;
- A review of existing statutes regarding cybersecurity and information resources technologies;
- Recommendations for legislative action to increase the state's cybersecurity and protect against adverse impacts from a cybersecurity event;
- An evaluation of the costs and benefits of cybersecurity insurance; and
- An evaluation of tertiary disaster recovery options.
It would allow DIR to request governor and Legislative Budget Board funds through budget execution authority to be used to manage the operational & financial impacts from a cybersecurity event.
HOUSE PUBLIC HEALTH COMMITTEE
On March 14, House Public Health Committee took up HB 1600 by Senfronia Thompson, which would require each Texas Health Steps Program recipient between 12-19 to receive mental health screening as part of their annual exam. CLICK HERE to read those in support and opposition. It was left pending.
The House Public Health Committee will meet on March 21 at 8 AM to take up:
HOUSE INSURANCE COMMITTEE
- HB 13 by Four Price would establish a matching grant program to support community mental health programs for individuals experiencing mental illness.
- HB 63 by Sarah Davis would prohibit the Cancer Prevention & Research Institution of Texas (CPRIT) from awarding grants to organizations with a CPRIT oversight committee member, program integration committee member, or CPRIT employee on the board of directors, and any CPRIT committee member or employee would only be able to serve on the board of a CPRIT grant-recipient after the grant award had been made.
- HB 84 by Sarah Davis would extend the sunset review date for CPRIT from 2021 to 2023, and extend the time available for awarded cancer research and prevention grants from August 31, 2020 to 2022.
- HB 727 by Bobby Guerra would require home telemonitoring services provided under Medicaid to also be made available to a pediatric patient with chronic or complex medical needs, and would remove the Sept. 2019 cut-off on Medicaid reimbursement for home telemonitoring services.
On March 14, the House Insurance Committee took up HB 490 by Rodney Anderson, which would require a health benefit plan to cover the cost of medically necessary hearing aid or cochlear implant and related services and supplies for a covered individual who is 18 years of age or younger. CLICK HERE to read the organizations in support and opposition. It was left pending.
The House Insurance Committee will meet March 21 at 8 AM to take up HB 1566 by John Frullo, which would address the practice of balance billing. It would:
- Expand mediation protections to consumers that have a PPO plan to address balance billing through mediation to all emergency providers and to all out-of-network providers working at a network facility.
- Allow mediation of balance bills from all types of out-of-network providers treating patients at in-network hospitals and other facilities, including free-standing emergency departments. (Current law applies only to the six listed types of facility-based physicians: radiologists, anesthesiologists, pathologists, ER physicians, neonatologists, and assistant surgeons.)
- Allow mediation of balance bills for emergency care from any provider or facility of emergency care services, including freestanding emergency departments.
- Expand disclosure requirements regarding network status and balance billing by insurers, facilities and other healthcare providers including requirement that the following statement be included on balance bills: "This is a balance bill that may be eligible for mediation."
- Expand mediation protections to the Teachers Retirement System (already applies to the Employee Retirement System).
SENATE BUSINESS & COMMERCE COMMITTEE
On March 14, the
Senate Business & Commerce Committee
by Don Huffines would prohibit municipalities from
licensing, controlling, or regulating
a person who, for compensation provides transportation using vehicle designed to accommodate 15 or fewer passengers, including a person who provides street-hail taxicab services; prearranged limo or car transportation services; or prearranges rides through an online-enabled application, software, website, or system designed to connect passengers with drivers.
to view the list of those in support and opposition.
It was left pending.
by Charles Schwertner would prohibit municipalities from regulating transportation network companies. It would provide state regulation including requirements below.
It was left pending.
- requiring national background checks for all ridesharing drivers;
- requiring all ridesharing companies in Texas to obtain a statewide operating permit;
- requiring the adoption of a zero-tolerance drug and alcohol policy for all drivers;
- prohibiting discrimination and ensure wheelchair-accessible rides may be requested; and
- giving ridesharing passengers the ability to utilize a single transportation networking company across city lines.
by Robert Nichols would provide that
regulation of transportation network companies
, their drivers and their vehicles is an exclusive power and function of the state and cannot be regulated by municipality, state agency, or other state or local entity including imposing a tax; requiring license, setting rates, imposing operational requirements, or imposing other requirements.
The witnesses were essentially the same as for SB 113 above. It was left pending.
- Airports: An airport owner or operator would be allowed to impose a reasonable fee on a transportation network company that provides digitally prearranged rides to/from the airport.
- Insurance: Liability insurance with minimum limits of $100,000 for bodily injury to or death of a person per incident; $25,000 for property damage per incident; uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage; and personal injury protection liability with total aggregate coverage of $1 million would be required.
- Fare Disclosure: Transportation Network Companies would be required to disclose the fare calculation method on the digital network and the applicable rates being charged and the option to receive an estimated fare before the passenger enters the vehicle.
- Identification of Drivers & Vehicles: Before a passenger enters a vehicle, transportation network company would be required to provide the driver's first name and picture and the make, model, and license plate number of the driver's vehicle.
- Payment & Electronic Receipts: Payment for a ride could only be accepted through digital network and receipt would be required to be provided within reasonable time via e-mail or text message and contain the origin and destination of the ride, total time and distance of ride, and an itemization of total fare paid.
- Intoxicating Substance Policy: Transportation network companies would be required to implement policy prohibiting driver who is logged into the company's digital network from any amount of intoxication; complaints would have to be investigated and driver's access to the company's digital network would have to be immediately suspended during the investigation.
- Driver Requirements: Drivers would have to be at least 19 years of age, maintain a valid driver's license and financial responsibility.
- Background Checks: Transportation network companies would be required to conduct local, state, and national criminal background check that includes the use of a commercial multi-state & multi-jurisdiction criminal records locator or other similar commercial nationwide database, and national sex offender registry database maintained by U.S. Dept. of Justice, and obtain and review individual's driving record. It would prohibit a driver who has been convicted of more than 3 moving violations or 1 offense involving fleeing or attempting to elude a police officer, reckless driving, or driving without a valid license within preceding 3 years. Or within previous 7 years has been convicted of driving while intoxicated, use of motor vehicle to commit a felony, crime involving felony property damage, felony fraud, felony theft, act of violence or terrorism or is on the national sex offender registry database.
- Payment: A driver would only be allowed to receive payment through the digital network and would be prohibited from soliciting or accepting cash payments from a passenger.
- Disorderly Passengers: A driver who has accepted digitally prearranged ride would be able to refuse to transport a passenger acting in an unlawful, disorderly, or endangering manner.
- Vehicle Requirements: Vehicles used by a transportation network company's drivers would be required to have 4 doors and a max passenger capacity of 8 people including the driver. Vehicles could be owned, leased, or rented by driver but could not be used to provide street- hail taxicab service, limo service, or other similar for-hire service regulated by a municipality.
- Non-discrimination: Driver would be prohibited from discriminating on basis of passenger's location or destination, race, color, national origin, religious belief or affiliation, sex, or age. Driver could not deny service to passenger with a service animal unless driver has medically documented condition that prevents driver from transporting animals. Transportation network companies would be required to provide a passenger with an opportunity to indicate whether the passenger requires a wheelchair-accessible vehicle. If a wheelchair-accessible vehicle cannot be provided, the company would be required to direct the requesting passenger to an alternate provider of wheelchair-accessible service, if available.
- Independent Contractors: Drivers would be considered independent contractors if the transportation network company does not prescribe specific hours during which the driver is required to be logged in; impose restrictions on driver's ability to use other companies' digital networks; limit the territory within which the driver may provide digitally prearranged rides; or restrict driver from engaging in another occupation or business; and the company and driver agree in writing that the driver is an independent contractor.
- Records Retention: Transportation network companies would be required to maintain records evidencing compliance with this law for 2 years and retain individual ride records and driver records for at least 1 year.
- Confidentiality: Any records, data, or other information disclosed to a public entity by a transportation network company, including names, addresses, and any other personally identifiable information of drivers would not be subject to disclosure under public information laws. Transportation network company that is required to disclose personally identifiable info to public entity would not be liable in any civil or criminal action for unauthorized disclosure, misuse, alteration, destruction, access or acquisition, or use of info that occurs while the info is in the possession of any public entity. (substantially similar to HB 100 below)
by Kelly Hancock would prohibit cities and counties from prohibiting
the use of a property as a short-term rental or adopt or enforce a local ordinance restricting the use of or regulating a short-term rental based on its classification, use or occupancy unless the primary purpose is to protect the public's health and safety.
for the list of those in support and opposition.
It was left pending.
SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
On March 15, the
Senate Transportation Committee
by Robert Nichols is the sunset bill for TxDOT.
for the list of those in support. There was no opposition.
It was reported out favorably. It is on the Senate Intent Calendar (first placement) on March 20.
HOUSE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
On March 16,
House Transportation Committee
by Chris Paddie, which would provide that
regulation of transportation network companies,
their drivers and vehicles is exclusive power and function of the state and cannot be regulated by a municipality, state agency, or other state or local entity.
Note: HB 100 contains all the provisions of SB 361 above, but also includes the following provisions. It was left pending.
- Permits: A person would be prohibited from operating a transportation network company without a permit issued by the Texas Dept. of Licensing & Regulation (TDLR).
- Fees: An annual fee of $5,000 would be imposed on each transportation network company, but TDLR would be prohibited from charging a fee for drivers authorized to use transportation network company's digital network or vehicles used to provide digitally prearranged rides.
- Shared Rides: Digitally prearranged rides could be shared by multiple passengers if the passengers consent to sharing the ride.
- Digitally Prearranged Rides Only: A driver logged into a digital network would be prohibited from soliciting or providing a ride for compensation unless the passenger has been matched to the driver through the digital network.
- Display of Digital ID: Drivers would be required to display the driver's digital identification and electronic proof that the ride was matched through the digital network upon request of a law enforcement officer or a government official enforcing or administering this law.
- Enforcement: TDLR would be authorized to suspend or revoke a permit issued to a transportation network company that violates a provision of this law.
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