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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 Finance Committee met April 3 to take SB 446, SB 806, SB 1008/SJR 41, SB 1120, SB 1275, SB 1345, SB 1390, SB 1543/SJR 52, and SB 1767.
- Senate Agriculture, Water, & Rural Affairs Committee met April 3 to take up SB 225, SB 862, SB 1053, SB 1430, SB 1525.
- Senate Transportation Committee will meet April 5 at 8 AM to take up SB 977, SB 979, SB 980, SB 981, and SB 1179.
- House Government Transparency & Operation Committee met April 3 to take up HB 3027.
- House Elections Committee met April 3 to take up HB 151, HB 738, HB 1658, and HB 1910.
- House Public Education Committee will meet April 4 to take up HB 23, HB 194, HB 713, HB 743, HB 1033, HB 1076, HB 1583, HB 1886, HB 2130, HB 2623, HB 3157, and HB 3439.
to view the full list of bills the Plano Chamber is tracking.
The Senate was in session Monday-Thursday of last week.
The Senate reconvened on Monday, April 3 at 12:30 PM. CLICK HERE to view upcoming schedules.
The House was in session Monday-Thursday of last week. On March 27, they conducted routine business. T
he House reconvened on April 3 at 2 PM.
to view upcoming schedules.
(general appropriations bill) by Jane Nelson and John Zerwas as well as
(the supplemental bill) are on the House calendar for April 6. The House Calendars Committee adopted two rules: all proposed amendments must be filed with the Chief Clerk by 10 AM on Monday, April 3; and any amendment that increases an appropriation must contain an equal or greater reduction in one or more items of appropriation.
On March 24, Gov. Abbott visited the White House where he joined President Trump and Charter Communications Chair/CEO Tom Rutledge to announce Charter's commitment to bring thousands of jobs back to America from overseas.
Charter will open a new Spanish-language call center in McAllen, TX, a $17 million investment that will eventually employ more than 600 Texans. Combined with a recently opened call center in San Antonio, the two locations will support more than 800 Texas-based jobs when fully staffed. Gov. Abbott said, "I thank the President and Charter Communications for their commitment to bring jobs back to America, creating hundreds of jobs for hardworking Texans in the process. The Rio Grande Valley has always been a vital part of the Texas economy, and this new facility is a testament to the high-quality workforce in McAllen. As Governor, I will continue to work with the Trump administration and all partners to promote policies that create jobs and spur a new chapter in American economic growth."
CHARLES SCHWAB AUSTIN EXPANSION
On March 30, Gov. Abbott attended and delivered remarks at the new Charles Schwab North Austin Campus. During his visit, he took part in a topping out ceremony where the last beam of the new 500,000 square foot facility was signed and put into place. The new campus has already generated 600 new jobs, and is expected to create over 200 more. Gov. Abbott said, "Charles Schwab has consistently been named as one of the best companies to work for and I am excited they are expanding their operations in the best state for business. Today's event demonstrates that Texas' high-quality workforce and welcoming business climate are working to strengthen and diversify our local economies."
On March 27, the Senate passed six bills, including:
- SB 16 by Robert Nichols would remove the fees for issuance of an original, duplicate, modified, or renewed license to carry a handgun. The committee substitute and one floor amendment were adopted and it passed by a vote of 26-5.
- SB 20 by Larry Taylor would prohibit a health plan from providing coverage for abortion, except due to a medical emergency unless the enrollee pays separately for the abortion coverage. It passed by a vote of 21-10.
- SB 594 by Brandon Creighton would require the comptroller (instead of a committee comprised of the governor, comptroller, attorney general, agriculture commissioner, and land commissioner) to approve the manuals related to appraisal of open-space land qualified for timber. It passed unanimously.
- 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. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed unanimously.
- SB 730 by Paul 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. Bettencourt said, "Small businesses are a major driver of our state economy. The cost of assessing and collecting the taxes is greater than revenue received on property - especially when you include a compliance cost. SB 730 will provide Texas' small businesses fiscal relief from paying property taxes on their business personal property. In the 21st century, we can recognize that saving time for small businesses and government is saving taxpayers money all around." It passed unanimously.
Also on March 27, the Senate debated and gave preliminary approval to 2 other bills
- SB 5 by Joan Huffman would clarify voter ID requirements. The committee substitute and 2 floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 21-10. It received final approval on March 28 by the same vote.
- SB 23 by Charles Schwertner would require all state contractors and subcontractors to utilize the federal E-Verify system in determining the legal work status of their employees. The committee substitute and one floor amendment were adopted and it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 23-8. It received final passage on March 28 by a vote of 22-9.
On March 28, the Senate passed
by Jane Nelson, the
general appropriations bill
The committee substitute was adopted and passed unanimously. (Note: specifics on SB 1 were included in last week's report.)
- Sen. Nelson said, "This is a smart budget that meets our priority needs and keeps Texas on path to a successful future. It fully funds the Foundation School Program, fulfills our commitment to transportation and stays true to the policies of fiscal discipline that have served Texas well."
- Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick said, "This budget reflects Texans' priorities as conservatives and our commitment to meet the needs of this vast and rapidly growing state despite tough fiscal challenges. CSSB 1 does not raise taxes. It also does not use the Rainy Day Fund, is well within the state's population growth times inflation and is $500 million less in general revenue than the current budget." CLICK HERE to read his full statement.
- Senate Democratic Caucus Chair Jose Rodriguez said, "This budget is a start, and that's what I'm voting for, so that we may move the process forward and make it better. Three cycles after the draconian cuts of the 82nd Legislature, we have made incremental progress. However, we have the ability to do much more. This session, as last session and the session before, we have the means to make up lost ground. Unfortunately, it seems that the majority of this body prioritizes tax cuts over education and other essential government functions. The state's 'Rainy Day Fund' continues to grow. We now have more than $10 billion and are estimated to have almost $12 billion by the end of the 2018-19 biennium. We should be using the Rainy Day Fund to ensure that we're adequately funding our schools and health and human services."
Also on March 28, the Senate passed 14 other bills, including:
- SB 22 by Larry Taylor would establish Pathways in Technology Early College High School (P-TECH) program. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed unanimously.
- SB 27 by Donna Campbell would abolish provisions authorizing the Dept. of State Health Services (DSHS) to award grants to regional and local organizations for the delivery of mental health programs or services for veterans. CLICK HERE to read Senator Campbell's statement on the Help for Texas Heroes Act. It passed unanimously.
- SB 115 by Don Huffines would require Internet broadcasting of public meetings of state agencies. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed unanimously.
- SB 407 by Kirk Watson would overturn the Texas Supreme Court case of Boeing v Paxton by providing that information withheld from disclosure under the public information law because a governmental body demonstrates that release of the information would provide an advantage to a competitor or bidder in a competitive situation would no longer be exempted from disclosure after the governmental body executes or awards the contract to which the bid or proposal relates. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed unanimously.
- SB 408 by Kirk Watson would overturn the Texas Supreme Court case of Greater Houston Partnership v Paxton by expanding the definition of "governmental body" for purposes of public information laws to include an entity that receives funds to perform services traditionally provided by a governmental body. The committee substitute and one floor amendment were adopted and it passed by a vote of 28-3.
- SB 507 by Kelly Hancock would address the practice of balance billing. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed by a vote of 29-2.
- SB 550 by Donna Campbell would establish a franchise tax credit or insurance premium tax credit for rehabilitation of a certified historic structure. It passed by a vote of 29-2.
- 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. It passed unanimously.
- SB 1033 by Charles Perry would authorize the conveyance of real property owned by Texas Tech University to Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center. It passed unanimously.
And the Senate gave preliminary approval to
by Jose Rodriguez, which would qualify land for open-space appraisal if the land is owned or managed by a veteran of the armed services or a person under the age of 35 who has not served as the principal operator of a farm or ranch for 10 consecutive years.
One floor amendment was adopted and it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 21-10. It received final passage on Wednesday by a vote of 23-8.
On March 29, the Senate passed 12 bills including, but not limited to
- SB 30 by Royce West would include instruction regarding interaction with peace officers in the required curriculum in driver education courses. Three floor amendments were adopted and it passed unanimously.
- SB 88 by Bob Hall would prohibit unmanned photographic traffic signal enforcement systems. The committee substitute and 3 floor amendments were adopted and it passed by a vote of 25-6.
- SB 256 by Van Taylor would add victims of sexual assault or abuse and stalking to the attorney general's address confidentiality program. One floor amendment was adopted and it passed unanimously.
- SB 490 by Eddie Lucio, Jr. would require charter schools to report through the Public Education Information Management System (PEIMS) information on the availability of school counselors at each campus. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed by a vote of 29-1.
- SB 670 by Brian Birdwell would repeal provisions related to the selection and employment of the commissioners of the health & human services agencies, and instead would require health & human services commissioners to be appointed by the governor. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed unanimously.
- SB 705 by Birdwell would exempt from disclosure under public records personal information of an applicant for an appointment by the governor. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed unanimously.
- SB 1107 by Charles Schwertner would establish a clear definition of telemedicine in state law and clarify that the same standard of care that would apply in a traditional, in-person setting also applies to telemedical services. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed unanimously. (Note: the companion is HB 2697, which was heard in the House Public Health Committee on March 28 and is in the Health section below.)
Also on March 29, the Senate gave preliminary approval to:
- SB 9 by Kelly Hancock would base the Constitutional spending limit on population growth and inflation. It passed to Third Reading by a vote of 20-11. It received final approval on March 30 by the same vote.
- SB 13 by Joan Huffman would prohibit union dues payroll deductions by state and local government employees. The committee substitute and 1 floor amendment were adopted and it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 20-11. It received final approval on March 30 by the same vote.
- SB 258 by Don Huffines would require a form developed by DSHS to be presented to a pregnant woman seeking an abortion authorizing her to select the method of disposition of the fetal remains, including burial or cremation. DSHS would be required to maintain a registry of nonprofit organizations that provide financial assistance to indigent women for the costs associated with disposition of fetal remains. The committee substitute and 1 floor amendment were adopted and it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 22-9. It received final approval on Thursday by the same vote.
On March 30, in addition to giving final approval to the three bills above, the Senate passed seven other bills, including:
- SB 3 by Larry Taylor would establish an education savings account program with funds to be used for educational expenses including tuition, fees, textbooks, instructional materials. or tutoring services. Nine floor amendments were adopted and passed by a vote of 19-12. Democrat Eddie Lucio, Jr. was the only Democrat voting for it. Republicans Joan Huffman, Robert Nichols, and Kel Seliger were the only Republicans voting against it.
- SB 28 by Brandon Creighton would establish the Ship Channel Improvement Revolving Fund to finance qualified projects of navigation districts. The committee substitute and one floor amendment were adopted and it passed unanimously.
- SB 128 by Sylvia Garcia would require public junior colleges offering a commercial driver's license training program to include as part of that program education & training on the recognition and prevention of human trafficking. The committee substitute and 1 floor amendment were adopted and it passed by a vote of 30-1.
- SB 601 by Donna Campbell would allow open-enrollment charter schools to be exempt from municipal drainage requirements. It passed by a vote of 30-1.
- SB 758 by Jose Menendez would eliminate the requirement that low-income customers must be threatened with disconnection before they become eligible for the utility bill payment assistance program. It passed by a vote of 29-2.
- SB 773 by Carlos Uresti would allow a judge to order a defendant to take psychoactive medication if the defendant lacks capacity to make a decision regarding administration of the proposed medication. It passed by a vote of 26-4.
Total number of bills reported out of Senate Committees this week: 88
Total number of bills passed by the Senate this week: 43
On March 28, the House gave preliminary approval to 4 bills including:
- HB 1818 by Larry Gonzales, which is the sunset bill for the Texas Railroad Commission. The committee substitute and 5 floor amendments were adopted. It passed to Third Reading on a voice vote. It received final passage on March 29 by a vote of 123-19. The floor amendment added by Rep. Rafael Anchia requires businesses contracting with or regulated by the Texas Railroad Commission to attest under criminal penalty that they do not employ undocumented labor.
- HB 283 by Abel Herrero would create open burn pit registry for military service members and veterans. It passed to Third Reading on a voice vote and received final passage on March 29 by a vote of 128-16.
- HB 377 by Tom Oliverson would allow the surviving spouses of military veterans who qualified for specialty license plates to also qualify. It passed to Third Reading unanimously, and on March 29 it received final passage, also unanimously.
On March 29, the House gave final approval to March 28's Second Reading bills as well as preliminary approval to 9 other bills, including:
- HB 132 by Ina Minjarez would add an aunt, uncle, sister, or brother who are at least 25 years of age to the list of people who qualify for a $1,000 one-time payment under the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) program for the primary caretakers of a dependent child. It passed to Third Reading by a vote of 79-65. On March 30, a Third Reading amendment was added and it received final approval by a vote of 84-53.
- HB 256 by Ana Hernandez would allow a city attorney to bring a claim for a violation under TABC that constitutes a common nuisance. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 131-11. It received final approval on March 30 by a vote of 125-14.
by Drew Springer would designate a portion of FM 1810 as the Luther G. Prunty Memorial Highway. It passed to Third Reading on a voice vote and received unanimous final approval on Thursday.
by Ed Thompson would designate a portion of FM 1462 as the Lt. Colonel Roy Lin Tisdale Memorial Highway. It passed to Third Reading on a voice vote and received unanimous final passage on Thursday.
by Sarah Davis would require DSHS to designate 8 administrative hubs to provide administrative functions for each trauma service area regional advisory council. The committee substitute and one floor amendment were adopted and it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 135-8.
by Brooks Landgraf would designate a portion of SH 191 as the Chris Kyle Memorial Highway. It passed to Third Reading on a voice vote and received unanimous approval on final passage on Thursday.
by Dan Huberty would authorize the Texas Military Dept. to use appropriated funds to purchase food & beverages for members of the Texas military forces. It passed to Third Reading on a voice vote and received final passage on March 30 unanimously.
by Lance Gooden would allow Dallas and Kaufman Counties to abolish the Bois D'Arc Island Levee Improvement District. It passed to Third Reading on a voice vote and unanimous approval on final passage on Thursday.
On March 30, House gave final approval to Third Reading bills that were debated on March 29.
Total number of bills reported out of House Committees this week: 64
Total number of bills passed by the House this week: 13
HOUSE DEFENSE & VETERANS' AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
On March 29, the House Defense & Veterans' Affairs Committee took up
HB 2998 by Cesar Blanco, which would authorize a county to apply for a designation as a defense readjustment project for a project or activity of a qualified business that is located within the jurisdiction of a municipality located in the county. It was left pending.
HOUSE ECONOMIC & SMALL BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT COMMITTEE
On March 30, the House Economic & Small Business Development Committee took up HB 2362 by J.M. Lozano, which would establish the Oil & Gas Downturn Assistance Fund to provide grants for economic development and diversification in municipalities, counties, and school districts affected by decreased oil and gas production. It was left pending.
SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE
On March 30, the Senate Education Committee took up SB 276 by Kirk Watson, which would allow an open-enrollment charter to be awarded to a pilot program provided through a nonprofit entity that provides an adult education program to successfully complete a high school program that can lead to a diploma and career and technology education courses that can lead to industry certification. It deletes the current limitation of no more than 150 individuals on the adult education pilot program. It was left pending.
SENATE FINANCE COMMITTEE
SENATE INTERGOVERNMENTAL RELATIONS COMMITTEE
On April 3, the Senate Finance Committee met to take up:
- SB 446 by Konni Burton would require a political subdivision to report to the comptroller before it accepts or spends federal funds not appropriated by the legislature and would require the comptroller to create a searchable online database for the information.
- SB 806 by Brandon Creighton would require Legislative Budget Board to prepare a report concerning federal money that is provided to the state that includes a method of finance in the general appropriations act and is subject to a coercive federal condition that outlines conditions that prescribe the manner in which federal money must be spent.
- SB 1008/SJR 41 by Kel Seliger would reduce the rate of the oil & gas production tax and suspend transfers into Economic Stabilization Fund when the balance exceeds $5 billion.
- SB 1120 by Sylvia Garcia would add compressed natural gas & liquefied natural gas to list of fuels taxed as motor fuels that cannot be subjected to additional state or local taxes.
- SB 1275 by Van Taylor would require property included in the low-income housing tax credit program to be appraised using the income method of appraisal.
- SB 1345 by Kirk Watson would exempt from ad valorem taxes property owned by charitable organizations that provide pro bono tax return preparation and assistance with other financial matters.
- SB 1390 by Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa would provide an excise tax exemption for cigarettes that are contained in a package labels as "Experimental Use Only," "Reference Cigarettes," or other similar wording indicating that the manufacturer intends for the product to be used exclusively for experimental purposes.
- SB 1543/SJR 52 by Royce West would allow counties to exempt from ad valorem taxes a portion of the value of the residence homestead of a physician who provides free healthcare services to indigent residents of the county.
- SB 1767 by Dawn Buckingham would prohibit the appraisal review board from determining the value of a property to be greater than the value submitted by the chief appraiser unless agreed to by the parties to the protest.
SENATE BUSINESS & COMMERCE COMMITTEE
Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee
met March 27 to take up:
- SB 460 by Eddie Lucio, Jr. would prohibit a political subdivision from issuing general obligation bonds to purchase, improve, or construct improvements or purchase personal property if the projected useful life of the improvements or property ends before the maturity date of the bonds. CLICK HERE to read the list of those in support and opposition. It was initially left pending, but voted out as substituted on March 29.
- SB 461 by Lucio would standardize the information that a political subdivision must include in ballot proposition for the issuance of bonds including requiring notice to contact total outstanding bond debt, amount to be authorized, amount of taxes imposed and increased. CLICK HERE to read the list of those in support and opposition. It was left pending.
On March 30, the Senate Business & Commerce Committee took up SB 289 by Van Taylor, which would require state agencies to prepare a government growth impact statement on its proposed rules. It was left pending.
HOUSE APPROPRIATIONS COMMITTEE
House Appropriations Committee
met on March 29 to take up
They substituted the House version and unanimously voted out a House Committee Substitute version of SB 1.
The House version would appropriate $104.3b in general revenue funds compared to the Senate's $106.3b. The House version also uses $2.5b from the Economic Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund) to cover a shortfall in a pension program for retired teachers ($500m), continue increased border security spending ordered by state lawmakers in 2015 (about $650m), and finance basic improvements at decrepit state-run mental health hospitals (about $240m).
SENATE EDUCATION COMMITTEE
On March 30, the
Senate Education Committee
- SB 610 by Don Huffines would expand access to the virtual school network for students in kindergarten, first, and second grades (current law applies the virtual school network to grades 3-12). It was left pending.
- SB 671 by Donna Campbell would require the State Board of Education to allow successful completion of a dual language immersion program at an elementary school to count as one high school credit as a foreign language. It was left pending.
- SB 1317 by Carlos Uresti would provide that the earliest day a school district may require a teacher to report for service is the seventh business day before the first day of school for students. It was left pending.
- SB 1634 by Larry Taylor would provide that if the district anticipates providing less than 180 days of instruction for students during a school year, the district would be allowed to reduce the number of teacher in-service days proportionately; however, the district could not reduce an educator's salary. It was left pending.
HOUSE PUBLIC EDUCATION COMMITTEE'S SUBCOMMITTEE ON EDUCATOR QUALITY
On March 27, the House Public Education Committee's Subcommittee on Educator Quality took up HB 1918 by Ryan Guillen, which would require the Commissioner of Education to provide grants to pay tuition and fees for eligible teachers to enroll in an online professional development course. Eligible teachers would be a teacher during his/her first year of teaching; or in a subject in which the teacher does not possess a bachelor's degree with an academic major or minor in that subject; or at a campus assigned an overall performance rating of D or F. The course would have to be provided in conjunction with the assignment of a mentor teacher who has experience in teaching the subject and grade level of the course in which the eligible teacher is enrolled. CLICK HERE for the list of those in support. There was no opposition. It was left pending.
HOUSE PUBLIC EDUCATION COMMITTEE
- HB 171 by Harold Dutton would requires school districts to give charter schools the first option to lease or purchase unused or underutilized property in the school district. It was left pending.
- HB 467 by Jim Murphy would base the amount of charter school facility bonds guaranteed by the permanent school fund on the percentage of students in charter schools compared to the number of students enrolled in all public schools in the state. It was left pending.
- HB 480 by Cindy Burkett would authorize the Commissioner of Education to grant an open-enrollment charter to a school that provides only pre-kindergarten programs. It was left pending.
- HB 481 by Ken King would prohibit the TEA from recovering an over-allocation of state funds if the over-allocation occurred more than 7 years of discovery and it occurred as a result of a statutory change. It was left pending.
- HB 852 by Tan Parker would delete the 150-person threshold requirement for the adult high school diploma and industry certification charter school pilot program requirement. It was left pending.
- HB 1023 by Ron Simmons would authorize the Commissioner of Education to grant more than one charter for an open-enrollment charter school to a charter holder if the additional charter is for an open-enrollment charter school that has a distinct purpose or student population. It requires the commissioner to identify various types of charters to be used but the list must include the list below. It was left pending.
- A charter school that serves a student population through a distinctly different model;
- An alternative education open-enrollment charter school that serves students who have dropped out of or at risk of dropping out of school;
- A virtual open-enrollment charter school; and
- Any other charter school that serves a distinct student population.
by Mary Gonzalez would set the funding formula for open-enrollment charter schools as the lesser of the average adjustment for the state; or the adjustment for the school district within whose boundaries the charter holder's campus with the greatest enrollment is locates. It was left pending.
by Jim Murphy would require the Commissioner of Education to re-attach property detached from a school district by the commissioner if the original district's wealth level falls to at least $10,000 below the equalized wealth level. It was left pending.
by Diana Arevalo would define "instructional facility" for purposes of the new instructional facility allotment to include the list below. It was left pending
- A newly constructed instructional facility;
- A renovated or re-purposed facility operating for the first time as an instructional facility; and
- A leased facility operating for teh first time as an instructional facility.
by Jason Villalba would increase the formula funding provided to open-enrollment charter schools. It was left pending.
by Tracy King would provide that if the Commissioner of Education determines that an appeal brought by a parent or student against a school district is frivolous, Commissioner could order parent or student to pay the district's reasonable attorney's fees. It was left pending.
by Dan Huberty would increase the New Instructional Facilities Allotment from $250 to $1000 per average daily attendance (ADA). It was left pending.
by Tomas Uresti would exclude employees or members of the governing body of an open-enrollment charter school from serving on the State Board of Education or school district's board of trustees. It was left pending.
by Harold Dutton would provide charter school funding per student to be calculated based on the guaranteed level of state and local funds per students per cent of tax effort multiplied by the state average interest and sinking fund tax rate imposed by school districts for the current year. It was left pending.
by Dan Huberty would require a school district to maintain a minimum balance of undesignated funds in its general fund of not less than the general operating expenses of the district for a 90-day period. It was left pending.
by Giovanni Capriglione would require open-enrollment charter schools to hold meetings of the governing board in the county in which the charter school is located or broadcast the meeting over the Internet. It was left pending.
by Ken King would allow the Commissioner of Education to authorize a school district to receive additional funding if the district annexes an unacceptable school district. It was left pending.
House Public Education Committee will meet on April 4 to take up:
by Dan Huberty would require the Commissioner of Education to establish a program to award grants to school districts and charter schools to that provide innovative services to students with autism.
by Diego Bernal would provide specific ways for special education students to earn an endorsement on the student's transcript.
by Gene Wu would prohibit adoption or implementation of a performance indicator that evaluates the total number of enrolled students of a school district or open-enrollment charter school who receive special education services.
by Jessica Farrar would authorize social workers to provide social work services to students and families in schools. "Social work services" would be defined as services specialized to assist students and families that are designed to alleviate barriers to learning, connect the home, the community, and the school, promote advocacy, strengthen relationships, and assist with basic and psychosocial needs.
by DeWayne Burns would require the TEA to apply to the U.S. Dept. of Education for a waiver of the annual alternate assessment of students with significant cognitive disabilities by January 1, 2018.
by Tom Oliverson would clarify that grades during which spinal screening should be mandatory for school children must be determined based on the most recent nationally accepted and peer-reviewed scientific research.
by Philip Cortez would authorize the use of epinephrine auto-injectors on private school campuses and at or in transit to or from off-campus school events.
by Rick Miller would require TEA to designate an agency employee as a dyslexia specialist to provide school districts with support and resources to assist students with dyslexia and their families.
by Kevin Roberts would require the TEA to conduct a study of the impact of the statewide assessment program on students in the special education program.
by Alma Allen would require school districts to assist students in making the transition back to school after being in a disciplinary alternative education program or other alternative program.
by Dennis Bonnen would clarify requirements for screenings of students attending public or private school to be screened to detect vision disorders using photoscreening.
by Linda Koop would authorize school districts to contract with the governing body of an open-enrollment charter school to partner with the charter school to operate district campus and share teachers, facilities, and other education resources on that campus.
SENATE HIGHER EDUCATION COMMITTEE
Senate Higher Education Committee
by Judith Zaffirini, which would require the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's biennial
report on the college work-study program
to be annual and include information on the students employed through the program to be disaggregated by race, ethnicity, and gender; major and certificate or degree program; classification as a freshman, sophomore, junior, or senior; and enrollment in a full course load or less. In support were reps of Young Invincibles, Center for Public Policy Priorities, and Amazon. There was no opposition.
It was left pending.
HOUSE DEFENSE & VETERAN'S AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
On March 29, the House Defense & Veteran's Affairs Committee took up HB 1934 by Ina Minjarez, which would require expedited temporary certification for an educator from out of state who is the spouse of an active duty military service member. It was left pending.
HOUSE ELECTIONS COMMITTEE
The House Elections Committee met on April 3 to take up: ENERGY
by Ron Simmons would require all
to be held on the November uniform election date.
- HB 738 by Matt Shaheen would require political subdivisions to include detailed information on ballot propositions authorizing debt secured by property taxes including the principal amount of the debt, the amount of outstanding principal of debt previously issued by the entity, and the maximum estimated amount necessary to retire the debt.
- HB 1658 by Dade Phelan would require a political subdivision that has a ballot proposition that increases, changes or reduces a tax rate or authorizes the issuance of bonds to include the amount of the increase or decrease in the tax on a median value residence.
- HB 1910 by Scott Sanford would prohibit a school district from including more than one project in any proposition submitted to voters to authorize the issuance of bonds.
HOUSE STATE AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
On March 29, the House State Affairs Committee took up
HB 2572 by Joe Deshotel, which would provide that an electric utility that elects to deploy advanced metering and meter information networks to recover reasonable and necessary costs incurred in deployment; and would require Public Utility Commission to ensure that any deployment plan is consistent with commission rules regarding consumer protections, data security, privacy & ownership; and options given consumers to continue to receive service through a non-advanced meter. (Note: The companion bill is SB 1145, which was heard in Senate Business & Commerce Committee on March 30.) It was left pending.
SENATE AGRICULTURE, WATER, & RURAL AFFAIRS COMMITTEE
Senate Agriculture, Water, & Rural Affairs Committee
met April 3 to take up:
by Van Taylor would prohibit Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) from referring an application issue to the State Office of Administrative Hearings unless the issue is a disputed question of fact or a disputed mixed question of law and fact and relevant and material to a decision on the application for a water right.
by Charles Perry would allow attorney's fees to be awarded to the prevailing party in a suit against a groundwater conservation district.
by Charles Perry would allow an affected person to appeal a groundwater conservation district's adoption of a desired future condition directly to a district court with jurisdiction over any part of the territory of the district.
by Charles Perry would direct TCEQ to expedite a water rights permit amendment application if the amount of water diverted is equal to or less than amount of desalinated seawater used by the water rights holder and water is not being diverted to another basin.
by Charles Perry would require the Texas Water Development Board to study water needs and availability in the state and to use the results to produce a comprehensive water resources map.
HOUSE NATURAL RESOURCES COMMITTEE
On March 29, the
House Natural Resources Committee
- HB 31 by Lyle Larson makes several changes to groundwater regulation statutes. It was left pending.
- HB 180 by Eddie Lucio, III would authorize the state auditor to perform an audit review of groundwater conservation districts. It was left pending.
- HB 2378 by Lyle Larson would extend the term of a permit to transfer water out of a groundwater conservation district on or before its expiration to a term that is shorter than the term of an operating permit for the production of water to be transferred that is in effect at the time of the extension. It was left pending.
- HB 2948 by Lyle Larson would require the Texas Water Development Board to appoint an inter-regional planning council to improve coordination between regional water planning groups; facilitate dialogue on water management strategies; and share best practices regarding operation of the regional water planning proves. It was left pending.
HOUSE GOVERNMENT TRANSPARENCY & OPERATION COMMITTEE
House Government Transparency & Operation Committee
met April 3 to take up
by Dade Phelan, which would subject regional water planning groups to open meeting and public information requirements
SENATE HEALTH & HUMAN SERVICES COMMITTEE
On March 20, the Senate Health & Human Services Committee took up SB 1592 by Charles Schwertner, which would increase the amount of the administrative penalty assessed against freestanding emergency medical care facilities operating without a license. In support were reps of Texas Association of Health Plans, Neighbors Health, AARP, Blue Cross Blue Shield of Texas, and Texas Association of Business. There was no opposition. It was left pending.
HOUSE WAYS & MEANS COMMITTEE
The House Ways & Means Committee met March 29 to take up:
- HB 28 by Dennis Bonnen would phase out the franchise tax incrementally based on the surplus in general revenue at the end of each biennium. It was left pending.
- HB 388 by Jim Murphy would phase out the franchise tax. It was left pending.
- HB 599 by Mike Schofield would phase out the franchise tax by one-third in each biennium that the comptroller estimates that the general revenue certification will grow by at least 6%. It was left pending.
- HB 1052 by Leighton Schubert would repeal the franchise tax effective January 1, 2018. It was left pending.
- HB 1248 by Eddie Lucio, III would add a new section to the Property Tax Code entitled "Alternative Dispute Resolution for Expediting Appeals." It outlines procedures to reduce delay and cost of litigation including document production and discovery, comparable properties, and pre-trial disputes. It was left pending.
- HB 1325 by Poncho Nevarez would end sales taxation of the surveying of real property by striking it from the list of taxable real estate services. It was left pending.
- HB 1449 by Ron Simmons would prohibit local entities from adopting an ordinance or other measure that imposes, directly or indirectly, a fee or other charge on new construction to offset the cost or rent of any unit of residential housing. It was left pending.
- HB 1613 by Drew Springer would reduce the franchise tax rates when the comptroller's revenue estimate exceeds the constitutional spending limit. It was left pending.
- HB 1830 by Rafael Anchia would allow the property owner and chief appraiser to agree to waive the penalties and interest on additional tax due or refund due if the final determination in a property tax dispute results in a settlement agreement. It was left pending.
- HB 1896 by Dwayne Burns would make several changes to permissive uses of revenue from hotel occupancy taxes. It was left pending.
- HB 2126 by Angie Chen Button would clarify that qualifying for the retail rate, eligibility is not affected by whether the business sells telephone prepaid calling cards. It was left pending.
- HB 2253 by Drew Darby would provide that the court that makes the final determination of an appeal that decreases a property owner's liability would be required to determine amount of interest; however, it could not be greater than the amount refunded and not less than the difference between the minimum amount taxpayer was required to pay to preserve the right to appeal and the amount of taxes for which the property owner is liable. It was left pending.
- HB 2277 by Drew Darby is a comptroller technical bill regarding high-cost natural gas production tax. It was left pending.
- HB 2281 by Drew Darby is a comptroller clean-up bill for utilities gross receipts taxes. It was left pending.
- HB 2989 by Dennis Bonnen would establish that when a correction is made to the property tax roll that decreases tax liability made after the owner has paid the tax, the taxing unit must make the refund to the property owner who paid the tax. It was left pending.
SENATE TRANSPORTATION COMMITTEE
Senate Transportation Committee
will meet April 5 to take up:
- SB 977 by Charles Schwertner would prohibit the legislature from appropriating new funds, or allowing state agencies to utilize existing funds, to pay any costs related to construction, maintenance, or operation of a private high-speed rail in Texas.
- SB 979 by Schwertner would prohibit an entity that operates or plans to operate high-speed rail from using property acquired for purposes other than high-speed rail; and If the high-speed rail authority does not use the property for that specific purpose, the original landowner would have to be given the opportunity to repurchase the land.
- SB 980 by Schwertner would prohibit any state money from being used for any purpose related to a privately owned high-speed rail, unless the state acquires and maintains a lien in order to secure the repayment of state funds; and would require that the state's lien be superior to all other liens, making Texas a priority creditor.
- SB 981 by Lois Kolkhorst would require an entity constructing a high-speed rail line in Texas to demonstrate compatibility with more than one type of train technology.
- SB 1179 by Jane Nelson would allow coordinated county transportation authorities to make purchases without using competitive sealed bid proposals if items are available from only one source because of patents, copyrights, secret processes or natural monopolies; for gas, water and other utility services; or for captive replacement parts or components for equipment.
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