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3 Document(s) [ Subject: ]

Committee: House State Affairs
Title: Interim Report
Subjects: Banks and banking | Economy | Electric meters | Electric utility rates and charges | Electronic security | Emergency management | Fetal rights | Medical ethics | Natural disasters | Organ and tissue donations | Organized labor | Public Utility Commission of Texas | State employees | State government contracts | State purchasing | Telephone service | Undocumented immigrants | Universal Service Fund | Utility service | Water and sewer utilities |
Library Call Number: L1836.84 St29h
Session: 84th R.S. (2015)
Online version: View report [78 pages]
Charges: This report should address the charges below.
1. Study if the state's infrastructure is adequately prepared for disasters, whether man-made or natural. Include preparedness assessments of the maintenance and recovery of vital infrastructure such as transportation and utility systems.
2. Examine procedures regarding contract monitoring, compliance, performance evaluation and notification requirements for state contracting procedures. Include recommendations to determine a "best value" for the state and prevent conflicts of interests. Evaluate guidelines regarding the state's participation in contracts funded by grants and suggest methods to ensure the best use of taxpayer funds.
3. Determine if the state has sufficient authority and the tools to ensure continued operation of the state's government and economy under existing budgetary and statutory authority. Make contingency recommendations to prevent collapse in the event of an economic disaster.
4. Study the policies used by research and medical entities to adhere to the highest ethical standards for acquiring human fetal tissue for medical and scientific purposes. Specifically, review compliance to ensure informed consent and that all state and federal laws sufficiently respect the dignity of the human body. Study criteria for which persons have standing when giving consent for the use of fetal remains and to investigate potential violations of state laws regulating organ/tissue donation. Determine whether additional disclosure and reporting requirements are necessary to ensure moral and ethical research practices. Review practices and statutes in other states regarding fetal tissue harvesting.
5. Study support mechanisms for the Small and Rural Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier - Universal Service Fund. Consider alternative funding mechanisms as well as necessary statutory changes to ensure reasonable cost of basic local phone service in high cost, rural areas without expanding the size of the Texas Universal Service Fund.
6. Evaluate the administrative process used to determine utility rates. Consider if sufficient opportunities exist to ensure customer representation. Also determine if additional legislative guidance is needed to ensure public notification and participation.
7. Examine how the Public Utility Commission of Texas, when applicable, and utility providers, whether vertically integrated, privately owned, or municipally owned, can ensure consumer protection regarding metering devices for water, gas, and electricity service. Review recent examples of inaccurate or confusing billings and offer recommendations on appropriate consumer recourse and appeal. In addition, assess utility procedures regarding meter installation.
8. Examine state and local laws applicable to undocumented immigrants throughout the State of Texas and analyze the effects of those laws in conjunction with federal immigration laws and the policies and practices followed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
9. Examine payroll deductions from state or political subdivision employees for the purpose of labor organization membership dues or fees as well as charitable organization and nonprofit contributions. Determine if this process is an appropriate use of public funds.
10. Monitor the impact of major State Affairs legislation passed by the 84th Legislature, including updates regarding recent contracting reforms. Conduct legislative oversight and monitoring of the agencies and programs under the committee's jurisdiction and the implementing of relevant legislation passed by the 84th Legislature. In conducting this oversight, the committee should: a. consider any reforms to state agencies to make them more responsive to Texas taxpayers and citizens; b. identify issues regarding the agency or its governance that may be appropriate to investigate, improve, remedy, or eliminate; c. determine whether an agency is operating in a transparent and efficient manner; and d. identify opportunities to streamline programs and services while maintaining the mission of the agency and its programs.
Committee: Senate Business and Commerce
Title: Interim Report
Subjects: Alternative energy | Broadband technology | Building codes | Consumer credit | Consumer Credit Commissioner, Office of | Credit service organizations | Droughts | Electric meters | Electric power plants | Electric Reliability Council of Texas | Electric utilities | Electric utility deregulation | Electricity supplies | Electricity transmission and distribution | Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. | Homeowners insurance | Insurance, Texas Department of | Job training programs | Lifeline | Municipally-owned utilities | Occupational licenses | Rural areas | Subprime lending | Telecommunications | Telecommunications deregulation | Texas Windstorm Insurance Association | Universal Service Fund | Water and wastewater utility rates and charges | Workforce |
Library Call Number: L1836.83 B963
Session: 82nd R.S. (2011)
Online version: View report [222 pages]
Charges: This report should address the charges below.
1. Study the impact of drought, regulatory changes proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency, and changing market conditions on Texas' electrical market. Make recommendations, if needed to ensure continued access to reliable and affordable electricity. *
2. Assess the impact of extreme drought conditions on electric generation capacity.
3. Identify those regions of Texas that will be most affected by a lack of capacity.
4. Analyze response plans and make recommendations to improve and expedite those plans.
5. Study and make recommendations for workforce training programs in Texas to ensure that such programs meet business and worker needs. Specifically, study whether such programs target economic growth areas and future workforce needs of the health care, skilled trades, construction, manufacturing, aerospace, and information technology industries and help retain workers in those trades and fields.
6. Study the state's approach to licensing and regulation of occupations to ensure protection of public welfare, trust, health, and safety and eliminate unnecessary, overly restrictive, or anti-competitive regulation. Review guidelines and other states' approaches for determining when regulation is necessary and make recommendations for improving Texas' regulatory system.
7. Conduct a broad review of the Texas homeowners insurance market and make recommendations to improve transparency and consumer education, ensure fair practices, and lower rates. Specifically, consider the following:
  • Compare Texas' homeowners insurance premiums with those of other states and identify the factors underlying Texas' premium levels and recommend steps that the Legislature may take to reduce homeowners' rates, if appropriate;
  • Study strategies that increase awareness of state insurance resources to help consumers compare rates and coverage among various insurance providers
  • Study the relationship between insurance premiums and construction costs, especially as associated with recovery from natural disasters, to ensure that consumers are treated fairly;
  • Review the use by insurers, in rating and underwriting decisions, of customer inquiries regarding the general terms or conditions of, or coverage offered under, an insurance policy.
8. Study the relationship between city governments and municipally-owned utilities, including any duplicative or redundant functions, the amounts and justifications required for transfer payments between the entities, and the benefits and disadvantages of alternative governance structures.
9. Analyze the state of the telecommunications market in Texas, including the costs and benefits of full deregulation of the market; the impact and viability of the Texas Universal Service Fund and Provider of Last Resort requirements; the impact of SB 980, Regular Session, 82nd Legislature, relating to telecommunications regulation and rulemaking; the availability of broadband; telecommunications service discounts; and rights-­of-way charges. Make recommendations to enhance services, support the industry, and ensure adequate and affordable access for consumers.
10. Review current and pending ERCOT protocols as they apply to all generation technology, and identify those protocols that may provide operational, administrative, or competitive advantages to any specific generation by fuel type. Consider the impact any revisions to the protocols may have on grid reliability and electricity rates. Make recommendations for revisions or statutory changes to limit distortions in the Texas electrical market.
11. Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Business & Commerce, 82nd Legislature, Regular and Called Sessions, and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation. Specifically, review the implementation of HB 2592 and HB 2594 relating to payday lending, and make recommendations relating to consistency and coordination with local ordinances and federal law.
12. Study whether advanced meters, or smart meters, that have been, and will be, installed in Texas have harmful effects on health. Report findings on whether an independent testing company perform an analysis on the safety of advanced meters should be commissioned and the appropriate organization to conduct such a study.
Committee: House Technology
Title: Interim Report
Subjects: 911 emergency telephone service | Broadband technology | High tech industry | Information Resources, Texas Department of | Personnel management | Privatization | Rural areas | Social networking websites | Texas Emerging Technology Fund | Universal Service Fund | Workforce | Workforce Commission, Texas |
Library Call Number: L1836.82 T227
Session: 82nd R.S. (2011)
Online version: View report [41 pages]
Charges: This report should address the charges below.
1. Examine ways to create incentives for technology companies to come to Texas, including the feasibility of public-private partnerships. The study should include the economic impact of the high-tech industry in Texas and the state's ability to compete with other states for high-tech jobs. Examine the state's current areas of differentiated technology research and development and recommend strategies to capitalize on that intellectual property and commercialization. Include strategies to attract Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) funding to Texas.
2. Examine the benefits and financial costs associated with modernizing 911 call centers with the newest technology to connect dispatchers with callers using mobile means of communication in the fastest and most accurate manner possible during a time of emergency.
3. Study the impact of federal broadband expansion programs on rural areas. Coordinate this review with the Public Utility Commission's evaluation of the state Texas Universal Service Fund and the Federal Communications Commission's national broadband plan.
4. Monitor the agencies and programs under the committee's jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 82nd Legislature.
5. Examine human resource policies of state agencies that would integrate the implementation of social media to strengthen the state's workforce.

* This represents an abstract of the report contents. Charge text is incomplete or unavailable.

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