HBA-EDN H.B. 1171 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 1171 By: Flores State Affairs 2/26/2001 Introduced BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE The comptroller of public accounts of the State of Texas recently conducted a study of the movement of commercial vehicles across the Texas-Mexico border (border). Findings of the study suggested that the current border crossing processes create imbalances in border traffic which can lead to congestion and restrict the movement of goods and people across the border. The comptroller's report identified three key recommendations to improving the northbound border crossing process. The first key recommendation was to identify port-specific procedural and infrastructural bottlenecks that impede the flow of trade. The second recommendation was to automate information relating to the cargo, commercial carrier, commercial vehicle, and the driver in the pre-crossing stages, and thereby enable commercial vehicles to be cleared for release before arriving at the border. The final key recommendation was to identify infrastructure needs of existing border stations, including staffing resources. House Bill 1171 establishes task forces in the most populous border communities to determine the modifications needed to expedite the flow of traffic between the United States and Mexico. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 1171 requires the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the house of representatives to establish a border community trade task force for each of the four municipalities with the largest populations in the border region. The task forces are to study procedural and infrastructure impediments to the free flow of trade between the United States and Mexico along the border region and make findings and recommendations regarding those trade impediments. The bill provides for the appointment, administration, and operation of the task forces. Each task force is authorized to request assistance and information, other than confidential information, from the Department of Public Safety and the Texas Department of Transportation. The departments are required to provide assistance and information requested to the extent practicable. The bill authorizes the expenses of each task force, including the compensation of necessary staff, to be paid from any appropriate funds of the house of representatives and the senate. The legislature is authorized to appropriate money for the support of each task force. Each task force is required to study and evaluate certain procedures and practices maintained at the port of entry between Texas and Mexico, nearest to the municipality it represents, to determine what modifications could be made to expedite the flow of trade from Mexico. The bill also requires that each task force study the primary and secondary inspection processes related to motor carrier safety regulations and commercial driver's licensure requirements to determine which of those processes, regulations, and requirements may be automated. Each task force is also required to focus on analyzing current situations and developing solutions in anticipation of the removal of geographical access barriers on Mexican commercial trucks. The bill requires each task force to file a report of the task force's activities, findings, and recommendations with the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the house of representatives not later than December 31, 2002. The bill provides that the task forces are abolished and these provisions expire September 1, 2003. EFFECTIVE DATE On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act takes effect September 1, 2001.