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House Committee Resources: Transportation

Monday, August 31

 

Committee Resources

The committee has requested written submissions on the following topics. Below are resources related to those topics.

 

House Committee on Transportation     

Charge 1: Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 86th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:

 

Charge 2: Study the state's transportation and road safety efforts in support of the Texas Transportation Commission's goal of ending traffic deaths in the state by 2050. Identify the most dangerous roads and transportation corridors in the state and determine opportunities to reduce high rates of traffic accidents and fatalities in these areas. Make recommendations to improve policies, funding strategies, program development, and agency coordination to ensure continuous improvements to road safety.

 

Charge 3: Study the technology and safety aspects of autonomous and semi-autonomous vehicles, including predictive capabilities and the potential for dedicated freeway and surface lanes for public   transportation, autonomous vehicles, and semi-autonomous vehicles. Make recommendations for optimizing state policy to prepare for varying vehicle technologies to ensure safety and traffic reliability on Texas roadways.

 

Charge 4: Study the state's seaport infrastructure and the infrastructure at land ports of entry to facilitate international trade and economic growth. Examine seaport infrastructure and the auxiliary rail and roadway needs connected to each port as well as the port's ability to keep pace with oil and gas production. Make recommendations to maximize the economic flow of goods and products to and from seaports and study the feasibility and economic impact of dredging and widening Texas ports in order to remain competitive in international trade. Examine the infrastructure at international border ports of entry in Texas and identify transportation-related impediments to international trade that negatively impact the state. Make recommendations to reduce border wait times, facilitate economic growth, and expedite trade. (Joint charge with the House Committee on International Relations & Economic Development)

 

Charge 5: Monitor the State Auditor's review of agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction. The Chair shall seek input and periodic briefings on completed audits for the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years and bring forth pertinent issues for full committee consideration.

 

House Committee Resources: Appropriations

Friday, August 28

 

Committee Resources

The committee has requested written submissions on the following topics. Below are resources related to those topics.

House Committee on Appropriations

Charge 1: Monitor and oversee the implementation of appropriations bills and other relevant legislation passed by the 86th Legislature. In conducting this oversight, the Committee will also specifically monitor implementation of appropriations for:

  • Human and sex trafficking legislation;
  • Revenue projections for the Crime Victims' Compensation Fund; and
  • Implementation of procurement and contracting reforms at state agencies.

 

Charge 2: Review and evaluate the actuarial soundness of the Employees Retirement System and Teacher Retirement System pension funds. Examine the cost of and potential strategies for achieving and maintaining the actuarial soundness of the funds. Examine the effect the unfunded liabilities could have on the state's credit rating. Examine the state's investment policies and practices, including investment objectives, targets, disclosure policies, and transparency. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Pensions, Investments & Financial Services)

 

Charge 3: Examine the cost of state employee turnover on the state budget and review the impact of recent targeted salary increases, including those at the Health and Human Services Commission and the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

 

Charge 4: Evaluate the volume and efficacy of reporting requirements required in the General Appropriations Act and identify opportunities to streamline and consolidate agency reporting requirements.

 

Charge 5: Monitor the implementation of SB 68, providing for expanded implementation of the Strategic Fiscal Review process.

 

Charge 6: Examine the number, type, and estimated value of accounts maintained outside of the State Treasury, and the potential impact to state budget certification made by moving additional funds outside the Treasury.

 

Charge 7: Identify structural changes that can be made to the Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) in order to maximize investments and establish a source of funding for long-term liabilities. Examine the potential of using the fund for long-term infrastructure projects and the impact of the constitutional cap on the ESF balance.

 

Charge 8: Monitor the State Auditor's review of agencies and programs. The Chair shall seek input and periodic briefings on completed audits for the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years with potential impact on the appropriations process and bring forth pertinent issues for full committee consideration.

 

 

House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Infrastructure, Resiliency, & Investments

Charge 1: Monitor the implementation of disaster-related legislation from the 86th Legislature, including but not limited to SB 7, SB 8, and SB 500. Identify any issues and corresponding remedies for those issues in drawing down any federal funds related to the purposes of carrying out the intent of the newly enacted legislation.

 

Charge 2: Review the funding appropriated to state agencies for information technology (IT) and cybersecurity improvements and modernization. Evaluate the cost of ongoing IT and cybersecurity upgrades and the methodology for prioritizing projects.

 

Charge 3: Monitor the implementation of SB 69 and the impact to investment returns made from the Economic Stabilization Fund.

 

House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Articles I, IV & V

Charge 1: Monitor the agencies and programs under Articles I, IV, and V, and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation and riders passed by the 86th Legislature.

 

Charge 2: Monitor the use of additional funds provided to the Department of Public Safety for driver license services improvements and construction of new driver license service centers. Evaluate the progress being made to reduce wait times at service centers throughout the state.

 

Charge 3: Monitor use of state funding to increase forensic testing and reduce the sexual assault kit backlog.

 

Charge 4: Evaluate funding provided to the Texas Department of Criminal Justice (TDCJ) for the repair, maintenance, and upgrade of prison facilities. Determine areas of the facilities that are in most need of repair, maintenance, or upgrade and examine the costs associated with such repairs, maintenance, or upgrades. Examine the Correctional Managed Health Care Committee's administration of Hepatitis C treatment and procedures. Review the Community Justice Assistance Division's current compliance practices and examine current funding formulas for adult probation departments. Study the TDCJ's ownership of real property not being used for prison facilities, including the amount of property owned and its highest and best use. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Corrections)

 

Charge 5: Monitor efforts by the Office of the Attorney General to redevelop the Texas Child Support Enforcement System.

 

Charge 6: Examine the major cost drivers within and the impact of funding provided to the Correctional Managed Health Care program.

 

House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Article III

Charge 1: Monitor the agencies and programs under Article III and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation and riders passed by the 86th Legislature.

 

Charge 2: Evaluate ongoing costs associated with implementing the provisions of HB 3.

 

Charge 3: Review formula funding for higher education institutions in Texas. Examine the general efficiency and equity of formula funding for these higher education institutions. Monitor the implementation of mission-specific pilot formulas at the state's health-related institutions.

 

Charge 4: Examine the state higher education institutions' resources and research into the causes and cures for degenerative and debilitating brain and nervous conditions and the projected costs to the state for the treatment of those conditions.

 

House Committee on Appropriations, Subcommittee on Articles VI, VII & VIII

Charge 1: Monitor the agencies and programs under Articles VI, VII, and VIII, and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation and riders passed by the 86th Legislature.

 

Charge 2: Monitor the status of the operation, maintenance, and structural repairs of low hazard and high hazard dams throughout the state, as well as implementation of funds appropriated to the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board's Flood Control Program during the 86th Legislature. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Agriculture & Livestock)

 

Charge 3: Monitor the use of additional funds provided to the Texas Department of Transportation in SB 500 for the Transportation Infrastructure Fund. Examine existing fund balances and determine if the funds should be held in a more efficient manner.

 

Charge 4: Evaluate funding provided to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department for the repair, maintenance, and upgrade of state park facilities. Determine the facilities that are in most need of repair, maintenance, or upgrade and examine the costs associated with such repairs, maintenance, or upgrades.

 

 

Current Articles & Research Resources, August 27

In this weekly post, we feature helpful research tools and recent articles of interest to the legislative community.

  • Find resources for disaster relief and assistance in Texas. (Texas Department of Housing and Community Development, accessed August 26, 2020)
  • Discover how the United States Postal Service got started. (Smithsonian Magazine, August 21, 2020)
  • Explore data related to immigrants in the United States. (Pew Research Center, August 20, 2020)
  • Consider how upcoming elections might be conducted due to the COVID-19 pandemic. (Cato Institute, August 26, 2020)
  • Read about a potential coronavirus vaccine. (Politico, August 26, 2020)

Members of the Texas legislative community may request the articles below here or by calling 512-463-1252.

  • 20.08.44 / "A road map to reemployment in the COVID-19 economy: Empowering workers, employers, and states." By Brent Orrell, Mason M. Bishop, and John Hawkins. American Enterprise Institute, July 2020, pp. 1-18.
    Discusses reforming the workforce system to support the needs of newly unemployed workers in the competitive job market and uncertain economy that have resulted from the COVID-19 pandemic. Argues for shifting away from federal policies and focusing on flexible state, regional, and local approaches to making decisions and allocating resources.
  • 20.08.45 / "State legislation to declare racism a public health crisis and address institutional racism." Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, August 12, 2020, pp. 1-3.
    Presents an overview of state-level efforts to declare racism a public health issue, establish political bodies and procedures to assess the disparate impact of current policies on populations of color, and implement policy changes to ensure that future policies are enacted with a racial equity lens.
  • 20.08.46 / "Close the door behind you: How the Texas Supreme Court left the constitutionality of Section 5.014(b) open in In re Geomet Recycling." By Tyler Ray Hannusch. Baylor Law Review, Spring 2020, pp. 355-369.
    Discusses the legislative history and recent case law related to Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code, Section 51.014(b), Appeal from Interlocutory Order, in light of the Texas Supreme Court opinion in In re Geomet Recycling, LLC. Highlights the implications of the ruling, and argues a future Texas Supreme Court may find Section 51.014(b) unconstitutional.
  • 20.08.47 / "The status of local government pension plans in the midst of COVID-19." By Jean-Pierre Aubry and Kevin Wandrei. Center for Retirement Research at Boston College, August 2020, pp. 1-8.
    Describes the status of local government pension plans as of fiscal year 2020 and projections of financial metrics to 2025. Discusses strains on state and local government revenue due to COVID-19 and the potential impact on public pension obligations.
  • 20.08.48 / "How Texas policymakers understand and support early childhood brain development: Learnings from a recent survey." By April Wilson, et al. Child Trends, August 2020, pp. 1-2.
    Highlights a recent survey by Episcopal Health Foundation, partnered with TexProtects and Child Trends, to evaluate Texas state and local policymakers' knowledge of early childhood brain development [ECBD] and which programs policymakers believe have the highest return on investment and the greatest benefits for young children.
  • 20.08.49 / "Supporting families and child care providers during the pandemic with a focus on equity." By Sarah Daily and Asiya Kazi. Child Trends, August 2020, pp. 1-9.
    Explores challenges for families and child care providers during the COVID-19 pandemic, especially those disproportionately affected, including young children in low-income households or rural areas and child care providers who have permanently closed. Offers strategies for state and local policymakers to support the accessibility and affordability of child care.
  • 20.08.50 / "America's State Department: The dereliction of diplomacy." Economist, August 15th-21st, 2020, pp. 52-54.
    Discusses the state of American diplomacy. Recommends reforms to the United States Department of State's career structure and the training of foreign service officers.
  • 20.08.51 / "Most states require some youth to be on sex offender registries." Imprint (Formerly Chronicle of Social Change), August 16, 2020, p. 1.
    Describes a new Juvenile Law Center survey that finds 42 states require youth to register as sex offenders.
  • 20.08.52 / "Universal masking to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission—The time is now." By John T. Brooks, Jay C. Butler, and Robert R. Redfield. JAMA (Journal of the American Medical Association), August 18, 2020, pp. 635-637.
    Examines the community use of face coverings during the COVID-19 pandemic, including new data emphasizing that masking helps prevent transmission of SARS-CoV-2. Argues public health officials and leaders need to ensure that the public understands clearly when and how to wear cloth face coverings.
  • 20.08.53 / "Mental health, substance use, and suicidal ideation during the COVID-19 pandemic — United States, June 24–30, 2020." By Mark É Czeisler, et al. Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report (MMWR), August 14, 2020, pp. 1-9.
    Notes considerably elevated adverse mental health conditions related to the COVID-19 pandemic, especially among younger adults, racial/ethnic minorities, essential workers, and unpaid adult caregivers. Argues the public health response to the pandemic should increase intervention and prevention efforts to address these associated conditions.
  • 20.08.54 / "The color of contagion." By Patricia J. Williams. Nation, September 7/14, 2020, pp. 22-25.
    Describes the racial disparities in COVID-19 mortality rates, prioritization of a national vaccine for certain racial groups and vulnerable populations, and the role of race in previous disease outbreaks. Notes a complaint filed on July 22 by Disability Rights Texas against the North Central Texas Trauma Regional Advisory Council, challenging the exclusion of individuals with preexisting conditions and disabilities from intensive care admission.
  • 20.08.55 / "In-person and online learning go together." By John B. Taylor and Jack Mallery. Policy Brief (Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research), August 2020, pp. 1-6.
    Offers solutions to bridging the digital divide in education. Points out the benefits of getting students acclimated to working online.
  • 20.08.56 / "The most powerful instrument: Voting by mail in Texas." By Joshua Houston and Audrey Balliette. Texas Interfaith Center for Public Policy, August 2020, pp. 1-24.
    Presents a brief history of voting by mail and details the legislative history of absentee balloting and voting by mail in Texas. Discusses the advantages and disadvantages of voting by mail and the challenges caused by COVID-19.
  • 20.08.57 / "From boom to bloodbath." By Justin Miller. Texas Observer, July 27, 2020, pp. 1-9.
    Examines the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the oil and gas industry and the renewable energy sector in Texas and discusses related legislation. Mentions Representatives Rafael Anchia, Terry Canales, Brooks Landgraf, and Erin Zwiener.
  • 20.08.58 / "When COVID-19 doesn't go away." By Jaime Ducharme. Time, August 31, 2020, pp. 1-4.
    Describes the devastating health and economic consequences "long-haul" COVID-19 patients face. Addresses the challenges of treating patients with long-term symptoms.

 

The Legislative Reference Library compiles this weekly annotated list of Current Articles of interest to the legislative community. Professional librarians review and select articles from more than 300 periodicals, including public policy journals, specialized industry periodicals, news magazines, and state agency publications. Members of the Texas legislative community may request articles using our online form.

 

REPOST: Hurricane Season 2020

Hurricane Harvey on the verge of making landfall on the Texas coast on August 25, 2017, (flickr.com/photos/noaasatellites/36816394625: accessed July 16, 2020), National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, crediting Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA).

Below is a repost of the Hurricane Season 2020 blog post originally posted on August 6, 2020. We've added the latest Hurricane Laura disaster proclamations to our Texas Governors database.
 

 

Hurricane season for the Atlantic basin, which includes the Gulf of Mexico, runs from July 1st through November 31st each year.  Preparing for the 2020 hurricane season may require additional planning due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

Below we've listed state and federal resources related to hurricane preparedness, emergency planning and management, and disaster assistance. Several include information that addresses the additional challenges to emergency management created by the COVID-19 pandemic. Please use the contact information on the respective organizations' websites for any questions specific to their purposes.

 

Looking for historical gubernatorial disaster declarations or legislative reports? Our Texas Governors database includes past gubernatorial proclamations, including disaster declarations related to hurricanes. The database contains a link to the popular search Disaster declarations and related materials, 2001-present. Our Legislative reports database also contains committee reports related to tropical storms, Hurricane Harvey, and emergency management

 

Texas Resources

 

Office of the Texas Governor

  • Texas Hurricane Center
    Provides guidance and resources on how to prepare for a hurricane. Updated to include timely information related to evacuations and open emergency shelters.

Public Utility Commission of Texas

  • Storm Resources
    Provides information on road closures, utility contacts, and an electic outage map.

  • Texas Emergency Portal
    Provides access to critical information during emergencies. Includes information related to the hurricane season: preparing for a storm, evacuating to safety, accessing government resources, dealing with emergencies, and avoiding scams and frauds.

Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

  • Hurricanes
    Lists links to resources related to hurricane preparation as well as recovery after a disaster, including animal issues.

Texas Department of Insurance

  • Disasters: How to Prepare and Recover
    Includes links to resources related to home, property, and auto insurance coverage for disasters, including reviewing policies and filling claims.

Texas Department of Transportation

  • Hurricane Information
    Includes maps of evacuation routes from the Texas coast and a link to guides for traveling major highways in the region during an evacuation.

Texas Division of Emergency Management

  • Local Emergency Management Planning Guide, January 2008
    Provides recommendations to local officials on how to prepare and keep current a local or inter-jurisdictional emergency management plan. Outlines local, state, and federal government emergency management responsibilities.
     
  • State of Texas Emergency Management Plan
    Includes links to the basic emergency management plan for the state and plans for more in-depth emergency support functions.

 

Federal and National Resources

 

American Flood Coalition

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), United States Department of Health and Human Services

Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), United States Department of Homeland Security

  • DisasterAssistance.gov
    Allows users to find and apply for disaster assistance. Includes an interactive map of current federally-declared disasters.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), United States Department of Commerce

  • National Hurricane Center
    Provides up-to-date forecasts and warnings of hazardous tropical weather, including tropical storms and hurricanes.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OHSA), United States Department of Labor

  • Hurricane Preparedness and Response
    Documents employer responsibilities and workers' rights associated with response and recovery operations after a hurricane. Includes links to fact sheets for related worker safety and health resources.

 

Information on this page is provided as a public service by the Legislative Reference Library. The Legislative Reference Library makes no representation as to its completeness or accuracy and makes no warranty in regard to its use. Users assume all risk of reliance on the information included on this site.

 

House Committee Resources: Insurance, Elections

Monday, August 24                                       

 

Committee Resources

The committees have requested written submissions on the following topics. Below are resources related to those topics.

 

House Committee on Insurance

Charge 1: Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 86th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:

  • HB 259, which prohibits certain practices related to the delivery, issuing of delivery, or renewing of named driver policies. Determine if there are any changes regarding policy affordability or the uninsured motorist population.

    • Commissioner’s Bulletin # B-0010-19, Re: FAQ about House Bill 259, 86th Legislature, Regular Session (2019) (named driver policy prohibition), Texas Department of Insurance, September 16, 2019
  • HB 1900, which amends the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) operations and funding practices. Review the rulemaking process by the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) and the adoption of an updated plan of operation by TWIA. Monitor whether the purchase of reinsurance has increased or declined and determine whether this provision of the legislation has had any impact on premium rates. Monitor the appointment and work of the Legislative Funding and Funding Structure Oversight board.
  • HB 2536, which requires certain reporting requirements for drug manufacturers, pharmacy benefit managers, and health insurers on certain pharmaceutical practices, including the pricing and availability of insulin. Examine its effect on drug pricing in the market and how to increase transparency in pricing associated with delivery of drugs, such as insulin, to the end user patient.
  • SB 442, which requires insurers that do not provide flood coverage in their policy to disclose that the policy does not cover flood events. Determine whether consumers are being properly informed of whether they have flood coverage. Examine the development of standardized disclosure forms for all insurance policies in Texas (health, homeowners, and personal auto) to provide more clarity to consumers about what the policy covers and any exclusions.
  • SB 1264, which prohibits balance billing (surprise billing) and creates an arbitration system to settle balance bills. Monitor the implementation of the mediation and arbitration programs, including the establishment of a portal on the TDI website through which requests for mediation and arbitration may be submitted. Determine whether the appropriate state agencies are enforcing the prohibition on balance billing. Review the Department's rules implementing the legislation's exception for non-emergency "elective" services to determine whether the rules limit the exception to out-of-network services that a patient has actively elected after receiving a complete written disclosure. Monitor or follow up on TDI's process for selecting the benchmarking database and determine whether the database chosen provides the most accurate available data and its sources are transparent. Evaluate the fiscal impact of the legislation on the Employees Retirement System of Texas and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. Review costs to the systems and savings to employees and teachers.
  • SB 1852, which requires certain disclosures for insurers that offer short-term limited duration plans. Study whether similar consumer disclosures and other safeguards are needed for non-traditional health coverage products marketed to individuals or small 28 employers in Texas. Identify any gaps that leave consumers without needed information or consumer protections, including network adequacy and protections from surprise medical bills.
  • SB 1940, which extends to August 31, 2021, TDI's authority to revise and administer the temporary health insurance risk pool to the extent federal funds are available. Study ways to foster a competitive market and reduce the uninsured rate, including by exploring flexibility available through federal waivers. Study the impact to health care systems if the Affordable Care Act is ruled unconstitutional, including identifying which mandates, consumer protections, and subsidies will be lost and which have equivalents in state law.

 

Charge 2: Study the adequacy of the state’s insurance laws on regulating the introduction of insurtech products into the Texas insurance market. Include in the study the impact of big data, blockchain, internet of things, and artificial intelligence technologies on industry practices such as claims handling, underwriting, and policy writing. Study whether these technologies present challenges for any of the state’s insurance laws, including the state’s antidiscrimination, data privacy, anti-rebate, and licensing laws and regulations. Additionally, examine the pros and cons of adopting a regulatory sandbox and consider sandbox programs that are implemented in other states.

 

Charge 3: Monitor the State Auditor's review of agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction. The Chair shall seek input and periodic briefings on completed audits for the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years and bring forth pertinent issues for full committee consideration. 

 

 

House Committee on Elections

Charge 1:  Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 86th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:

  • HB 933, which requires election information to be posted on the Secretary of State's (SOS) and each county's internet website. Monitor the costs associated with implementing the legislation. Work with the SOS to determine which office elections should be included in the website postings based on costs and popularity of the office.

    • Election Advisory No. 2019-19, RE: NEW LAW: Web Posting Requirements for Political Subdivisions – House Bill 305, House Bill 440, Senate Bill 902, House Bill 933, House Bill 1850, and House Bill 2640, Texas Secretary of State, October 4, 2019
  • HB 1421, which strengthens the cybersecurity of the state's election infrastructure. Review the program required under the bill to train county election officers in the best practices for identifying and reducing cybersecurity threats.
  • HB 2504, which modifies ballot access requirements for non-major party nominees. Review the provision requiring the SOS to establish rules implementing the fees and petitions.
    • Election Advisory No. 2019-13, RE: House Bill 2504 – New Rules for Parties Nominating by Convention Process, Texas Secretary of State, August 31, 2019
  • HB 4130, which requires the SOS to develop procedures for adequately certifying electronic poll books. Review the provision requiring the secretary of state to adopt rules mandating real-time updates for electronic poll book use during the early voting period or under the countywide polling place program. Monitor and report on countywide polling. Examine the number and location of polling places, polling booths, and wait times for voting.

 

Charge 2: Make recommendations for establishing best practices for conducting an election during a declared disaster. Examine model legislation and statutes from other states pertaining to voting during a declared disaster when polls are inaccessible.

 

Charge 3: Evaluate election laws with the purpose of strengthening voter integrity and fair elections. Perform an in-depth study of the voter registration processes and explore whether centralizing voter registration would be more effective than today's processes. Consider ways to improve voter list maintenance and study the volunteer deputy registrar process and voter registration procedures in other states. Include in the evaluation a review of the state's curbside voting protocols and identify processes to improve the efficiency, privacy, and security of curbside voting.

 

House Committee Resources: Pensions, Investments & Financial Services, Mass Violence Prevention & Community Safety

Friday, August 21

 

Committee Resources

The committees have requested written submissions on the following topics. Below are resources related to those topics.

 

Charge 2: Monitor the Teacher Retirement System's (TRS) actions in implementing high deductible regional plans for certain school districts interested in providing alternatives to the current TRS-ActiveCare options

 

Charge 4: Review and evaluate the actuarial soundness of the Employees Retirement System and TRS pension funds. Examine the cost of and potential strategies for achieving and maintaining the actuarial soundness of the funds. Examine the effect the unfunded liabilities could have on the state's credit.  Examine the state's investment policies and practices, including investment objectives, targets, disclosure policies, and transparency.

 

Charge 5: Monitor the State Auditor's review of agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction.

 

Topics:

  • Effects of COVID-19 on industry or business operations
  • Existing statutory and regulatory barriers in responding to COVID-19

Duty (1): Examine options for strengthening enforcement measures for current laws that prevent the transfer of firearms to felons and other persons prohibited by current law from possessing firearms.

 

Current Articles & Research Resources, August 20

In this weekly post, we feature helpful research tools and recent articles of interest to the legislative community.

  • Read about a court case related to compelling Texas to provide Medicaid beneficiaries with hepatitis C medications. (Stateline, August 14, 2020)
  • Review an FAQ related to testing for COVID-19. (U.S. Food and Drug Administration, August 18, 2020)
  • Find out what to put in a home disaster-ready kit. (Texas Department of State Health Services, August 19, 2020)
  • Explore the ever-evolving field of precise nutrition. (JAMA, August 7, 2020)

Members of the Texas legislative community may request the articles below here or by calling 512-463-1252.

  • 20.08.26 / "Millions flee the cities, but will they ever return?" By Alice Calder. American Conservative, July 27, 2020, pp. 1-3.
    Considers how the COVID-19 pandemic is affecting population shifts between large cities and small towns in the United States.
  • 20.08.27 / "New study: Home visit doctors reduce emergency room visits." By Josh Umbehr. American Spectator, August 18, 2020, pp. 1-2.
    Explains the benefits of using a Direct Primary Care [DPC] model to access health care. Cites a report from the Society of Actuaries that evaluates the prevalence and effectiveness of the DPC model.
  • 20.08.28 / "How difficult is it to challenge lines on a map?: Understanding the boundaries of good faith in Abbott v. Perez." By Aaron J. Horner. Baylor Law Review, Spring 2020, pp. 370-389.
    Examines the responsibility of plaintiffs to overcome a good faith presumption when challenging redistricting based upon discriminatory intent, as demonstrated in Texas in Abbott v. Perez. Describes the five-factor test for determining the existence of discriminatory intent from Arlington Heights v. Metropolitan Housing Development Corp., and considers what evidence may be sufficient to overcome the presumption.
  • 20.08.29 / "How states can empower local ownership for just a recovery." By Elwood Hopkins, Jennifer S. Vey, and Tracy Hadden Loh. Brookings Metrolpolitan Policy Program, July, 2020, pp. 1-16.
    Offers specific suggestions for how state governments can increase wealth and economic mobility for residents of structurally disadvantaged communities affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Argues for facilitating the creation of financial instruments that enable local ownership of real estate.
  • 20.08.30 / "Considerations for building post-COVID early care and education systems that serve children with disabilities." By Mallory Warner-Richter and Chrishana M. Lloyd. Child Trends, August 2020, pp. 1-10.
    Discusses the intersections of disability, race, and ethnicity in early intervention and early childhood special education. Addresses the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic on families with young children with disabilities, and provides action steps for states in reopening early care and education [ECE] programs.
  • 20.08.31 / "From life in prison to out on parole: One group easing the transition." By Patricia Leigh Brown. Christian Science Monitor, August 14, 2020, pp. 1-8.
    Highlights the work of California's Peer Reentry Navigation Network [PRNN] and methods to assist paroled "lifers" in reentering society. Explains the group's leaders have successfully returned to life after incarceration and they help their newly-released peers through a blend of mutual aid, self-help, tips for defusing triggers and problems, and a network for sharing job leads and resources.
  • 20.08.32 / "Developing the future workforce: Revitalizing postsecondary education and training after COVID-19." Conference Board, July 2020, pp. 1-11.
    Offers recommendations to policymakers, business leaders, and educators on how to train the future workforce.
  • 20.08.33 / "Optimistic, baseline, pessimistic or dire? Dallas forecasts COVID-era property tax scenarios." By Bill Hethcock. Dallas Business Journal, August 14, 2020, pp. 1-3.
    Discusses Dallas economists' range of property tax revenue projections for the next five years. Notes any shortfalls in property taxes won’t affect this fiscal year’s revenues because property tax bills were paid in January.
  • 20.08.34 / "Reopening schools during COVID-19: Lessons learned from around the world." By Mark Lieberman. Education Week, August 13, 2020, pp. 1-4.
    Details the reopening of schools in Denmark, Israel, and South Korea during the COVID-19 pandemic and what schools in the United States can learn from these countries. Mentions the coronavirus positivity rate in Texas.
  • 20.08.35 / "Congressional watchdog says feds should be more proactive on kinship care." Imprint (Formerly Chronicle of Social Change), August 12, 2020, p. 1.
    Highlights a recent United States Government Accountability Office [GAO] report that finds the Department of Health and Human Services [HHS] could be doing more to help states provide critical support to relative caregivers in the foster care system.
  • 20.08.36 / "Principles for building better health insurance." By Chris Pope. Issue Brief (Manhattan Institute), August 2020, pp. 1-6.
    Offers four key principles to restructure the health insurance market.
  • 20.08.37 / "What health reform tells us about American politics." By Lawrence R. Jacobs and Suzanne Mettler. Journal of Health Politics, Policy, and Law, August 2020, pp. 581-593.
    Discusses how politics and public attitudes toward health care have changed since the passage and initial implementation of the Affordable Care Act [ACA].
  • 20.08.38 / "It's time to abolish nursing homes." By Sara Luterman. Nation, August 24/31, 2020, pp. 18-21.
    Discusses the evolution of nursing homes, the institutionalization of elder care, and development of home- and community-based services waivers. Identifies barriers to Medicaid-funded home care, including waiting lists, the nursing home lobby, and the cost of expanding the home care workforce. Notes that over 40 percent of COVID-19 deaths, or about 62,000 people as of July 2020, have been linked to long-term care facilities.
  • 20.08.39 / "Liberalizing land use regulations: The case of Houston." By Nolan Gray and Jessie McBirney. Policy Brief (Mercatus Center, George Mason University), August 2020, pp. 1-7.
    Discusses how minimum-lot-size rules affect new housing development. Comments on Houston’s system of urban land use regulation and the city's successful experience with subdivision liberalization.
  • 20.08.40 / "Unemployment in the SLC region amid the COVID-19 pandemic." By Roger Moore. SLC Policy Analysis (Southern Legislative Conference), August 6, 2020, pp. 1-4.
    Tracks unemployment insurance claims reported weekly by the United States Department of Labor in the fifteen states of the Southern Legislative Conference [SLC]. Includes figures for initial claims filed, insured unemployment (number receiving unemployment benefits), and insured employment rate (percentage of the workforce receiving unemployment benefits).
  • 20.08.41 / "What scientists know about airborne transmission of the new coronavirus." By Jim Daley. Smithsonian Magazine, August 12, 2020, pp. 1-4.
    Reviews various journal articles that focus on the what is known about the airborne spread of COVID-19. Points out how understanding aerosolized virus transmission affects short- and long-term responses to combat the virus and protect individuals.
  • 20.08.42 / "State uses of the CARES Act coronavirus relief funds." By Emily Maher. State Legislatures, August 5, 2020, pp. 1-3.
    Examines how legislatures are allocating their federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security [CARES] Act relief funds. Points out spending strategies differ due to state population and the coronavirus's regional impact..
  • 20.08.43 / "A new study finds a link between flaring and an increase in premature births." By Amal Ahmed. Texas Observer, August 18, 2020, pp. 1-3.
    Discusses the findings of a study conducted on the effects of flaring, the open combustion of natural gas, on the health of residents in South Texas. Addresses the disproportionate impact of flaring on pregnant Latina women and the lack of air monitoring by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality [TCEQ] in the area.

 

The Legislative Reference Library compiles this weekly annotated list of Current Articles of interest to the legislative community. Professional librarians review and select articles from more than 300 periodicals, including public policy journals, specialized industry periodicals, news magazines, and state agency publications. Members of the Texas legislative community may request articles using our online form.

House Committee Resources: Higher Education

Monday, August 17                                        
 
Committee Resources  
The committee has requested written submissions on the following topics. Below are resources related to those topics.
 
House Committee on Higher Education
Survey questions for public university systems; public colleges, universities and health-related institutions; public community, technical and state colleges; and relevant associations. 
 
House Committee on Higher Education (Charge 1)  
Charge 1: Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 86th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:
  • HB 1638 (85R), which relates to statewide goals for dual credit programs. Review best practices for providing opportunities to high school students to earn college credit while ensuring that courses taken reflect authentic, college-level rigor.
 
  • SB 18, which relates to the protection of expressive activities at public institutions of higher education. Monitor the process by which institutions of higher education implement policies to protect the expressive rights of persons guaranteed by the constitutions of the United States and of this state.
 
 
House Committee on Higher Education (Charge 2)
Charge 2: Evaluate current and future capital infrastructure needs at Texas public universities, health-related institutions, and Texas State Technical Colleges in preparation for potential legislation to be considered by the 87th Legislature. Identify and evaluate alternatives to tuition revenue bonds for the State’s funding of higher education capital infrastructure needs, including options for addressing deferred maintenance needs at aging campuses.
 
House Committee on Higher Education (Charge 3)
Charge 3: Review progress toward the goals of the 60x30TX plan, including institutional strategies for responding to diverse and rapidly changing workforce needs and demands, including workforce education, industry certification, and degree programs to address healthcare shortages.
 
Specifically review community colleges’ capacity to meet the goals of 60x30TX, including a review of taxing districts and service areas versus geographic areas of need. Review the Tri-Agency Workforce Initiative's work-based learning, industry-aligned internships, and industry credential initiatives. Consider whether legislative action may be needed to expand work-based learning and recruitment efforts for adults who have previously completed some college level coursework.
 
House Committee on Higher Education (Charge 4)
Charge 4: Study the prevalence of online courses and degrees in higher education. Examine how institutions providing online courses and programs are accredited, particularly courses and programs originating from states other than Texas. Evaluate how students whose courses and degrees are primarily online perform in terms of persistence and degree completion versus students who take courses in traditional classroom settings. Study labor market outcomes for students with primarily online courses and degrees versus more traditional programs.
 
House Committee on Higher Education (Charge 5)
Charge 5: Monitor the State Auditor's review of agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction. The Chair shall seek input and periodic briefings on completed audits for the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years and bring forth pertinent issues for full committee consideration.
 
 

House Committee Resources: International Relations & Economic Development, Natural Resources

Friday, August 14
 
Committee Resources
The committees have requested written submissions on the following topics. Below are resources related to those topics.
 
Charge 1: Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 86th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:
  • HB 680, which relates to reporting requirements for the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and local workforce development boards regarding the provision of child care. Monitor the TWC's and local workforce development boards' reporting of certain metrics related to the type and quality of child care being provided. Examine the information provided by the TWC to recommend strategies to increase access and participation in the Texas Rising Star program.
  • SB 753, which relates to wage requirements for certain community rehabilitation programs employing people with disabilities. Examine the process by which state agencies collaborate, plan, and implement strategies to assist community rehabilitation programs in creating a minimum wage plan. Monitor the process and circumstances that allow for certain community rehabilitation programs to be exempted from the minimum wage plan requirements.
 
Charge 2: Study Texas' current and future workforce pipeline structure, with a focus on input from the state's largest industries and middle skill employers. Examine what skill gaps exist within our state; identify methods of improving regional coordination and alignment between industry, the public workforce system, public schools, higher education institutions, and community-based organizations to create college and career pathways; and provide recommendations to overcome barriers in the workforce pipeline and to enhance career path options.
 
Charge 3: Study the state's seaport infrastructure and the infrastructure at land ports of entry to facilitate international trade and economic growth. Examine seaport infrastructure and the auxiliary rail and roadway needs connected to each port as well as the port's ability to keep pace with oil and gas production. Make recommendations to maximize the economic flow of goods and products to and from seaports and study the feasibility and economic impact of dredging and widening Texas ports in order to remain competitive in international trade. Examine the infrastructure at international border ports of entry in Texas and identify  transportation-related impediments to international trade that negatively impact the state. Make recommendations to reduce border wait times, facilitate economic growth, and expedite trade. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Transportation)
 
Charge 4: Examine and report on policy proposals from business, labor, and other states that utilize portable platforms to address the growing number of independent contractors and employees in the "gig economy." Study the effects and implementation of the new rules adopted by the TWC related to the "gig economy."
 
Charge 5: Review the connection between the economic vitality of business and industry and the economic vitality of our military veterans transitioning into the workforce. Specifically, the committee should analyze barriers to military veterans transitioning from active duty to civilian life, the effectiveness of government transition and training benefits, and current and ongoing demand for veteran and military spouse employment from industry in Texas. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Defense & Veterans' Affairs)
Charge 6: Monitor the State Auditor's review of agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction. The Chair shall seek input and periodic briefings on completed audits for the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years and bring forth pertinent issues for full committee consideration.
 
House Committee on Natural Resources
Charge 1: Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 86th Legislature. Conduct active oversight of all associated rulemaking and other governmental actions taken to ensure intended legislative outcome of all legislation, including the following:
 
In conducting its oversight functions, the Committee will also monitor:
  • HB 723, which relates to the requirement that the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality obtain or develop updated water availability models for certain river basins.
  • Updates to Groundwater Availability Models by the Texas Water Development Board
 
Charge 2: Study the efforts of the TCEQ, the TWDB, and the Public Utility Commission of Texas to incentivize, promote, and preserve regional projects to meet water supply needs and encourage public and private investment in water infrastructure. Identify impediments or threats to regionalization with special emphasis on: 
 
Charge 3: Monitor the joint planning process for groundwater and the achievement of the desired conditions for aquifers by groundwater conservation districts.
 
Charge 4: Monitor the State Auditor's review of agencies and programs under the Committee's jurisdiction. The Chair shall seek input and periodic briefings on completed audits for the 2019 and 2020 fiscal years and bring forth pertinent issues for full committee consideration.
 
In conducting its oversight functions, the Committee will specifically monitor the following reports by the State Auditor's Office:
 
The committee also seeks written submissions on the following topics:
  • Emerging issues in groundwater and surface water interaction, in particular in areas of increasing competition for scarce resources.
  • The status of water markets in Texas and the potential benefits of and challenges to expanded markets for water.
 
 
 

Current Articles & Research Resources, August 13

In this weekly post, we feature helpful research tools and recent articles of interest to the legislative community.

  • Explore how states are responding to COVID-19 by implementing policies related to occupational licensing. (Council of State Governments, ©2020)
  • See what states are doing to close budget gaps resulting from decreased revenue caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. (National Conference of State Legislatures, August 12, 2020)
  • Read about facility-wide COVID-19 testing in nursing homes. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, August 11, 2020)
  • Track which businesses received CARES Act stimulus funding and how much they received. (Good Jobs First, ©2020)

Members of the Texas legislative community may request the articles below here or by calling 512-463-1252.

  • 20.08.13 / "End affirmative action for white people." By Anthony P. Carnevale, Peter Schmidt, and Jeff Strohl. Chronicle for Higher Education, June 24, 2020, pp. 22-25.
    Argues higher education's perception of education merit hides deep-seated racism and class-based elitism guaranteeing the intergenerational reproduction of class and racial privilege. Explains COVID-19 and the ensuing economic and demographic changes offer an opportunity for federal and state governments to require more transparency and seek improved outcomes for public institutions.
  • 20.08.14 / "Inside the challenges Texas women face." By Bill Hethcock. Dallas Business Journal, August 7, 2020, pp. 10-15.
    Examines how economic factors related to education, housing, health insurance, and child care affect women's lives in the Lone Star State. Uses data from the Texas Women's Foundation report Economic Issues for Women in Texas.
  • 20.08.15 / "Taxing and spending: From unthinkable to universal." Economist, August 8th-14th, 2020, pp. 1-2.
    Reports the idea of a universal basic income [UBI] is gaining momentum in America. Points out the launch of Mayors for a Guaranteed Income, a network of mayors experimenting with UBI-like schemes that includes the mayors of Atlanta, Los Angeles, Newark, and St Paul.
  • 20.08.16 / "The economic impact of Texas community colleges." By Patrick Graves, et al. Fiscal Notes, June/July, 2020, pp. 7-10.
    Highlights a recent Comptroller's office study that found a total economic impact of $9.8 billion annually for Texas public community colleges. Discusses the important dual role community colleges play in access to higher education and workforce training.
  • 20.08.17 / "Community use of face masks and COVID-19: Evidence from a natural experiment of state mandates in the US." By Wei Lyu and George L. Wehby. Health Affairs, August 2020, pp. 1419-1425.
    Reports on a natural experiment on the effects of state government mandates for face mask use in public issued by fifteen states and Washington, D.C., between April 8 and May 15, 2020. Finds that states mandating the use of face masks in public had a greater decline in daily COVID-19 growth rates after issuing these mandates.
  • 20.08.18 / "Incarceration and its disseminations: COVID-19 pandemic lessons from Chicago's Cook County Jail." By Eric Reinhart and Daniel L. Chen. Health Affairs, August 2020, pp. 1412-1418.
    Evaluates how arrest and pretrial detention practices may be contributing to the spread of COVID-19. Uses data from Cook County Jail to analyze the relationship between jailing practices and community infections at the ZIP code level.
  • 20.08.19 / "Key questions about nursing home regulation and oversight in the wake of COVID-19." By MaryBeth Musumeci and Priya Chidambaram. Henry J. Kaiser Foundation, August 3, 2020, pp. 1-2.
    Discusses nursing home regulation and oversight in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. Examines the evolution of federal nursing home requirements and their enforcement as well as how oversight has changed as a result of the pandemic. Includes discussion of the role of state survey agencies and an appendix of related statutory citations.
  • 20.08.20 / "State hybrid retirement plans." National Association of State Retirement Administrators, June 2020, pp. 1-12.
    Examines two hybrid public retirement plan designs: a cash balance plan and a combination defined benefits [DB] and defined contribution [DC] plan. Includes Texas municipal, county, and district pension plans. Notes heightened attention to hybrid plans amid recent state reforms to public pension benefits and financing.
  • 20.08.21 / "I don't want to be anybody's employee." By Kim Kavin. Reason, August/September 2020, pp. 46-51.
    Considers legislative attempts to reclassify independent contractors as traditional salaried employees with benefits. Highlights the 2019 passage of California Assembly Bill 5, and argues it has unintended consequences and should serve as a cautionary tale for future legislative efforts.
  • 20.08.22 / "Balancing act: Protecting critical infrastructure and peoples' right to protest." By Dan Shea. State Legislatures, July 21, 2020, pp. 1-3.
    Reports several states have passed laws that either criminalize unlawful entry to critical infrastructure facilities or enhance the penalties associated with those offenses. Points out these laws' penalties and prison terms have the potential to limit civil demonstrations and may infringe on conduct protected under the United States Constitution.
  • 20.08.23 / "Pandemic poses legal pitfalls." By Joey Berlin. Texas Medicine, August 2020, pp. 38-40.
    Argues in favor of temporarily extending existing liability protections for volunteers to all physicians, health care practitioners, and facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic. Mentions a recent letter by the Texas Medical Association and other groups to Governor Greg Abbott requesting liability protection.
  • 20.08.24 / "After the protests: Four perspectives on the state's criminal justice system." By Christopher Hooks. Texas Monthly, August 2020, pp. 1-8.
    Interviews four individuals with different perspectives on how police departments and the criminal justice system in Texas can be reformed in consideration of recent public demonstrations following the death of George Floyd. Includes comments by Representative James White.
  • 20.08.25 / "The plague election." By Molly Ball. Time, August 17-24, 2020, pp. 30-37.
    Examines how the COVID-19 pandemic has transformed political campaigns and the election system in the United States. Addresses political conventions and vote-by-mail in Texas.

 

The Legislative Reference Library compiles this weekly annotated list of Current Articles of interest to the legislative community. Professional librarians review and select articles from more than 300 periodicals, including public policy journals, specialized industry periodicals, news magazines, and state agency publications. Members of the Texas legislative community may request articles using our online form.

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