County-Related House of Representatives Interim Charges
After each legislative session, the speaker of the house assigns issues to be studied by House committees. The lieutenant governor assigns issues to the Senate committees. These charges are the subject of public hearings, and recommendations are submitted at the next legislative session.
Commissioners court members should become familiar with these issues, present testimony at the public hearings, and determine their legislators’ positions on these charges. While the lieutenant governor has not issued charges to the Senate committees, listed below are county-related charges to the House committees.
Charges to be studied by all substantive House committees:
Find ways to increase transparency, accountability and efficiency in state government.
House Committee on Agriculture & Livestock:
Study the wildfire response performed by the Texas Forest Service and cooperating state agencies. Examine specifically how state laws and regulations could be enhanced to improve response effectiveness across the state. Study both the available causes of wildfires and mitigation and make recommendations as needed.
Monitor the agencies and programs under the committee's jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 82nd Legislature. Specifically, monitor the consolidation of the Texas Department of Rural Affairs into the Texas Department of Agriculture's Rural Economic Division, ensuring that rural communities are not negatively affected by the consolidation.
House Committee on Appropriations:
Examine the growth of constitutionally and statutorily dedicated accounts and their utilization in the budget. Recommend methods to reduce the reliance on dedicated accounts for budget certification purposes, and examine ways to maximize the use of such accounts.
Monitor the implementation of cost-savings initiatives in health and human services programs directed by HB1 (82R) and SB7 (82S1), including the expansion of Medicaid managed care. Study the impact of changes in hospital reimbursement methodology, including implementation of a statewide Standard Dollar Amount and the Texas Healthcare Transformation and Quality Improvement Program Medicaid 1115 waiver.
Assess the current infrastructure and funding mechanisms for mental health services in both rural and urban areas throughout the state. Study innovative local programs that could be expanded, as well as successful delivery and financial models in other states. Make recommendations to expand access and improve services through increased efficiency, competition and transparency.
Study transportation funding reforms and develop long-term state funding recommendations, with an eye on any federal reforms that become law. Explore options to eliminate "diversions" from Fund 6 to non-transportation-related programs. (Joint with the House Committee on Transportation)
House Committee on Border & Intergovernmental Affairs:
Identify significant health disparities in counties along the Texas-Mexico border and their impact on the region's health care system. Consider strategies to reduce demand for health-related services, including better use of preventive medicine and promotoras, or community health workers.
Examine the impact of the state's various economic development programs and evaluate their impact on communities along the Texas-Mexico border. Identify any changes to these programs that would improve economic development activity in those communities.
House Committee on Corrections:
Monitor the implementation of SB653 (82R), which created the Texas Juvenile Justice Department. Make any recommendations needed to enhance the integration of the Texas Youth Commission and the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission.
Study ways to reduce the number of youth referred to the juvenile justice system. Consider the availability of mental health services, diversion and early intervention programs, and other prevention methods.
House Committee on County Affairs:
Study county-related issues arising from population growth in unincorporated areas with regard to existing and new developments and the provision of services, including garbage disposal, fire protection, road maintenance, electricity, and water and wastewater service. Make necessary legislative recommendations for improving problems in these areas of the state.
Study opportunities for cost savings through the abolishment of certain elected offices or the consolidation of county services.
Conduct a general study of issues facing county jails. The study should include innovative ways to address overcrowding, the impact homelessness has on the county jail population, and recommendations for handling inmates undergoing detoxification and withdrawal from drugs and alcohol.
House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence:
· Review the current sentencing practices for defendants with mental illnesses and make recommendations. Study practices in other states. Compare recent incarceration trends between those who have mental illnesses and those who do not.
House Committee on Defense & Veterans' Affairs:
· Monitor the implementation and impact of the MOVE Act on the state and on municipalities. Make legislative recommendations, as needed, to ensure a smooth implementation of the law. (Joint with the House Committee on Elections)
· Study and make recommendations on how the state and local governments can work together to protect our federal military installations from unnecessary encroachment while still allowing appropriate use of land near bases to be used for nonmilitary purposes.
House Committee on Elections:
Examine the benefits and risks of using mobile voting stations in Texas.
Examine ways to more clearly define a residence address for voter registration purposes, giving special consideration to college-age students.
Monitor the implementation and impact of the MOVE Act on the state and on municipalities. Make legislative recommendations, as needed, to ensure a smooth implementation of the law. (Joint with the House Committee on Defense & Veterans' Affairs)
House Committee on Government Efficiency & Reform:
Examine and make recommendations on purchasing cooperatives created under Chapter 791 of the Texas Government Code, including the bid process and the role of interlocal contracts. Clarify for consistency the following terms: purchasing cooperatives, interlocal contracts, and interlocal agreements.
Examine the utilization of alternative project delivery methods, such as design-build and construction-manager-at-risk, by municipalities, water districts, and authorities, and other local governmental entities since the passage of HB1886, 80th Legislature.
House Committee on Land & Resource Management:
· Examine the effectiveness of the Texas Private Real Property Rights Preservation Act (Chapter 2007, Government Code).
· Examine current regulatory authority available to municipalities in their extraterritorial jurisdiction. Make necessary legislative recommendations to ensure a proper balance between development activities and municipal regulations.
House Committee on Pensions, Investments & Financial Services:
Review local retirement systems that are not a part of statewide systems, the administration of these retirement systems, and current liabilities. Study and make recommendations aimed at curbing rising pension costs to local governments.
Review the Texas County and District Retirement System and the Texas Municipal Retirement System and examine plan provisions offered to individual participating counties and cities.
House Committee on Public Education:
Review and make recommendations on the effectiveness of Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEPs) and Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs (JJAEPs) in reducing students' involvement in further disciplinary infractions. Determine the appropriate role of disciplinary alternative placements in promoting education achievement and how technology could be used to supplement education services. Consider appropriate placements in DAEPs or JJAEPs and consistent funding models for those programs. Consider options for counties without a JJAEP or inefficiently few placements in a JJAEP. Identify positive behavioral models that promote a learning environment for teachers to appropriately instruct while addressing any behavioral issues and enforcing student discipline.
House Committee on Technology:
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.
House Committee on Transportation:
· Review the state of our current transportation infrastructure, including studying roadway, bridge, and waterway quality and long-range plans by the Texas Department of Transportation for maintaining these assets. Explore future needs of our infrastructure for the next decade and make recommendations to ensure long-range sufficiency.
· Study the environmental review process for transportation projects and monitor the implementation of reforms newly passed by the 82nd Legislature. Continue to work with all stakeholders to develop any necessary changes. (Joint with the House Committee on Environmental Regulation)
· Study transportation funding reforms and develop long-term state funding recommendations, with an eye on any federal reforms that become law. Explore options to eliminate "diversions" from Fund 6 to non-transportation-related programs. (Joint with the House Committee on Appropriations)
House Committee on Ways & Means:
Evaluate the state's tax structure and determine its impact on the competitiveness of the Texas business climate. Specifically, determine the impact of the state's major taxes, including the sales tax and franchise tax, as well as tax exemptions, exclusions, and credits on economic growth, capital investment, and job creation in Texas. As part of this review, evaluate the franchise (margins) tax and determine whether the tax structure should continue to exist in its current form or in a revised form, or whether the existing tax structure should be repealed and replaced with a different business tax.
Analyze the results of the reviews of appraisal district operations as conducted through the comptroller's Methods Assistance Program (MAP) and determine whether appraisal districts are applying uniform standards and procedures for the appraisal of property for ad valorem tax purposes as required by the Texas Constitution.
Evaluate whether current property tax notice requirements effectively serve the intended "truth-in-taxation" purpose of informing taxpayers about the property taxes they pay and who is responsible for deciding how much they pay.
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