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Future of Texas – Unscripted: End of 87th Regular Legislative Session

Published Jun 04, 2021 by Lindsay Munoz

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In this final episode of Future of Texas – Unscripted, we discuss Sine Die for the 87th Legislative Session - what bills got passed, what bills got slashed, and what is yet to come. Partnership Vice President of Public Policy and Advocacy, Lindsay Munoz, discusses with Partnership Vice President of Strategy, Ben Melson. 

In this episode we cover:

  • Partnership priority bills and where they ended up
  • Legislative personalities and maneuvers used during session
  • Special sessions are on the horizon


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Public Policy

HOU in ATX: Legislative Update – Week 10

This week, state lawmakers consider legislative items relating to Partnership priorities, Governor Abbott holds a press conference supporting the Texas CHIPS Act, TEA formally announces their intent to install a temporary board of managers, and Harris County Commissioner’s Court approves a measure expanding the district court system. UPDATE: Partnership’s Executive Priorities Economic Development Incentives Last month, the Texas Senate and the House Ways & Means Committee received a letter from over 200 trade associations, chambers of commerce, and economic development organizations stressing the need for legislative action. The Partnership was one such signatory.  What’s Next: The influential House Ways & Means Committee will consider House Bill 5 in the coming weeks. House Bill 5, authored by Representative Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi), would create a modern, transparent, and accountable tool to restock Texas’ economic development toolbox.  Community College Finance Reform What's next: The House’s Higher Education Committee will hear House Bill 8, the community college finance bill, next Monday. This priority bill will convert the community college funding model into industry-aligned and outcomes-based. Since the bill would transform the way colleges approach student education, it will be critical for the committee to receive feedback from the public on the initial bill draft. Committee members are expected to hear from students, colleges, businesses, advocacy organizations, and community leaders on how the bill would affect their operations and student outcomes. Flood Infrastructure Fund This week, Armando Walle (D-Houston), the Appropriations Subcommittee Chairman for articles VI, VII, and VIII, introduced a budget rider that would allocate $350 million from general revenue to the Flood Infrastructure Fund (FIF). This allocation is in addition to the $400 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) federal funds that both the House and Senate have placed in respective bills. Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) is also working to add funds to the FIF in the Senate’s budget.  Governor Abbott Urges Lawmakers to Support Texas CHIPS Act On Wednesday, Governor Abbott held a press conference on the proposed Texas CHIPS Act, which would create the Texas Semiconductor Innovation Consortium and Fund. The legislation aims to support and expand Texas-based semiconductor manufacturing by funding critical research and development efforts. What they're saying: Joined by bill authors, Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Representative Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood), Gov. Abbott noted that “to achieve our promise for the remainder of this century, we need to pass the Texas CHIPS Act…to ensure that Texas remains the national leader in semiconductor chip manufacturing, development, and exports.” Why It Matters: The federal bipartisan CHIPS and Science Act was signed into law on August 9, 2022. This proposed state legislation would ensure Texas maximizes the opportunity to win semiconductor projects and create jobs.  Data privacy and maternal health   House Bill 4 - Representative Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake)  House Bill 4, the Texas Data Privacy and Security Act, is a comprehensive data privacy bill meant to establish a framework for how certain businesses process the personal data of Texas residents.  On Monday, the House Business & Industry Committee heard testimony on the legislation, and the bill was well-received by the committee.  Rep. Capriglione indicated this bill is a “compromise that goes above and beyond on consumer rights and minimizes the compliance costs for Texas businesses” and that “90% of this bill codifies practices that responsible companies are already doing.”  What’s next: The bill was left pending in the committee, with further action anticipated in the upcoming weeks.  House Bill 12 - Representative Toni Rose (D-Dallas)  House Bill 12, a bill to extend postpartum Medicaid coverage for new Texas mothers from six to 12 months, is once again being considered by the Texas House.  On Thursday, the Partnership supported the passage of HB 12 during the House Select Committee on Health Care Reform’s legislative hearing. Texas leadership widely supports the bill. House Speaker Dade Phelan endorsed the expansion of Medicaid for new mothers in his first list of this session’s priorities. Gov. Abbott also included the extension in his budget proposal.  What’s next: The bill was left pending in the committee and is anticipated to be favorably voted out next week. TEA Makes HISD Intervention Official In a move which has been expected since 2019, Texas Education Agency Commissioner Mike Morath announced this week the TEA will take the steps necessary to install a temporary board of managers and a new superintendent for HISD. In January, the Texas Supreme Court affirmed that Commissioner Morath has the authority and the duty to take action to correct HISD’s long history of failing to provide quality education across the district. Pursuant to a bill passed in 2015, if a public school fails state standards for five or more years, the commissioner can either choose to close the school or replace the district school board with a temporary board of managers. In the case of HISD, Commissioner Morath has decided to appoint a board of managers.  More than 40%of HISD students attend a school that received the equivalent of a D or F in the student achievement domain of the school accountability metrics. Sixty-eight % attend a C, D or F school. What’s next: Commissioner Morath will appoint a new superintendent and a board of managers early this summer. The board of managers will be made up of qualified individuals residing in the district. The TEA is opening an application process for those in the community who want to serve on the board of managers.  Go deeper: Full interview with TEA Commissioner Mike Morath conducted by Houston Landing reporter Jacob Carpenter.  Harris County Approves Resolution to Add Courts    Bob Harvey, the Partnership's President & CEO, at Commissioner's Court on Feb 21st, testifying in support of the additional courts.  This week, Harris County Commissioners Court approved a resolution to create six new courts by a vote of 4-0, with County Judge Lina Hidalgo abstaining. This resolution is an important step in the process of expanding the court system. While district courts must be created through state legislation, the Texas Legislature requires a county resolution dictating the number of courts the county wants to create.  Why it matters:  Expanding the Harris County court system is a necessary step to address the county’s high criminal case backlog, a problem exacerbated by Hurricane Harvey and then by the COVID-19 pandemic.  Over the past forty years, Harris County has only created one new court. During that same time, the county’s population has increased by over 2 million residents. New courts are needed to address the increase in cases based on population growth alone.  What’s next: The resolution to create the six new courts supports HB 130 by Representative Ann Johnson (D-Houston), which is the bill to statutorily create the new courts. HB 130 will most likely be added to an omnibus courts bill, which includes the requested new courts of every county across the state. The Partnership commends the Court for taking action and supporting additional courts in Harris County.  During the 88th Legislative Session, the Greater Houston Partnership will provide a weekly update on newsworthy items from Austin. You can view more policy news and archives of our weekly updates here. Subscribe here to get our weekly legislative updates. 
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Public Policy

HOU in ATX: Legislative Update – Week 9

Legislative activity ramped up around the Capitol this week as the bill filing deadline approached. The Speaker announced his next batch of priority legislation, and the Partnership participated in Texas Energy Day. Bill Filing Deadline  March 10th was the bill filing deadline for the 88th Legislative Session. After March 10th, no additional general law bills can be filed, with some exceptions for local bills.  Houston in Focus - Here’s how the Partnership’s Executive Priorities fared: Economic Development House Bill 5: Representative Todd Hunter (R-Corpus Christi) filed legislation to create a new economic development incentive program. The proposed new program would provide temporary and limited competitive economic incentives to attract large-scale, capital-intensive projects related to manufacturing, national and state security, and energy infrastructure. Speaker Phelan supports the legislation, making it one of his top priorities.  Energy Transition House Bill 4484 and Senate Bill 2107: Two key members of the Partnership delegation - Representative Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) and Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) - have teamed up to establish a statewide regulatory framework to support the development of carbon capture use and storage (CCUS). The bills provide much-needed certainty on pore space ownership and long-term liability.  University Endowment Senate Bill 19: The foundation was laid to make a massive investment in higher education with the filing of Senate Bill 19. Senate Bill 19 would establish a new endowment, the Texas University Fund, to benefit schools that do not have access to the Permanent University Fund. This new, $2.5B research fund would provide funding certainty and and a competitive advantage to Texas universities. Notably, this bill was filed by Sen. Joan Huffman, who serves as Chairwoman of the Senate Finance committee, signaling the importance of this proposal to state leadership. Flood Infrastructure Fund  Senate Bill 30/House Bill 500: Senate Finance and House Appropriations Supplemental bills both allocate $400 million from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to the Texas Water Development Board to help replenish the Flood Infrastructure Fund. Community College Finance House Bill 8: A bill to overhaul the community college finance system, House Bill 8, was filed this week by Rep. Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston). This legislation corresponds to the recent recommendations made by the Texas Commission on Community College Finance and provides a framework for shifting toward an outcomes-based, industry-aligned funding model. The bill would also create a new scholarship fund so that a greater number of students can access higher education.  House Bill 8 was also added to Speaker Phelan’s list of top priorities for this session, giving the proposal some extra momentum.  The Partnership at Texas Energy Day Partnership team members joined hundreds of energy employees, trade associations, and chambers of commerce from across the state for Texas Energy Day. Speaking directly to legislators and regulators, attendees stressed the need for economic development incentives, as well as a regulatory framework for carbon capture use and storage. Speaker Phelan Unveils Third Batch of House priorities   Speaker Dade Phelan (R-Beaumont) unveiled three additional legislative priorities centered on infrastructure development - internet, water, and housing, along with a priority on brain health. Broadband: House Bill 9 by Rep. Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) House Bill 9 would establish the Texas Broadband Infrastructure Fund to award grants, low-interest loans, and other financial incentives to expand access to and adoption of broadband service across the state. HB 9 will help close the digital divide by clarifying how legislators can allocate broadband dollars while maintaining “flexibility to address rapidly-evolving technology and consumer needs.” Water: House Bill 10 by Rep. Tracy King (D-Batesville) House Bill 10 would create the Texas Water Fund to allocate resources toward water development projects in Texas, including projects to acquire water from other states and develop infrastructure to transport water.  If passed, a constitutional amendment would be placed on the November ballot.  Housing: House Bill 14 by Rep. Cody Harris (R-Palestine) House Bill 14 would “streamline the approval process for property development and building reviews, requiring cities and counties that fail to complete such projects in a timely manner to utilize third-party reviewers.” Brain Health: House Bill 15 by Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) House Bill 15 would establish the Mental Health and Brain Research Institute of Texas, dedicating state dollars toward improving brain health research and understanding prevention and treatment measures related to traumatic brain injuries.  During the 88th Legislative Session, the Greater Houston Partnership will provide a weekly update on newsworthy items from Austin. You can view more policy news and archives of our weekly updates here. Subscribe here to get our weekly legislative updates. 
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