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HOU in ATX: Legislative Update – Week 9

Published Mar 10, 2023 by Taylor Landin

Texas Energy Day

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 hereSubscribe here to get our weekly legislative updates. 

Executive Partners