86th Legislative Session Update #11

“Man has 12 billion brain cells, just to give you an idea of the unemployment situation.”

STATEWIDE:

Hurricane Harvey/Disaster Preparedness:

Passed the Senate:

SB 6 by Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) would direct the Texas Department of Emergency Management at the Department of Public Safety to develop a model guide based on best practices to help local officials respond in the aftermath of a natural disaster. The committee substitute and two-floor amendments were adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously.

SB 7 by Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) would establish the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund for flood mitigation projects identified by regional flood planning. The committee substitute and three-floor amendments were adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously.

SB 8 by Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) would require the Water Development Board to facilitate creation of a statewide flood plan with local officials and stakeholders developing regional priorities. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously.

Last Monday, the House Natural Resources Committee took up:

HB 13 and HJR 4 by Dade Phelan (R-Nederland) would establish the Flood Infrastructure Fund to assist in the financing, through loans and grants, of drainage flood control, and flood mitigation projects. HB 13 was voted out favorably as substituted. HJR 4 was voted out favorably.

SENATE:

The Senate was in session this past Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. On last Wednesday, they recessed so bills could be referred to committees on Thursday.

On Monday, the Senate passed four bills including:

  • SB 40 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) allowing court proceedings to be briefly suspended in a declared disaster area (see Tort section for more information);
  • SB 230 by Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) limiting landowner liability for rock climbing recreational activities on his/her property (see Tort section for more information);
  • SB 282 by Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) providing reimbursement to counties for delayed transportation projects (see Transportation section for more information); and
  • SB 489 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) protecting the home address of judges and their spouses (see Privacy section for more information).

Last Tuesday, the Senate passed nine bills including:

  • SB 41 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) exempting pro bono attorneys ad litem from rotation and reporting requirements;
  • SB 83 by Bob Hall (R-Canton) designating a portion of FM 1570 in Hunt County as the John L. Horn Memorial Parkway;
  • SB 401 by Kirk Watson (D-Austin) establishing the Joint Oversight Committee on Government Facilities to review deferred maintenance plans;
  • SB 467 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) requiring the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to report pending complaints (see Tort section for more information);
  • SB 476 by Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) allowing restaurant customers to bring their dog to the patio (see General Business section for more information);
  • SB 554 by Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) clarifying buy-back opportunities on land taken through eminent domain (see Property section for more information);
  • SB 743 by Bob Hall (R-Canton) establishing the Texas Olive Oil Industry Advisory Board (see Economic Development section for more information)
  • SB 748 by Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) establishing the Newborn Screening Preservation Account to provide newborn screenings; and
  • SB 752 by Joan Huffman (R-Houston) granting immunity from liability from volunteer health care providers during a disaster (see Tort section for more information).

Last Wednesday, the Senate passed ten bills including:

  • SB 6 by Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) requiring the Department of Emergency Management to prepare a handbook of best practices in disaster response (see Statewide section for more information);
  • SB 7 by Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) establishing the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency fund for flood mitigation projects (see Public Education section for more information);
  • SB 8 by Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) establishing a statewide flood response and mitigation plan (see Public Education section for more information);
  • SB 18 by Joan Huffman (R-Houston) establishing free speech policies for college campuses (see Higher Education section for more information)
  • SB 65 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) instituting procurement reforms (see Procurement section for more information);
  • SB 355 by Royce West (D-Dallas) developing a strategic plan to ensure Texas’ mental health prevention plan and early intervention services meet federal requirements;
  • SB 363 by Kirk Watson (D-Austin) prescribing circumstances for the Department of Public Safety to access data in the Prescription Monitoring Program;
  • SB 420 by Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) removing the requirement for pharmacists to check the Prescription Monitoring Program for refills (see Health section for more information);
  • SB 563 by Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) requiring quarterly reports on federal money for flood mitigation projects (see Environment section for more information);
  • SB 607 by Kirk Watson (D-Austin) is the sunset bill for the Veterans’ Land Board.

About Senate passage of the Hurricane Harvey disaster response bills, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick said, “Senate Bills 6, 7 and 8 are some of the most important bills the Texas Senate will pass this session. They will impact generations of Texans for years to come. I congratulate Senators Kolkhorst, Creighton and Perry and the entire senate for unanimously passing these disaster response bills, which are key to our rebuilding effort following Hurricane Harvey and mitigating future flood disasters across the state. These Texas Senators – along with other senators from the impacted areas – began working on the storm immediately.

They were involved on the ground in every effort, dealing with tragic loss and rescue, helping clean up the aftermath and coordinating local efforts. Their commitment to their districts and the people of Texas has been unwavering and the legislation passed today lays out the path to our final recovery from the most damaging storm in state history.”

Total number of bills reported out of Senate Committees this week:    62

Total number of bills passed by the Senate this week:                                 23

Total number of bills passed by the Senate this session:                            28

HOUSE:
The House was in session last Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of this week.

Last Tuesday, the House gave preliminary approval to nine bills including:

  • HB 41 by Will Metcalf (R-Conroe) offering leave for state employees who are search and rescue volunteers;
  • HB 92 by Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) allowing underperforming campuses to operate as community schools (see Public Education section for more information);
  • HB 109 by Armando “Mando” Martinez (D-Weslaco) prohibiting open-enrollment charter schools from operating on Memorial Day (see Public Education section for more information);
  • HB 111 by Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint) requiring training to prevent abuse of children with cognitive disabilities (see Public Education section for more information);
  • HB 234 by Matt Krause (R-Fort Worth) prohibiting local ordinances against children’s lemonade stands;
  • HB 277 by Tom Oliverson (R-Cypress) requiring online admission applications to link to employment data (see Higher Education section for more information);
  • HB 330 by Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) excluding students who suffer serious injuries from school dropout rates (see Public Education section for more information);
  • HB 403 by Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) requiring child abuse prevention training for school administrators (see Public Education section for more information); and
  • HB 1244 by Trent Ashby replacing the U.S. history end-of-course assessment with a civics test (see Public Education section for more information).

Last Wednesday, the House gave final approval to the nine Tuesday bills, and gave preliminary approval to eight bills including

  • HB 81 by Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) requiring disclosure of information on public entertainment events (see Economic Development section for more information);
  • HB 125 by Armando “Mando” Martinez (D-Weslaco) restricting publication of home addresses of counselors and social workers (see Privacy section for more information);
  • HB 305 by Dennis Paul (R-Webster) requiring political subdivisions to post information on meetings and elections online (see Tax section for more information);
  • HB 339 by Andrew Murr (R-Junction) requiring speed limit signs at the end of work zones (see Transportation section for more information);
  • HB 396 by Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) expanding the uses of the instructional materials and technology fund (see Public Education section for more information);
  • HB 422 by Alma Allen (D-Houston) ensuring a school board has created district- and campus-level committees (see Public Education section for more information);
  • HB 540 by Jeff Leach (R-Plano) designating the Officer David Sherrard Memorial Highway; and
  • HB 637 by Mary Gonzalez (D-Clint) removing a salary cap for superintendents at the Texas School for the Blind and School for the Deaf.

Last Thursday, the House gave final approval to the eight bills initially debated on Wednesday.

New House Members – On Monday, Christina Morales (D-Houston) was sworn in to represent House District 145. On Thursday, Ray Lopez (D-San Antonio) was sworn in to represent House District 125. The House is now complete with 150 members.

Total number of bills reported out of House Committees this week:     63       

Total number of bills passed by the House this week:                                  17

Total number of bills passed by the House this session:                             17

BUDGET:

Last Monday, the House Appropriations Committee reported out HB 1 the general appropriations bill and SB 500 the supplemental appropriations bill. They are on the House Calendar for Wednesday, March 27, 2019. A “Put and Take” calendar rule was adopted for both bills requiring any amendment that adds or increases an item of appropriation in the bill made from general revenue, a general revenue-dedicated account, or the Economic Stabilization Fund must contain an equal or greater reduction in one or more items of appropriation in the bill. Proposed amendments must be filed with the Chief Clerk’s office by 10:00 a.m. on Sunday, March 24, 2019.

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:

Passed the House:

HB 81 by Terry Canales (D-Edinburg) would make public funds expended by a governmental body for a parade, concert, or other entertainment event open to the general public subject to disclosure under the open records laws. One floor amendment was adopted. It passed by a vote of 142-0.

Reported From Committee (The House International Relations & Economic Development Committee:

HB 1000 by Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) would require the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism to administer the Rural and Opportunity Fund to make growth investments in targeted small businesses in rural communities and federally-designated opportunity zones. It would allow insurance companies to receive a premium tax credit to offset credit-eligible capital contributions made to the fund up to a maximum fund balance of $35 million. It was voted favorably as substituted from the House International Relations & Economic Development Committee. The companion is SB 826.

HB 1588 by Will Metcalf (R-Conroe) would change the due date for the annual reports to the comptroller for Type 4-A and 4-B economic development corporations from April 1 to February 1. It was voted favorably from the House International Relations & Economic Development Committee. The companion is SB 450.

SB 726 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would limit a bank’s investments to promote community development to a maximum of 25 percent of the bank’s unimpaired capital and surplus without prior authorization of the banking commissioner. It was reported favorably from the Senate Business & Commerce Committee.

GENERAL BUSINESS:

Passed the Senate:

 SB 476 by Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) would allow a food service establishment to permit a customer to be accompanied by a dog in an outdoor dining area. Senator Hancock said, “SB 476 would not require restaurants to permit dogs in outdoor dining areas, but provides that food service establishments statewide may do so if they choose. Since bringing this legislation forward, we’ve heard from dog lovers all across Texas who want to let their canine companions tag along more often. I appreciate my colleagues’ support on this legislation that’s simply designed to get over-the-top government regulation out of the way of enjoying time with family or friends on a patio – man’s best friend included.” It passed the Senate by a vote of 30-1.

HIGHER EDUCATION:

Passed the House:

HB 277 by Tom Oliverson (R-Houston) would require electronic common admission applications to include a link to comparative gainful employment data complied by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board and the Texas Workforce Commission. It passed the House by a vote of 148-0.

Passed the Senate:

 SB 18 by Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would affirm that it is the policy of the state to protect the expressive constitutional rights of individuals by recognizing freedom of speech and assembly as central to the mission of institutions of higher education; would require public institutions of higher education to ensure that common outdoor areas are deemed to be traditional public forums and permit any individual to engage in expressive activities in those areas freely; and would require institutions of higher education to adopt a policy detailing students’ rights and responsibilities regarding expressive activities. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously.

Also last Wednesday, the Senate Higher Education Committee took up:

SB 34 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would limit the TEXAS Grant Program to 135 semester credit hours or 15 semester credit hours in excess of the number needed to complete the student’s degree program. It was voted out favorably as substituted.

SB 330 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would expand the Texas Educational Opportunity Grant Program to include baccalaureate degrees at institutions of higher education (it currently applies to two-year public institutions). It was voted out favorably as substituted.

SB 479 by Kirk Watson (D-Austin) would include the Dell Medical School at the University of Texas at Austin and the School of Medicine at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley in the Joint Admission Medical Program. It was voted out favorably as substituted.

SB 1324 by Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) would require dual credit students to file a degree plan after completing 15 semester credit hours. It was reported out favorably.

Reported from Committee The House Higher Education Committee:

HB 103 by Armando “Mando” Martinez (D-Weslaco) would authorize establishment of a law school in the Valley in Cameron or Hidalgo County. It was reported favorably from the House Higher Education Committee.

HB 826 by John Zerwas (R-Fulshear) would establish a college of medicine at the University of Houston. It was reported out favorably from the House Higher Education Committee.

HB 1592 by John Smithee (R-Amarillo) would extend health care liability insurance for medical services providers at health care facilities affiliated with public institutions of higher education to include physician assistants, nurses, pharmacists and other health care providers who are employed or volunteer. It was voted favorably as substituted from the House Higher Education Committee.

Reported from The House elections Committee:

HB 1421 by Celia Israel (D-Austin) would require voter registrars and county clerks to receive annual training on cybersecurity from the secretary of state or from another provider of cybersecurity training if the registrar or clerk has available state funds for that purpose. And, it would require a voter registrar or county clerk to immediately notify the secretary of state if the registrar or clerk becomes aware of a breach of cybersecurity that impacts election data. It would require registrar or clerks to implement endpoint security to ensure that all devices with access to election data to comply to the highest extent possible with the secretary of state rules related to data security (to the extent that state funds are available). It was reported favorably as substituted from the House Elections Committee.

Reported from the Senate and Business & Commerce Committee:

SB 59 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would allow the capture of an image using an unmanned aircraft if the image is captured for the purpose of delivering consumer goods that were ordered through an Internet website or mobile application and the operator of the unmanned aircraft is authorized by the Federal Aviation Administration to conduct operations within the airspace from which the image is captured. It was voted favorably as substituted from the Senate Business & Commerce Committee.

SB 646 by Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) would require self-directed, semi-independent state agencies to obtain written authorization from the governor before allocating money for the purchase of real property or to construct a building on real property. It was voted favorably from the Senate Business & Commerce Committee.

PROPERTY:

Passed the Senate:

SB 554 by Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) would change the definition of “actual progress” in an eminent domain proceeding by requiring three of the specified actions rather than two and by eliminating two actions from the list: the acquisition of a tract or parcel adjacent to the property for the same public use project for which the owner’s land was acquired from the list of actions and the adoption by a governing body of a development plan that indicates the entity will not complete more than one action before the 10th anniversary of the acquisition of the owner’s property. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate by a vote of 30-1.

PUBLIC EDUCATION:

Passed the House:

HB 92 by Eddie Rodriguez (D- Austin) would allow a campus turnaround plan to operate as a community school that provides strategies and programs to coordinate academic, social, and health services that reduce barriers to learning. Two floor amendments were adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 139-7.

HB 109 by Armando “Mando” Martinez (D-Weslaco) would apply the statute prohibiting classes on Memorial Day to open-enrollment charter schools. It passed the House by a vote of 147-0.

HB 111 by Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) would require training for school employees to include prevention of sexual abuse, sex trafficking, and other maltreatment of children with significant cognitive disabilities in both educational and non-educational settings. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 148-0.

HB 330 by Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) would exclude students who have suffered a condition, injury or illness that requires substantial medical care and leaves the student unable to attend school from the dropout and completion rate calculations. One floor amendment was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 147-0.

HB 396 by Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) would allow money in the instructional materials and technology fund to be used to pay the expenses associated with intrastate freight and shipping; and would allow funding to be used to pay for inventory of software or systems for storing and accessing instructional materials. One floor amendment was adopted and it passed the House by a vote of 141-0.

HB 403 by Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) would require training for school superintendents and trustees regarding sexual abuse, human trafficking, and other maltreatment of children. It passed the House by a vote of 148-0.

HB 422 by Alma Allen (D-Houston) would require school boards to annually certify to the Texas Education Agency that the board has established the required district- and campus-level planning and decision-making committees. It passed the House by a vote of 139-1.

HB 1244 by Trent Ashby (R-Lufkin) would require school districts to administer a civics test to a student in the foundation high school program and make it a requirement for high school graduation. The civics test would consist of all of the questions on the civics test administered by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services as part of the naturalization process. It passed the House by a vote of 142-3.

Reported From the House Public Education Committee:

HB 3 by Dan Huberty (R-Humble) is a comprehensive school finance reform bill. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 55 by Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso) would limit the pre-kindergarten instructor/student ratio to 11-1 for classes of 16 students or more or at least one certified teacher or teacher’s aide per class for smaller classes. It was voted favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 293 by Ken King (R-Canadian) would exempt school district chief financial officers or investment officers from investment training requirements if the school district does not invest district funds or only deposits those funds in interest-bearing deposit accounts or certificates of deposits. It was reported favorably from the House Pensions, Investments & Financial Services Committee.

HB 391 by Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) would require school districts to provide instructional materials to a student in printed book format if the student does not have reliable access to technology at the student’s home. It would also require school districts to report to the Texas Education Agency the number of requests by parents to allow a student to take home instructional materials that were denied by the school district; and require TEA to aggregate that information annually to report to the legislature. It was voted favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 663 by Ken King (R-Canadian) would require the State Board of Education (SBOE) to review and revise the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) to narrow the number and scope of student expectations for each subject and grade level and require less time for a demonstration of mastery. The SBOE would be required to ensure that a revision of the TEKS does not result in a need for the adoption of new instructional materials. It would also provide that for any biennium, the State Board of Education could only issue instructional materials proclamations in which the total estimated cost does not exceed 75 percent of the total amount used to fund technology and instructional materials in that biennium. It was voted favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 692 by James White (R-Hillister) would prohibit a homeless student from being placed in out-of-school suspension. It was voted favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 808 by Harold Dutton (D-Houston) would provide that public schools with at least

1,000 African American males to be evaluated on-campus performance based only on the performance of African American males. It was voted favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 906 by Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) would establish the Collaborative Task Force on Public School Mental Health Services to evaluate mental health services to students, parents or family members or school or school district employees. It was voted favorably as substituted from the House Public Health Committee.

HB 953 by Ken King (R-Canadian) would require charter schools to pay into the Teacher Retirement System of Texas an amount equal to the state’s contribution on the portion of the member’s salary that exceeds the applicable statutory minimum salary for charter employees who would be entitled to a minimum salary if employed by a school district. It was voted favorably from the House Pensions, Investments & Financial Services Committee.

HB 1133 by Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) would change the class size limitation of 22 students per class for kindergarten through fourth grade to a campus-wide average of 22 students in each of those grades. It was voted out favorably from the House Public Education Committee.

HB 1480 by Gary VanDeaver (R-New Boston) would require school districts to establish an accelerated learning committee for each student who does not perform satisfactorily on the third-grade mathematics or reading assessment. It was voted out favorably as substituted from the House Public Education Committee.

SB 811 by Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola) would provide immunity from liability for school districts and charters for any damages resulting from a reasonable action taken by security personnel to maintain the safety of the school campus, including an action relating to possession or use of a firearm. The immunity would also apply to district or school employees who have written permission from the school district’s governing body to carry a firearm on campus. It was voted favorably as substituted from the Senate Education

TORT:

Passed the Senate:

SB 40 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would allow the chief justice of the Supreme Court of Texas to suspend court proceedings in a declared disaster area for up to 90 (instead of 30) days and the time could be extended. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate 30-0.

SB 230 by Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) would add rock climbing to the definition of recreation for purposes of a landowner’s liability for injuries incurred during recreational activities. It passed the Senate by a vote of 30-0. The companion is HB 687.

SB 467 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would require the State Commission on Judicial Conduct to report the number of complaints pending with the commission for a year or more for which the commission has not issued a tentative decision and the number of complaints referred to law enforcement; and would require the commission to include information on its Internet website for filing a judicial complaint. The committee substitute was adopted and it passed the Senate unanimously.

SB 752 by Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would provide civil liability immunity for any volunteer health care provider and/or their institution when responding to a man-made or natural disaster. It passed the Senate unanimously.

Last Monday, the House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee took up

Reported from Committee:

 HB 121 by Valoree Swanson (R-Spring) would make it a defense to prosecution for the offense of trespass by persons carrying handguns if the person carrying the handgun is a handgun permit license holder, was personally given notice by oral communication, and promptly departed from the property. It was voted favorably from the House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee.

HB 687 by Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would add rock climbing to the definition of recreation for purposes of a landowner’s liability for injuries incurred during recreational activities. It was voted favorably from the House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee.

HB 1872 by Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth) would exempt the home address of candidates for county judicial officers from the candidate’s personal financial statements exempt from public disclosure. It was voted favorably from the House Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence.

Reported From the House International Relations & Economic Development Committee:

HB 260 by Cesar Blanco (D-El Paso) would require the Texas Department of Public Safety in collaboration with the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M to develop a website with real-time information on traffic and congestion at ports of entry between Texas and Mexico. It was voted favorably from the House International Relations & Economic Development Committee.

HB 799 by Brooks Landgraf (R-Odessa) would make the owner of a vehicle strictly liable for damage to a bridge, underpass, or similar structure caused by the height of a vehicle that exceeds maximum height limitations. It was voted favorably as substituted from the House Transportation Committee.

HB 680 by Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont) would require the Texas Workforce Commission’s evaluation of local workforce development boards to include the estimated cost incurred by child care providers in the workforce development area; the average price charged by child care providers for child care in each area; and the number of places that are reserved for participants in the child care subsidy program compared to the total number of children served by that provider. It was voted favorably as substituted from the House International Relations & Economic Development Committee.