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Senate Committee on State Affairs - 85th R.S. (2017)

Committee Members
Joan Huffman, Chair
Bryan Hughes, Vice Chair
Brian Birdwell
Brandon Creighton
Craig Estes
Eddie Lucio
Jane Nelson
Charles Schwertner
Judith Zaffirini
Charges
• Review the interaction between federal, state, and local agencies in charge of responding to natural disasters. Examine emergency situation operations, including evacuation routes and procedures, and the efficient use of Disaster Recovery Centers. Make recommendations to ensure emergency management officials have the tools and authority necessary to promptly and appropriately respond to disaster areas and alert citizens to potential threats.
• Study and make recommendations on the benefit of the state maintaining a single, web-based source of comprehensive information that outlines the State Emergency Operations during times of disaster.
• Review the Attorney General's efforts related to price-gouging and identify existing issues with current law, if any, that could be remedied to further protect Texans during times of disaster.
• Review laws related to looting crimes. Examine whether current penalties and enhancements are sufficient to deter looting crimes during a disaster.
• Second Amendment: Review local ordinances imposed on sellers and venues that affect a person's rights under the Second Amendment of the United States Constitution. Examine state and local regulations and restrictions regarding the carrying of weapons during a natural disaster. Make recommendations on whether any legislation is needed to address the regulatory barriers to the full exercise of the Second Amendment rights of citizens.
• Pensions: Examine and assess public pension systems in Texas. Specifically, review and assess (1) the different types of retirement plans; (2) the actuarial assumptions used by retirement systems to value their liabilities and the consequences of amending those assumptions; (3) retirement systems' investment practices and performance; and (4) the adequacy of financial disclosures including asset returns and fees. Make recommendations to ensure public pension system retirees' benefits are preserved and protected.
• Attorney General Jurisdiction: Examine the Attorney General's jurisdiction on issues of alleged violations of state laws regarding abortion and multi -jurisdictional human trafficking cases. Make recommendations to ensure uniform enforcement across the state.
• Court Fees: Examine the structure of court fees and make recommendations to ensure statutory filing fees and court costs are appropriate and justified. Provide reeommendations for proper agency oversight of fee collection.
• Campus Free Speech: Ascertain any restrictions on Freedom of Speech rights that Texas students face in expressing their views on campus along with freedoms of the press, religion, and assembly. Recommend policy changes that protect First Amendment rights and enhance the free speech environment on campus.
• Religious Liberty: Monitor the implementation of legislation that protects citizens' religious freedoms, including Senate Bill 24 (sermon safeguard) and House Bill 555 (religious liberty of county clerks), and make recommendations for any legislation needed to ensure that citizens' religious freedoms are not eroded by local ordinances or state or federal law.
• Monitoring: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on State Affairs, 85th Legislature, Regular Session, and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/ or complete implementation. Specifically, monitor the following:
Implementation of Senate Bill 2190, relating to the public retirement systems of certain municipalities;
• Implementation of House Bill 3158, relating to the retirement systems for and the provision of other benefits to police and firefighters in certain municipalities;
• Implementation of House Bill 3976, relating to the administration of and benefits payable under the Texas Public School Retired Employees Group Benefits Act; and
• Implementation of Senate Bill 16, relating to decreasing the fee for the issuance of a license to carry a handgun.

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