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Interim Hearings - Week of October 3

Interim Hearings - Week of October 3
Today's Committee Meetings on the LRL website is a calendar of interim committee hearings with links to agendas. Below are resources related to upcoming Interim Hearings.
October 3
Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform & Relief (Plano) 
Charges: Property tax process and Tax burden
 
October 4
Charge 1: Texas Department of Transportation's role in responding to natural disasters
 
Charge 7: Oversize or overweight corridors
Senate Committee on Criminal Justice
Charge 1: Law enforcement - community engagement, dangers to law enforcement officers, threat assessment data, reducing number of injuries and deaths to or by law enforcement officers
October 5
Senate Committee on Business & Commerce
Charge: Occupational licensing
Charge: Lawsuits related to property claims from hail storms and weather events
Charge: Implementation of legislation addressed by the committee during the 84th Legislature, specifically:  changes made to the operation of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association, and regulation of public insurance adjusters
Senate Committee on State Affairs
Charge: Current ethics laws governing public officials and employees, public officials' reporting requirements to Texas Ethics Commission, categorization of ethics reporting violations
Joint Interim Committee to Study a Coastal Barrier System
Topic: Desirability and feasibility of constructing a coastal barrier system
 
 

Week in Review, September 22

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.

  • Examine the direct appeals process in Texas death penalty cases. (Texas Defender Service, September 20, 2016)
  • Consider the economic and political strengths of North America. (Texas Border Coalition, September 19, 2016)
  • Read about smaller student loan payments for borrowers. (Urban Institute, September 2016)
  • Explore whether wearable fitness trackers help to get a person in shape. (Journal of the American Medical Association, September 20, 2016)

 

#TxLege Trivia: When Was the Senate's Official Seal Adopted?

One of the fun things about the Legislature is the history behind even the smallest details. In this post, we explore the history of the Texas Senate seal, which was adopted in 1977.
 
Official seals lend authenticity and are used in letterheads, publications, and a variety of other official documents. In the Texas Legislature, both the House and the Senate have their own seals, as do many state offices, departments, and political subdivisions. Often, these seals are slight variations of the State of Texas seal.  
 
Prior to 1977, many Senate documents used a version of the State of Texas seal that included nine dots arranged in three groups of three (shown below left). This version of the state seal was commonly used in Senate Journals, appearing as late as 1983 and as early as 1931. It also appeared on many Senate interim committee reports.  Other versions of the state seal were also used by the Senate; one version had three dots spaced equally across the bottom (below center), and another version had an ornamental border centered on a cross pattée (below right).
 
 
The Senate seal in use today was adopted in 1977 by SR 262, 65th RS by Senator Betty Andujar. The seal was to consist of "a star of five points above a gavel, both encircled by olive and live oak branches, and a border bearing the words 'The Senate of Texas'."  Little information is available about how the design was developed, but, like many other agency seals, the Senate seal represents a slightly modified version of the State of Texas seal.  A drawing of the seal from SR 262 is below, next to the Senate seal you see used today. 
 
 
Did you know? Section 17.08 of the Texas Business and Commerce Code requires that a person must obtain a license to use the Texas State Seal for a commercial purpose. See the Secretary of State's website for more details. 
 

Interim Hearings - Week of September 26

Interim Hearings - Week of September 26
Today's Committee Meetings on the LRL website is a calendar of interim committee hearings with links to agendas. Below are resources related to upcoming Interim Hearings.
September 26 Top
House Committee on Ways & Means
Charge 1: Aspects of the property tax system that contribute to rising property tax levies and taxpayer dissatisfaction
Charge 2: Impact of franchise tax repeal
Charge 3: Impact of ongoing tax litigation, including American Multi-Cinema, Inc. v. Hegar, on revenue stability
Charge 4: State Auditor's review of Chapter 313 agreements
Charge 6: Competitiveness of Texas' tax structure for marine goods and services compared to other states
Charge 8: Implementation of increased residence homestead exemption as approved by the voters in Proposition 1 (SJR 1, 84th Legislature, R.S.)
 
September 28 Top
House Committees on Appropriations and Public Education (Joint Hearing) 
Charges related to school finance including, but not limited to, Additional State Aid for Tax Reduction (ASATR), recapture, and the Cost of Education Index (CEI)
Topic: Border security and operations, including efforts of local law enforcement
Topic: Legislative oversight and monitoring of agencies
 
Charge 1: Texas Department of Transportation's role in responding to natural disasters
Charge 7: Oversize or overweight corridors
Topic: Transportation funding mechanisms, including Texas Emissions Reduction Plan funds, reduction and rededication of Motor Fuels Tax Collection timely payment deduction including Comptrollers administrative and enforcement allowance associated with motor fuels tax collection
Topic:  Transportation reinvestment zones for use by municipalities and counties transportation funding
Topic:  Short or long term funding options that could enhance transportation construction, design, planning, or maintenance
Charge 1: Implementation of federal regulations
House and Senate Select Committees on State Real Property Data Collection, Reporting, & Assessment (Joint Hearing) 
Topics: Update from agencies on the status of the report on the statewide strategy, required by HB 3750, 84th R.S., that will ensure all real property owned by the state is adequately insured;  potential benefits of maintaining a comprehensive database of all real property owned by the state
September 29 Top
House Committees on Appropriations and Public Education (Joint Hearing) 
Charges related to school finance including, but not limited to school facilities
House Committee on Pensions
Charge 5: Investment performance benchmarks utilized by the state's pension funds and impact of portfolio diversification and short-and long-term market assumptions
Senate Select Committee on Property Tax Reform & Relief  (Houston) 
Charges: Property tax process and Tax burden
 

Week in Review, September 15

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.

  • Try the online eminent domain database. (Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts, September 6, 2016)
  • Consider the role of family caregivers. (Health Affairs Blog, September 8, 2016)
  • Track pollinators in this year's BioBlitz. (Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, accessed September 14, 2016)
  • Explore changes in rates of health insurance coverage in the U.S. between 2014 and 2015. (U.S. Census Bureau, September 13, 2016)

 

Interim Hearings - Week of September 19

Interim Hearings - Week of September 19
Today's Committee Meetings on the LRL website is a calendar of interim committee hearings with links to agendas. Below are resources related to upcoming Interim Hearings.
September 20 Top
(Fort Stockton, TX)
Charge 6: Joint groundwater planning, including HB 200, 84th Legislature, R.S., and ongoing legal developments concerning ownership access to groundwater and impact on property rights and groundwater management
House Committee on County Affairs
Topic: Racial disparities during traffic stops within Texas Department of Public Safety, the constitutionality of equal protection claims and concerns that arise from DPS racial disparities, de-escalation tactics, and diversion before booking
 
September 21 Top
 
House Committees on County Affairs and Criminal Jurisprudence  (Joint Hearing) 
Charge: Pretrial service and bonding practices, bail and pre-trial confinement decisions
House Committee on Elections
Charge 2: Voter registration rolls
Charge 4: Mail-ballot fraud
Charge 5: Compliance with campaign finance reporting laws by local officials and candidates
House Committee on Land & Resource Management
Charge: Regulatory authority of municipalities in their extraterritorial jurisdiction, current annexation policies
Charge: Legislative oversight and monitoring of agencies
 
(Del Rio, TX)
Charge 6: Joint groundwater planning, including HB 200, 84th Legislature, R.S., and ongoing legal developments concerning ownership access to groundwater and impact on property rights and groundwater management
See September 20, above
 
September 22 Top
House Committee on Appropriations
Charge 8: Ongoing implementation of SB 20, 84th Legislature, R.S., and Article IX, Sec. 7.12 of the General Appropriations Act, HB 1, 84th R.S., study of trends in state contracting as developed by the Legislative Budget Board
House Committee on Elections
Charge 1: Petition process for addressing local ordinances
Charge 3: Transparency of local bond elections
Charge 6: Legislative oversight and monitoring of agencies, specifically: methods by which local election officials are informed about changes to election law
 
House Select Committee on Mental Health
Topics: Mental health/behavioral care services in Texas, including, but not limited to, Texas' State Hospitals and mental health bed allocation, and availability of mental health services on the campuses of Texas institutions of higher education
 

Week in Review, September 8

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.

  • Track a 7.2% increase in traffic fatalities from 2014 to 2015. (National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, August 2016)
  • Examine the financial costs to youths and families of youths involved in the juvenile justice system. (Juvenile Law Center, 2016)
  • Read about the new federal rule regarding antibacterial soaps. (Federal Register, September 6, 2016)
  • Consider the nature of economic inequality in America. (Cato Institute, September 7, 2016)

 

New Texas School Finance Litigation Archive

The LRL has launched the "Texas School Finance Litigation Archive," a new research tool that provides access to select court documents from school finance litigation in Texas dating back to the 1970s. The site is free and available to the public, and is intended to familiarize users with the history of school finance litigation in Texas, and provide them with a broad range of resources on the subject.
 
The earliest court documents featured on the site are from the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court case San Antonio ISD v. Rodriguez, a school finance lawsuit that originated in Texas.  The case is considered to be the first school finance lawsuit in Texas, and was followed by several subsequent lawsuits. Users can view the docket for the case at the federal district court level, and read the opinions from both the federal district court and the U.S. Supreme Court.
 
In addition to San Antonio v. Rodriquez documents, users will also find court documents from  Edgewood I and II, West Orange-Cove I and II, and the recent school finance case, Williams v. Texas Taxpayers & Student Fairness Coalition, et al. Of special note are trial transcripts from Edgewood I, a case that has been included in the Travis County Historical Records project because of its historical significance.
 
In addition to court records, the page also provides a timeline of key court rulings, as well as legislative reports and a comprehensive bibliography on various aspects of school finance.
 
The project was made possible by the participation of a number of courts and libraries, including:
  • National Archives, Fort Worth, Texas and Washington, D.C.
  • Tarlton Law Library, University of Texas at Austin School of Law
  • Texas State Law Library
  • Texas State Library and Archives Commission
  • Texas Taxpayers and Research Association
  • Texas Third Court of Appeals
  • Travis County Archives
  • Travis County District Clerk's Office
  • Travis County Law Library
  • U.S. Court of Appeals Library for the 5th Circuit, New Orleans, LA
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, San Antonio
Image by StockSnap user Krzysztof Puszczynski.

Interim Hearings - Week of September 12

Interim Hearings - Week of September 12
Today's Committee Meetings on the LRL website is a calendar of interim committee hearings with links to agendas. Below are resources related to upcoming Interim Hearings.
September 12 Top
Senate Committee on Higher Education
Charge: Regional workforce needs in the state, baccalaureate degrees at public community colleges
Charge: Implementation of legislation, specifically:
  1. Initiatives designed to create effective, clear transfer pathways for students, including the newly enacted multidisciplinary studies associate degree
  2. Implementation and progress of the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program
  3. Progress of pilot program enacted by the 83rd Legislature relating to improving student loan default rates and financial aid literacy among postsecondary students
 
September 13 Top
House Committees on Defense & Veterans' Affairs and Higher Education (Joint Hearing) 
Joint charge: Hazlewood Act
 
House Select Committee on State & Federal Power & Responsibility
Charge 1: Extent to which state regulation and policy are influenced by mandates attached to federal funding
Charge 2: Resolutions approved by the Legislature during recent legislative sessions calling on the federal government to take certain actions, and actions taken
 
Charge 3: Texas statutes prohibiting or restricting investment in foreign nations
 
Topic: Article V
Senate Committee on Education
Charge: Digital learning, school broadband access
Charge: Monitor implementation of legislation, specifically legislation to establish criteria for alternative measures of assessments to meet high school graduation requirements
 
Senate Committee on Health & Human Services
Charge: Monitor implementation of legislation and riders, including but not limited to:
  • The impact of changes made by the Department of Family and Protective Services, Child Protective Services on child safety, workforce retention, prevention, and permanency;
  • Initiatives to reduce Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse, and other cost containment strategies, including examining the processes and procedures used by managed care organizations to address Medicaid fraud, waste and abuse; and
  • The consolidation and expansion of women's health programs at the Health and Human Services Commission.
Charge: Impact of the Section 1115 Texas Healthcare Transformation and Quality Improvement Program Waiver; other mechanisms to control costs and increase quality and efficiency in the Medicaid program, including the pursuit of a block grant or a Section 1332 Medicaid State Innovation Waiver
September 14 Top
Joint Legislative Committee on Health & Human Services Transition, Oversight
Charge: Short-term lending industry in Texas, consumer access to credit, consumer protections
Charge 2: Family law and parent-child relationship statutes and application of foreign law
Charge 3: Self-represented litigants
Charge 5: Implementation of expedited action provisions of HB 274, 82nd Legislature, R.S.
Senate Committee on Education
Charge: School choice, education savings account and tax credit scholarship programs
Charge: Monitor implementation of legislation, specifically:
Senate Committee on State Affairs  
Charge: Guardianships 
Charge: Public integrity unit under authority of Texas Rangers 
 
Charge: Practice of using public funds and employees for the payment processing of union dues 
Senate Committee on Transportation
Topic: Overview and update from the Texas Department of Transportation, the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, and the Texas Department of Public Safety
Charge: New and anticipated revenue appropriated to the Texas Department of Transportation and recommendations that address project prioritization and selection, effectiveness of staffing levels and project delivery methods
Charge: Monitor implementation of legislation, specifically:
1.      Progress of the Texas Department of Transportation's efforts to propose a plan to eliminate toll roads
2.      Removing eminent domain authority from private toll corporations
3.      Ending the issuing of any new debt from the Texas Mobility Fund (TMF) and prohibiting future use of the TMF on toll projects
 
September 15 Top
Senate Committee on Finance                 
Charge: Monitor implementation of legislation, specifically:
  1. Tax relief provided to property owners
  2. Gradual phase out of the franchise tax
  3. Support for and the enhancement of graduate medical education
  4. Efforts of the Department of Information Resources (DIR) to modernize the technology of state agencies
  5. Implementation of required changes to state agency contracting, purchasing, and accounting procedures
  6. Monitor the implementation of Health and Human Services Commission Rider 50

 
Senate Select Committee on Texas Ports
Topic: Economic impact that inland waterways, coastal ports and inland ports have on the state economy
Topic: Future impact that the Panama Canal expansion will have on Texas ports
 

Week in Review, September 1

In this weekly post, we feature online articles and policy reports published recently, and other helpful research tools.
  • Explore the transformation effort of the Texas Health and Human Services System. (Texas Health and Human Services Commission, August 19, 2016)
  • Consider the legal avenues for contesting results of a presidential election. (Congressional Research Service, August 26, 2016)
  • Protect your dogs from xylitol-containing products. (Preventive Vet, ©2016)
  • Read about shortfalls in state-run pension systems. (The Pew Charitable Trusts, August 2016)
 

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