House Committee on State Affairs - 84th R.S. (2015)
- Study if the state's infrastructure is adequately prepared for disasters, whether man-made or natural. Include preparedness assessments of the maintenance and recovery of vital infrastructure such as transportation and utility systems.
- Examine procedures regarding contract monitoring, compliance, performance evaluation and notification requirements for state contracting procedures. Include recommendations to determine a "best value" for the state and prevent conflicts of interests. Evaluate guidelines regarding the state's participation in contracts funded by grants and suggest methods to ensure the best use of taxpayer funds.
- Determine if the state has sufficient authority and the tools to ensure continued operation of the state's government and economy under existing budgetary and statutory authority. Make contingency recommendations to prevent collapse in the event of an economic disaster.
- Study the policies used by research and medical entities to adhere to the highest ethical standards for acquiring human fetal tissue for medical and scientific purposes. Specifically, review compliance to ensure informed consent and that all state and federal laws sufficiently respect the dignity of the human body. Study criteria for which persons have standing when giving consent for the use of fetal remains and to investigate potential violations of state laws regulating organ/tissue donation. Determine whether additional disclosure and reporting requirements are necessary to ensure moral and ethical research practices. Review practices and statutes in other states regarding fetal tissue harvesting.
- Study support mechanisms for the Small and Rural Incumbent Local Exchange Carrier - Universal Service Fund. Consider alternative funding mechanisms as well as necessary statutory changes to ensure reasonable cost of basic local phone service in high cost, rural areas without expanding the size of the Texas Universal Service Fund.
- Evaluate the administrative process used to determine utility rates. Consider if sufficient opportunities exist to ensure customer representation. Also determine if additional legislative guidance is needed to ensure public notification and participation.
- Examine how the Public Utility Commission of Texas, when applicable, and utility providers, whether vertically integrated, privately owned, or municipally owned, can ensure consumer protection regarding metering devices for water, gas, and electricity service. Review recent examples of inaccurate or confusing billings and offer recommendations on appropriate consumer recourse and appeal. In addition, assess utility procedures regarding meter installation.
- Examine state and local laws applicable to undocumented immigrants throughout the State of Texas and analyze the effects of those laws in conjunction with federal immigration laws and the policies and practices followed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement.
- Examine payroll deductions from state or political subdivision employees for the purpose of labor organization membership dues or fees as well as charitable organization and nonprofit contributions. Determine if this process is an appropriate use of public funds.
Monitor the impact of major State Affairs legislation passed by the 84th Legislature, including updates regarding recent contracting reforms. Conduct legislative oversight and monitoring of the agencies and programs under the committee's jurisdiction and the implementing of relevant legislation passed by the 84th Legislature. In conducting this oversight, the committee should:
a. consider any reforms to state agencies to make them more responsive to Texas taxpayers and citizens;
b. identify issues regarding the agency or its governance that may be appropriate to investigate, improve, remedy, or eliminate;
c. determine whether an agency is operating in a transparent and efficient manner; and
d. identify opportunities to streamline programs and services while maintaining the mission of the agency and its programs.
Jarvis Johnson appointed by Speaker on effective date of taking office.
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