The Week Behind Us and the Week(s) Ahead of Us – One of the big events this week was the release of House committee assignments, with some significant changes in leadership under new Speaker Dennis Bonnen. Both the Senate and the House have filed their first drafts of the state’s budget and Senate Finance began its hearings on the budget. House Appropriations has announced its intent to begin budget hearings shortly. Among the agencies being discussed in these hearings are the Texas Commission on Jail Standards, the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, the Office of Court Administration, the Texas Indigent Defense Commission and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
House Committee Assignments Released - On Jan. 23, Speaker Dennis Bonnen released the House committee assignments for the 86th Legislative Session. With the changing landscape in the House, three of the five Texas House committees considered to be the most powerful will have new chairs. Now that committee assignments have been made, bills can be referred to committees — moving the legislative process forward.
A list of House committee assignments by member is also available on the House website.
Senate Committee Assignment Update –Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick named Sen. Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) to fill the vacant Chair of the Senate Agriculture Committee and also appointed Sen. Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) to the committee membership. The updated list of Senate committee assignments is available on the Senate website.
The Budget Train has Left the Station – This week was a big week for both the House and Senate budget committees. Senate Finance, chaired by Sen. Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound), started its budget meetings with an overview of what both the Senate budget and supplemental budget include.
Most notable are increases in public education spending and the use of Rainy Day funds for Hurricane Harvey related expenses. The supplemental budget, at least for now, plans to draw down $1.2 billion for Harvey-related costs.
The committee broke down how the Harvey funding would be spent, with significant amounts going to public and charter schools for items such as hold harmless funding for losses in property values and facilities funding. There is another $100 million in disaster grants at the Governor’s Office that could be used for federal matching funds. As the committee continues to meet, these numbers will likely fluctuate in negotiations.
Senate Finance has posted hearings for the next three weeks. With the announcement of House committees this week, House Appropriations Chairman John Zerwas (R-Richmond) filed House Bill 1 and posted committee hearings beginning early next week. All budget-related documents are available on the Legislative Budget Board website.
TAC staff has compiled a listing of the Senate Finance hearings held this week and upcoming budget hearings in both the House and Senate next week. Budgets that will be considered next week include those from the following agencies: the Texas Juvenile Justice Department, Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Texas Department of Public Safety, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, Texas Indigent Defense Commission, Texas Department of Transportation and the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles.
ICYMI (In Case You Missed It) – Most House and Senate committees have released their interim reports with legislative recommendations for the 86th legislative session. We have highlighted transportation-related recommendations in our County Issues newsletter this week.
TAC legislative staff also compiled a comprehensive document highlighting legislative recommendations of interest to counties in these reports. The recommendations address a range of issues, including Hurricane Harvey, open government, economic development, transportation, school safety, water, criminal justice, mental health, elections, court fees and the diversion of dedicated funds.
Many of these recommendations may turn into legislation that will be considered by the 86th Legislature.
Helpful Tracking Links for Legislation
- County Bills by Office as tracked by the Texas Association of Counties.
- Senate and House committee postings are available on Texas Legislature Online.
- MyTLO section of Texas Legislature Online – use it to create customized alerts for specific committee meetings or to track specific bills.