Capitol Office: 512.463.0707   |   District Office: 281.485.6565

Sunday, November 05 2017

Capitol Review Vol. 5, No. 16

Dear Friends,
 
We recently received the full list of House interim charges, with Speaker Straus assigning almost every committee at least one charge related to the state’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey. These charges highlight issues that should receive study and discussion leading up to the next legislative session, which will begin in January 2019. Committees will report their findings on these issues to the full House before that session begins.
 
There were more than 230 interim charges issued in all, and in this edition of the Capitol Review, I have highlighted some of the charges that will have the greatest impact on District 29. You'll also find information on a few Hurricane Harvey-related updates, as well as ways you can stay involved throughout the district this month.
 
I had a great time serving as a Celebrity Waiter at the Keep Pearland Beautiful's Annual Plant Thyme Luncheon!
 
Harvey Survivors Get More Time to Apply for Disaster Assistance
Texans in the 41designated counties who suffered damage and losses from
Hurricane Harvey now have until Friday, Nov. 24, 2017, to register for disaster assistance. Survivors may register for assistance the following ways:
 
FEMA grants do not have to be repaid. FEMA assistance is nontaxable and will not affect eligibility for Social Security, Medicaid or other federal benefits. This extension also gives survivors more time to apply for low-interest disaster loans from the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA). The SBA is the federal government’s primary source of money for the long-term rebuilding of disaster-damaged private property. SBA helps businesses of all sizes, private nonprofit organizations, homeowners and renters fund repairs or rebuilding efforts and covers the cost of replacing lost or disaster-damaged personal property.
 
These disaster loans cover losses not fully compensated by insurance or other recoveries and do not duplicate benefits of other agencies or organizations. Applicants may apply online using SBA’s secure website. Applicants can get more information on SBA disaster assistance in the following ways:
 
Individuals who are deaf or hard of hearing may call (800) 877-8339. Completed applications should be mailed to U.S. Small Business Administration, Processing and Disbursement Center, 14925 Kingsport Road, Fort Worth, TX 76155.
 
For more information on Hurricane Harvey and Texas recovery, visit the Hurricane Harvey disaster website, Facebook page, the FEMA Region 6 Twitter account, or the Texas Division of Emergency Management website.
 
The Pearland Chamber of Commerce held their annual 'Elected Officials Meet & Greet' which gives businesses and residents of Pearland the opportunity to hear from and speak to their elected officials.
 
Texas Seeks $61 Billion for Harvey Relief
The Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas has requested $61 billion in additional federal assistance to rebuild the public infrastructure of the Texas Gulf Coast damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey. Although Hurricane Harvey caused an estimated $180 billion in damages, the $61 billion represents the portion for public infrastructure such as roads, bridges, schools, government buildings and other public facilities. It also includes projects designed to mitigate the impact of future storms on the Texas Gulf Coast. 
 
The $61 billion would be above current expenditures by FEMA and does not include the cost of temporary and permanent housing needs for individuals, which is overseen by Commissioner George P. Bush and the General Land Office, not the Governor’s Commission to Rebuild Texas.
 
Of the $61 billion, 60 percent of the money is for flood control, 33 percent to buy out and elevate houses and buildings in flood-prone areas, and the remainder for hazard mitigation, water utilities as well as roads and bridges. Brazoria County has requested over $6 billion, including:
  • $160 million for housing elevation;
  • $160 million to rehabilitate and reconstruct homes;
  • $50 million for the City of Manvel's Highway 6 road improvement project;
  • $50 million for the county's channel de-snagging project;
  • $200 thousand to purchase search and rescue trucks;
  • $2.6 billion for the modernization and extension of the Freeport Hurricane Flood Protection System project; and
  • $3.2 billion to conduct the Coastal Storm Risk Management Study.
 
Law enforcement officers did the presentation of the flags prior to the 100 Club's Annual Golf Tournament tee off.
 
Interim Charges Related to Hurricane Harvey
  • Agriculture & Livestock Committee: Review the Texas Department of Agriculture's and the Texas Animal Health Commission's role in the response to Hurricane Harvey. Examine the short-term and long-term economic and agricultural impacts to producers in the agriculture and livestock industries in Texas as a result of Harvey. Identify ways to mitigate the impact and prevent substantial losses from Harvey and future natural disasters. 
  • Appropriations Committee: Examine the use of federal funds by state agencies responding to the effects of Hurricane Harvey and identify opportunities to maximize the use of federal funds to reduce the impact of future natural disasters. Also, identify the need for state resources to respond to Harvey relief and recovery efforts, as well as opportunities for state investment in infrastructure projects that will reduce the impact of future natural disasters.
  • Business & IndustryCommitteeandLicensing & Administrative Procedures Committee(joint charge): Evaluate the adequacy of the workforce currently available to the industries responsible for rebuilding the state’s key infrastructure as well as residential and commercial properties damaged by Hurricane Harvey. Specifically, examine the labor needs within the construction industry and skilled trades and determine if local or state licensing requirements and regulations are an unnecessary barrier to the ongoing success of post-Harvey recovery.
  • CorrectionsCommittee: Evaluate the Texas Department of Criminal Justice response to Hurricane Harvey. Recommend any changes that could improve the operational stability of state criminal justice institutions following a natural disaster and changes that would allow for a more effective response. 
  • County Affairs Committee:
  • Examine how emergency response activities are organized, funded, and coordinated. Review the impact of natural disasters on county finances. Identify any deficiencies in authority for the most populous counties related to infrastructure planning, emergency response, and recovery. Explore ways to improve efficiencies and manage costs while protecting public safety. Additionally, study the relationship between the state, counties, non-governmental organizations, and churches in preparing for and responding to Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath, and determine if preparedness plans are adequate.
  • Evaluate whether counties have the necessary ordinance-making and enforcement authority to deal with flood risk in unincorporated rural and suburban areas of Texas. Additionally, examine whether counties have adequate resources and authority to ensure that new development in unincorporated areas is not susceptible to flooding.
  • Criminal Jurisprudence Committee: Evaluate the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the Texas criminal justice system, including its effect on the speed of criminal trials and litigation, criminal courts, district attorneys' ability to prosecute, and attorneys' ability to provide proper defense. Recommend any changes that could improve operational stability of state criminal justice institutions following a natural disaster and changes that would allow for a more effective response.
  • Culture, Recreation, &TourismCommittee:
  • Review the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's and the Texas Historical Commission's roles in the response to Hurricane Harvey. Evaluate the economic, recreational, and biological impacts and needed repairs from Harvey as they relate to applicable state agencies and the following areas and industries under the purview of the Committee: state parks; wildlife and fish; historic sites and buildings; art and cultural resources; travel and tourism; and in addition, provide recommendations on how to allow for a timely recovery of these areas from Harvey, and how to mitigate the impact of, and adequately prepare for, future natural disasters.
  • Study the feasibility of establishing and mobilizing a volunteer contingency of private boat owners through the boat registration and license database administered by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to assist first responders in search and rescue efforts in natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey.
  • Defense & Veterans’ Affairs Committee: Evaluate the impact of Hurricane Harvey related to the Texas Military Department, Emergency Management Council, and the Texas Division of Emergency Management. Recommend any changes that could improve operational stability and the reaction of these agencies following a natural disaster and changes that would allow for a more effective response.
  • Economic & Small Business Development Committee: Examine Hurricane Harvey’s economic and workforce impact on the state and private sector. Analyze the effects and efficiency of state resources available to assist in job training and the recovery of the state’s workforce. 
  • Elections Committee: Study the potential impact of disaster events on election administration and security. Specifically, examine any effects or vulnerabilities identified during Hurricane Harvey and the subsequent recovery period.
 
I was honored to speak to Manvel High School Principal Dr. Bobby Martinez's class at the University of Houston. These fine students are studying to get their Master's degrees in Education Administration. Go Coogs!
 
  • Energy Resources Committee: Examine the Railroad Commission of Texas' (RRC) response to Hurricane Harvey. Study whether current state rules and regulations are sufficient to protect the public, natural resources, environment, infrastructure, and industrial facilities from damage caused by natural disasters. Evaluate options to ensure the availability of fuel reserves for first responders during natural disasters. 
  • Environmental Regulation Committee: Examine the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality's (TCEQ) response and clean-up efforts related to Hurricane Harvey. Study whether current air, water, waste, and wastewater rules and regulations adequately protect the public, natural resources, environment, infrastructure, residential areas, and industrial facilities from damage caused by natural disasters. Evaluate the debris cleanup and removal process and whether current rules and regulations are effective in expediting cleanup efforts. Make recommendations on how natural disaster responses can be improved.
  • General Investigating & Ethics Committee: Maintain oversight of federal, state, local, and charitable funds spent in response to Hurricane Harvey. Investigate instances of waste, fraud, or abuse involving such funds. Ensure that the State of Texas is maximizing federal disaster aid.
  • Government Transparency & Operation Committee:
  • Examine the role of technology in disaster preparedness and the response to Hurricane Harvey and future natural disasters. Review and make recommendations to drive innovation and efficiency and evaluate whether there are any regulatory impediments to collaboration between the public and private sectors.
  • Evaluate whether qualifying state agencies are appropriately utilizing available state disaster recovery services, including the statewide technology centers. Consider the costs and benefits of allowing other states to participate in Texas' statewide technology centers under Subchapter L, Chapter 2054, Texas Government Code for disaster recovery purposes. 
  • Review Texas’ open meeting laws and related government decision-making policies. Determine if the formal processes prevented the efficient delivery of assistance during Hurricane Harvey. Make recommendations on maintaining the current standards of accountability without limiting government-provided aid during disaster events.
  • Higher Education Committee: Determine, to the extent possible, the scope of financial losses to 2- and 4-year institutions, including facilities, that resulted from Hurricane Harvey. Recommend possible state actions to mitigate any negative impact on institutions and ensure governance structures and parameters allow for effective responses. Review the educational opportunities offered to students displaced by Harvey throughout the state. Recommend any changes that could improve the process and what additional services might be needed for these displaced students. 
  • Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee: Evaluate the response of the Texas Department of Public Safety's (DPS) response to Hurricane Harvey. Review the actions of the Texas Division of Emergency Management and the state's natural disaster preparedness planning efforts to determine their effectiveness at addressing Harvey-related issues. Study coordination between municipalities, counties, and state agencies and how emergency response activities are organized and coordinated at the city, county, and regional level.
  • Human Services Committee: Study the impact of Hurricane Harvey and the response to the storm on individuals living in long-term care facilities, assisted living facilities, state supported living centers, licensed community group homes, and children in the foster care system. Identify and recommend necessary solutions to ensure appropriate disaster-related protocols are in place to keep vulnerable Texans protected. Also, identify any challenges state agencies experienced in responding to the storm or during recovery efforts.
  • Insurance Committee: Examine the effect of Hurricane Harvey on the insurance market in Texas. Include an evaluation of the status of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association and Texas FAIR Plan Association, and of the impact of Harvey on the ability of these residual markets to achieve their statutory goals and meet the needs of their policyholders. Examine possible gaps and vulnerabilities in insurance coverage brought to light by Harvey and recommend ways to address these issues.
  • International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs Committee: Review the state's communications with the federal government in response to Hurricane Harvey. Identify best practices and make recommendations for improvements to ensure the state maximizes federal resources in future emergencies.
  • Investments & Financial Services Committee: Review the impact of Hurricane Harvey on financial institutions in Texas and evaluate the response of the state's oversight agencies. Study how Harvey impacted consumers and lenders in the mortgage and home equity markets. Identify opportunities to improve the operational stability of financial institutions and to improve the state's responsiveness following a natural disaster.
 
Pink Heals is a great program that partners with public safety officials, local businesses, and families to bring communities together!
 
  • Judiciary & Civil Jurisprudence Committee: Study the effects of Hurricane Harvey on the courts and legal system. Examine whether existing statutes granting authority to the Texas Supreme Court and Texas Court of Criminal Appeals are adequate to address potential needs during emergencies. Study the effects of Harvey on civil legal aid programs in general, and specifically in regard to legal problems faced by those impacted. 
  • Juvenile Justice & Family Issues Committee: Evaluate the impact of Hurricane Harvey on the Texas juvenile justice system, out-of-home placements, and care for youth involved with the juvenile justice and child welfare systems. Recommend any changes that could improve operational stability of state juvenile justice institutions following a natural disaster and changes that would allow for a more effective response.
  • Land & Resource Management Committee: Review the General Land Office's (GLO) role and efforts during the recovery period following Hurricane Harvey. Examine the state's readiness and protocols in response to storm-related natural disasters. Provide an assessment of public lands and make recommendations on future and ongoing mitigation strategies regarding state assets. 
  • Natural Resources Committee:
  • Examine the following issues within the Committee's jurisdiction regarding Hurricane Harvey and flooding in general: the role of regional entities in developing projects to control flooding, both through new infrastructure and enhancing existing infrastructure; mitigation efforts that would reduce the impact of future flood events, and strategies to fund those efforts; and the response of public entities that own or operate dams to large-scale rain events, including how such entities make decisions regarding dam and reservoir operations during such events, coordinate with state and local emergency management officials, and communicate with the public.
  • Study the following additional issues related to Hurricane Harvey and flooding in general: the development of the initial State Flood Plan by the Texas Water Development Board, and how the plan might be enhanced or focused in light of Harvey; science and data availability and needs related to flood risk and to responding to flood events; the best methods of providing state financial assistance for flood infrastructure needs; opportunities for improved collection and storage of flood flows for future supply needs; and the role of voluntary land conservation efforts, including conservation easements, in preventing and mitigating flooding.
  • Public EducationCommittee:
  • Determine, to the extent possible, the scope of financial losses, including facilities, that resulted from Hurricane Harvey. Recommend possible state actions, such as changes to student counts or property valuation, to mitigate any negative impact on districts and ensure governance structures and parameters allow for effective responses.
  • Recommend any measures needed at the state level to prevent unintended punitive consequences to both students and districts in the state accountability system as a result of Hurricane Harvey and its aftermath.
  • Examine the educational opportunities offered to students displaced by Hurricane Harvey throughout the state and the process by which districts enroll and serve those students. Recommend any changes that could improve the process for students or help districts serving a disproportionate number of displaced students.
  • Special Purpose Districts Committee: Evaluate the impact of Hurricane Harvey on residential communities within special purpose districts and districts' capacity to respond. Review the role and adequacy of the districts in emergency preparedness and response. Make recommendations for strengthening districts' emergency operations.
  • State Affairs Committee:
  • Evaluate the response of the electric utility industry to Hurricane Harvey. Determine whether current rules and regulations hinder effective responses to natural disasters in areas within the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT) and outside ERCOT. Evaluate policy initiatives, best practices, and the effects of expanding distributed generation in order to restore electrical power, critical services, and infrastructure in areas impacted by a natural disaster. Study the impact of expanded distributed generation and advanced technology deployment on wholesale electric power prices and their impact on ratepayers.
  • Evaluate the durability and reliability of energy efficient buildings and facilities during natural disasters.
  • Transportation Committee: Review the state's response to Hurricane Harvey and natural disaster preparedness with respect to the transportation system and transportation infrastructure. Make recommendations for improving agency operations related to emergency preparedness and response.
  • Urban Affairs Committee:
  • Monitor housing needs in areas impacted by Hurricane Harvey and related flooding, including: the local, state, and federal governments' responses to short-term and long-term housing needs for those displaced by the storm; and changes in affordable and low-income housing needs in affected areas.
  • Make recommendations to improve and accelerate the response to existing and future housing needs related to Hurricane Harvey and future natural disasters, including: the viability of set-asides under current state and federal programs to address natural disaster-related contingencies; and how best to rebuild and revitalize impacted communities to mitigate future disaster-related damage.
  • Ways & Means Committee: Review the impact of Hurricane Harvey on state and local taxes. Examine the need for and the feasibility of requiring reappraisal of all property affected by large-scale disasters such as Harvey. Identify improvements to the tax-rate-setting process following such disasters.
 
At the Hometown Throwdown Game, where these adventurous skydivers delivered the football in a unique way!
 
Education Highlights
  • Higher Education Committee:
  • Examine the rapid growth of dual credit course offerings across the state, and evaluate whether dual credit is effectively reducing time-to-degree and improving affordability for students and the state. Evaluate institutions’ policies and processes for ensuring rigor and quality, and the adequacy of student advising regarding the potential applicability of dual credit courses to future academic program requirements. Review the current state funding methodology and costs of, and the share of state funding attributable to, dual credit programs. 
  • Examine efforts of 2- and 4-year institutions to implement innovative and non-traditional models of education delivery to meet the needs of an increasingly diverse student body and the demands of a rapidly changing workforce. Identify any obstacles to institutional innovation. Make recommendations to scale innovative educational models to better serve students and employers. 
  • Public Education Committee:
  • Review current state mechanisms for identifying and rewarding educators through state-level strategies. Examine how providing additional funding to enhance compensation in districts facing a shortage of experienced, highly rated teachers would affect retention and teacher quality, in addition to whether it would encourage teachers to provide additional services through extracurricular activities, tutoring, and mentoring.
  • Examine research-based options for evaluating student achievement beyond standardized test scores, including adaptive and portfolio assessments. Examine the scope of the current Texas essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) in grades with the state assessment, including the format, assessment calendar, and the limits of instructional days, if any. Determine if it is appropriate to limit TEKS to readiness standards that can be taught in less than the school year. Review current Student Success Initiative testing and make recommendations on its continuation or repeal. Review the ability of the state to waive standardized testing for students with significant cognitive disabilities. 
  • Examine programs in public schools that have proven results meeting the needs of and improving student achievement for students with disabilities, with an emphasis on programs specializing in autism, dysgraphia, and dyslexia. Recommend ways to support and scale innovative programs for these students, including providing supplemental services, or incentivizing public-private partnerships or inter district and charter school collaborations. Monitor the implementation and funding for the pilot programs authorized in H.B. 21 (85R) and review the Texas Education Agency's compliance with S.B. 160 (85R), which prohibits special education student caps.
 
Property Tax Highlight
  • Ways & Means Committee: Review the property tax system and identify improvements relating to: transparency and communications with taxpayers; the tax-rate-setting process; the training and expertise required of appraisal review board members; appraisal review board composition, structure, and process; and appeals of appraisal review board orders.
 
I hosted two informational sessions last month for retired teachers to learn about the recent changes made to TRS-Care.
 
Environmental Regulation Highlights
  • Appropriations Committee:
  • Review the appropriations made to the Texas Emissions Reduction Program (TERP) as well as the TERP fund balance. Review the revenue sources that fund the TERP and determine if the funds collected support the funding entities. Consider if TERP funding sources should be modified. Determine ways to address the TERP fund balance.
  • Study the allocation of the municipal solid waste disposal fee between Waste Management Account 0549 and Solid Waste Disposal Fee Account 5000. Determine whether changes should be made to support future program costs.
  • Environmental Regulation Committee:
  • Examine how emergency alert systems related to hazardous and chemical releases are organized at the local, state, and federal level and explore ways to improve coordination and efficiencies. Develop recommendations to improve notifications to first responders and the public. 
  • Study the permitting, siting, and regulatory processes for solid waste landfills, including municipal solid waste landfills, and whether current rules, regulations, and notice requirements adequately ensure compliance and maximize participation from the public and stakeholders.
  • Study the economic impact of the National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) and determine if new technologies can be utilized to meet attainment or make an attainment demonstration for all current standards.
  • Review the TCEQ's expedited air permitting program and examine whether the program is achieving the desired results. 
  • Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 85th Legislature.
 
On International Credit Union Day I joined a number of representatives from the credit unions that serve our area.
 
Transportation Highlights
  • Homeland Security & Public Safety Committee: Evaluate opportunities for DPS to expedite the driver license renewal process.
  • Transportation Committee:
  • Study the ability of the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to deliver highway construction projects that reduce congestion and improve mobility, including the Department's options and limitations related to contracting. Make recommendations to improve the Department's ability to complete complex projects on time and under cost.
  • Study the efficacy of existing transportation finance mechanisms from state, regional, and local perspectives. Identify opportunities to improve existing transportation finance mechanisms and investigate the feasibility of developing new ones.
  • Study Texas' various toll authorities and evaluate their transparency and stakeholder responsiveness. Make recommendations to improve the state oversight of toll authorities.
  • Review the management of the oversize/overweight permitting system and ensure that the state is adequately protecting the driving public and road integrity. Make recommendations to improve operations.
  • Study emerging issues in transportation related to technology and evaluate the state's preparedness for addressing challenges and opportunities posed by technological advances. Review the implementation of state and federal programs and legislation related to intelligent transportation systems, autonomous vehicles, unmanned aircraft systems (i.e. drones), and other technological changes.
  • Review the current state of infrastructure at Texas' international shipping ports and border ports of entry in Texas. Identify transportation-related impediments to international trade and estimate the impact of those challenges, including border wait times, on the state's economy. Make recommendations for improvements to facilitate international trade and economic growth. (Joint charge with the House Committee on International Trade & Intergovernmental Affairs)
  • Evaluate the impact energy exploration and production have on state and county roads and make recommendations on how to improve road quality in areas impacted by these activities. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Energy Resources)
  • Monitor the agencies and programs under the Committee’s jurisdiction and oversee the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 85th Legislature. In conducting this oversight, the committee will also specifically monitor the implementation of the TxDOT Sunset legislation and related management actions.
 
The Pearland Neighborhood Center had their Inaugural Golf Tournament which was supported by local businesses, city council members, and other elected officials. All proceeds from the tournament benefit PNC and the community.
 
Economic Development Highlights
  • Defense & Veterans’ Affairs CommitteeandEconomic & Small Business DevelopmentCommittee(joint charge): Study the economic impact of the aviation, aerospace, & defense manufacturing industry in Texas and the state's ability to facilitate industry job growth and investment. Review the relationship between the economic vitality of industry and military veterans transitioning into the workforce. Determine existing and potential barriers to the retention and expansion of the manufacturing industry in the state and the broader economic implications it may have on workforce readiness, as well as veteran employment and support services.
  • Economic & Small Business Development Committee: Evaluate the ongoing and long-term workforce needs of the state’s businesses and industries. Determine whether state resources are adequate to address shortages and assist with closing existing or future gaps in workforce readiness and skills to ensure the continued economic security and success of the state.
  • Licensing & Administrative Procedures Committee: Review local and state occupational licensing and regulations for redundancies. Determine the most effective balance of promoting the economic growth and development of Texas' businesses and workforce with government interests and public safety.
  • Ways & Means Committee:
  • Review the franchise tax and identify any changes that would improve the state’s business climate.
  • Monitor litigation to overturn the Bellas Hess and Quill decisions, thereby granting states the authority to collect sales and use taxes from remote retailers.
 
Highlights on the Recent Data Breach
  • Business & Industry Committee: Study the impact of data breaches or theft on Texas consumers and businesses. In particular, study the consequences of recent data breaches and subsequent mitigation efforts. Review the existing standards of risk as well as the current best practices in securing sensitive and personal information held or used by private industries. Determine if existing rules and regulations offer adequate consumer protection while allowing continued economic success for businesses in the state.
  • Investments & Financial ServicesCommittee: Study the impact and risks that a large-scale security breach of a credit bureau has on Texans. Identify opportunities to protect Texas consumers and to mitigate the impact of such a breach.
 
As an Ex-Officio, I attend the Alvin-Manvel Area Chamber of Commerce's Monthly Board Meeting to stay informed of local business issues and stay updated with the chamber and community involvement.
 
Health Care Highlights
  • Appropriations Committee:
  • Examine the Early Childhood Intervention Program (ECI) in Texas, including a review of historical funding levels, programmatic changes, challenges providers face within the program, and utilization trends. Evaluate ECI's impact on reducing the long-term costs of public education and health care. Identify solutions to strengthen the program.
  • Monitor Congressional action on federal healthcare reform and CHIP reauthorization. Identify potential impacts of any proposed federal changes. Identify short- and long-term benefits and challenges related to converting Texas Medicaid funding to a block grant or per capita cap methodology. Determine how Texas should best prepare for federal changes, including statutory and regulatory revisions, as well as any new administrative functions that may be needed. Explore opportunities to increase the state's flexibility in administering its Medicaid program, including but not limited to the use of 1115 and 1332 waivers.
  • Public Health Committee: Study and make recommendations to improve services available for identifying and treating children with mental illness, including the application of trauma- and grief-informed practices. Identify strategies to assist in understanding the impact and recognizing the signs of trauma in children and providing school-based or community-based mental health services to children who need them. Analyze the role of the Texas Education Agency and of the regional Education Service Centers regarding mental health. In addition, review programs that treat early psychosis among youth and young adults.  
 
Pension Systems Highlights
  • Appropriations Committee: Study the sustainability of TRS-Care and consider options for funding retired teacher health care in Texas, especially as it pertains to contributions being based on active employee payroll rather than the cost of health care. Monitor the implementation of H.B. 3976 (85R) and H.B. 30 (85(1)).
  • Pensions Committee:
  • Review the state's oversight of pension systems and study the effectiveness of corrective mechanisms, including the Funding Soundness Restoration Plan and Pension Review Board Funding Guidelines. Make recommendations to enhance state oversight and to maintain or achieve soundness among local pension systems.
  • Review and evaluate health incentive programs within the group benefit programs at ERS and TRS. Identify best practices among similar programs and barriers to implementation. Make recommendations for achieving further savings through existing and/or new programs.
 
Highlights on Government Transparency
  • Appropriations Committee: Examine the use of one-time funding and deferral measures employed by the Legislature in the state budget for the 2018-19 biennium, as well as any other factors that may contribute to a structural deficit. Explore strategies to ensure the state's ability to meet its ongoing fiscal obligations.
  • Government Transparency & Operation Committee: Study how state agencies can share knowledge and practices, reduce duplicative data gathering, and conduct business in a more efficient manner through interagency data sharing. Review best practices to provide the public with more transparency and access to government information.
 
On Fridays, you may find Freddie and myself with our friends over at Cruz 'N' Cars for Fajita Fridays! They hold this event every week and it's open to the community to enjoy and network.
 
House District 29 Events
Stay involved throughout the district with these upcoming events!
 
Keep an Eye Out for Weekly Installments of ED Talks!
Have you heard about TED Talks? Well, join me as I provide brief updates on what's happening around the district in short videos I'm calling "Ed Talks". Find them on my Facebook and Youtube pages!
 
 
Ed Thompson
District 29

 

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