Crossing the finish line
This is a preview of our Texas 2036 newsletter on the status of key elements of our legislative agenda as lawmakers bring this session to a finish. To receive this weekly highlight of our work, sign up here.
It’s May and that means the gavel comes down for the last time on this session at month’s end. This week’s newsletter presents the state of play as we approach the finish line on a legislative agenda to assure our state’s future.
The budget 💰
A conference committee has been named to reconcile the House and Senate versions of House Bill 1, the state budget.
House conferees are: Greg Bonnen, R-Friendswood, chair; Mary González, D-Clint; Jacey Jetton, R-Richmond; Gary VanDeaver, R-New Boston; and Armando Walle, D-Houston.
Senate conferees are: Joan Huffman, R-Houston, chair; Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe; Lois Kolkhorst, R-Brenham; Robert Nichols, R-Jacksonville; and Charles Schwertner, R-Georgetown.
HB 1 authorizes the state’s expenditures for the 2024-25 fiscal biennium and is the only legislation each session that lawmakers must pass.
👏 Did you know?
- The Texas 2036 policy team has actively engaged in supporting more than 200 bills.
Building the infrastructure 🚜
The Legislature began work in January soon after Comptroller Glenn Hegar’s announcement that state budget writers had a $32.7 billion revenue surplus for the current fiscal biennium.
Lawmakers have taken the opportunity to craft a set of historic bills that would make generational investments in the state’s infrastructure with an eye to setting up Texas for success in meeting the needs of its rapidly growing population.
Here’s a progress report on some of the infrastructure legislation that we’re tracking:
💧Water: The Senate has passed signature legislation (Senate Bill 28/Senate Joint Resolution 75) establishing constitutionally dedicated funds to encourage the establishment of new water supplies and to fix aging, leaky water systems statewide. It awaits a vote in House Natural Resources.
House Natural Resources has approved a constitutional amendment (House Joint Resolution 169) that would establish a dedicated funding source for these new water funds. It goes now to the full House for approval there.
Broadband: The House has passed signature legislation (HB 9/HJR 125) to establish a constitutionally dedicated fund for the purpose of funding efforts to expand access to broadband in rural and underserved urban areas. It awaits action in the Senate Finance Committee.
👉 Did you know?
- In the most recent Texas Voter Poll, 89% favored spending $5 billion to help Texas communities fix aging water infrastructure and 88% thought it was important to leverage the maximum amount of federal funds to support expansion of broadband access.
🚀 Space Commission: The House has passed legislation (HB 3447) to establish a Texas Space Commission to coordinate and provide incentives for the development of the aerospace industry in Texas. The legislation would also provide support for space-related educational opportunities and research.
The commercial space sector, which is rapidly becoming the future of space exploration, is expected to be a trillion-dollar industry by 2040.
🚗🚁 Flying vehicles: The Senate and House passed legislation (SB 2144) to address implementation of flying vehicle technology. It builds on efforts begun last session on urban air mobility.
The legislation now goes to the Governor for his consideration.
Health care markets & maternal care 🏥
🩺 Healthy markets: The House passed legislation (HB 711) aimed at improving access to affordable care by addressing a leading cause of higher prices: an unhealthy market where consolidation has limited options.
It awaits action in the Senate Health & Human Services Committee.
👩🏻🍼Postpartum Medicaid coverage: HB 12, legislation to extend Medicaid coverage to women for 12 months after the birth of a child, passed the House. The legislation drew a bipartisan list of 65 authors and co-authors and has been endorsed by more than 160 outside groups, including Texas 2036.
It awaits action in the Senate Health and Human Services Committee.
Education-to-workforce pipeline 📚
Community college finance reform: HB 8, legislation that would align community college funding with student outcomes, has passed the Texas House and is awaiting action in the Senate Higher Education Subcommittee.
- Did you know? Both the House and Senate have included $650 million in their budget proposals to fund these reforms, which are key to preparing the next generation of Texas workers for the emerging, high-demand jobs of the future.
High-quality instructional materials: HB 1605, legislation to make high-quality, instructional materials more readily available to school districts, has received preliminary approval in the House and is up for final action in the chamber today.
The Senate companion, SB 2565, has cleared that chamber and awaits action in the House Public Education Committee.
- expand the Mentor Program and Teacher Incentive Allotments;
- establish the Texas Teacher Residency Partnership Program, and;
- provide additional support and benefits to educators.
The bills have both passed their originating chambers and await hearing in the House Public Education Committee and Senate Education Committee, respectively.
How well do you know Texas women?
A justice system we can trust ⚖️
Sunset legislation for the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement (SB 1445) has passed the Senate and was heard in committee last week on the House side.
- The legislation contains several measures to address the problem of “wandering officers,” law enforcement personnel who hire on at a different agency after leaving a previous job under questionable circumstances.
👉 Texas 2036 is working on further improvements to make the reporting system more transparent and easier for the public to follow. For Texas to be the best place to live and work, public safety, which is predicated on trust in law enforcement, is critical.
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