"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Governor

Rick Perry extended the disaster proclamation for threat of

extreme wildfires indefinitely.  He directed

that all necessary measures, both public and private be implemented

to meet the potential disaster and he suspended any rules and

regulations that might inhibit or prevent prompt response to the

potential fire threat. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Tuesday, Governor Perry was joined by Senator Leticia Van de Putte

(D-San Antonio), Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) and

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott to discuss legislation that

would strengthen penalties for those convicted of human

trafficking.  Governor Perry said, "Trapped

between the law and the lawless, victims of human trafficking

suffer under inhumane conditions, forced into activities they'd

never imagined with their captors threatening to kill them, or even

their families, if they don't comply.  In Texas, we

must do everything possible to ensure more people don't fall into

the trap of human trafficking, and to make sure that the people

behind these insidious acts pay the price for their

crimes."  SB 24 and HB

7 contain proposals from the Attorney General's Task Force

on Human Trafficking, which include creating a new offense for

compelling prostitution for adult and child victims, stronger

parole requirements for trafficking offenses that require offenders

to serve longer prison time, eliminating release on mandatory

supervision, and stronger restrictions on bond

release.  Senator Van de Putte said, "As startling as

it is to imagine that human trafficking is occurring in our state,

the reality is that this form of modern day slavery does take

place.  We must do everything possible to severely

punish those who profit from this heinous crime and help victims

regain their dignity."  Representative Thompson added,

"Less than 10 years ago almost no one knew what human trafficking

was, or how big a problem it would become.  Now one of

the world's most heinous and prevalent crimes, human trafficking,

demands attention.  Texas was one of the first states

to really address this, and today we continue to be at the

forefront of this issue. This session we are on the verge of

passing several key pieces of legislation that address not only the

victims of this crime but the perpetrators that prey on

them."

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SENATE - The Senate was in session Monday through Thursday

of this week.  On Monday, the Senate passed several

bills including:  SB 647 by Glenn

Hegar (R-Katy) which would continue the operation of the Office of

Public Insurance Counsel through 2023; SB 811 by

Kirk Watson (D-Austin) which would permit doctors at university

hospitals to access the expedited certification process available

to other doctors working in managed healthcare plans; and

SB 116 by Uresti, the Kristy Appleby

Act, which would allow a person to file a restraining

order against the former partner of their current significant

other.  SB 116 was spurred by the Feb. 10, 2009, death

of 32-year-old Kristy Appleby, who was slain by the ex-wife of a

man she had dated.  Appleby had sought a protective

order against the woman, but it was denied because they were not

involved in a personal relationship.  Kristy's case

exposed a loophole in the state's protective order

law.  Senator Uresti said, "This legislation redefines

the state's dating violence statute to allow third-party protective

orders for people who are not involved in an intimate relationship

with each other.  This bill will ensure that anyone

threatened by a broken or dysfunctional relationship will receive

the full protection of the law." 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Wednesday, the Senate gave unanimous approval to SB

24 Senator Leticia Van de Putte's SB 24, the human

trafficking legislation. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt;">

"color: #000000;">At a Thursday press conference, a group of

Senators called on the federal government to increase

security along the border with

Mexico.  Senator Tommy Williams (R-The

Woodlands), Chair of the Senate Transportation and Homeland

Security Committee, and seven other senators announced the filing

of SCR 36 that would send a delegation to

Washington to secure more funding and more personnel to keep

violence from spilling across the Rio Grande.  The

resolution also requests an analysis to show how much fully funding

border security in Texas would cost.  Senator Williams

said, "We want Congress to secure our borders from the drug cartels

and the people that are involved in human smuggling and all of the

terrible things that are going on in our border

region."  According to Department of Public Safety

Director Steve McCraw, "An insecure border with Mexico is the

number one public safety and homeland security threat to Texas and

the U.S.  The cartel war in Mexico has lead to 34,000

murders south of the border, more than seventy of whom were

American nationals."  Senator Williams added, "Though

Texas hasn't seen the level of violence of Northern Mexico, crime

related to illegal immigration has a serious impact in the

state."  Lt. Governor David

"color: #333333;">Dewhurst said, "For far too long, Washington has

dodged their Constitutional duty to secure our borders, passing the

costs and the consequences of their inaction to states like

Texas.  This resolution will hold Washington

accountable for the millions of uncompensated tax dollars that

Texans spend each year to enforce federal immigration laws and

secure the 1200-mile Southern

border." 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

Senate adjourned until 1:30p.m. on Monday, March 28,

2011. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Total number of bills reported out of Senate Committees this

week:      71

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Total number of bills passed by the Senate this

week:                             

84

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Total number of bills passed on the Local and Uncontested

calendar:    45

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HOUSE - The House was also in session Monday through

Thursday of this week.  They had scheduled debate on

SB 14, the Voter ID bill for Monday, but a

point-of-order sent the bill back to the House Select Committee on

Voter Identification and Voter Fraud.  It was kicked

out on Monday and was back on the House calendar on

Wednesday.  On Monday, the House gave preliminary

approval to HB 314 by Rick Hardcastle (R-Wichita

Falls) which would designate a part of U.S. Highway 81 from the

Texas -Oklahoma border to the northern municipal boundary of Bowie

as the Corporal David Slaton Memorial Highway in

honor of Department of Public Safety trooper Corporal Davis Slaton,

who was killed in a traffic accident on the highway while on duty

in September 2010.  The bill received final approval

on Tuesday. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Wednesday, the House spent 12 hours debating SB

14, the Voter ID bill, which would

require a voter to present one form of photo identification to an

election officer at the polling place in order to

vote.  They considered 62 amendments, 12 of which were

adopted (only the ones acceptable to the author).  It

received final approval on Thursday by a vote of 101 to 48

essentially along party lines.  Representative Joe

Pickett of El Paso was the only Democrat to vote with the

Republican majority in support of the bill.  Upon

passage of SB 14, Speaker Joe Straus said, "I commend Rep. Patricia

Harless (R-Spring) and my colleagues in the Texas House for their

hard work in passing SB 14.  The Legislature must do

all it can to guarantee that our elections are conducted fairly,

legally, and without fraud.  This bill is a

significant step in achieving those goals.  I am

confident that in the coming weeks we will find additional ways to

protect the integrity of our elections, including ensuring that the

mailed-in ballot process is not compromised." 

Governor Rick Perry also commented

saying, "I commend the Texas House for passing legislation

regarding photo ID requirements that are necessary to uphold the

integrity of our state's electoral process and ensure our state has

the proper protections against voter fraud.  This

issue is important to Texans, and I look forward to this

legislation reaching my desk very soon."

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

House Democratic Caucus spoke on behalf of its

members who opposed SB 14.  Their

statement was, "Late Wednesday night, House Republicans passed,

photo ID legislation, requiring voters to show a photo ID when they

go to the polls.  SB 14 would be the strictest voter

ID bill enacted in any state in the nation, keeping hundreds of

thousands of eligible voters across Texas from

voting.  On the House floor, Republicans made the bill

even stricter by removing a provision that would exempt elderly

voters from the photo ID requirement.  Republicans

refused to work with Democrats on common sense amendments that

would help the bill.  Representative Richard Pena

Raymond (D-Laredo) offered an amendment that would have made the

bill unenforceable if it did not comply with Section 5 of the

Voting Rights Act.  Representative Mando Martinez

(D-Weslaco) offered another amendment that waived the fees

associated with obtaining an ID, as mandated by SB

14.  Democratic members also expressed frustration

that the Legislature's time was spent on this bill over other

issues.  Representative Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio)

said, "This nonemergency piece of legislation wasted almost a week

of time that could have been used to address real emergencies like

the pressing budget crisis.  When 43,700 senior

citizens in nursing homes face eviction and over 100,000 teachers

could potentially lose their jobs, why do Republicans insist that

we spend time on this non-essential bill that threatens to harm

more Texans than it helps? After years of combing through

investigations of millions of votes, Republican Attorney General

Greg Abbott has discovered only one verifiable case of voter

impersonation." 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Before

adjourning for the weekend, the House passed HB

451 by Eddie Lucio, III (D-Rancho Viejo) establishing the

"Don't Mess with Texas Water" program, which would

require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality to set up the

program to prevent illegal dumping that affects the state's surface

waters by requiring signs to be placed at major highway water

crossings advertising a toll-free hotline to report illegal

dumping. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

House adjourned until 1:00p.m. on Monday, March 28,

2011.    

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Total number of bills reported out of House Committees this

week:       93

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Total number of bills passed by the House this

week:                              

3

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Next Week:  The House will have its

first Local and Consent calendar on Wednesday of

next week.  On Thursday, they will take up HB

4, the supplemental appropriations bill

and HB 275, the bill authorizing use of the

Rainy Day Fund to address the shortfall in the

current biennium.  On Friday, they will take up

HB 1, the general appropriations

bill. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

BUDGET - On Monday, Senate Finance

Committee Chairman Steve Ogden (R-Bryan) announced two new

subcommittees:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Subcommittee on Fiscal Matters - Robert Duncan, Chair and

members Bob Deuell, Kevin Eltife, Dan Patrick, Royce West, Tommy

Williams, and Judith Zaffirini.

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Subcommittee on Public Safety - John Whitmire, Chair and

members Craig Estes, Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa, Eddie Lucio, Jane

Nelson, Kel Seliger, and Florence Shapiro. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

Senate Finance Committee met on Thursday this

week.  Their Subcommittee on Education

Funding met on Monday and Tuesday; the

Subcommittee on Fiscal Matters met on Tuesday; and

the Subcommittees on Medicaid and Public Safety

met on Thursday.  At their Thursday meeting, the

Senate Finance Committee approved recommendations from the

Subcommittee on Public School Finance, chaired by

Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano).  They increased

funding to public education by $5.7 billion over the original

proposed budget, and included money for textbooks and instructional

materials.  Senator Shapiro said the recommendations

will keep money in the classroom and will further the goals of

school accountability and college readiness.  But, she

warned that the recommendations the committee adopted will not be

the final budget for public education in Texas.  She

said, "This is not a final document.  It puts the

structure in place, and we have to be able to work in that

structure in order to have a school finance bill that we will be

able to pass."   

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Wednesday, the House Appropriations Committee

voted out their version of HB 1, the

general appropriations bill. 

Democrats on the House Appropriations Committee unanimously voted

against it.  They issued a joint statement saying,

"The Republican budget proposal for 2012-2013 passed the committee

on a vote of 18-7 and will be considered by the full House of

Representatives in the coming weeks.  Democrats on the

Committee spoke out against the proposal to cut funding for

neighborhood schools, make college more expensive, and eliminate

basic services for children, seniors and the

disabled.  House Democrats have called on state

leaders to fix the $10 billion permanent budget hole created by the

Republicans' 2006 tax plan and use a portion of the $9.4 billion

Rainy Day Fund to address the 2012-2013 budget, but the leadership

has refused to do so."  Representative Dawnna

Dukes(D-Austin) said, "In many cases the cuts in health and

human services are making life and death decisions. 

Texas children, senior citizens and disabled Texans deserve

better.  With inadequate resources, our school

children are destined to a second class education and unable to

compete in today's global economy.  This budget is

unacceptable to our constituencies who have sent us to ensure a

first class education for our children, protect our citizens, care

for those who can no longer care for themselves and provide

services to those who have nowhere else to turn." 

Rep. Craig Eiland (D-Galveston) said, "Texas is

experiencing a budget shortfall, but cutting funds to schools, the

elderly and disabled is not the only way to address our

problem.  It is important that we uphold the

commitment to our citizens and not put the most vulnerable of our

population, like children, the disabled and the mentally challenged

at risk."  Representative Sylvester Turner (D-Houston)

concluded, "When we all return to our local communities, we must be

sure that we have left intact the basic infrastructure of the

education and health & humans services systems in our

State.  If we cut too deep and damage the

infrastructure of these essential services the state provides, it

will be exponentially more costly and the negative impact to our

local communities will be insurmountable and in some cases

irreversible.  This budget voted out of Committee

today devastates the education system and comes dangerously close

to dismantling our health and human services infrastructure in

Texas.  The state has the duty to protect its citizens

and provide basic services, and in economic hard times such as now,

that duty becomes even more vital.  With an estimated

available balance of over $9.4 billion in our state's rainy day

fund ($6.2 billion remaining in 2012-2013), it is completely

irresponsible for the state to sit on the money while the basic

needs of Texan's go unmet." 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Thursday, the House State Affairs Committee took

up:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HJR 33 by Richard Raymond (D-Laredo) would propose a

constitutional amendment to require the legislature to adopt a

budget every year and establish annual sessions

with the session in the even numbered year being a budget

session.   It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Thursday, the House Government Efficiency and Reform

Committee took up:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HB 2448 by Linda Harper-Brown (R-Irving) would establish

the Office of Inspector General and would appoint

deputy inspectors general at the Health and Human Services

Commission, Texas Youth Commission, Texas Department of Criminal

Justice, Texas Education Agency, and Texas Department of

Transportation.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Next Week: 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

Senate Finance Committee's Subcommittee on Public

Safety will meet on Monday, March 28, 2011 at 9:00a.m. in

E1.012.  The Senate Finance Committee does not yet

have any other meetings posted.  The House

Appropriations Committee does not have any meetings posted

for next week. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Wednesday, the House will take up:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HB 4 by Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) is the House version of

the supplemental appropriations bill for the state

fiscal year ending August 31, 2011; and 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HB 275 by Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) would authorize the

use of $3.118 billion from the state's Economic

Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund) to cover the

shortfall in the current 2010-2011

budget. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Friday, the House will take up:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HB 1 by Jim Pitts (R-Waxahachie) is the general

appropriations bill. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

all the budget bills the House will consider next week, there is a

Calendar Committee rule that proposed amendments that add money to

one part of the budget must include a corresponding decrease of the

same amount or more from another line item. 

Amendments for HB 4 and HB 275 must be pre-filed with the Chief

Clerk by 10:00a.m. on Monday and amendments for HB 1 must be

pre-filed by 10:00a.m. on Tuesday. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT - On Tuesday, the House

Agriculture and Livestock Committee took

up: 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HB 2334 by Rick Hardcastle (R-Vernon) would authorize the

Texas Department of Agriculture to sell advertising and Go

Texan program merchandise to promote agriculture,

horticulture, and other industries that grow, process, or produce

products in Texas.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Wednesday, the Senate Economic Development

Committee took up:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 1047 by Mike Jackson (R-La Porte) would add the

Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center to the list of

eligible organizations that can receive funding from the Texas

Emerging Technology Fund.  It was voted out

favorably. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 1069 by Mike Jackson (R-La Porte) would require annual

(rather than every three years) reporting to the legislature of

awards made from the Texas Emerging Technology

Fund.  It was voted out favorably a

substituted. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 1175 by Mike Jackson (R-La Porte) would provide that

grants under the Texas Enterprise Fund and the

Texas Emerging Technology Fund would be deemed

approved if the lieutenant governor or speaker of the House do not

disapprove the proposal before the 91st day after

receipt of the proposal.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Thursday, the House Economic and Small Business Development

Committee took up:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HB 433 by Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) would establish

qualified manufacturing project

zones.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HB 1560 by Connie Scott (R-Corpus Christi) would authorize

counties to nominate projects located in the county and in the

extraterritorial jurisdiction of a municipality primarily located

in another county for designation as an enterprise

project.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HB 2785 by John Davis (R-Houston) would establish the

Select Committee on Economic Development to

develop an economic development policy for the state, make

recommendations regarding state and local economic development

incentives, develop criteria for evaluating the effectiveness of

existing economic development policies and incentives, consider the

benefits of consolidating state and local economic development

incentives, evaluate existing incentives, and make recommendations

on whether the state should adopt new incentives to better

accomplish the state's economic development policy. 

It was left pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Reported from Committee:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HB 397 by Veronica Gonzales (D-McAllen) would establish

the Bureau for Economic Development of the Border

Region to facilitate research in fields of study affecting

the economy in the border region and make recommendations to the

legislature on improving the economy of the region. 

It was reported favorably from the House Border and

Intergovernmental Affairs Committee and recommended for the Local

and Consent calendar. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Passed the Senate:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 309 by Chris Harris (R-Arlington) would expand the

events eligible for the major events trust fund to

include the Academy of Country Music Awards or a national political

convention of the Republican National Committee or the Democratic

National Committee.  Two floor amendments were

adopted. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 520 by Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) would authorize counties to

create more than one county assistance district;

and would specify that the maximum combined sales tax rate could

not exceed the current cap.  The committee

amendment was adopted. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Next Week:  The Senate

Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee will meet on

Monday, March 28, 2011 at 1:30p.m. in E1.012 of the capitol

extension to take up:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 1086 by Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) would authorize

the Texas Department of Agriculture to sell advertising and

Go Texan program merchandise to promote agriculture,

horticulture, and other industries that grow, process, or produce

products in Texas. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

ENERGY - On Monday and Tuesday, the Senate

Government Organization Committee considered:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 655 by Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) is the sunset bill

for the Railroad Commission, and it would abolish the

Railroad Commission and transfer its duties to a new Texas Oil and

Gas Commission.  It was initially left pending,

but on Wednesday, it was voted out favorably as

substituted. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Tuesday, the Senate Business and Commerce

Committee took up:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 504 by Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) would require

electric utilities to give discounted utility rates for

school districts and open-enrollment charter

schools.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 981 by John Carona (R-Dallas) would set standards for

the Public Utility Commission to determine whether a retail

electric customer should be considered a power generation

company if the customer is using distributed generation to produce

electrical energy.  It was reported out favorably

as substituted and recommended for the Local and Uncontested

calendar. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 982 by John Carona (R-Dallas) would prohibit the Public

Utility Commission from ordering a telecommunication provider to

provide mandatory or optional extended area

service to additional metropolitan areas or calling areas

or from ordering an expansion of a toll-free calling

area after September 1, 2011.  It was

reported out favorably as substituted and recommended for the Local

and Uncontested calendar.  

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 1125 by John Carona (R-Dallas) would set the state's

energy efficiency goal for electric utilities to

annually provide incentives sufficient for retail electric

providers to acquire additional energy efficiency for its customers

equivalent to at least one-half of 1% of the electric utility's

peak demand by January 1, 2013.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 1133 by Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) would require reporting of

weather emergency preparedness plans by power

plants and would require the Public Utility Commission and the

Electric Reliability Council of Texas to analyze the plans and

prepare a weather emergency preparedness report on power generation

and wholesale electric generator' preparedness to provide

continuous electric utility service in the event of a

weather-related forced interruption.  It was

reported out favorably and recommended for the Local and

Uncontested calendar. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Tuesday, the Senate Natural Resources Committee

took up several groundwater conservation district bills

and:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 385 by Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) would reserve

from the Texas Emissions Reduction Plan fund

dedicated for the Diesel emissions reduction incentive program, 5

percent to be used for the clean fleet program; and two percent to

be used for the alternative fueling facilities

program.  It was voted out favorably and

recommended for the Local and Uncontested calendar. 

It is on the Senate Intent Calendar for

Monday. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Wednesday, the House Energy Resources Committee

took up:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HB 1728 by Jim Keffer (R-Eastland) would

allow the board of trustees of a school district to use any

available money, other than money borrowed from the state, to pay

the provider of the energy or water conservation

measures however, the board would not be required to pay

for the energy or water conservation measures solely out of the

savings realized by the school district under an energy saving

performance contract.  It was left

pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Thursday, the House State Affairs Committee took

up:

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HB 1204 by Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) would require a

transmission and distribution utility to remove a

hold or any other restriction that is based on an amount due to

another retail electric provider and that is preventing the

customer from receiving electric service.  It was

left pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Thursday, the House Defense and Veteran's Affairs

Committee took up:

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HB 1509 by Joe Pickett (D-El Paso) would require the Texas

Commission on Environmental Quality, at the request of a federally

owned or operated radar installation or military installation, to

notify the installation of a planned construction or

expansion of a wind-powered electric generation facility

project if the project will occur within 25 miles of the boundaries

of the installation.  It was left

pending. 

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Next Week: 

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HB 805 by Bill Callegari (R-Katy) would provide that the

term "affected utility" applies in a county with a

population of 350,000 (instead of 400,000) or more adjacent to a

county with a population of 3.3 million for purposes of the

requirement of an emergency preparedness plan to be submitted to

the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality.  It

is on Wednesday's House Local and Consent

calendar. 

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ENVIRONMENT - On Tuesday, the House Natural

Resources Committee took up:

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HB 192 by Armando Walle (D-Houston) would prohibit a

water and sewer utility from increasing its rate

more than 20% in a 35-month period.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 206 by Armando Walle (D-Houston) would require a

retail public utility that intends to increase its

water rates to provide notice to each ratepayer concerning the

reason for the proposed rate increase and bill payment assistance

programs available.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 491 by Harold Dutton (D-Houston) would allow a utility

to impose a reasonable impact fee when a customer

requests new construction or new installation.  It

was left pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Tuesday, the Senate Natural Resources Committee

took up: 

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SB 875 by Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay)

would allow a person who is subject to an administrative, civil, or

criminal action brought under the Regional Waste Disposal

Act for nuisance or trespass to have an affirmative

defense if the actions were authorized by a rule, permit, order,

license, certificate, registration, or approval, of the Texas

Commission on Environmental Quality or the federal

government.  It was voted out favorably as

substituted. 

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SCR 2 by Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) would urge Congress

to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act of

2007.  It was reported out favorably as

substituted and recommended for the Local and Uncontested

calendar.  It is on Monday's Senate Intent

calendar. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Tuesday, the Senate Natural Resources Committee

voted out SB 332 by Chairman Troy Fraser

(R-Horseshoe Bay) which would amend the Water Code to clarify that

landowners have a vested ownership interest in the

groundwater below their land.  Senator Fraser

said, "The right to produce groundwater from beneath your property

is one of the most basic of all property rights.  This

right was reaffirmed in 1904 when the Texas Supreme Court ruled

that groundwater was the private property of a landowner and that a

landowner could not be held liable for harming a neighbor's well by

exercising their right to capture the groundwater. 

For over 100 years, landowners have believed that the Texas Supreme

Court gave them a vested private property right in the groundwater

beneath their land.  And, that the ownership interest

gives them a constitutionally-protected right to drill a well and

produce groundwater for their use."  Dave Scott,

president of Texas and Southwestern Cattle Raisers Association

supported the bill saying, "For more than a century landowners have

owned the groundwater below their land, and it is important that

the Legislature recognize this vested ownership

interest.  SB 332 reaffirms this vested ownership

interest while recognizing the current authority of groundwater

conservation districts." 

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Reported from Committee:

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HB 1981 by Wayne Smith (R-Baytown) would require the Texas

Commission on Environmental Quality to establish and maintain an

air pollutant watch list and require the

commission to adopt guidelines for effects screening levels for air

contaminants and use them in permit reviews of all new and modified

facilities to establish enforceable limits in the

permits.  It was reported out favorably from the

House Environmental Regulation Committee and recommended for the

Local and Consent calendar. 

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Passed the Senate:

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SB 181 by Florence Shapiro (R-Plano), Kel Seliger

(R-Amarillo), and Kirk Watson (D-Austin) would require the Texas

Commission on Environmental Quality in consultation with the Water

Conservation Advisory Council, to develop uniform methodology and

guidance for calculating and reporting municipal water use and

conservation for use in water conservation plans

and reports.  The committee substitute and one

floor amendment were adopted. 

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SB 313 by Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) would allow the Texas

Commission on Environmental Quality to create a groundwater

conservation district over all or part of a priority

groundwater management area and to add land from a

priority groundwater management area.  The

committee substitute was adopted. 

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SB 329 by Kirk Watson (D-Austin) would create a

Television Recycling Program in the State of

Texas.  The committee substitute was

adopted. 

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SB 430 by Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) would require

notice of contaminated usable groundwater to be

given to a groundwater conservation district, if the contamination

has occurred or is occurring within the jurisdiction of the

district. 

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SB 493 by Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) would prohibit the

Texas Commission on Environmental Quality from prohibiting or

limiting the idling of any motor vehicle with a

gross vehicle weight rating greater than 8,500 pounds that is

equipped with a 2008 or subsequent model year heavy-duty diesel

engine.  One floor amendment was

adopted. 

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SB 360 by Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) would add money

transferred to the Rural Water Assistance Fund

from the Water Assistance Fund for construction of

infrastructure; desalination projects; the purchase or lease of

water well fields; and for water quality enhancement

projects.  It passed on the Local and Uncontested

calendar. 

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Next Week: 

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SCR 2 by Carlos Uresti (D-San Antonio) would urge Congress

to reauthorize the Water Resources Development Act of

2007.   It is on Monday's Senate Intent

Calendar. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

Senate Government Organization Committee will meet

on Monday, March 28, 2011 at 1:30p.m. in 2E.20 of the capitol

building to take up:

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 660 by Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa

(D-McAllen) is the Texas Water Development Board

sunset bill. 

 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

House Natural Resources Committee will meet on

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 8:00a.m. in E2.010 to take

up:

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HB 1979 by Jodie Laubenberg (R-Wylie) would provide that a

water district annexed for limited purposes must

be in the municipality's extraterritorial jurisdiction and

contiguous to the corporate boundaries of the municipality or an

annexed area unless the district consents to noncontiguous

annexation. 

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HB 2112 by Four Price (R-Amarillo) would allow the Texas

Commission on Environmental Quality to create a groundwater

conservation district over all or part of a priority

groundwater management area and to add land from a

priority groundwater management area.

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HB 2113 by Four Price (R-Amarillo) would require a

groundwater conservation district in a priority

groundwater management area to be composed of territory in two or

more contiguous counties, unless the commission determines that a

district composed of territory in noncontiguous counties will

result in more effective or efficient groundwater management than

other options available to the commission. 

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HB 2364 by Wayne Christian (R-Center) would require the

executive director of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

to give written notice of water contamination to

each groundwater district with authority to regulate water wells

located in the area affected within 30 days.

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HB 3391 by Doug Miller (R-New Braunfels) would authorize

financial institutions to consider making loans for developments

that will use harvested rainwater as the sole

source of water supply; would require rainwater harvesting system

technology to be incorporated into the design for new state

buildings; and would encourage cities and counties to promote

rainwater harvesting. 

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GENERAL BUSINESS - On Monday, the House Business

and Industry Committee took up:

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HB 1440 by Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas) would require

persons that offer a consumer free goods or

services on a trial basis and that, at the end of the free

trial period, charge the consumer a fee for the goods or services,

to send a form to the consumer to get the consumer's agreement to

pay the fee after the end of the free trial period; and would

prohibit the person from charging a fee for the goods or services

after the end of the free trial period if the person does not

receive a signed form from the consumer.  It was

left pending. 

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HB 1443 by Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas) would prohibit

businesses from sharing, selling, or transferring personal

identifying information of a consumer without the

consumer's consent; and consent could not be based solely on the

consumer's failure to respond to an opt-out notice. 

It was left pending. 

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HB 1444 by Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas) would prohibit a person

who offers a consumer the option of entering into a contract for

services through electronic means and the contract contains a

provision that allows the consumer the option to cancel the

services under the contract, the person offering the contract would

be required to allow the consumer to cancel the services

through electronic means; and it would institute a private

cause of action.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 1660 by Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas) would prohibit

video programming service providers from offering

a consumer contract for video programming services that provides

any fee or charge for cancellation of the contract or any period

during which the contract is not subject to cancellation by the

consumer.  It was left

pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Monday, the Senate State Affairs Committee took

up: 

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SB 450 by Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) would require a person

to bring a suit on a cause of action on a consumer

debt within four years.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Tuesday, the House Pensions, Investments, and Financial

Services Committee took up: 

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HB 410 by Tom Craddick (R-Midland), HB

656 by Joe Farias (D-San Antonio), HB 661

by Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin), and HB 1323 by Eric

Johnson (D-Dallas) would prohibit fees for assisting a consumer

with obtaining an extension of credit if the

extension of credit is secured by a non-purchase money security

interest in personal property or is unsecured and the proceeds of

the extension of credit are used for personal, family, or household

purposes.  They were all left

pending. 

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HB 2592 by Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) would require

credit services organizations to post in a

conspicuous location a schedule of all fees to be charged for

services performed by the organization; a notice of the contact

information for the Office of Consumer Credit Commissioner; and a

notice that money obtained through a payday loan or auto title loan

is not intended to meet long-term financial needs; and would be

required to provide consumers with a disclosure of the annual

percentage rate and fees charged on a deferred presentment

transaction, the amount of accumulated fees a consumer would incur

for having a deferred presentment transaction, and information

regarding the typical profile of repayment of deferred presentment

transactions.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 2593 by Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) would prohibit a lender

from entering into a deferred presentment

transaction in which the cash advance exceeds the lesser

of $2,000 or 35% of the borrower's gross monthly income; prohibit a

lender from making more than three consecutive reauthorizations of

a deferred presentment transaction; and require a lender to accept

partial payment and apply any partial payment to the principal

amount owed.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HB 2594 by Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) would institute

registration and regulation of credit services

organizations.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Tuesday, the House Criminal Jurisprudence

Committee took up:

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HB 2482 by Aaron Pena (R-Edinburg) would make

organized retail theft a Class B misdemeanor if

the total value of the merchandise is less than $500 and a Class A

misdemeanor if the value is between $500 and $1,500. 

Current law provides state jail felonies for merchandise over

$1,500.  )  It was left

pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Reported from Committee:

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HB 670 by Myra Crownover (R-Lake Dallas) would

prohibit smoking in places of employment, in

public places, and in the seating area at an outdoor

event.  It was reported favorably from the House

Public Health Committee. 

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HB 681 by Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lexington) would prohibit an

employer from restricting an employee from bringing a

handgun into the employer's parking lot. 

It was reported favorably from the House Business and Industry

Committee as substituted.   The committee

substitute exempts property owned or leased by a chemical

manufacturer or oil and gas refiner with an air authorization under

the Clean Air Act and on which the primary business conducted is

the manufacture, use, storage, or transportation of hazardous,

combustible, or explosive materials unless the employee holds a

concealed handgun license. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Next Week:  The House

Business and Industry Committee will meet on Monday, March

28, 2011 at 8:30a.m. in E2.016 of the capitol extension to take

up:

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HB 3011 by Helen Giddings (D-Dallas) would prohibit

businesses that obtain a customer's zip code to verify

identity in a credit card transaction from retaining the

zip code after the purchase of the good or service has been

completed or to use the zip code for any other purpose; and would

set the civil penalty for a violation of this law of between $500

and $1,000 per violation. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

House Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services

Committee will meet on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 to take

up:

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HB 2342 by Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) would increase the

administrative and criminal penalties for violations of the

Securities Act. 

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HB 2931 by Beverly Woolley (R-Houston) would allow

guaranteed asset protection waivers (BAP waivers)

- contractual agreements wherein a creditor agrees for a separate

charge to cancel or waive all or part of the amounts due on a

borrower's finance agreement in the event of a total physical

damage loss or unrecovered theft of the motor vehicle - to be

offered, sold or provided to borrowers in Texas, and may, at the

option of the creditor, be sold for a single payment or may be

offered with a monthly or periodic payment

option. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

HEALTH - On Monday, the Senate State Affairs

Committee took up:

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SB 521 by John Carona (R-Dallas) would prohibit an insurer

from threatening to terminate an insured's participation in a

preferred provider benefit plan solely because the

insured uses an out-of-network provider, and from attempting to

limit communication between a physician and the

insured.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Tuesday, the House Agriculture and Livestock

Committee took up:

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HB 643 by Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) would require school

districts with 50% or more students qualifying for a free or

reduced-price lunch to provide a summer nutrition

program.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Tuesday, the Senate Health and Human Services

Committee took up:

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SB 229 by Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) would expand the

definition of "birthing facility" by removing the

requirement that such a facility be located in a county with a

population of more than 50,000 or be a facility with more than 100

births per year.  It was voted out favorably as

substituted. 

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SB 420 by Bob Deuell (R-Greenville) would authorize a

sponsored alien to apply to a county for indigent health

care services, and authorize a county to include the

income and resources of the sponsor and sponsor's spouse when

determining eligibility.  It was voted out

favorably as substituted. 

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SB 544 by Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) would clarify

provisions relating to responsibility for unlawful acts against and

criminal offenses involving the Medicaid

program.  It was voted out

favorably. 

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SB 688 by Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) would include

the submission of more than 25 but less than 50 fraudulent

Medicaid claims as a third degree felony offense, and the

submission of 50 or more such claims as a second degree

felony.  It was voted out favorably as

substituted. 

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SB 848 by Dan Patrick (R-Houston) would allow an

ambulatory surgical center to share its license

under a sublicense agreement with one or more designated physician

groups.  It was left

pending. 

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SB 969 by Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) would establish the

Public Health Funding and Policy Advisory

Committee within the Department of State Health Services.

 It was voted out favorably as

substituted. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Tuesday, the House Homeland Security and Public Safety

Committee took up:

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HB 1137 by Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) would prohibit the

over-the-counter sale of one or more products containing

ephedrine, pseudoephedrine, or norpseudoephedrine within

any calendar day of more than 3.6 grams (rather than 6 grams) or

more than 9 grams within a 30-day period; and would require

information on the sale to be transmitted to a real-time electronic

logging system such as the National Precursor Log

Exchange.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Tuesday, the House Committee on State Sovereignty

approved three pieces of legislation that relate to the federal law

known as the "Patient Protection and Affordable Care

Act."  Representative Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe),

the committee's chair said, "The proposals all address the costly,

unfunded federal healthcare mandates in a variety

of ways, including prohibition of, studying of, and expressing

Texas' opposition to the federal healthcare reforms.  

I am proud to help lead the fight to defend Texans' rights to make

their own decisions concerning healthcare choices. 

House Bills 32, 335, and HCR 27 all help defend our individual

freedoms and allow personal choices with regard to medical

decisions."  HB 32 is modeled after Virginia's bill,

passed last year, prohibiting residents of the state from being

required to purchase healthcare coverage.  House Bill

335, authored by Representative Mark Shelton (R-Ft. Worth),

requires state agencies, before implementing any part of the

federal healthcare law, to issue a report to the Legislative Budget

Board, stating the impact and consequences of having to comply with

federal mandates.  Representative Shelton said, "HB

335 provides transparency for Texans, to inform them of the impact

of unfunded mandates from the federal government." 

HCR 27 by Representative Wayne Christian (R-Center) expresses

Texas' opposition to the Patient Protection and Affordable Care

Act.  Representative Christian said, "I am thrilled

that on the one year anniversary of the US Congress passing one of

the most infringing programs in our country's history known as

ObamaCare we have taken a step forward towards blocking Obamacare

in Texas by passing HCR 27 out of the Texas House State Sovereignty

Committee.  HCR 27 expresses the will of the people of

Texas that Texans are opposed to the implementation of Obamacare in

Texas." 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Wednesday, the House Public Health Committee took

up:

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HB 1657 by Yvonne Davis (D-Dallas) would require reporting

specifically when health care associated

infections resulted in death.  It was

left pending. 

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HB 1965 by Lois Kolkhorst (R-Brenham) would expand liaison

responsibilities for faith-and community-based health and

human services initiatives to additional state

agencies.  It was left

pending. 

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Reported from Committee:

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HB 1405 by John Smithee (R-Amarillo) would expand the

definition of an enrollee relating to coverage of

prescription drugs specified by a drug formulary to

include non-group health benefit plans.  It was

reported favorably from the House Insurance

Committee. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Passed the Senate:

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SB 72 by Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) would require the

Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) and the Health

and Human Services Commission (HHSC) to jointly develop uniform

licensing and contracting standards relating to the

Medicaid long-term care waiver programs, and

require DADS to perform a utilization review of

all such programs.  The committee substitute was

adopted and it passed on the Local and Uncontested

calendar. 

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SB 77 by Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) would entitle the

Department of Agriculture to obtain criminal background

checks on persons applying for participation in the

Child and Adult Care Food Program, but prohibit

release of the information without court order or consent of the

person concerned.  The committee substitute was

adopted and it passed on the Local and Uncontested

calendar. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 80 by Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) would establish

legislative intent that the Department of State Health Services

(DSHS) adopt the recommendations described in the state auditor's

"An Audit Report on the Department of State Health Services'

Public Health Laboratories" dated September 2010, including

resuming billing activity at the South Texas

Laboratory, along with other required

duties.  It passed on the Local and Uncontested

calendar. 

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SB 193 by Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) would authorize the

Texas Board of Nursing to develop a standardized error

classification system for use in nursing peer review

committee evaluations.  The committee substitute

was adopted and it passed on the Local and Uncontested

calendar. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

SB 240 by Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would clarify

examination and eligibility requirements for applicants for a

license to practice medicine who are foreign medical school

students in the Fifth Pathway

Program. 

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SB 622 by Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) would prohibit the

sale of protected health

information.  Senator Nelson said, "Medical

records include highly sensitive information, and the misuse of

this information can put patients at risk for severe financial and

personal consequences.  This bill protects patients

from having their information improperly sold to unauthorized third

parties and ensures that patients have the right to access their

own electronic medical records.  Senate Bill 622

updates Texas' medical privacy laws to reflect advances in health

information technology.  It expands upon federal

privacy protections, prohibits the sale of personal health

information, increases protections of health information at our

state agencies, and strengthens penalties for crimes involving

personal health information."   The committee

substitute and one floor amendment were adopted. 

 

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SB 822 by Kirk Watson (D-Austin) would include graduates

of any UT System Medical, Dental School or Health Science Center

among physicians eligible for expedited

credentialing.  The committee substitute

was adopted. 

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SB 859 by Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) would allow eligible

single-employee businesses to participate in a health group

cooperative.   It passed on the Local and

Uncontested calendar. 

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Next Week: 

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HB 831 by Tom Craddick (R-Midland) would authorize a

hospital district to borrow money for a hospital

owned or operated by the district.  It is on

Wednesday's House Local and Consent calendar.

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HB 1481 by Vicki Truitt (R-Keller) would establish person

first language as the preferred set of terms for any law or

revision relating to persons with

disabilities.  It is on Wednesday's

House Local and Consent calendar. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

Senate State Affairs Committee will meet on

Monday, March 20, 2011 at 9:00a.m. in the Senate Chamber to take

up:

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SB 29 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would make

postdoctoral and graduate fellows earning

sufficient income at an institution of higher education, including

the University of Texas and Texas A&M University Systems,

eligible for participation in the employee group

benefits, or uniform group insurance

program.  

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SB 894 by Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) would allow a hospital

designated as a critical access hospital, a sole

community hospital, or a hospital located in a county with a

population of 50,000 or less to employ

physicians. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

Senate Government Organization Committee will meet

on Monday, March 28, 2011 at 1:30p.m. in 2E.20 of the capitol

building to take up:

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SB 662 by Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) is the

sunset bill for the State Board of Examiners for

Speech-Language Pathology and Audiology, and would extend

the agency to September 1, 2017. 

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SB 663 by Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) is the

sunset bill for the State Committee of Examiners in the

Fitting and Dispensing of Hearing Instruments, and would

extend the committee until September 1.

2017. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

House Border and Intergovernmental Affairs

Committee will meet on Monday, March 28, 2011 at 2:00p.m.

in E1.010 of the capitol extension to take up:

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HB 3191 by Roberto Alonzo (D-Dallas) would require managed

care organizations that contract to provide health services to

recipients in any part of the Texas-Mexico border region, under a

Medicaid managed care model, to include optometrists,

therapeutic optometrists, and ophthalmologists in the

organization's provider network.

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

Senate Health and Human Services Committee will

meet on Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 9:00a.m. in the Senate Chamber

to take up:

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SB 7 by Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) would make several

changes in the children's health insurance plan and medical

assistance programs including lowering reimbursements for

doctors in cases of preventable complications, or readmissions for

the same medical issue; offering incentives for hospitals that

operate more efficiently; and establishing a pilot study to look at

the effectiveness of the pay-for-performance model in long-term

care.  

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SB 8 by Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) would establish the

Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and

Efficiency to develop a state plan to implement and use

pay-for-performance as a way to improve the quality and efficiency

of healthcare; would require the public reporting of preventable

complications and readmissions; would standardize hospital

wristbands; and would set up a system to track preventable

conditions that arise in long-term care. 

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SB 223 by Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) would prohibit a

home and community support services agency from

providing home health, hospice, or personal assistance services to

a Department of Aging and Disability Services (DADS) client unless

an independent administrative service organization has assessed the

service needs of the client and issued a written assessment of the

medical necessity, type, and amount of service to be

provided.  SB 293 by Kirk Watson

(D-Austin) would allow telehealth service

providers to be reimbursed under

Medicaid. 

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SB 613 by Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) would update

licensing requirements for speech-language pathologists or

audiologists, and provide for licensing reciprocity with

audiologists licensed in another state. 

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SB 967 by Jane Nelson (R-Lewisville) would define the term

telemonitoring; require the state Medicaid commission to determine

whether the Medicaid Enhanced Care program's diabetes

self-management training telemonitoring pilot program was cost

neutral; require the commission to develop and implement a pilot

program within the Medicaid Texas Health Management Program to

evaluate the cost neutrality of providing telemonitoring

services to persons who are diagnosed with health

conditions other than diabetes. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

House Insurance Committee will meet on Tuesday,

March 29, 2011 at 1:30p.m. in E2.026 of the capitol extension to

take up:

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HB 1744 by Alma Allen (D-Houston) would require

consultation between physician and parent or guardian to establish

a treatment plan for autism spectrum disorder; and

would include social, emotional, and interpersonal skills therapy

in the list of approved services for the

disorder. 

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HB 1864 by John Smithee (R-Amarillo) would prohibit a

managed care plan from requiring a therapeutic optometrist

or ophthalmologist to join a vision panel in order to be

included in the managed care

plan. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

House Human Services Committee will meet on

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 2:00p.m. in E2.030 of the capitol

extension to take up:

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HCR 87 by Marc Veasey (D-Fort Worth) would express the

legislature's support for expanding the Healthy Incentives

Pilot to communities across the

country. 

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HUMAN RESOURCES/EMPLOYMENT - On Monday, the House

Business and Industry Committee took up:

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HB 387 by Sylvester Turner (D-Houston) would require

employers to give employees time off to meet with their

child's teacher, a school counselor, or

principal.  It was left

pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Thursday, the House Economic and Small Business Development

Committee took up:

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HB 14 by Jim Murphy (R-Houston) would disqualify a person

from unemployment benefits if the person is

receiving severance pay for the number of weeks computed by

dividing the individual's gross severance package by the

individual's gross weekly wage during the individual's benefit

year.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 126 by Ken Legler (R-Pasadena) would require

drug testing of applicants for unemployment

compensation and would require applicants to successfully

pass the drug test to qualify for benefits.  Texas

AFL-CIO President Becky Moeller spoke in opposition to HB

126.  She said, "In the toughest budget atmosphere

Texas has seen in my lifetime, HB 126 would commit $50 million of

taxpayer money to subject people who have lost their jobs for

economic reasons to a drug test that adds insult to

injury.  The wild guess by Rep. Legler that 3.6

percent of benefits applicants would test positive and become

ineligible for benefits is supported only by a study from a company

that stands to benefit if the bill becomes law.  We

know of no independent studies that have tested workers who qualify

for unemployment insurance benefits.  Such workers by

definition did not lose their jobs because of drug use and no study

suggests any reasonable likelihood they have turned to drug use

while they seek new employment."  It was left

pending. 

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HB 667 by Scott Hochberg (D-Houston) would require

employers that elect to use a payroll card account system for

payment of wages to an employee by electronic funds

transfer to obtain the employee's voluntary consent in

writing for that method of payment.  It was left

pending. 

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Next Week:  The House

Business and Industry Committee will meet on Monday, March

28, 2011 at 8:30a.m. in E2.016 of the capitol extension to take

up:

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HB 2989 by Joe Deshotel (D-Beaumont) would establish the

Workplace Fraud Prevention Act; and would prohibit

a contractor from failure to properly designate an individual as an

employee of the contractor; a person to knowingly form or assist in

the formation of a corporation, partnership, limited liability

corporation, or other business entity;  or a person to

knowingly assist, aid, or a person to knowingly assist, aid, or a

person to conspire with an individual in committing a violation of

this law. 

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INTERNET - On Monday, the Senate Government

Organization Committee took up:

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SB 631 by Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa (D-Mission) would change

statutory references to TexasOnline to the "state

electronic Internet portal."  It was

reported out favorably and recommended for the Local and

Uncontested calendar. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Tuesday, the Senate Education Committee took

up:

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SB 42 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would expand the

definition of bullying in public schools to

include expression through electronic means.  It

was left pending. 

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SB 205 by John Whitmire (D-Houston) would require school

districts to adopt a policy prohibiting bullying,

cyberbullying, harassment, and intimidation.  It

was left pending. 

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SB 242 by Wendy Davis (D-Fort Worth) would require

teachers to be trained in preventing, identifying, responding to

and reporting incidents of bullying; would

authorize parents of students who are victims of bullying to

confidentially request a student engaging in bullying to be

transferred to another classroom or campus; would add

cyberbullying to the definition of bullying; and

would require school districts to adopt a policy concerning

bullying.  In laying out her bill, Senator Davis said

that school districts lack the tools they need in order to

adequately deal with the problem of bullying.  She

cited a 2009 survey that showed that one in five students in the

state report being bullied, and that bullying has caused four Texas

students to commit suicide since 2009.  Senator Davis

said, "The Internet is only making the problem worse. 

Modern technology has allowed bullies to be anonymous, emboldening

students and allowing them to become more malicious. 

My bill would, for the first time, include a definition of bullying

in the discipline section of the Education Code, and would expand

the definition to include Internet harassment, or

'cyberbullying.'  SB 242 protects every child from

being bullied, and would make Texas the state with one of the most

comprehensive anti-bullying statutes in the nation." 

It was left pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Tuesday, the House Criminal Jurisprudence

Committee took up:

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HB 1666 by Joaquin Castro (D-San Antonio) would make it an

offense for a person to create a page on a commercial

social networking site or other Internet website using the

name or persona of another person without obtaining the person's

consent, with the intent to harm, defraud, intimidate, or threaten

any person.  It was left

pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Tuesday, Comptroller Susan Combs announced that

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group (U.S.PIRG) has given Texas

a grade of "A" for transparency in government

spending.  The group describes Texas as "one

of the true leaders in the transparency movement" and gives the

state the highest possible score in 10 out of 12 scoring

categories.  Comptroller Combs has pushed for greater

online access to government spending data since taking

office.  She said, "Our office is proud to be at the

forefront of transparency efforts throughout the

nation.  We constantly look for ways to put more

government information online, using new tools to make data

accessible and understandable to taxpayers."  Combs

noted that the Texas Transparency website, developed and maintained

by the Comptroller's office, also offers information about local

government spending, which few other states do; and Combs rewards

cities, counties and school districts that show progress in

financial transparency with the Comptroller's Leadership Circle

awards.  She concluded, "I believe transparency is

important at all levels of government and all levels of government

must do more to ensure a free flow of information," Combs said. 

"In this uncertain economic climate, expanded transparency

initiatives are vital, and open books allow government to function

with the scrutiny and respect of

citizens." 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Wednesday, the House Public Health Committee took

up:

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HB 842 by John Davis (R-Houston) would allow

telehealth service providers to be reimbursed

under Medicaid.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 1605 by Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would require

the state Medicaid Commission to determine whether the Medicaid

Enhanced Care program's diabetes self-management training

telemonitoring pilot program was cost neutral; require the

commission to develop and implement a pilot program within the

Medicaid Texas Health Management Program to evaluate the cost

neutrality of providing telemonitoring services to persons who are

diagnosed with health conditions other than diabetes. 

It was left pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Thursday, the House Technology Committee took

up:

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HB 1504 by Sergio Munoz, Jr. (D-Mission) would change

statutory references to TexasOnline to the "state

electronic Internet portal."  It was

voted out favorably. 

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HB 2340 by Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) would create the

Cyber Security Education and Economic Development

Council to research and recommend improvements to the

infrastructure of cyber security technology, and identify methods

to facilitate the growth of the cyber security

industry.  It was voted out

favorably. 

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Reported from Committee:

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HB 682 by Fred Brown (R-Bryan) would authorize state

agencies to lease advertising space on the

agency's official Internet website.  It was

reported favorably as substituted from the House Government

Efficiency and Reform Committee and recommended for the Local and

Consent calendar. 

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Passed the Senate:

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SB 488 by Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) would

require online dating service providers that offer

services to Texas residents that do not conduct criminal background

checks to clearly and conspicuously disclose that the provider does

not conduct criminal background checks; and would require online

dating service providers that conduct a criminal background check

on each member before permitting a Texas member to communicate

through the provider with another member to clearly and

conspicuously disclose that the provider conducts a criminal

background check but also include a statement that criminal

background checks are not foolproof.  The

committee substitute was adopted and it passed on the Local and

Uncontested calendar. 

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Next Week: 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

House Administration Committee will meet on

Monday, March 28, 2011 at 1:30p.m. in E2.026 of the capitol

extension to take up:

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HB 2754 by Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) would

require the Legislative Council to provide a public Internet

website to allow a person to submit electronic

testimony regarding a bill or resolution that is pending

before a Senate or House committee or

subcommittee.  

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

Senate Criminal Justice Committee will meet on

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 1:30p.m. in E1.016 of the capitol

extension to take up:

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SB 407 by Kirk Watson (D-Austin) would make it an offense

for a minor to convey sexually explicit material

to another minor via electronic

means. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

House Public Education Committee will meet on

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 2:00p.m. in E2.036 of the capitol

extension to take up:

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HB 24 by Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would allow

students to be removed from class and placed in a disciplinary

alternative education program for bullying on school grounds or off

of school grounds if the bullying is via electronic

means. 

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HB 1059 by Jose Menendez (D-San Antonio) would redefine

"bullying" in public schools to include

"cyberbullying."  

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HB 1224 by Ron Reynolds (D-Richmond) would allow a student

to be expelled for engaging in conduct that contains the elements

of the offense of breach of computer security if

the conduct involves accessing a computer, computer network, or

computer system owned by or operated on behalf of a school

district. 

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HB 1942 by Diane Patrick (R-Arlington) would add to the

definition of "bullying" to include

expression through electronic

means.  

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INSURANCE - On Monday and Tuesday, the Senate

Government Organization Committee took up:

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SB 644 by Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) is the Texas

Department of Insurance sunset bill.  It

was left pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Tuesday, the Senate Business and Commerce

Committee took up:

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SB 740 by Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) would authorize the

Commissioner of Insurance to require prior approval of

rates if the commissioner believes an insurer's rates to

be excessive, inadequate, or unfairly discriminatory. 

It was left pending. 

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Reported from Committee:

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HB 1157 by Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) would

authorize the Texas Life, Accident, Health, and Hospital

Service Insurance Guaranty Association to meet via

conference call, videoconference, or other similar

telecommunication method if immediate action is required; would

clarify that the total amount of assessment on a member insurer

cannot exceed 2% of the insurer's average annual premiums in a

calendar year; would clarify that policies that write Medicare

Parts C and D supplements are exempt from the guaranty association;

and would exclude obligations of $250,000 (rather than $100,000)

under annuity contracts.  It was reported

favorably from the House Insurance Committee and recommended for

the Local and Consent calendar. 

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Passed the Senate:

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SB 647 by Glenn Hegar (R-Katy) is the Office of

Public Insurance Counsel sunset

bill. 

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SB 918 by Jeff Wentworth (R-San Antonio) would provide

that a person would not be liable in a civil action for furnishing

information relating to a suspected, anticipated, or completed

fraudulent insurance act if the information is

provided to an organization primarily dedicated to the detection,

investigation and prosecution of insurance fraud. 

It passed on the Local and Uncontested

calendar. 

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Next Week:  The House

Insurance Committee will meet on Tuesday, March 29, 2011

at 1:30p.m. in E2.026 of the capitol extension to take

up:

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HB 1772 by Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) gives the Texas

Department of Insurance the authority to regulate exclusive

provider benefit plans in the same way and to the extent

of regulation relating to preferred provider benefit plans which

are benefit plans in which an insurer excluded benefits to an

insured for some or all services, other than emergency care

services provided by a physician or health care provider who is not

a preferred provider. 

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HB 2267 by John Smithee (R-Amarillo) would provide that

the timely payment of an insurance claim would

constitute notice of acceptance of the

claim. 

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HB 1950 by Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) is the sunset bill

for the Office of Public Insurance

Counsel.

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HB 1951 by Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) is the sunset bill

for Texas Department of

Insurance. 

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PUBLIC EDUCATION - On Tuesday, the Senate

Education Committee took up:

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SB 127 by Dan Patrick (R-Houston) would authorize the

State Board of Education to grant up to ten new charters for an

open-enrollment charter school each fiscal year

(although there would be no cap on charters for students with

disabilities); and would authorize existing charter holders to

establish one or more new charter school campus without SBOE

authorization as long as 90% of the campuses operated under the

existing charter have an acceptable performance. 

It was left pending. 

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SB 518 by Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) would require

teachers above the fifth grade level to hold a certificate

of mastery in the subject area they teach and would

require the Texas Education Agency to develop and implement a

High School Readiness Pilot Program requiring

participating schools to enroll all students in a student advisory

class that provides instruction about school culture, school

procedures, test-taking skills, study skills, positive academic

behaviors, civic and community responsibility and high school and

college readiness; and to provide annual high school orientation

sessions for parents.  It was left

pending. 

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SB 597 by Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) would establish the

Charter District Bond Guarantee Reserve Fund and

allow charter schools to apply for bonds guaranteed by the

permanent school fund; and would cap the total amount of bonds

issued to charter schools to the percentage of all students

enrolled in charter schools compared to students enrolled in all

public schools in the state.  It was voted out

favorably. 

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SB 738 by Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) would give

school districts flexibility concerning educator

certification requirements, elementary class-size limit, and

teacher contracts.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Tuesday, the House Public Education Committee

took up:

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HB 6 by Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) would change

statutes relating to "textbooks" to "instructional materials;" and

would combine the textbook fund and the technology

allotment fund.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 936 by Patricia Harless (R-Houston) would authorize the

State Board of Education to authorize up to 10 additional

open-enrollment charter schools per

year.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 1268 by Jim Murphy (R-Houston) would require the

standard method developed for computing a student's high

school grade point average to give the same weight to

honors courses, advanced placement courses, and dual credit

courses; and would eliminate additional weight for international

baccalaureate courses.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 1311 by Mark Shelton (R-Fort Worth) would establish

alternative accountability procedures for open-enrollment

charter schools in which at least 75% of the students are

at risk of dropping out of school; and would authorize

open-enrollment charter schools to establish additional charter

campuses without applying for authorization if 90% or more of the

entity's schools have an "acceptable' performance rating in the

preceding two years.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 1539 by Scott Hochberg (D-Houston) would delete the

section of the Education Code that provides that textbooks

and licensing agreements for electronic

textbooks are the property of the state. 

It was left pending. 

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HB 1603 by Bill Zedler (R-Arlington) would allow the State

Board of Education to grant up to 100 new charters for

open-enrollment charter schools per

year.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 2365 by Rob Eissler (R-The Woodlands) would require

education research centers to support policy and

academic research, including support of attainment of doctoral

degrees; require the centers to administer a process for reviewing

research proposals and forward only proposals of high quality to

the joint advisory board; and would establish the Joint

Advisory Board for Education Research. 

It was left pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Wednesday, Senator Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) was

joined by a group of Senators who said that money going

into the classroom should be the budget's top

priority.  Senator Shapiro said, "The success

of public education starts and ends in the classroom. 

We have laid out some ways the state can cut back on education

spending while leaving funding for teachers and students relatively

intact.  First, the Legislature should reduce the

number of unfunded state mandates placed on school districts, which

should free up more money at the local level. Second, budget

writers should look to make cuts to the administrative side of

education.  According to the Legislative Budget Board,

non-teaching salaries for districts exceed $9 billion a year; a 10

percent cut there would mean savings of nearly $2 billion for the

next biennium.  Senator Dan Patrick, who joined in the

press conference said, "The first cuts should not come to the

classroom, but to the administrative side of

education." 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Wednesday, the Senate Education Committee took

up:

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SB 290 by Kirk Watson (D-Austin) would require instruction

in personal financial literacy for students in

kindergarten through eighth grade as a part of the math

curriculum.  It was reported out favorably as

substituted and recommended for the Local and Uncontested

calendar. 

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SB 597 by Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) would establish the

Charter District Bond Guarantee Reserve Fund and

allow charter schools to apply for bonds guaranteed by the

permanent school fund; and would cap the total amount of bonds

issued to charter schools to the percentage of all students

enrolled in charter schools compared to students enrolled in all

public schools in the state.  It was voted out

favorably as substituted. 

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Reported from Committee:

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HB 135 by Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) requires

teachers of record to complete at least 15 hours of field

experience in a classroom at an acceptable performance

rated school district or a recognized private school. 

It was reported favorably as substituted from the House Public

Education Committee. 

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HB 370 by Scott Hochberg (D-Houston) would allow a student

who transfers or moves to a school to participate in an

extracurricular activity to participate in the

activity or a competition if it is not offered at the school from

which the student transferred.  It was reported

favorably as substituted from the House Public Education

Committee. 

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HB 861 by Diane Patrick (R-Arlington) would require one

member of the continuing advisory council for special

education services to be a director of a special

education program for a school district.  It was

reported favorably from the House Public Education Committee and

recommended for the Local and Consent

calendar. 

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HB 1130 by Dan Hubberty (R-Kingwood) would delete the

requirement that the Texas Education Agency must annually compile

and disseminate to school districts a list of districts that

maintain for two years a ratio of full time students placed in

partially or totally self-contained classrooms to the number of

full-time students placed in resource rooms or mainstream

instructional arrangements that is 25% higher than the

statewide average ratio.  It was reported

favorably from the House Public Education Committee and recommended

for the Local and Consent calendar. 

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Next Week: 

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HB 1703 by Trey Martinez Fischer (D-San Antonio) would

prohibit state assessments from being scheduled on

a uniform election date.  It is on Wednesday's

House Local and Consent calendar. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

Senate Education Committee will meet on Tuesday,

March 29, 2011 at 8:30a.m. in E1.028 of the capitol extension to

take up:

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SB 4 by Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) would

specify teacher certification criteria; provide

for provisional certification; require the State Board of Educator

Certification to implement an evaluation and accountability system

for continuing education; and would establish an educator

appraisal process based on the teacher's effectiveness and

the annual improvement of the teacher's

students. 

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SB 6 by Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) would change statutory

references to "textbooks" to "instructional materials;" and would

combine the textbook fund and the technology allotment

fund. 

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SB 217 by Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would allow a student

to be expelled for engaging in conduct that contains the elements

of the offense of breach of computer security if

the conduct involves accessing a computer, computer network, or

computer system owned by or operated on behalf of a school

district. 

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SB 1094 by Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) would provide that

if the national entity that develops and delivers high

school equivalency examinations authorizes online

testing, the board must provide for administration of the

examinations online. 

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HIGHER EDUCATION - On Wednesday, the Senate Higher

Education Committee took up:

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SB 1005 by Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) would

prohibit institutions of higher education from discriminating among

providers of textbooks or other instructional

materials.  It was left

pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Wednesday, the House Higher Education Committee

took up:

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HB 1000 by Dan Branch (R-Dallas) would require the Texas

Higher Education Coordinating Board to prescribe standard methods

of accounting and reporting the amount of restricted research funds

from the national research university fund

expended by an eligible institution in a state fiscal year; and

would provide that distribution of the fund would be on a pro rata

basis.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 2115 by Garnet Coleman (D-Houston) would require the

Coordinating Board to provide the comptroller with annual

restricted research expenditure data for each institution eligible

to receive National Research University Fund

proceeds; and would direct the comptroller to allocate the

proceeds proportionally according to each institution's pro rata

share with a minimum of $2.5 million per institution. 

It was left pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Reported from Committee:

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HB 9 by Dan Branch (R-Dallas) would require the Texas

Higher Education Coordinating Board to emphasize an alignment with

educational goals and would base funding formulas on student

success measures.  It was reported favorably as

substituted from the House Higher Education

Committee. 

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HB 10 by Dan Branch (R-Dallas) would establish new

eligibility criteria for the Texas GRANT program

beginning with the 2013-2014 academic year.  It

was reported favorably as substituted from the House Higher

Education Committee.  

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SB 639 by Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) would

require institutions of higher education to grant a tuition and fee

exemption for a dependent child of a member of the armed

forces of the Unites States who is deployed on active duty

in a combative military operation outside the United

States.  It was reported favorably as substituted

from the Senate Veterans Affairs and Military Installations

committee and recommended for the Local and Uncontested

calendar. 

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Passed the Senate:

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SB 282 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would exempt medical

and dental institutions from Texas Higher Education Coordinating

Board reporting requirements. 

The committee substitute was adopted and it passed on the Local

and Uncontested calendar. 

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SB 850 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would require the

Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to include any semester

credit hours earned for dual course credit in its

instruction and operations formula. 

The committee substitute was adopted and it passed on the Local

and Uncontested calendar. 

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SB 945 by Dan Patrick (R-Houston) would authorize junior

colleges to award an associate degree to a student

enrolled in a four-year institution who previously attended the

junior college. 

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Next Week:  The Senate and

House Higher Education Committees have not posted their

agendas for next week. 

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PRIVACY - On Tuesday, the House Criminal

Jurisprudence Committee took up:

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HB 2397 by Sid Miller (R-Stephenville) would set the

penalties for breach of computer

security.  It was left

pending. 

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PROCUREMENT - On Wednesday, the Senate

Intergovernmental Relations Committee took up:

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SB 413 by Royce West (D-Dallas) would authorize counties

to purchase goods and services through a cooperative

purchasing program.  It was voted out

favorably as substituted. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Wednesday, the Senate Economic Development

Committee took up:

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SB 1048 by Mike Jackson (R-La Porte) would prohibit a

person from developing or operating a qualifying

project unless the person obtains the approval of and

contracts with the responsible governmental entity; and would

define qualifying project as mass transit, telecommunications or

automated data processing, technology infrastructure, hospitals,

schools, medical care, or recreational facilities and

services.  It was left

pending. 

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Next Week:

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SB 327 by Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio) would add

veterans service agencies to the definition of

small businesses for state contracting purposes. 

It is on Monday's Senate Intent

Calendar. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

Senate State Affairs Committee will meet on

Monday, March 20, 2011 at 9:00a.m. in the Senate Chamber to take

up:

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SB 1109 by Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) would give the

Comptroller authority over state

procurement. 

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PROPERTY - On Monday, the House Business and

Industry Committee took up:

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HB 8 by Drew Darby (R-San Angelo) would provide that a

private transfer fee obligation would not be

binding or enforceable against a subsequent owner or subsequent

purchaser of an interest in real property except fees paid to a

seller, real estate commissions, payments to a lender, payments

made to a lessor under a lease, real estate transfer fees,

governmental fees, payments owed to a property owner's association,

or payments owed for a club membership related to the

property.   It was left

pending. 

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HB 958 by Paul Workman (R-Austin) would require the amount

of damages, both actual and exemplary, to be reduced by 10 percent

for each anniversary of the date of substantial completion of the

construction or repair that occurs before the date of the

claim.  It was left

pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Monday, the House Ways and Means Committee took

up:

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HJR 63 by Joe Pickett (D-El Paso) would propose a

constitutional amendment to allow counties (current law allows

cities) to issue bonds to finance the development or

redevelopment of an unproductive, underdeveloped, or

blighted area.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Tuesday, the House Land and Resource Management

Committee took up:

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HB 91 by Byron Cook (R-Corsicana) would extend the

extraterritorial jurisdiction of municipalities

from two to three miles of municipalities of between 25,000 and

49,000 inhabitants as long as the extraterritorial jurisdiction

does not include any area in the existing extraterritorial

jurisdiction of another municipality; and would allow

municipalities with new overlapping jurisdictions to apportion the

overlapping area.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 107 by Fred Brown (R-Bryan) would require

home-rule municipalities located in a county with

a population of less than 185,000 and in which two or more

municipalities with a population of more than 65,000 are wholly

located to annex an area with 50 or more

inhabitants only if the municipality holds an election in the area

to be annexed and a majority of the votes received favor the

annexation.  It was voted out

favorably. 

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HB 662 by Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) would authorize

Travis County to adopt buffer zone regulations and

comprehensive land development

plans.  It was left

pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Passed the Senate:

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SB 889 by John Carona (R-Dallas) would clarify the process

for a lender to perfect a lien on rent payments generated

from commercial property that is the subject of the

lien. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Next Week:  The House Land

and Resource Management Committee will meet on Monday,

March 28, 2011 at 2:00p.m. in E2.012 to take up:

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HB 214 by Pete Gallego (D-Alpine) would allow the

commissioners court of a county to impose a fee for filing

an application to revise a subdivision

plat. 

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HB 2732 by Rene Oliviera (D-Brownsville) would

define "fair notice" for local project permit

purposes as the minimum amount of information necessary to enable a

reasonably prudent person to understand the general nature and

objective of a project. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt;">

"color: #000000;">REDISTRICTING -

On Wednesday, Representative Burt

Solomons (R-Carrollton), Chairman of the House Committee on

Redistricting released a proposed committee substitute for HB 600

which sets forth proposed boundaries for new State Board of

Education districts following the release of the 2010

federal census data.  Chairman Solomons said, "We are

moving along in the process to achieve our goals of passing all of

the redistricting legislation."  The House

Redistricting Committee has scheduled a hearing on Friday, March

25, 2011 to take testimony on State Board of education

districts.  The committee has also posted a meeting

for Thursday, April 7th to take testimony on Texas

Congressional districts. 

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TAX - On Monday, the House Ways and Means

Committee took up:

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HB 270 by Harvey Hilderbran (R-Kerrville) would require

the comptroller to provide information relating to the

amount of tax paid to the municipality by each business

who annually remits more than $5,000 (rather than

$25,000).  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Monday, the Senate Finance Committee took

up: 

SB 129/SJR 7 by Dan Patrick (R-Houston) and

SB 175/SJR 11 by Robert Nichols

(R-Nacogdoches) would propose constitutional amendments allowing

the legislature to set an appraisal cap on

residence homesteads at 5% per year (rather than 10% per

year).  In laying out his bill, Senator Patrick said,

"Texas has the third highest average homeowner property tax in the

nation, and the current ten percent cap means that homeowners in

fast growth areas can see property taxes double in as few as seven

years."  Several witnesses testified against the

measures, saying they would force severe cuts to local and county

budgets.  Dick Levine of the Center for Public Policy

Priorities said, "The proposed cap will strain an already limited

revenue stream.  What this would do to the adequacy of

a system that's already suffering from inadequate revenue is clear

from the fiscal note.  The Legislative Budget Board's

fiscal note indicates that the impact of the proposed cap would

cost nearly $200 million in general revenue by 2016." 

They were all left pending. 

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SB 326 by Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) would expand the

definition of goods-in-transit to include property

that is stored under a contract of bailment by a public warehouse

operator at one or more public warehouse facilities that are not

owned or controlled by the owner of the personal property; and

would delete the requirement that the goods be assembled,

manufactured, processed or fabricated in Texas. 

It was left pending. 

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SB 449 by Kirk Watson (D-Austin)/SJR 16

by Craig Estes (R-Wichita Falls) would propose a constitutional

amendment to add water stewardship purposes to the

list of types of land that can be taxed as open-space

land.   They were left

pending. 

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SB 551 by Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) eliminate

interest on back taxes owed on an improvement to real

property that escaped taxation in a previous year if taxes

were timely paid on the land, the appraisal district had notice of

the improvement; and the property owner pays all back taxes due on

the improvement within 120 days.  It was left

pending. 

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SB 720 by Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands) would allow the

rollback rate to be calculated at 1.08 (instead of

1.05) if any part of the taxing unit is located in a declared

disaster area or if the governing body finds that a higher tax rate

is necessary to protect the health, safety, or property of persons

residing in the taxing unit.  It was left

pending. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Thursday, the House Economic and Small Business Development

Committee took up:

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HB 2457 by John Davis (R-Houston) would prohibit the

governor from amending a Texas Enterprise Fund

agreement without obtaining the advice of the speaker and

lieutenant governor.  It was left

pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Reported from Committee:

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HB 499 by Eddie Rodriguez (D-Austin) would add an

additional penalty on delinquent ad valorem taxes

to pay the costs associated with collection of the delinquent

tax.  It was reported favorably from the House

Ways and Means Committee. 

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HB 645 by Rob Orr (R-Burleson) would allow federal tax ID

numbers to be used instead of a driver's license number, personal

ID number, or social security number on applications for an ad

valorem tax exemption on property owned by charitable

organizations.  It was reported favorably

from the House Ways and Means Committee.

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HB 658 by Mike Villarreal (D-San Antonio) would repeal

Subchapter F of Chapter 111 of the Tax Code which allows refunds of

sales taxes and franchise taxes under economic development

agreements.  It was reported favorably as

substituted from the House Ways and Means

Committee. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">

Passed the Senate:

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SB 582 by Chris Harris (R-Arlington) would require service

of process for the collection of delinquent property taxes on

domestic or foreign limited liability companies

whose right to transact business has been forfeited to be delivered

to the company's manager or a member of the limited liability

company.  It passed on the Local and Uncontested

calendar. 

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SB 762 by John Carona (R-Dallas) would prohibit the

charging of a fee for transfer of an ad valorem tax

lien on residential property except for interest, and the

fees for filing the release of the lien, providing a payoff

statement, and providing information regarding the current balance

owed by the property owner.  The committee

substitute was adopted. 

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Next Week: 

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HB 843 by Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth) would require tax

assessors to transmit tax bills electronically if

requested by a property owner.  It is on

Wednesday's House Local and Consent

calendar. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

House Business and Industry Committee will meet on

Monday, March 28, 2011 at 8:30a.m. in E2.016 of the capitol

extension to take up:

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HB 1118 by Allan Ritter (R-Nederland) would allow a taxing

unit that purchased property at a tax sale to sell

the property at a private sale for an amount equal to or greater

than its market value. 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;"> 

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">The

House Ways and Means Committee will meet on

Monday, March 28, 2011 at 2:00p.m. in E2.014 of the capitol

extension to take up:

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HB 379 by Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would move the

sales tax holiday for clothing and footwear from

the third weekend in August to the Friday before the 9th

day preceding the earliest date on which any school district may

begin instruction. 

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HB 1317 by Elliot Naishtat (D-Austin) is the

affiliate nexus bill.  It would

create a rebuttable presumption that a retailer is doing business

in Texas, and thus required to collect sales tax, if the retailer

enters into an agreement with a Texas resident under which the

resident receives a commission or other consideration for direct or

indirect referrals by any means, including a link on an Internet

website, and the retailer received at least $10,000 in gross

receipts from such residents over the previous four calendar

quarters.  The presumption may be rebutted by proof that the Texas

resident did not engage in any solicitation in Texas on behalf of

the retailer that would satisfy Constitutional nexus requirements.

 

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HB 2403 by John Otto (R-Dayton) would require

remote sellers to collect sales tax if they use a

website or server in Texas to sell digital goods or they are

affiliated with (50% control test) an entity in Texas which

performs sales related to activities for the retailer or sells

products similar to the retailer under a similar business

name. 

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TECHNOLOGY - On Thursday, the House Homeland

Security and Public Safety Committee took up:

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HB 584 by Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lexington) would require the

Texas Department of Public Safety to maintain the

electronic fingerprint record of each person who

is the subject of a criminal history record information

request.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 1391 by Joe Deshotel (D-Port Arthur) would allow access

to electronically readable information derived from a

driver's license to persons who are authorized to analyze

a breath specimen.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 1457 by Allen Fletcher (R-Tomball) would authorize

designated law enforcement agencies to own, posses, install,

operate, or monitor an electronic mechanical, or other

device used to intercept a wire, oral, or electronic

communication.  It was left

pending. 

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TELECOMMUNICATIONS - On Tuesday, the House

Homeland Security and Public Safety Committee took

up:

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HB 442 by Ryan Guillen (D-Rio Grande City) would establish

an interoperable statewide emergency radio

infrastructure account to be used for planning,

development, provision, enhancement or ongoing maintenance of an

interoperable statewide emergency radio infrastructure funded

through 12% of court costs (eliminating the fugitive apprehension

account and making it the emergency radio infrastructure

account).  It was left

pending. 

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HB 2257 by Larry Phillips (R-Sherman) would authorize

public service providers to use an emergency notification

system to inform the provider's customers, governmental

agencies, and other affected persons with notice of a disaster or

emergency.  It was left

pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Thursday, the House State Affairs Committee took

up:

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HB 2616 by Patricia Harless (R-Spring) would remove

requirements for local exchange carriers to file and receive

approval for customer-specific and private network

contracts.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 2620 by Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) would

make several telecommunications

reforms.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 2621 by Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) would

provide that a telecommunications market that is

deregulated as of September 1, 2011 would remain

deregulated and the Public Utility Commission would be prohibited

from regulating a market or company that has been deregulated; and

would allow incumbent local exchange companies to petition the

commission to deregulate a previously regulated

market.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 2622 by Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) would

allow telecommunications providers to voluntary de-tariff

most services provided by non-dominant carriers and

electing companies, replacing them by the listing of "rates, terms,

and conditions" on the company's website and/or by providing other

written notice to the customer.  It was left

pending. 

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Passed the Senate:

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SB 983 by John Carona (R-Dallas) would remove requirements

for local exchange carriers to file and receive approval for

customer-specific and private network contracts.

  It passed on the Local and Uncontested

calendar. 

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TORT - On Monday, the House Judiciary and Civil

Jurisprudence Committee took up:

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HB 1427 by Tryon Lewis (R-Odessa) would provide that an

attempt to join a responsible third party would be

subject to any limitations period.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 1890 by Allen Fletcher (R-Tomball) would make several

changes to the barratry statute including allowing

a client to bring an action to void a contingent fee contract

within four years of the date the client knew that the contract was

voidable; and allowing a person affected by barratry to bring an

action against the person who engaged in barratry. 

It was left pending. 

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HB 2031 by Jerry Madden (R-Plano) would allow the

establishment of a voluntary compensation plan for

claimants arising out of an event that caused the death of two or

more people; serious bodily injury of two or more people; or damage

to real property owned by five or more people.  If

such a plan is created, suits against the defendant could be abated

for 90 days.  Establishing such a plan would not be an

admission of liability, and the plan could serve as an offer of

settlement for the purpose of determining a significantly less

favorable judgment under Sec. 42.002 of the Civil Practices and

Remedies Code.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 2163 by Connie Scott (R-Corpus Christi) would include

barratry as a deceptive trade

practice.  It was left

pending. 

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HB 2164 by Connie Scott (R-Corpus Christi) would remove

"written communication" from the definition of

barratry and would define it as an unsolicited

contact that is either in person or by telephone. 

It was left pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">On

Tuesday, the House Land and Resource Management

Committee took up:

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HB 1943 by Jim Murphy (R-Spring) would limit the liability

of public utilities that give permission for a

person to use for recreational purposes land that

the utility owns, leases or rents.  It was left

pending. 

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Next Week:  The House

Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee will meet on

Monday, March 28, 2011 at 2:00p.m. in E2.010 of the capitol

extension to take up:

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HB 1971 by Jim Jackson (R-Carrollton) would eliminate the

duty of care that an owner, lessee, or occupant of land owes to a

trespasser on the land; and would provide that the

owner, lessee, or occupant may be liable for an injury to a child

younger than 16 caused by a condition the owner should have known,

or reasonably should have known existed and realized or should have

realized involved an unreasonable risk of death or serious bodily

harm to such children. 

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HB 2034 by Doug Miller (R-New Braunfels) would allow a MDL

(multi-district litigation) pretrial court, on its own motion, may

dismiss any action without prejudice that has been

pending for more than 180 days in which the claimant has not

submitted a required report documenting the medical evidence of

asbestos or silica related injury; and would require a claimant to

file a notice of all the asbestos trusts that may be liable and any

payments already received from such

trusts. 

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HB 2437 by Kenneth Sheets (R-Dallas) would amend the

existing offer of settlement statute to eliminate

the provision limiting the defendant's recovery of litigation costs

to an offset against the plaintiff's

judgment. 

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HB 2661 by Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lexington) would amend the

existing offer of settlement statute to eliminate

the provision limiting the defendant's recovery of litigation costs

to an offset against the plaintiff's judgment. 

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HB 3445 by Jim Jackson (R-Carrollton) would limit

county court at law jurisdiction to $200,000 and

would create uniform rules for magistrates. 

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WORKERS' COMPENSATION - On Monday, the

Senate State Affairs Committee took

up:

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SB 800 by Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) would authorize the

Commissioner of Workers' Compensation to designate and contract

with a data collection agent.  It

was left pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also

on Monday, the Senate Government Organization

Committee took up:

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SB 651 by Joan Huffman (R-Houston) would continue

the Office of Injured Employee Counsel through

2017 and require OIEC to adopt alternative dispute resolutions

policies and establish a complaint response system.

 It was left

pending. 

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Passed the Senate:

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SB 809 by Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) would allow a party to

file for judicial review within 45 days of a

Division hearing decision sent in a medical contested case; and

would align medical contested case appeals to

district court with other compensability appeals to district court

in that both appeals would be due within 45 days of the Division

mailing the decision.   The committee substitute

was adopted. 

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 Next Week:  The

Senate State Affairs Committee will meet on

Monday, March 20, 2011 at 9:00a.m. in the Senate Chamber to take

up:

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SB 1714 by Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock)

would define workers' compensation insurance as

insurance obtained through a licensed insurance company or through

self-insurance for purposes of actions filed by employees against

employers. 

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WORKFORCE - On Wednesday, the House Higher

Education Committee took up:

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HB 1497 by Donna Howard (D-Austin) would require the State

Board for Career and Technology Education to allocate

funding received under the federal Carl D. Perkins Career

and Technical Education Act of 2006 according to relative

student utilization of secondary versus postsecondary programs, as

permitted by federal law.  It was left

pending. 

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">Also,

on Wednesday, the Senate Economic Development

Committee took up:

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SB 1176 by Mike Jackson (R-La Porte) would define

"postsecondary program" to mean a program that requires a student

to have a high school diploma or high school equivalency

certificate for purposes of statutes relating to non-baccalaureate

career schools and colleges.  It

was voted out favorably as

substituted. 

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SB 563 by Mike Jackson (R-LaPorte) would require the Texas

Workforce Commission to adopt rules governing the confidentiality

of job matching services

information.  It passed on the Local and

Uncontested calendar. 

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Additional information can be obtained via the Senate, House,

and capitol websites:

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"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; font-size: 12pt;" href=

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target="_new">www.senate.state.tx.us

"font-family: 'Times New Roman'; color: #000000; font-size: 12pt;">           

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target="_new">www.house.state.tx.us

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target="_new">www.capitol.state.tx.us