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News News
House Debates Major Legislation
Article By: by Texas State Rep. Larry Phillips
Posted: 3/22/2013 Views: 1304  Impressions: 8554
Categories: Education, Politics



This week, the House took up and debated its first non-budgetary bills, House Bill 1000, House Bill 1263, and House Bill 1600. H.B. 1000 creates a new university in South Texas by combining two existing smaller universities, The University of Texas at Brownsville and The University of Texas--Pan American. The new school will be known as The University of Texas Health Science Center--South Texas.
H.B. 1600 was debated on Wednesday and Thursday of this past week, and is the sunset bill for the Public Utility Commission (PUC). As I have discussed in past articles, the sunset process is the process by which state agencies are reviewed by the legislature. Agencies come up for review at least every twelve years; the reviews are staggered, so that an average of 25 agencies come up for review in any given legislative session. During the interim, the Sunset Commission compiles reports on the agencies scheduled to be reviewed in the upcoming session. The sunset process sets a date for an agency to be abolished unless legislation is passed allowing the agency's continuation. Most agencies are not abolished, but rather undergo changes to their operations and goals. One of the most significant changes made to the PUC by HB 1600 is that the commission was given authority over water rates. This authority was previously assigned to the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, and the move to the PUC is intended to offer a more transparent and open rate-making process.
This session there are a total of 24 agencies up for review, including the Texas Commission on the Arts, the Texas Board and Department of Criminal Justice, the Texas Education Agency, the Texas Board of Professional Engineers, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, the Texas Lottery Commission, the Board of Pardons and Paroles, and the Railroad Commission of Texas. The House is expected to take up an average of 3 sunset bills per week for the remainder of session.
Next week, the House will take up two other pieces of major legislation: House Bill 4, which deals with funding for water infrastructure throughout the state, and House Bill 5, which relates to public school accountability, including testing and curriculum requirements.
For information on these bills or any other matter of state government, please contact my office. You can contact me by writing to P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768-2910 or by e-mailing me at larry.phillips@house.state.tx.us.




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