HOUSE COMMITTEES RELEASE MORE
The following is a brief summary of additional city-related interim report provisions that have been released. The reports are available online at
House Committee on Elections Interim Report
- Charge 1: Examine the benefits and risks of using mobile voting stations in Texas.
Recommendation: While the Texas Election Code does not define “mobile voting,” political entities conducting Texas elections should help the Texas Legislature identify areas of improvement for program uniformity, appropriate regulatory oversight, and voter access.
- Charge 3: Monitor the implementation and impact of the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment (MOVE) Act on the state and on municipalities. Make legislative recommendations, as needed, to ensure a smooth implementation of the law. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Defense & Veterans' Affairs.)
The report states that, “regarding the additional function of S.B. 100 (2011), a number of local elected bodies moved their elections from May to November. With the exception of a few isolated instances, this was accomplished with little trouble or fanfare.”
Recommendation: The 83rd Legislature should continue to monitor the implementation of the MOVE Act to ensure Texas military and overseas ballots are sent, received, and counted accurately.
House Committee on Technology Interim Report
- Charge 6: Examine human resource policies of state agencies that would integrate the implementation of social media to strengthen the state's workforce.
Among other things, the report details what the Department of Information Resources (DIR) has done to help develop consistent social media guidelines for state agencies.
Recommendation: Update the Texas Government Code, Texas Administrative Code, and Public Information Act with definitions related to social media, and also add a requirement that Texas agencies establish a social media policy using guidance from the DIR.
House Committee on Transportation Interim Report
- Charge: Review the state of our current transportation infrastructure, including studying roadway, bridge, and waterway quality and long-range plans by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) for maintaining these assets. Explore future needs of our infrastructure for the next decade and make recommendations to ensure long-range sufficiency.
According to the report, “TxDOT manages and maintains a comprehensive transportation system of over 80,000 miles of roadway; over 51,000 bridges; approximately 300 general aviation airports; and over 390 miles of railroad. Over the next 25 years, Texas’ population is projected to more than double; freight traffic is expected to grow at twice the rate of passenger vehicle traffic; and many miles of roads and bridges are expected to require re-building. As traffic levels increase, so will wear and tear on the existing infrastructure and the demand for additional capacity. At current funding levels, the condition of Texas’ transportation infrastructure will deteriorate over the next 10 years. State funding for transportation covers just the maintenance costs of the current system, with no money for new projects, while the number of new road users grows each day, leading to even more wear and tear on the existing transportation structure. Insufficient maintenance of roads and bridges will mean the need for major reconstruction projects, and – as the population grows – congestion will increase. Poor road quality, structurally deficient bridges, and increased congestion all contribute to dangerous driving conditions, and affect the safety of the public. Ensuring the state’s transportation infrastructure is safe, reliable, comprehensive, and efficient is paramount to maintaining the well-being of the growing number of Texans.”
- Maintain a transportation infrastructure that provides a solid foundation for economic activity in Texas.
- Encourage TxDOT to continue to find best practice solutions for maintaining existing roads and funding new development.
- TxDOT should continue to evaluate and improve railroad grade crossings to ensure the safety of Texans.
- Charge: Study transportation funding reforms and develop long-term state funding recommendations, with an eye on any federal reforms that become law. Explore options to eliminate “diversions” from Fund 6 [the state’s highway fund] to non-transportation-related programs. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Appropriations.)
A chart on page 38 of the report shows that “local participation” (i.e., contributions from cities and counties towards state highway projects) totals almost $200 million.
- Evaluate ending all diversions from the state highway fund.
- The legislature should work to establish long-term solutions to address the declining revenue from the state gas tax.
- Increase accountability for and transparency of how transportation dollars are spent by TxDOT.