SELECT SENATE INTERIM CHARGES RELEASED
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst has released a handful of select interim charges to committees of the Texas Senate to study prior to the 2013 legislative session. Some of those studies will impact cities. Descriptions of the major city-related charges are reprinted in their entirety below. TML will monitor additional charges released by the Lt. Governor and the progress of each study.
- Transportation & Homeland Security Committee: Examine the impact of border violence and illegal trafficking on the Texas economy, including the infringement on Texas property rights. Make recommendations for enhancing border security and maximizing federal resources targeted for this purpose.
- Criminal Justice Committee: Review statutes and regulations relating to money laundering to enhance state, federal, and local efforts to combat money laundering and enforce administrative and criminal actions against perpetrators of money laundering.
- Natural Resources Committee: Review water resources and conservation measures included in the State Water Plan to ensure that the appropriate entities are implementing the plans and that state and local authorities are enforcing requirements of the plans. In addition, the committee should evaluate methods to effectively enhance existing water resources and promote water conservation measures across the state at all times, not just in case of severe drought conditions.
- Economic Development Committee: Assess the economic impact of the long‐term drought on all sectors of the Texas economy. Include additional analysis of economic consequences of wildland fires. Develop a compendium of federal, state, and local funding and other assistance alternatives for reducing the long‐term economic consequences of the drought.
- Intergovernmental Relations Committee: Analyze ways to better coordinate existing federal, state, and local housing resources to increase access to affordable housing following a disaster that caused the loss of homes. Review best practices for fulfilling emergency short-term housing needs and developing long‐term housing opportunities using existing tools, such as land trusts, land banks, and other available incentives. Review housing and development codes, and guidelines for structures in areas prone to natural disasters, and make recommendations on how these structures can be “hardened” to avoid loss. In addition, make recommendations to educate and enable private landowners to use best practices in fire risk mitigation, fuel reduction, and urban forest management to reduce exposure to wildland fires.
- Subcommittee on Flooding & Evacuations: Investigate and evaluate communication options during evacuations, and make recommendations for legislative action. Focus on:
- non-voice emergency communication;
- “near-term solutions” that can be utilized prior to the implementation of Next Generation 911 technologies;
- the usage of social media to convey official information (highlighting the pros and cons of such forums); and
- any other effective forms of communication that have been successfully used by governing and law enforcement entities.
- Business & Commerce Committee: Assess the impact of current and anticipated drought conditions on electric generation capacity. Identify those regions of Texas that will be most affected by a lack of capacity. Analyze response plans and make recommendations to improve and expedite those plans.
- Transportation & Homeland Security Committee:
- review state, local and federal emergency preparation and response efforts as they pertain to protecting lives, property, and natural resources from the risks of wildland fire.
- consider ways to facilitate better communication, collaboration, and response between all state agencies and stakeholders involved in wildfire prevention, mitigation, and control;
- review training of emergency responders to ensure that they have the appropriate skills to respond to wildfire events; and
- review best practices in urban forest management and fuel reduction policies, both regulatory as well as voluntary, to promote safe firefighting operations.