Legislative Line – March 10, 2017
The deadline for legislators to file bills to be considered by the Texas Senate and House this session was 6 p.m. Friday (March 10). As is the cause every legislative session, there is always a large number of bills filed in the days leading up to the filing deadline, at a rate of roughly 600 bills a day. TAD’s government relations team is working its way through the bills to determine what it will need to watch on TAD’s behalf for the duration of the 85th Legislature.
As of last Friday, March 3, 2,931 House Bills (HB’s) and House Joint Resolutions (HJR’s) had been filed and 1,349 Senate Bills (SB’s) and Senate Joint Resolutions (SJR’s) had been filed for a total of 4,280. At the same point in the 2015 session, 3,521 bills had been filed (750 less). In 2015, 2,586 bills were filed in the last week.
Bill filing deadline also means session has reached the 60-day mark. Beginning on Monday, March 13, the House and Senate can consider any legislation that has been filed and are no longer restricted to only considering “emergency items” as declared by the Governor.
On March 6, Gov. Greg Abbott activated state resources to help combat wildfires in the Texas Panhandle. In support of local efforts, the governor has deployed Texas Intrastate Fire Mutual Aid Strike Teams to assist local first responders. Other state agencies engaged in support of local officials include the Texas Forest Service, Texas Parks and Wildlife Game Wardens, the Texas Department of Public Safety and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM).
Legislative Committee Action
On Monday, the Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs Committee heard invited testimony. They heard from Beck Bruun, Chairman of the Texas Water Development Board; Public Utility Commissioner Brandy Marquez; and Agriculture Commissioner Sid Miller. They also heard from representatives of the Texas State Soil and Water Conservation Board, the Animal Health Commission, Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and Texas Parks & Wildlife Department.
On Monday, the House International Relations & Intergovernmental Relations Committee heard invited testimony on NAFTA. Witnesses included Secretary of State Rolando Pablos; Bryan Daniel, director of the Governor’s Office of Economic Development and Tourism; and Jerry Strickland of the Texas Office of State-Federal Relations. They also heard from representatives of Texas TFL-CIO, Rice University’s Baker Institute, the Federal Reserve Bank of Dallas and The Woodlands Area Economic Development Partnership.
On Thursday, the Senate Business and Commerce Committee took up SB 23 by Charles Schwertner, which would require all state contractors and subcontractors to utilize the federal E-Verify system in determining the legal work status of their employees. It was left pending.
SB 1383 by Chairman Charles Perry and the companion, HB 2862 by Rep. Ken King, would allow trucks transporting fluid milk to run up to 90,000 pounds, with a third axle. A prescribed route would be associated with the heavy permit allowing state regulators and milk haulers to access the safest route to the milk processing facilities along with a permit fee to assist in off-setting road impact. Both were filed this week.