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Transportation

HB 925 by Chavez/Lucio - Relating to creating an interagency work group on border issues. The bill creates an interagency work group on border issues to improve coordination of government programs and services offered in the border area, including transportation and commerce issues.

HB 1546 by McClendon/Staples - Relating to the administration and the use of Texas rail relocation and improvement fund. The bill creates the Texas Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund, administered by the Texas Transportation Commission, to provide a method of financing the relocation and improvement of privately and publicly owned passenger and freight rail facilities.

HB 2702 by Krusee/Staples - Relating to the construction, acquisition, financing of transportation. The bill would make a number of changes to the Transportation Code related to the construction and financing of the Trans-Texas Corrider and associated issues, such as conversion of non-toll roads into toll roads, condemnation, railroads, compensation for the acquisition of property, and others.

SB 129 by Barrientos/Dukes - Relating to certain exemptions to the requirement that the operator of a motor vehicle operated on a turnpike project pay the proper toll or the full amount of the toll. The bill permits regional mobility authorities and TxDOT to waive or reduce tolls on turnpikes under their control for any vehicle or class or vehicles, such as public school buses and public transit vehicles.

SB 183 by Lucio/Chavez - Relating to the appointment, operation, and recommendations of the Border Trade Advisory Committee. The bill provides the Texas Transportation Commission with greater legislative direction in terms of the composition of Border Trade Advisory Committee and requires a biennial report to the legislature.

SB 569 by Zaffirini/Guillen - Relating to meetings between representatives of the Department of Transportation and Mexican states on transportation and truck inspection issues. The bill requires the Texas Department of Transportation to initiate meetings at least quarterly with the department's counterparts in Mexican border states to consider transportation and infrastructure issues. The bill also requires the department, in conjunction with the border commerce coordinator, to submit plans to the legislature recommending ways to expedite trade by mitigating delays in border crossing inspections.

SB 1257 by Lindsay/Callegari - Relating to the operation of a motor vehicle by a person who holds a driver's license or a commercial driver's license. This bill was amended to include House Bill 1094 which bans the use of cell phones by teen drivers in the provisional license stage of the Graduated Driver Licensing program.

Energy

HB 2201 by Hughes/Estes - Relating to implementing a clean coal project. This bill addresses the need to create a more predictable and streamlined permitting process for the key components of the FutureGen Project to better position the State of Texas in the competition for the Project. The FutureGen Project is a U.S. Department of Energy integrated carbon sequestration and hydrogen research proposal that provides for $800 million in federal funding with another $200 million to be funded by private industry and other nations. H.B. 2201 also creates financial incentives to compete with the financial incentive packages being proposed by several other states competing for the Project.

SB 408 by Nelson/Phil King - Relating to the continuation and functions of the Public Utility Commission. This Sunset Bill continues the PUC for six years, strengthens the oversight of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas (ERCOT), and expands the use of the System Benefit Fund to assist needy patients with serious health problems who are threatened with disconnection for nonpayment, among other provisions.

SB 712 by Carona/Robby Cook - Relating to the legislature’s goal for energy efficiency in this state and related energy efficiency programs. The bill adds reduction of peak demand to the state’s energy efficiency goals and directs the Public Utility Commission to adopt program options for a utility to meet the new goals including energy-smart schools, appliance retirement and recycling, air conditioning system tune-ups, and the use of landscaping for energy efficiency. The bill also allows utilities to use up to 10 percent of their energy efficiency program funds for research and development to improve technology applications and program design.

Homeland Security

SB 9 by Staples/Corte - Relating to homeland security. The bill expands upon the current homeland security program by providing for improvements in areas not currently covered for homeland security purposes, including efforts to protect public health, agricultural crops and livestock, drinking water, and critical infrastructure. The bill improves anti-terrorism planning, coordination, and communication between state and local agencies, which will prove important in deterring a threat or responding to an emergency.

SB 310 by Deuell/Bohac - Relating to certain diseases or illnesses suffered by certain emergency first responders. The bill establishes a presumption, in the case of certain paid and volunteer fire fighters and emergency medical technicians employed by political subdivisions, that the occurrence of certain medical conditions among these employees resulted from exposure to harmful agents in the course of performing their duties. The medical conditions covered by the bill would include heart attack, stroke, tuberculosis, respiratory illness, cancer, or injury resulting from an immunization against smallpox or another disease.

SB 11 by Staples/Delisi - Relating to security in public schools. Requires each school district, among other requirements, to adopt and implement a multi-hazard emergency operations plan that provides for: district employee training in responding to an emergency, mandatory school drills to prepare district students and employees for responding to an emergency; measures to ensure coordination with local emergency management agencies, law enforcement, and fire departments in the event of an emergency; at least one mandatory security audit every three years; and required reporting of results from the security audit.

Other

HB 1697 by McCall/West - Relating to the use of gifts to fund technology workforce development grants and to the evaluation of the technology workforce development grant program. The bill clarifies the original intent of the law by permitting the state to match qualifying grants that go directly to an institution.

HB 1817 by Driver/Brimer - Relating to the regulation of the practice of engineering. The bill requires a Texas engineering seal only for projects to be constructed or utilized in Texas, allows the Texas Board of Professional Engineers to charge a late license renewal fee, and gives the board the ability to withhold complaint information that was filed against a license holder with the intent to harass or intimidate but that did not demonstrate harm to the public.

HB 1938 by Ritter/Brimer - Relating to the award of a grant and reporting requirements under the Texas Enterprise Fund. This bill addresses concerns regarding the need for higher accountability standards for grant recipients with respect to job creation and investment goals and the absence of a report on grant allocations. H.B. 1938 requires the governor to enter into a written agreement with potential grant recipients with specific terms and conditions of the award and ensure full financial accountability to the state for funds and repayment of the funds and penalties for noncompliance. The bill also requires the governor’s office to report to the legislature before each session on the use of fund grants with specific reporting requirements.

HB 2421 by Chavez/Zaffirini - Relating to the use of an employer assessment to fund the Texas Enterprise Fund and the skills development program and authorizing the Texas Workforce Commission to develop new job incentive programs. The bill creates two new funds and transfers funds to the Skills Development Fund. Effective January 1, 2006, the Fund will be financed by a Skills Development Assessment on wages paid by employers who are participating in the state’s unemployment insurance program.