The following summary includes legislation that directly affects a member institution of The Texas A&M System or the entire System.
System-wide or System Office
VETOED: HB 317 by Miller/Fraser – Relating to a study regarding the issuance of revenue bonds for certain campuses and centers of institutions of higher education. HB 317 deletes the 1500 FTSE requirement placed for system centers via HB 153, 3rd Called (Sections 55.1751(d) and (e) and 55.1755(d), Education Code, are repealed).
The bill would require the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct a study to determine: the merits of permitting a public institution of higher education to issue bonds for the purpose of funding capital projects at branch campuses, extension centers, system centers, and multi-institutional teaching centers, regardless of the level of student enrollment; and student enrollment levels that may be appropriate to serve as a statutory prerequisite for issuing those bonds.
VETOED: HB 589 by Aycock/Fraser– Relating to the student enrollment required for certain institutions of higher education to operate as general academic teaching institutions and to receive certain revenue. HB 589 would amend Education Code to lower the threshold for Texas A&M University – Central Texas System Center in Killeen, Texas A&M University – Kingsville System Center and The University of North Texas at Dallas to become a free-standing general academic teaching institutions by changing the methodology by which the students are calculated. The methodology in the bill would calculate the 1,000 full-time students threshold per academic year, defined as the fall and spring semesters and the summer session of the academic year.
HB 2074 by Krusee/Ogden - Relating to the creation of the East Williamson County Multi-Institution Teaching Center. HB 2074 directs the Temple Junior College District to establish, in conjunction with at least one other institution of higher education (the bill does list Tarleton and the center in Killeen as possible partners), the East Williamson County Higher Education Center which will be administered under a formal agreement entered into by the Temple Junior College District and the member institutions. The Center will provide higher education opportunities to the residents of the region by offering academic credit courses and programs from the member institutions, and will work with the local community to identify and offer courses to meet the workforce development goals of the region.
HB 3114/SB 1495 by Swinford/Zaffirini - Relating to student fees at component institutions of The Texas A&M University System. HB 3114 is an omnibus student fee bill for the A&M System. This bill creates a new student fee advisory committee at each institution of the A&M System that will review all increases and uses of student service-related system-wide fees. The bill authorizes new intercollegiate fees at Texas A&M International University, West Texas A&M University, and Texas A&M University--Commerce and a student vote referendum to enact those fees. It also increases the cap for the Recreation Sports Fee from $100 to $175 per semester. This bill requires the amount of the fees to not be increased to an amount that exceeds 10% or more above the total amount of the fee as last approved by a majority vote of the student body at the respective institutions
Texas A&M University
HB 3 by Puente/Averitt - Relating to the management of the water resources of the state, including the protection of instream flows and freshwater inflows, and to the management of groundwater in the area regulated by the Edwards Aquifer Authority and to the operations and oversight of the authority. A comprehensive water bill that includes Texas A&M University (the research entity working on the project is the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, a unit of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and Texas Cooperative Extension.) With the assistance of Texas A&M University, the state shall cooperatively develop a recovery implementation program through a facilitated, consensus-based process that involves input from the United States Fish and Wildlife Service, other appropriate federal agencies, and all interested stakeholders. Texas A&M University shall assist in the creation of a steering committee to oversee and assist in the development of the cooperative agreement develop a program document that may be in the form of a habitat conservation plan. The steering committee shall work with Texas A&M University to: (1) establish a regular meeting schedule and publish that schedule to encourage public participation; and (2) not later than October 31, 2007, hire a program director to be housed at Texas A&M University. Texas A&M University may accept outside funding to pay the salary and expenses of the program director hired under this section and any expenses associated with the university's participation in the creation of the steering committee or subcommittees established by the steering committee.
HB 120 by Brown/Shapiro - Relating to state funding and tuition charged for courses provided during off-peak hours at certain public institutions of higher education. HB 120 establishes a two-year pilot program that authorizes the University of Texas at Austin, Texas A&M University and Texas Tech University to offer reduced tuition for courses taken during off-peak hours. Enactment is contingent upon an appropriation to offset loss of tuition revenue; however no appropriations were made for this program in HB 1.
HB 1330 by F. Brown/Ogden - Relating to extending the pilot program providing for reduced undergraduate tuition during a summer term or session at Texas A&M University. The 79th Legislature established a pilot program that reduced summer tuition rates to three-quarters of the regular rate in 2006 or 2007 for resident undergraduate students at Texas A&M University. This was done as an incentive for students to take summer courses in order to facilitate a timely graduation and to maximize the use of instructional facilities that tend to be underused during the summer. A contingent funding requirement was included and because appropriations were not made, the provision was not active.
HB 1330 reauthorizes this program for 2008 if a specific appropriation is made to offset tuition. In the new appropriations act, HB 1 Art. III-54 appropriates $3 million for this program.
HB 1493 by Bonnen/Janek - Relating to the establishment and operation of a severe storm research and planning center. HB 1493 creates the Severe Storm Research and Planning Center. The center will work with the University of Houston, Rice University, Texas A&M University, Texas A&M University at Galveston and others to provide weather modeling that will give more accurate warnings when storms approach the Texas coasts. Ultimately, the models will be able to determine what neighborhoods need to be evacuated, rather than entire counties, affecting the number of people involved in evacuations.
HB 2834 by F. Brown/Ogden - Relating to the use of land on the main campus of Texas A&M University in College Station. Under current law, the board of regents of The Texas A&M University System is authorized to grant The Association of Former Students a lease of surface area not to exceed five acres on the original main campus on which the association can construct and occupy a building for use consistent with the association's stated purposes. The Association would like to lease an additional contiguous three acres for a new Aggie Ring Plaza, expanded parking and enhanced services for Texas A&M University and alumni. Since the current building was dedicated in 1987, the association staff has doubled, and the number of former students has nearly tripled, thus creating a need to expand.
HB 2834 increases the maximum amount of acreage that the board is authorized to lease to the association from five to eight acres.
SB 3 by Averitt/Puente - Relating to the development, management, and preservation of the water resources of the state; providing penalties. A comprehensive water bill that includes the same language relating to Texas A&M University (the research entity working on the project is the Texas A&M Institute of Renewable Natural Resources, a unit of the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station and Texas Cooperative Extension) as HB 3.
SB 99 by Zaffirini/Guillen - Relating to the identification of and provision of assistance to colonias and for tracking the progress of certain state-funded projects that benefit colonias. SB 99 directs certain state agencies and institutions of higher education to report information to the Secretary of State's office regarding the status of water, wastewater, and other infrastructure projects in colonias. Texas Cooperative Extension as well as an institution that “receives funding from the state for projects that provide assistance to colonias” is specifically mentioned; this includes Texas A&M University. The bill requires the Secretary of State to compile information received, prepare a report about the progress of state-funded colonia projects, and report to the legislature.
VETOED: SB 1234 by Zaffirini/Rose - Relating to the five-year master plan for higher education in this state. SB 1234 requires that the Coordinating Board master plan to take into account students that “are sufficiently prepared to meet the challenges associated with participation in the public affairs of the state and in the global economy.” This bill requires the master plan to define the missions and roles of public institutions of higher education in a way consistent with state needs and goals; establish more effective methods for funding higher education; establish a coherent long-term financial aid strategy that takes into account both needs and merit; strengthen collaboration between two-year and four-year institutions; and develop and institutionalize long-term collaboration between primary, secondary, and higher education. The plan shall include a look at statewide faculty workforce numbers and needs.
Specific language includes “consideration of concerns regarding the current and projected student enrollment and enrollment capacity of The University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University and of methods for ensuring that those institutions maintain competitiveness with other public and private flagship institutions of higher education.” It requires an assessment of additional “flagship” institutions for the state.
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
HB 1417 by Hinojosa / Ortiz - Relating to the student endowment scholarship and internship program fund at Texas A&M University--Corpus Christi. SB 1417 authorizes the board to charge the student endowment fund fee within the limits provided for the purpose of creating a student endowment fund at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi, and sets forth the specifics related to the imposition of the fee, any increases in the fee, and other related items.
SB 1418 by Hinojosa / Ortiz. Relating to the establishment and operation of a spatial reference center at Texas A&M University--Corpus Christi. As proposed in SB 1418 the board may create and operate a Texas spatial reference center at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi for the purpose of facilitating the federal height modernization project, conduct basic and applied research regarding elevation and geodetic and vertical datum, and collect geodetic data for state mapping and control. The center will be identified as the official digital spatial center for the state. SB 1418 was amended to SB 1436.
Texas A&M International University
SB 1051 by Zaffarini / Guillen - Relating to course requirements for students enrolled in joint degree programs between certain general academic teaching institutions and foreign universities. SB 1051 requires a foreign student to successfully complete the America Way course as part of their joint baccalaureate degree program. This course is designed to provide a foreign student with a familiarity and understanding of United States government and civic life and their sources, development, and character. Effective 6/16/07.
Texas Agricultural Experiment Station
HB 2546 by Noriega/Carona - Relating to the sale of ammonium nitrate; creating an offense. HB 2546 amends the Agriculture Code to require a person who sells or offers for sale ammonium nitrate or ammonium nitrate material to hold a registration certificate from the Texas Feed and Fertilizer Control Service. The Texas Feed & Fertilizer Control Service is a regulatory division within the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station. The bill defines "ammonium nitrate material" as solid fertilizer that includes ammonium nitrate as a component, if the nitrogen content from the ammonium nitrate is at least 28 percent of the fertilizer by weight. The bill requires a seller to display the registration certificate in his or her place of business and to take specified steps—including fencing or enclosure, lockup when unattended, daily inspection, and inventory control—to secure ammonium nitrate or ammonium nitrate material against vandalism, theft, or other unauthorized access. The seller must retain the sale record for at least two years and must make it available only on the request of the Department of Public Safety, a federal law enforcement agency, or the Office of the Texas State Chemist. HB 2546 requires the Service to adopt rules allowing a seller to refuse a sale based on the season or the sale location. A registrant who violates legal requirements is subject to registration suspension. The bill provides that the purchase of ammonium nitrate or ammonium nitrate material with the intent to manufacture an explosive device is a third degree felony, except for holders of certain federal permits or licenses relating to manufacturers, importers, dealers, or users of explosive materials. The bill provides that the sale by a nonregistrant, the presentation of a false ID, or tampering with ammonium nitrate or ammonium nitrate material stored on the property of another is a Class A misdemeanor.
SB 3 by Averitt/Puente ( Includes HB 3/ HB 4 by Puente.) Relating to the management of the water resources of the state, including the protection of instream flows and freshwater inflows. SB 3 amends various sections of the Water Code to set out a new regulatory approach to provide surface water to meet environmental flow needs. The bill creates an Environmental Flows Advisory Group supported by an Environmental Flows Science Advisory Committee (SAC), to oversee regional consensus-based Bay and Basin Stakeholders Committees as they develop environmental flow standard recommendations for consideration by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ). These stakeholder committees would also be supported by Basin and Bay Expert Science Teams (BBESTs). The TCEQ, the Texas Water Development Board (TWDB), and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is responsible for coordinating with the advisory group and stakeholder committees, providing reports regarding the groups' recommendations, and providing technical assistance.
The bill allows the TWDB to use money in the research and planning fund of the Water Assistance Fund No. 480 to compensate members of the SAC and the BBEST for meeting expenses. It also allows the TWDB to pay contract costs for technical assistance to SAC and BBESTs and costs incurred by political subdivisions designated as representatives of the stakeholder committees.
Scientists at the Texas Agricultural Experiment Station will contract directly with TWBD for technical assistance and research as required by the legislation.
SB 1762 by Shapleigh/Guillen - Relating to a study by the Texas Water Development Board regarding the impact of climate change on surface water supplies in this state. SB 1762 requires the Texas Water Development Board, in coordination with the Far West Texas Regional Water Planning Group, to conduct a study of the possible impact of climate change on surface water supplies from the Rio Grande. The bill requires the board to convene a regional conference on the subject, with participants to include representatives of the Far West Texas Regional Planning Group, water authorities, industrial customers, agricultural interests, municipalities, fishing or recreational interests, environmental advocacy organizations, and institutions of higher education. It sets out an agenda for that conference and requires the board to report its findings to the legislature not later than December 31, 2008. The Texas Agricultural Experiment Station will work with TWDB in providing technical and research capabilities.
Texas Cooperative Extension
HB 2045 by Phillips/Duell - Relating to revenue from Texas State Rifle Association specialty license plates. This bill requires 50 percent of the net revenue from the TSRA license plate will support scholarship programs for the TAMU system and that the other 50 percent support 4-H shooting sports programs within Texas Cooperative Extension.
HB 2345 by Anderson/Aycock/Watson - Relating to the creation of the Texas Organic Agricultural Industry Advisory Board. HB 2345 amends the Agriculture Code to create the Texas Organic Agricultural Industry Advisory Board, staffed by and attached administratively to the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA). The bill requires the advisory board to review and provide guidance on rules impacting the Texas organic agricultural products industry, and to assist the TDA in assessing the status of such products, developing a public education and awareness campaign regarding such products, and developing recommendations to the agriculture commissioner and legislature to promote and expand the industry. The Board is required to have members from higher education and research.
HB 2458 by B., Cook/Brimer - Relating to the licensing and regulation of structural pest control by the Department of Agriculture and the abolition of the Texas Structural Pest Control Board. This bill amends the Occupations Code and adopts other law to abolish the board and to transfer its functions to the TDA. The bill establishes a Structural Pest Control Service within the TDA and creates a structural pest control advisory committee. The bill adopts new detailed provisions applicable to pesticide application and integrated pest management among school districts. Texas Cooperative Extension is directly associated with the IPM (integrated pest management.)
Texas Engineering Experiment Station
HB 3693 by Straus/Fraser- Relating to energy demand, energy load, energy efficiency incentives, energy programs, and energy performance measures. HB 3693 establishes several energy efficiency mechanisms intended to provide near-term reductions in consumption and demand. The bill enhances existing energy efficiency programs, enables more customer demand management, updates building energy codes, and requires state agencies to purchase more efficient equipment and appliances. Specific to The Texas A&M University System, the bill: (1) requires institutions of higher education to purchase the commercially available model of light bulbs that use the fewest watts for the necessary flux or light output and is compatible with the light fixture; (2) requires governmental entities including institutions of higher education to report on a publicly accessible Internet website the metered amount of electricity, water, or natural gas consumed and the aggregate costs for those utility services (3) requires the Energy System Laboratory of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station to make recommendations to the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) regarding the adoption or substitution of more stringent provisions of the state building energy codes; (4) includes institutions of higher education and state agencies in energy efficiency programs relating to Texas building energy performance standards, including the establishment of a goal to reduce electric consumption by 5 percent each fiscal year for six years. This provision can be waived for institutions of higher education if SECO determines that, before September 1, 2007, the institution adopted a plan for conserving energy with a percentage goal for reducing the consumption of electricity and that the institution submits reports on the conservation plan each calendar quarter; and, (5) requires the Energy Systems Laboratory of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station to develop different report formats for rating newly constructed residences from those of existing residences in regard to home energy ratings.
SB 12 by Averitt/Bonnen- Relating to programs for the enhancement of air quality, including energy efficiency initiatives; providing penalties. SB 12 increases the scope of the Texas Emissions Reduction Program to reduce emissions from mobile and other sources. The bill seeks to reduce statewide emissions from electrical generation units by providing for the updating of building energy codes, encouraging the purchase of efficient appliances, and providing efficiency standards for school districts, institutions of higher education, state agencies, and governmental entities in counties. Specific to The Texas A&M University System, the bill extends the Texas Emissions Reduction Program to 2013 and thus continues the responsibilities of the Energy System Laboratory (ESL) of the Texas Engineering Experiment Station under the program through that date. The bill also includes similar language to that found in HB 3693 regarding the requirement of ESL to make recommendations to the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) regarding the adoption or substitution of more stringent provisions of the state building energy codes and the inclusion of institutions of higher education and state agencies in energy efficiency programs relating to Texas building energy performance standards with the waiver provisions.
Texas Engineering Extension Service
HB 2694 by Hamilton/Janek - Relating to the disaster contingency fund. The bill permits state agencies and local governments to request funding from the Disaster Contingency Fund to pay for costs incurred in implementing preventive emergency measures and costs incurred in repairing damage suffered during a disaster. The bill requires the Governor's Division of Emergency Management to administer the fund and develop and implement rules and procedures for providing emergency assistance from the fund. The provisions could include emergency response activities of the Texas Engineering Extension Service and the Texas Forest Service.
SB 11 by Carona/Corte- Relating to homeland security; providing a penalty. This is a comprehensive homeland security bill that, among other things, establishes a statewide mutual aid system to provide integrated statewide aid response capacity between local government entities and addresses lapses in the state’s ability to mitigate threats and to respond to disaster situations. Specific to The Texas A&M University System, the bill requires the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management to develop a statewide mutual aid program for fire emergencies in consultation with state fire protection agencies (Texas Engineering Extension Service and Texas Forest Service), applies leave of absence provisions to members of Texas Task Force 1 under the Texas Engineering Extension Service, and requires emergency management training for certain appointed public officers.
Texas Forest Service
HB 15 by Chisum/Ogden - Relating to making supplemental appropriations and reductions in appropriations. HB 15 appropriates $44 m to the Texas Forest Service for reimbursement expenses incurred during the last fire season. Effective 6/15/07.
HB 1915 by Swinford/Duncan - Relating to the creation of an online volunteer fire department registry by the Texas Forest Service. HB 1915 establishes a fire department listing to be maintained by the Texas Forest Service that includes a complete list of fire departments and firefighting resources within the state.
HB 2694 by Hamilton/Janek - Relating to the disaster contingency fund. HB 2694 permits state agencies and local governments to request funding from the Disaster Contingency Fund to pay for costs incurred in implementing preventive emergency measures and costs incurred in repairing damage suffered during a disaster. The bill requires the Governor's Division of Emergency Management to administer the fund and develop and implement rules and procedures for providing emergency assistance from the fund. The provisions could include emergency response activities of the Texas Engineering Extension Service and the Texas Forest Service.
HB 3315 by Keffer/Duncan - Relating to the imposition and collection of certain insurance taxes and the adoption of certain reciprocal or multistate agreements relating to those taxes. Legislation passed during the 77th Session that assessed a $1 surcharge on certain insurance policies relating to the structure within an area served by a volunteer fire department. The fund established generated $15 million per year and is administered by the Texas Forest Service to assist volunteer fire departments with equipment and training. HB 3315 was amended late in session by including language from HB 2868 by Swinford. This bill increases the surcharge which will generate $30 million per year.
SB 11 by Carona/Corte - Relating to homeland security; providing a penalty. SB 11 is a comprehensive homeland security bill that, among other things, establishes a statewide mutual aid system to provide integrated statewide aid response capacity between local government entities and addresses lapses in the state’s ability to mitigate threats and to respond to disaster situations. Specific to The Texas A&M University System, the bill requires the Governor’s Division of Emergency Management to develop a statewide mutual aid program for fire emergencies in consultation with state fire protection agencies (Texas Engineering Extension Service and Texas Forest Service), applies leave of absence provisions to members of Texas Task Force 1 under the Texas Engineering Extension Service, and requires emergency management training for certain appointed public officers.
Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory
HB 2024 by Kolkhorst/Estes - Relating to the continuation and functions of the Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. HB 2024 is the Sunset Commission legislation recommending the continuation of Texas Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory. Statute changes include deletion of language specifically stating the Lab is not part of TAMUS. Other minor operating changes were adopted and the Sunset clause removed.