Overview of Key Higher Education Legislation »

Academic Related Legislation

HB 3 by Eissler / Shapiro - Relating to public school accountability, curriculum, and promotion requirements. HB 3 makes numerous changes to the state's public education accountability system and

Revises current grade promotion standards and procedures. The bill amends curriculum

requirements for high school graduation in the recommended and advanced high school programs.

New curriculum requirements for the recommended program will be effective for students entering

the ninth grade in the 2011-12 school year. The bill establishes requirements for college readiness including assessments to measure college readiness.

HB 51 by Branch / Zaffirni - Relating to measures to enhance and maintain the quality of state universities, including funding and incentives to support emerging public research universities, to the abolition of the higher education fund, to the institutional groupings under the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's accountability system, to the independent status of Lamar Institute of Technology, to research conducted by public universities and other state entities, and to the authorization of revenue bonds for certain institutions of higher education. HB 51 effectively became the "higher education omnibus bill" for the 81st legislative session. HB 51 consists of 21 separate sections related to various subjects in higher education. The major provisions of HB 51 include:

  • Provision requiring each institution of higher education designated as a research university or emerging research university to submit to the Higher Education Coordinating Board, a detailed, long-term strategic plan documenting the strategy by which the institution intends to achieve recognition as a research university, or enhance the university's reputation as a research university.
  • Authority to the Board of Regents of the Texas A&M University System to issue additional tuition revenue bonds for Texas A&M University at Galveston in an amount not to exceed $5,000,000 to acquire, purchase, construct, improve, renovate, enlarge, or equip property, buildings, structures, facilities, roads or related infrastructure, for an erosion control breakwater, a dock, or other related purpose reasonably necessary to assist the institution to recover from any damage or other impact caused by Hurricane Ike; authority to the Board of Regents of the University of Texas System to issue additional tuition revenue bonds for the recovery and reconstruction of the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston (UTMB) in an amount not to exceed $150,000,000.
  • Establishment of an Excellence Awards program for institutions other than research universities or emerging research universities to encourage the development of designated degree programs to the highest national standards. The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) would be authorized to release Excellence Award funding only when certain benchmarks are met. An institution shall designate one degree program for these purposes and the THECB will assist the institution in achieving the highest national rank or recognition for the applicable degree program and from money available for the purpose, to award incentive grants to general academic teaching institutions. An institution must use a grant under this subsection for faculty recruitment or other faculty support with respect to the designated degree program for which the grant is awarded, including establishment of endowed faculty positions or enhancement of faculty compensation as considered appropriate by the institution.
  • Provision which provides two separate reallocations of the Higher Education Fund

(HEF) for fiscal years 2009 through 2014, and will not change the total amounts appropriated to the HEF in any of the fiscal years this bill would affect. The bill specifies the University of North Texas at Dallas is entitled to participate in the HEF reallocation as soon as the UNT component operates as a general academic teaching institution. Starting in fiscal year 2011, this bill also provides separate HEF allocations to the Lamar Institute of Technology.

  • Creation of the Research University Development Fund (RUDF). The Higher Education Coordinating Board will distribute the fund to eligible research and emerging research universities based on the average amount of total research funds expended by each institution annually during the three most recent fiscal years according to rates specified in the bill. Currently, this fund is known as the Texas Competitive Knowledge Fund (CKF) which was established during the 80th legislative session in the General Appropriations Act and is in the current appropriations bill adopted by the 81st Legislature. SB 1 added $33 million to the CKF for the 2010-11 biennium.
  • Provision establishing Performance Incentive Funding (PIF) which provides a mechanism for performance incentive funding for general academic teaching institutions. The funding will be allocated on a 50/50 split under guidelines established in the bill.
  • Provision establishing the Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP). The Higher Education Coordinating Board will develop and administer the Texas Research Incentive Program to provide matching funds to assist eligible institutions in leveraging private gifts or endowments for the enhancement of research productivity and faculty recruitment. SB 1, the General Appropriations Act , provides $50 million for this fund in the 2010-11 biennium.
  • Establishment of the National Research University Fund. Contingent upon voter approval of a Texas Constitutional amendment the bill will create a new source of funding to enhance research capacity at certain public general academic institutions using the investment earnings of an existing but rededicated fund corpus (i.e., the Permanent Higher Education Fund, which would become the corpus for the new National Research University Fund, or (NRUF). Annual NRUF allocations to eligible institutions would be based solely on the earnings of the NRUF corpus over time.
  • Creation of a select committee to study the feasibility of collecting data and maintaining a searchable electronic database to track specialized technology research projects conducted by public universities, public university research facilities, and other state institutions. The committee would include representatives from the institutions specified in the bill and from the Higher Education Coordinating Board.
  • Requirement of a study to be conducted by the HECB in consultation with institutions of higher education regarding the appropriate definitions and categories of research expenditures to be included and applied in determining an institution's eligibility for and distributions from the Research University Development Fund. Please see the section relating to bills specific to Texas A&M for additional information concerning the importance of this study to A&M.

HB 58 by Branch / Averitt - Relating to the eligibility of private of independent institutions of higher education to participate in the advanced research program administered by the Higher Education Coordinating Board. HB 58 allows private universities in Texas to compete for grants in the Coordinating Board's Advanced Research Program (ARP) grants program.

HB 269 by Lucio III / Van de Putte - Relating to course credit for certain students at a public institutions of higher education. HB 269 requires institutions to award credit to a veteran for any required kinesiology course(s) that may be required for the degree the veteran is pursuing, and to award elective kinesiology credits as well, not to exceed 12 semester credit hours.

HB 746 by Brown, Fred / Patrick, Dan - Relating to expanding the availability of classrooms and other facilities for use by public junior colleges. HB 746 allows a public institution of higher education to make its classrooms available to a public junior college to teach core curriculum courses during weekdays from 5:00-10:00 p.m., or on Saturday, if such space is not scheduled for use by the institution, student organizations, or faculty. The host institution may charge a rate in an amount to reimburse for utility costs and other costs, such as maintenance and custodial services, based on the infrastructure formula funding that the host institution would receive if teaching a course in that space itself for that time.

HB 1096 by Vo / Van de Putte - Relating to the provision of notice regarding the availability of higher education textbooks through multiple retailers. HB 1096 requires all institutions of higher education to send written notices out to students in a prescribed timeline that lays out the options on paper of where students can purchase textbooks for their courses.

HB 1358 by Keffer / Nelson - Relating to the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute. HB 1358 abolishes the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas Scientific Research and

Preventions Programs Committee and allows the executive director to establish ad hoc committees. The bill creates the university advisory committee and establishes its membership. In addition, the bill requires that an ad hoc committee be established to address childhood cancers. The bill establishes criteria for membership in the committees, including the university advisory committee. The Cancer Prevention and Research Oversight Committee also would be authorized to create advisory committees to advise the Oversight Committee on matters relating to cancer. The bill establishes a definition for indirect costs for grant awards relating to cancer research, and expands the use of research grant awards to allow for the purchase, remodel and renovation of facilities, and requires that such projects benefit cancer prevention and research.

HB 1935 by Villarreal / Duncan - Relating to the establishment of certain programs to support adult and postsecondary education and workforce development in high-demand occupations and green jobs. HB 1935 creates the Jobs and Education for Texans Fund and provides that the Comptroller of Public Accounts (CPA) establish and administer the Jobs and Education for Texans (JET) Grant program to provide grants to public junior colleges and public technical institutes. The bill authorizes the Comptroller to award grants for innovative and successful programs, grants for career and technical education programs, and scholarships for public junior college or public technical institute students. The Legislature appropriated $25 million for the Fund.

HB 2425 by Morrison / Averitt - Relating to engineering recruitment programs established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. HB 2425 allows private and independent institutions of higher education to participate in the engineering recruitment program administered by the Higher Education Coordinating Board. The program provides funding for one-week summer programs designed to expose middle and high school students to math, science, and engineering concepts and engineering scholarships.

HB 2504 by Kolkhorst / Shapiro - Relating to requiring a public institution of higher education to establish uniform standards for publishing cost of attendance information, to conduct student course evaluations of faculty, and to make certain information available. HB 2504 requires each institution of higher education other than medical and dental schools to make available to the public on its website a course syllabus, a curriculum vitae of each regular instructor, and a departmental budget report for each undergraduate classroom course offered. The information must be accessible from the institution's website by use of not more than three links, searchable by keywords and phrases, and accessible to the public without requiring registration or use of user identification. The information must be available not later than the seventh day after the first day of classes, and must remain available on the institution's website for at least two years. The governing board of each institution will be required to designate an administrator to be responsible for ensuring implementation of these provisions and the institutions will be required to submit a compliance report not later than January 1 of each odd-numbered year. Also, the institutions are required to conduct end of course student evaluations of faculty and develop a plan to make the evaluations available on their websites. In addition, the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board is required to provide uniform standards to ensure that information regarding the cost of attendance at institutions of higher education is available to the public in a manner that is consumer-friendly and readily understandable to prospective students and their families. In addition, each institution will be required to establish and maintain an online list of work-study employment opportunities, sorted by department as appropriate, available to students on the institution's campus and ensure that the list is easily accessible to the public through a clearly identifiable link that appears in a prominent place on the financial aid page of the institution's Internet website.

HB 3519 by Branch / Hinojosa - Relating to the coordination and administration of the Texas Career Opportunity Grant Program. HB 3519 requires the Texas Workforce Commission (TWC) and the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) to enter into a memorandum of understanding for the coordination and administration of the grant program. The program provides access to higher education and job training for students earning degrees, certificates, or diplomas in high-demand areas such as information technology and health care. The Legislature appropriated $1,350,000 for this program.

HB 3951 by Turner, Chris / Davis, Wendy - Relating to requiring a public institution of higher education to designate or employ a person trained in student financial assistance programs for military veterans and their families. HB 3951 requires public institutions of higher education to designate a person trained in student financial assistance programs for military veterans and their families. This person must be available to perform the duties during regular business hours at the Financial Aid or other office to which the person is assigned. These staff members shall have an understanding of state and federal student financial assistance programs, especially programs applicable to military veterans and family members.

HB 4149 by Rose / Zaffirini - Relating to certain studies and reports by the Texas Higher Education coordinating Board regarding achievable cost-saving measures and the use and availability of electronic textbooks at institutions of higher education. HB 4149 requires the Higher Education Coordinating Board to conduct a study to identify achievable cost-savings measures in the management and operation of institutions of higher education. The bill also requires the Higher Education Coordinating board to conduct a study, and recommend polices, regarding the use and availability of electronic textbooks in Texas, and in other states. The study specifically includes a focus on the results of a pilot program conducted by the University of Texas at Austin and address methods to encourage the use of electronic textbooks.

HB 4189 by Rose / Watson - Relating to the conduct of compliance programs by institutions of higher education and to the vaccination of students of institutions of higher education against bacterial meningitis. HB 4189 allows institutions of higher education that maintain a compliance

program to establish procedures to provide private access to a compliance office, maintain anonymity

of individuals who make a compliance report or participate in a compliance investigation, and preserve

confidentiality of communications. Under provisions of the bill, before registering a student must provide a certificate evidencing that the student has been vaccinated against bacterial meningitis. The bill applies to first-time students, including transfer students, who reside in an on-campus dormitory or housing facility at the institution. A student is not required to comply if an affidavit or a certificate is presented stating that the vaccination would be injurious to the health and well-being of the student or stating that the vaccination has been declined for reasons of conscience.

HB 4244 by Hochberg / Zaffirini - Relating to certain competitive scholarship recipients at public institutions of higher education. HB 4244 allows an institution to charge resident tuition and fees to a student who holds a certain scholarship and who is not a resident of Texas regardless of the length of time the student has resided in Texas. Under current law, such students are entitled to pay the fees and charges required of Texas residents. Until August 1, 2014, a student who was granted the waiver under current law and paid resident tuition in the 2009-2010 academic year would be entitled to continue to pay resident tuition as long as the student remains enrolled in the same certificate or degree program.

SB 44 by Zaffirini / Branch - Relating to the participation of students in funding awarded under the advanced research program. SB 44 allows students to participate in the advanced research program. Currently only faculty members can participate in the program. Under provisions of the bill, an eligible institution must use a portion of the award to support basic research conducted by students in connection with the project for which the award is made.

SB 98 by Lucio / Lucio III - Relating to establishing a health science center and medical school in South Texas. SB 98 allows the University of Texas System Board of Regents to establish The University of Texas Health Science Center- South Texas (institution) within The University of Texas System and provide the authority to establish a medical school and other health-related degree programs. The new institution will be eligible to participate in the Available University Fund and the Permanent Health Fund for Higher Education. Facilities built with tuition revenue bonds for the Regional Academic Health Center (RAHC) will be transferred to the new institution. Facilities and financial obligations of the existing Regional Academic Health Center, which is currently affiliated with The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, could be converted to the new institution. No funds for a state fiscal biennium ending on or before August 31, 2015, may be appropriated for the purposes of establishing the institution. Based on this provision, it is estimated that any significant costs to establish the institution would not occur until fiscal year 2016. Costs are estimated to be approximately $14 million in fiscal year 2016 growing to approximately $50 million in fiscal year 2020.

SB 174 by Shapiro / Branch - Relating to accountability of institutions of higher education, including educator preparation programs, and online institution resumes for public institutions of higher education. SB 174 requires all institutions of higher education to provide an online institution resume, ensure the institution resume be posted on each institution's website, and submit it to the Higher Education Coordinating Board. The bill also authorizes the State Board for Educator Certification (SBEC) to adopt fees to cover costs associated with approving or renewing approval of an educator preparation program and adding certificates or field certificates to the scope of an educator preparation program's approval. The bill amends the Accountability System for Educator Preparation Programs (ASEP) to

require that student achievement based on the statutorily established measure of annual improvement

of graduates from a program in their first three years.

SB 175 by Shapiro / Branch - Relating to the automatic admission of undergraduate students to certain general academic teaching institutions and to scholarship and other programs to facilitate enrollment at institutions of higher education. SB 175 amends Texas Education Code Section 51.803(a-1), relating to the current automatic admission of high school students graduating in the top ten percent of their class. The main purpose of SB 175 is specific authorization for the University of Texas at Austin to limit automatic admissions to 75 percent of its first-time resident undergraduate student enrollment capacity in an academic year, beginning with admissions in 2010. Included in the main provision for UT are several stipulations including the requirement to provide information to school districts of anticipated percentile rankings that will qualify for admission and requiring school counselors to provide certain notices. Also, the bill limits the number of admission offers UT could make to first-time undergraduate students who are not residents of this state. The University of Texas at Austin will not be allowed to consider legacy status as an admission factor. Any institution offering admission under this subsection (UT) may not do so if a court order or governing board rule provided that race could not be considered as an admission factor, unless the governing board had established the policy prior to June 2009. An institution offering admission under this subsection (UT) will have to require students admitted under this subsection to take a certain number of credit hours during evening or low-demand hours. This specific subsection related to UT ends the authorization in the academic year 2015-2016.

The Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board must publish an annual report as well as the University of Texas at Austin would be required to submit a written report.

SB 175 also amends Texas Education Code Section 51.8035 to allow automatic admission for transfer undergraduate students for students who would have qualified for automatic admission at the time of their high school graduation and meet other listed criteria. This section is applicable to all institutions.

SB 175 creates a scholarship program for students who graduated in the top 10 percent of their

class. A student must satisfy the following requirements to be initially eligible:

(1) have graduated from a public or accredited private high school in this state while ranked in the top 10 percent of the student's graduating class, subject to other provisions of the legislation;

(2) have completed the recommended or advanced high school curriculum or its equivalent;

(3) have applied for admission as a first-time freshman student for the 2010-11 academic year or a subsequent academic year to an institution of higher education that has elected to offer admissions for that academic year under Section 51.803(a-1), which is specifically the section applying only to the University of Texas;

(4) enroll as a first-time freshman student in an institution of higher education not earlier than the 2010-2011 academic year and not later than the 16th month after the date of the student's high school graduation;

(5) have been awarded a TEXAS grant;

(6) be a Texas resident; and

(7) comply with any other eligibility requirements established by coordinating board rule.

The student would have to satisfy criteria, including satisfactory academic progress, to continue.

SB 194 by Shapleigh / Howard, Donna - Relating to a prohibition against certain activities by a person in the financial aid office of a public institution of higher education or of a career school or college. SB 194 prohibits financial aid employees at institutions of higher education or of a career school or college from engaging in certain activities that may create possible conflicts of interests.

SB 291 by Nelson / McReynolds - Relating to hepatitis B vaccination for students enrolled in certain health-related courses of study at an institution of higher education. SB 291 allows for a hepatitis B vaccination to students enrolled in a course of study that involves potential exposure to human or animal blood or body fluids.

SB 305 by Shapleigh / Castro - Relating to an online list of work-study employment opportunities available to students at a public institution of higher education. SB 305 requires each institution of higher education to establish and maintain an online list of work-study employment opportunities, sorted by department as appropriate, available to students on the institution's campus; and ensure that the list is easily accessible to the public through a clearly identifiable link that appears in a prominent place on the financial aid page of the institution's Internet website.

SB 1304 by Patrick, Dan / Branch - Relating to notice to students of a public institution of higher education of the required use of a portion of a student's tuition payments to provide student financial aid. SB 1304 requires institutions of higher education that set aside a portion of designated tuition to

provide financial assistance for students enrolled in the institution, to provide to each student who

pays tuition, a notice of the amount of the tuition paid by the student that is required to be set aside. The Higher Education Coordinating Board would prescribe minimum standards for the manner, form, and content of the notice.

SB 1729 by West / Alonzo - Relating to the terms of student members of certain Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board advisory committees. SB 1729 modifies the terms of service of student members on certain Higher Education Coordinating Board advisory committees.

SB 1735 by West / Branch - Relating to providing police and security services for certain post-secondary educational institutions. SB 1735 amends various subsections of Section 51.214 of the Education Code, as it relates to the employment and commissioning of law enforcement personnel to provide security services to certain educational institutions in municipalities with a population of 1.18 million or more. The bill also amends Section 51.2125 of the Education Code, relating to the eligibility of private institutions of higher education to enter into a written mutual assistance agreement with peace officers.

SB 1764 by Watson / Cohen - Relating to the dissemination of information regarding the cost of attending public and private institutions of higher education and regarding the availability of financial aid to assist in paying that cost. SB 1764 requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to prescribe uniform standards to ensure that information regarding the cost of attendance at institutions of higher education is available to the public in a manner that is consumer friendly and readily understandable to prospective students and their families. The bill requires the standards to address all the elements that constitute the total cost of attendance and requires the information to be displayed on an institution's website, along with information on financial assistance and a link to the primary federal student aid website.

SB 2258 by Zaffirini / Hochberg - Relating to intensive summer programs for public school students and to college readiness programs at public institutions of higher education. SB 2258 requires the coordinating board by rule to develop higher education bridge programs in the subject area of social science, in addition to mathematics, science, or English language arts, and clarifies that such development is to increase student success by reducing the need for developmental education. The bill requires the coordinating board by rule to develop a pilot program to award grants to institutions of higher education for intensive programs designed to address the needs of students at risk of dropping out of college and to allocate money for such grants.

SB 2262 by Zaffirini / Branch - Relating to the administration of mathematics, science, and technology teacher preparation academies at institutions of higher education. SB 2262 bill transfers the statutory code provisions relating to the mathematics, science, and technology teacher preparation academies from Section 21.462 (Public Education) of the Education Code to Chapter 61(Higher Education Coordinating Board) of the Education Code. The Higher Education Coordinating Board currently administers the mathematics, science, and technology teacher preparation academies.

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Finance, Tuition, and Financial Aid Related Related Legislation

HB 101 by Brown, Fred / Uresti - Relating to the formula funding for public institutions of higher education for certain credit hours that do not count toward a degree. HB 101 modifies the existing statute (61.0595) that eliminates state formula funding for certain excess credit hours. The current statute limits funding per student to 30 credit hours beyond the number needed for the student's degree, but includes exceptions for remedial hours and hours earned through examinations. HB 101 adds an exception for courses that do not count toward "the student's specific degree program" at an institution to include those hours earned while still in high school. HB 101 would reduce the number of students who get to the funding limit before completing baccalaureate degrees. Students will be the beneficiaries of this change, in particular are those students who transfer to universities with large numbers of hours or those students who change majors.

VETOED

HB 103 by Brown, F./Patrick - Relating to health benefit plans for students at institutions of higher education and the operation of certain health benefit plans through student health centers at certain institutions of higher education. The bill would require general academic teaching institutions with a total student enrollment of more than 20,000 students in one or more semesters of the preceding academic year to offer at least one "high deductible" health benefit plan to students. This section takes effect Fall 2010.

Another provision of HB 103 mandates that a student health center of an institution of higher education with a total student enrollment of more than 20,000 students in one or more semesters of the preceding academic year would be required to assist students by filing or having a claim filed with the health benefit plan issuer on their behalf. An institution of higher education could contract with a health benefit plan issuer to provide health care services under the plan to students.

VETOED

HB 518 by Kolkhorst / Van de Putte - Relating to programs to provide student loan repayment assistance for certain correctional officers, for certain speech-language pathologists and audiologists, and for certain mathematics and science teachers. The bill creates programs to provide student loan repayment assistance for certain correctional officers and for certain speech-language pathologists and audiologists. HB 518 also creates the Texas Teach Corps Student Loan Repayment Program Assistance Program for undergraduate students who agree to teach in school districts that have shortages of teachers in mathematics or science. The student loan repayment program for speech-language pathologists and audiologists will create an incentive for licensed speech-language pathologists and audiologists to remain employed in public schools or seek employment in the public school system.

HB 1736 by Anchia / Duncan - Relating to compensation of and services to persons wrongfully imprisoned. HB 1736 amends Chapter 103 of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code relating to the

administration of wrongful imprisonment compensation to certain persons. The bill eliminates a

person's right to file suit for compensation for wrongful imprisonment, and allows for the person, or

the person's heirs, legal representatives, and estate if the person is deceased, to seek compensation by

filing an application with the Comptroller. In addition, claimants would also be entitled to 120 hours of state-paid tuition and mandatory fees at a career center, community college, or state university if requested by a claimant before the seventh anniversary of the date the claimant received a pardon or was granted relief.

HB 2013 by Keffer / Hegar - Relating to tuition and laboratory fee exemptions at public institutions of higher education for certain volunteer firefighters enrolled in fire science courses. HB 2013 extends the exemption program for firefighters enrolled in fire science curricula to include volunteer firefighters who hold an Accredited Advanced level of certification or an equivalent credential under the State Firemen's and Fire Marshall's Association of Texas volunteer certification program or a phase V certification or equivalent successor certification under the Texas Commission on Fire Protection's voluntary certification program. Note: Students enrolled in homeland security programs offered by Texas A&M have been ruled eligible for this exemption under the current statute.

HB 2154 by Edwards / Hinojosa - Relating to the physician education loan repayment program. HB 2154 amends the Government Code and Education Code to create, using revenue from a tax imposed on certain tobacco products, a dedicated source of revenue for the physician education loan repayment program account. The physician education loan repayment program is administered by the Higher Education Coordinating Board and recruits and retains physicians in health professional shortage areas. The Coordinating Board will electronically deliver payment directly to the lender on behalf of the physician. The bill also establishes maximum amounts of repayment assistance for eligible physicians based on their length of participation in the program. For the first year they would be eligible to receive$25,000; for the second, $35,000; for the third, $45,000; and $55,000 for the fourth year.

HB 2347 by Thibaut / Whitmire - Relating to tuition and fee exemptions at public institutions of higher education for certain peace officers enrolled in criminal justice or law enforcement course work and for certain educational aides. HB 2347 extends the tuition and laboratory fee exemption program currently for certain firefighters enrolled in fire science curricula to peace officers employed by political subdivisions of the state who enroll in a course or courses offered as part of a criminal justice or law enforcement management related curriculum designed for peace officers. Under provisions of the bill, higher education institutions would certify the eligibility of certain firefighters to receive an exemption from tuition and fees charged by the institutions. Under current law, the Higher Education Coordinating Board makes the determination. These provisions will be implemented within current resources. The governing board of an institution of higher education may not provide exemptions to students enrolled in a specific class in a number that exceeds 20 percent of the maximum student enrollment designated by the institution for that class. Changes in the tuition and laboratory fees would be effective beginning in the 2011 fall semester.

HB 2440 by McCall / Williams - Relating to scholarships for fifth-year accounting students. HB 2440 transfers the authority to administer the funds collected and award the scholarships for the 5th Year Accounting Program from the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to the Texas State Board of Public Accountancy (TSBPA).

HB 3353 / SB 2182by Naishtat / Shapleigh - Relating to an environmental service fee at public institutions of higher education. HB 3353 authorizes the governing board of an institution of higher education to charge each student enrolled at the institution an environmental service fee, if the fee has been approved by a majority vote of the students enrolled at the institution who participate in a general student election called for that purpose. The proceeds from the fee are to be used only to provide environmental improvements at the institution through services related to recycling, energy efficiency and renewable energy, transportation, employment, product purchasing, planning and maintenance, or irrigation; or provide matching funds for grants to obtain environmental improvements. The fee shall not exceed $5 per semester or $10 if approved by a student election.

HB 3452 by Gattis / Ogden - Relating to the establishment of the Texas Armed Services Scholarship. HB 3452 establishes the Texas Armed Service Scholarship Program. The new program will be administered by the Higher Education Coordinating Board. Under provisions of the bill, a qualified student could receive an annual conditional scholarship grant available for use at any Texas public or private institution of higher education having a Reserve Officer Training Corps (R.O.T.C.) program, conditioned on certain obligations. The amount of scholarship in each academic year would be the lesser of $15,000 or the amount available for each scholarship from appropriations that may be used

for the scholarships. The Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, the members of the Texas Senate, and the members of the Texas House of Representative each individually have the power annually to appoint one recipient of the Armed Service scholarships who possesses the requisite qualifications for the scholarship. In order to fulfill the student's commitments to the Armed Services Scholarship program, the student must: (1) complete four years of ROTC training, and graduate within five years; (2) upon graduation, enter into either a four year commitment to serve as a member of the Texas Army or Air Force National Guard, or a contract to serve as a commissioned officer with any branch of the armed services of the United States; and (3) meet the physical examination requirements and all other pre-screening requirements of the Texas Army. Under provisions of the bill, a recipient of the scholarship who either fails to maintain satisfactory academic progress, withdraws from the scholarship program, or fails to fulfill the student's commitment, for any reason other than a physical inability to meet any of these commitments, all funds advanced to the recipient to that point would become a debt due to the state. The Higher Education Coordinating Board will begin awarding scholarships beginning with the 2010-11 academic year.

HB 4476 by Cohen / Zaffirini - Relating to eligibility requirements for the tuition equalization grant program. HB 4476 amends current law relating to eligibility requirements for the TEG program by correcting inconsistencies between the Tuition Equalization Grant (TEG) program and the TEXAS Grant program. TEG recipients will now have the same course load requirement as TEXAS Grant and the same GPA requirements.

SB 43 by Zaffirini / Gonzales-Toureilles - Relating to tuition and fee exemptions at public institutions of higher education for students who have been under the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services. SB 43 extends the current tuition exemptions for students under conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services to include students enrolled in dual credit classes while in high school and allows students to begin using the exemption as late as the day before their 25th birthday.

SB 45 by Zaffirini / Hochberg - Relating to tuition exemptions at public institutions of higher education for students enrolled in certain inter-institutional academic programs. SB 45 allows, but does not require, institutions of higher education to waive tuition for graduate students enrolled in courses connected with interdisciplinary and inter-institutional graduate training programs under a written agreement between both institutions.

SB 93 by Van de Putte / Castro - Relating to tuition and fee exemptions for certain military personnel and their dependents or spouse and permitting those personnel to assign the exemption to a child. SB 93 modifies the Hazlewood Exemption statute which exempts certain military personnel and their dependents from paying tuition and certain fees. The bill clarifies that Texas must be declared the home state of permanent record upon entering the military. The statute will now be known as the Hazelwood Legacy Act.

SB 194 by Shapleigh/Howard D. - Relating to a prohibition against certain activities by a person employed in the financial aid office of a public institution of higher education or of a career school or college. SB 194 prohibits a person employed in the financial aid office of an institution of higher education or a career school or college from owning stock or other ownership interest in a student loan lender, other than through ownership of shares in a publicly traded mutual fund or a similar investment vehicle. The bill also prohibits such a person from soliciting or accepting any gift from a student loan lender.

SB 297 by Van de Putte / Corte - Relating to resident tuition rates at public institutions of higher education for certain veterans and service members and their spouses and children. SB 297 provides resident status for tuition purposes for veterans qualifying for federal veterans benefits, their spouses and their dependents (if under 25 when they initially enroll), provided the veterans file a statement with the university of their intent to establish residency in Texas. Under provisions of the bill, certain veterans, spouses, and children of veterans are entitled to pay tuition and fees at an institution of higher education at the rates provided for Texas residents without regard to the length of time the person has resided in this state.

SB 638 by Nichols / Flynn - Relating to the collateralization of certain public funds. SB 638 establishes a permissive pooled collateral program, provides for the centralization of the collateral function in a pool to be tracked and verified to meet state requirements, and requires the comptroller to be responsible for the implementation of such a program.

SB 1515 by Watson / McCall - Relating to a major events trust fund, a motor sports racing trust fund, and an events trust fund for sporting and non-sporting events. SB 1515 renames the "Other Events Trust Fund;" renames the "Sporting Event Trust Fund;" expands the purpose of the specified funds from sporting or athletic events to sporting or non-sporting games or events; and modifies application and reimbursement procedures for the newly named "Major Events Trust Fund" and "Events Trust Fund." In addition, the bill removes certain population criteria for the Motor Sports Racing Trust Fund and the Events Trust Fund. Currently, the Sporting Event Trust Fund, Motor Sports Racing Trust Fund, and the Other Events Trust Fund assist local governments in recruiting or retaining events that are actively being recruited by other states. The programs authorize a portion of state tax revenue generated by an event to be returned to the city or county that hosted the event to assist in paying expenses incurred in connection with the event.

SB 1798 by Zaffirini / Cohen - Relating to certifying the eligibility of certain educational aides to receive an exemption from tuition and fees charged by public institutions of higher education. SB 1798 requires the institution of higher education to certify the person's eligibility at which an educational aide is seeking an exemption from tuition and fees. This bill also requires the institution to make the determination of eligibility and give notice of its determination to the applicant and to the school district employing the applicant as an educational aide.

SB 1941 by Shapiro / Morrison - Relating to the administration and operation of the state's programs for repaying or saving toward the costs of attending and institution of higher education. SB 1941, beyond some clarification to the statute, has three substantive changes: (1) adds career schools to the Texas Tomorrow Fund II; (2) allows a contract to be established that would allow state employees in the Employee Retirement System of Texas to enroll in the TTF II through their annual enrollment cycle; and (3) allows state employees to contribute to the Texas Save & Match program through the State Employee Charitable Campaign. Texas Save & Match is a program that allows charitable contributions to a fund that is used to match funds invested by low income and other groups to the TTF II program. It already exists, but this would expand the resources available through SECC contributions.

SB 1952 by Jackson, Mike / Weber - Relating to the authorization of certain municipalities and counties to issue public securities for the financing of permanent improvements for use by an institution of higher education. SB 1952 authorizes certain home-rule municipalities and counties to issue public securities for the financing of permanent improvements for use by an institution of higher education.

SB 2240 by Zaffirini / Crownover - Relating to the financing of educational and related facilities by higher education facility authorities or nonprofit corporations performing the functions of those authorities and the governance of higher education facility authorities. SB 2240 amends various sections of the Education Code as it relates to higher education facility authorities for public and private schools. Under provisions of the bill, when bonds are proposed to be issued to benefit an institution of higher education and the records relating to their issuance are submitted to the attorney general, a public higher education authority will be required also to deliver notice of that action to the governor, the lieutenant governor, the speaker of the house, and the Legislative Budget Board. The notice must include the amount of the bonds to be issued and a description of the facilities to be financed from the bond proceeds. If the attorney general does not find that bonds to be in accordance with this chapter and constitute valid and binding obligations of the authority, the attorney general may not approve the bonds, and the bonds may not be registered by the comptroller. The bill also amends the definition of "educational facility" and strikes language relating to the facilities' being used exclusively for the conduct of the educational and administrative functions of the institutions, thus including athletic and all other facilities on campus.

SB 2244 by Zaffirini / Branch - Relating to the eligibility of employees of certain businesses or organizations established as part of the state's economic development program and of dependants of those employees to pay resident tuition. SB 2244 sets a time limit within which a business or organization must be established as part of the state's economic development program before the date of an employee's or employee's dependent's enrollment at an institution of higher education for the employee or dependent to be entitled to pay resident tuition at such an institution. The provisions of the bill are applicable beginning with tuition and required fees for the fall 2010 semester.

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General Operations Related Related Legislation

HB 432 by Lucio/Estes - Relating to the acquisition by state agencies of low-emissions vehicles and vehicles using alternative fuels. This bill amends Chapter 2158 of the Government Code. Higher education is granted delegated purchasing authority from this chapter of the Government Code; however, many of the rules that institutions have adopted reflect Chapter 2158 statute.
HB 432 modifies what is reported in the annual financial report; it requires that agencies report the availability of alternative fuels and provide the information reasonably needed to determine certain air quality benefits.

The legislation also sets forth the following:

  • HB 432 amends the Government Code to require agencies to purchase or lease certain vehicles only if they use the following alternative fuels: compressed natural gas, liquefied natural gas (Propane), liquefied petroleum gas, methanol or methanol/gasoline blends of 85 percent or greater, ethanol or ethanol/gasoline blends of 85 percent (E85) or greater, biodiesel or biodiesel/diesel blends of 20 percent or greater, or electricity, including electricity to power a plug-in hybrid motor vehicle. This requirement would apply to agencies purchasing or leasing certain large vehicles used primarily for the transportation of individuals and to agencies operating a fleet of more than 15 vehicles, excluding law enforcement and emergency vehicles. By September 30, 2010, agencies operating a fleet of more than 15 vehicles, excluding law enforcement and emergency vehicles, would be required to have a fleet consisting of vehicles of which at least 50 percent use the same alternative fuels specified above. This requirement does not apply to higher education.
  • Purchasing requirements relating to alternatively fueled vehicles does not apply if a state agency demonstrates that the state agency would incur additional net costs.

HB 605 by Farabee/Estes - Relating to mileage reimbursement for state employees. H.B. 605 amends current law relating to mileage reimbursement for state employees. Current law concerning a state employee's mileage reimbursement does not account for employee safety in route planning by employees traveling on state business. In considering only the most cost-effective route, state employees are prohibited from seeking reimbursement if they deviate from such a route, even if safety is a concern, such as poorly lit roads or extreme weather. HB 605 allows for the state to take into account reasonable safety measures when calculating a state employee's mileage reimbursement and allows alternate routes to be taken in order to account for safety concerns.

HB 1705 by Geren/Ellis - Relating to the Department of Information Resources, including the abolition of the telecommunications planning and oversight council, the electronic commerce network, and the electronic procurement marketplace and standards for certain school district software. HB 1705 abolishes the telecommunications planning and oversight council (TPOC) and requires the Department of Information Resources (DIR) to fulfill various telecommunication related planning, reporting and oversight activities, including the review of the status of all projects and the financial performance of the consolidated telecommunications system and the centralized capitol complex telephone system.

HB 1705 repeals various sections of the government code, including the statutes related to TPOC and the requirement of DIR to establish an electronic commerce system. The bill permits DIR to contract with assistance organizations, and non-profits receiving state funds through a current state contract or grant, to use the consolidated telecommunications system.

HB 1830 by Corte/Ellis - Relating to information technology security practices of state agencies.

HB 1830 adds computer infrastructure to the open records exception listing; specifically restricted information pursuant to Section 2059.055, Government Code. The bill allows the governing board of DIR to deliberate certain security or infrastructure issues in a closed meeting. HB 1830 also allows DIR to disclose information related to security or infrastructure issues to a bidder if the governing board determines that providing the information is necessary for the bidder to provide an accurate bid.

HB 1830 requires state agencies, including institutions of higher education, to provide, upon completion, an electronic copy of its vulnerability report to DIR, the state auditor, the agency's executive director, and any other information technology security oversight group specifically authorized by the legislature to receive the report.

HB 1831 by Corte/Carona - Relating to disaster preparedness and emergency management and to certain vehicles used in emergencies. Article 6 of the bill deals with higher education institutions. Institutions of higher education, not including community colleges, shall adopt and implement a multi-hazard emergency plan that addresses mitigation, preparedness, response and recovery. At least once every three years, institutions must conduct a facility safety and security audit; the audit must be sent to the institution's board of regents and the Division of Emergency Management in the Governor's Office. Information collected, developed, or produced by the audit is not subject to open records requests unless it meets certain provisions set for in the legislation.

Article 4 of the bill also adds a provision regarding the lodging expenses of certain state emergency services personnel so that they can be reimbursed for actual lodging expenses if there is not room available at the state rate.

HB 2004 by McCall/Ellis - Relating to a breach of computer security involving sensitive personal information and to the protection of sensitive personal information and certain protected health information. HB 2004 requires state and local agencies, including institutions of higher education, to notify individuals when their sensitive personal information has been acquired as a result of an unauthorized breach. The legislation amends current law relating to a breach of computer security involving sensitive personal information and to the protection of sensitive personal information and certain protected health information.

HB 2521 by Pickett / West - Relating to a preference in state purchasing for certain media-related

services offered by businesses based in Texas. HB 2521 amends Chapter 2155 of the Government Code to require the Comptroller of Public Accounts and each state agency conducting an advertising campaign that includes a commercial to give preference to a company located in Texas if the services meet state requirements regarding service and quality, and if the cost does not exceed the cost of similar services from outside the State.

HB 2547 by Giddings/Deuell - Relating to the use of a description of employment in determining the safety and appropriateness of a return to employment by an injured employee. HB 2547 will impact the A&M system workers compensation program. The bill places the treating doctor in a more active role in determining what duties employees can perform when they return to work in restricted duty. The legislation requires the commissioner of workers' compensation (commissioner) to prescribe a form to provide information from an employer to a treating doctor concerning the functions and physical responsibilities of an injured employee's job. The bill requires the form prescribed under this subsection, to the extent possible, to be one page, use a check box format as appropriate, and be compatible with electronic mail. Requires that the form include: (1)the name and address of the employer and the contact information and availability of the individual representing the employer who has knowledge of the injured employee's job; (2)the scope of the injured employee's employment, including any specific tasks, job duties, or work activities that the injured employee was required to perform at the time the employee sustained the injury; and(3)an area for additional comments or information by the employer or individual representing the employer concerningthe injured employee's job orthe availability, if any, of other jobs that the employer may have that the employer would like the treating doctor to consider in determining whether an injured employee is able to return to work.

VETOED

HB 2820 by Chisum/Wentworth - Relating to contracts by governmental entities for professional services relating to geoscience and landscape architecture. HB 2820 would amend the Government Code relating to contracts by governmental entities for professional services relating to geoscience and landscape architecture.

HB 2893 by Hochberg/ Shapleigh - Relating to the technology demonstration sites project and to a computer lending pilot program. HB 2893 would require that if the surplus or salvage data processing equipment of an institution or agency of higher education is not disposed of under other law, the entity make the equipment available to the commissioner of education for use in the computer lending pilot program. The pilot program and its enabling legislation would expire September 1, 2014.

HB 3632 by Geren/Averitt - Relating to the authority of the state to acquire, sell or exchange certain land. HB 3632 primarily deals with the General Land Office's power and authority to accept real or personal property on behalf of the state. This bill does include language that provides if an institution of higher education notifies the Texas Historical Commission in a timely manner that it protests the proposed designation of land, the matter becomes a contested case under the provisions of Section 12 through 20 of the Administrative Procedures and Texas Register Act. The current law is only applicable to a building.

HB 3756 by Howard, D. / Ellis - Relating to the Texas State Library and Archives Commission (TSLAC). HB 3756 updates statutes related to the operations of TSLAC by deleting obsolete provisions and modernizing definitions and terms to reflect current practices and standards related to TSLAC's Talking Book Program, the "Texas Reads" license plate, the Library Systems Act, the TexShare program, the local records division, and the archives division. The bill also enables TSLAC to expand the membership of the TexShare program and its advisory board through rulemaking authority and allows regional library systems to serve various types of libraries. HB 3756 also details TSLAC's right of recovery of state archival records by broadening the definitions of "state archival records" and granting TSLAC retroactive authority to retrieve Texas historical records created pre-statehood. Finally, the bill repeals county librarian certification references in statute and corrects drafting errors in legislation from the 80th Legislature, Regular Session, 2007, regarding the reauthorization of TSLAC.

HB 4127 by Hartnett/Carona - Relating to the expenditure of public funds for certain playground facilities. The statute governing compliance with safety standards for publicly funded playgrounds, enacted in 1995, references a standard published in the Handbook for Public Playground Safety published in 1994 by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (Publication No. 325). Today, the standard that is recognized and followed by the industry is set by the American Society of Testing and Materials (ASTM). HB 4127 updates current law relating to the expenditure of public funds for certain playground facilities to meet the new standard followed by the industry.

HB 4189 by Rose/Watson - Relating to the conduct of compliance programs by institutions of higher education and to the vaccination of students of institutions of higher education against bacterial meningitis. HB 4189 would allow institutions of higher education that maintain a compliance program to establish procedures to provide private access to a compliance office, maintain anonymity of individuals who make a compliance report or participate in a compliance investigation, and preserve confidentiality of communications. Under provisions of the bill, certain information would be confidential if the related individual does not consent to its disclosure. Information produced that would interfere with an ongoing compliance investigation would be excepted from disclosure under Government Code Chapter 552. The information would be available to a law enforcement agency or prosecutor for official purposes.

HB 4189 was amended to address vaccinations re bacterial meningitis; before registering a student must provide a certificate evidencing that the student has been vaccinated against bacterial meningitis. The bill applies to first-time students, including transfer students, who reside in an on-campus dormitory or housing facility at the institution. A student is not required to comply if an affidavit or a certificate is presented stating that the vaccination would be injurious to the health and well-being of the student or stating that the vaccination has been declined for reasons of conscience.

HB 4409 by Taylor/Jackson - Relating to emergency preparation and management. This legislation was the vehicle for the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). HB 4409 would require TDI to adopt rules relating to the implementation of the bill; the bill would restructure the revenues collected and deposited into the Catastrophe Reserve Trust Fund. HB 4409 bill would require the Sunset Advisory Commission (SAC) to review TWIA, but does not subject the entity to abolishment. The bill would require that the review be conducted as if the association were scheduled to be abolished September 1, 2015. HB 4409 would require TWIA to pay the costs incurred by the SAC upon receipt of a statement from the SAC. The legislation would create the windstorm insurance legislative oversight board to monitor TWIA and review proposed legislation and requires the board to produce a biennial report on the board's recommendations.

Section 26 of the bill requires those that those that apply for a TWIA policy show a "diligent effort" to obtain property insurance through the voluntary market; once declination from an insurer will be required with an application for renewal of a TWIA policy.

SB 28 by Zaffirini/Deshotel - Relating to the use of a computer for an unauthorized purpose; providing a civil penalty. The bill would amend the Business and Commerce Code and provide that a person other than the owner of a computer may not knowingly cause or offer to cause a computer to send unsolicited electronic mail or attack a computer system or network; adds creation of botnets and zombies as specific instances of prohibited activities.

SB 194 by Shapleigh/Howard D. - Relating to a prohibition against certain activities by a person employed in the financial aid office of a public institution of higher education or of a career school or college. SB 194 prohibits a person employed in the financial aid office of an institution of higher education or a career school or college from owning stock or other ownership interest in a student loan lender, other than through ownership of shares in a publicly traded mutual fund or a similar investment vehicle. The bill also prohibits such a person from soliciting or accepting any gift from a student loan lender.

SB 745 by Duncan/Solomons - Relating to state travel policies and procedures for the reimbursement or payment of travel expenses. Current law requires a state employee, including an employee of an institution of higher education, to certify travel expenses for which the employee seeks reimbursement by approving a completed travel voucher. The voucher contains coding elements used for accounting that are not relevant to the employee's declaration of expenses incurred and trip purpose. If a travel voucher's coding elements need correction, the employee must reapprove the corrected voucher even if there is no change to the employee's travel details, which causes travel vouchers to be sent back and forth between accounting staff and traveling employees. This process delays travel voucher processing, creates barriers for electronic travel vouchers, and requires an employee to certify elements, such as USAS coding elements, that are generally unknown to the employee. SB 745 revises procedures and requirements relating to advance written approval, and completion and submission of vouchers, for state employee travel.

SB 1003 by Deuell/Flynn - Relating to the continuation and functions of the Office of State-Federal Relations and the administrative attachment of that agency to the office of the governor. SB 1003 requires all state agencies and political subdivisions of the State of Texas, including institutions of higher education and river authorities, to report to the Office on contracts with federal-level government relations consultants. The legislation requires that entities report federal-level consultant contracts within 30 days of entering into a contract and within 30 days of a contract termination. The legislation also contains a provision that requires a state agency or political subdivision that has a contract before the effective date of the bill to report to the Office on the contract before September 30, 2009.

SB 1003 requires information in such reports to include the name of the consultant or firm contracted with, the issue the firm was hired to work on, and the amount of compensation paid or to be paid to the consultant under the contract; it also requires state agencies to report any subcontracts of a contract with a federal-level government relations consultant to the Office. Finally, the legislation provides that the new contract reporting requirements do not apply to a political subdivision whose federal-level government relations consultant is required by other law to disclose or report the information to the public and a federal or state entity.

SB 1796 by Zaffirini/Castro - Relating to the approval of certain construction, repair, or rehabilitation projects at public institutions of higher education in this state. SB 1796 bill amends the Education Code to increase the cost thresholds that determine whether the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board approval is required for certain construction, repair, or rehabilitation projects at public institutions of higher education. The bill increases from $1 million to $4 million the total project cost threshold for board approval for new construction and from $2 million to $4 million the total cost threshold for board approval for major repair and rehabilitation of buildings and facilities. SB 1796 makes conforming changes to incorporate the $4 million total cost threshold in provisions limiting the board's consideration and determination of approval to certain factors. SB 1796 authorizes the board, by rule, to increase the total cost thresholds required for board approval for all projects as delineated by the bill, as necessary to ensure that the board is required to approve only substantial construction, repair, or rehabilitation projects at institutions of higher education.

SB 2381 by West/Dukes - Relating to the fee charged for registration on the master bidders list. SB 2381 amends Section 2155.202, Government Code,to authorize the Comptroller of Public Accounts rather than the Texas Facilities Commission, to charge a person applying for registration on the master bidders list a registration fee. SB 2381 authorizes the Comptroller to charge a registrant a biennial renewal fee in an amount designed to recover the comptroller's, rather than the commission's, costs. SB 2381 requires the comptroller, in addition to the fee above, to also collect $20 from each registrant to be used for the purpose of enforcing compliance with requirements of state purchasing statutes and the prevention of fraud in the Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) program as set forth in Chapter 2161.

SB 2442 by Uresti/Gallego - Relating to the exemption from ad valorem taxation of property owned by certain charitable organizations. SB 2442 amends Section 11.18 of the Tax Code to exempt from property taxes real property owned by a charitable organization and leased to an institution of higher education. The property would be exempt to the same extent that it would be exempt if the institution of higher education owned the property.

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Open Records Related Related Legislation

HB 2004 by McCall/Ellis - Relating to a breach of computer security involving sensitive personal information and to the protection of sensitive personal information and certain protected health information. HB 2004 amends Chapter 181, Health and Safety Code, by adding a section that provides that an individual's protected health information, for a covered entity that is a governmental unit, includes any information that reflects that an individual received health care from the covered entity, and is not public information and is not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552 (Public Information), Government Code.

HB 4189 by Rose/Watson - Relating to the conduct of compliance programs by institutions of higher education and to the vaccination of students of institutions of higher education against bacterial meningitis. HB 4189 would allow institutions of higher education that maintain a compliance program to establish procedures to provide private access to a compliance office, maintain anonymity of individuals who make a compliance report or participate in a compliance investigation, and preserve confidentiality of communications. Under provisions of the bill, certain information would be confidential if the related individual does not consent to its disclosure. Information produced that would interfere with an ongoing compliance investigation would be excepted from disclosure under Government Code Chapter 552. The information would be available to a law enforcement agency or prosecutor for official purposes.

SB 671 by Shapleigh/Gallego - Relating to information requested by a member, committee, or agency of the legislature under the public information law. Under Section 552.008, Texas Government Code, the Texas Public Information Act requires governmental bodies, including institutions of higher education, to provide public information, including confidential information, to legislators when the requesting legislator specifies that the information is being requested for legislative purposes. The code also provides that the governmental body may require the requesting legislator to sign a confidentiality agreement with regard to any confidential information released under Section 552.008. The code, however, does not provide for a process by which the requesting legislator can determine whether information potentially made subject to a confidentiality agreement is indeed confidential. As a result, the governmental body could make potentially non-confidential information subject to a confidentiality agreement. SB 671 amends current law relating to information requested by a member, committee, or agency of the legislature under the public information law.

SB 1068 by Wentworth/Gallego - Relating to allowing a governmental body to redact certain personal information under the public information law without the necessity of requesting a decision from the attorney general and allowing information about a public officer or public employee to be withheld if disclosure would pose a substantial risk of physical harm. SB 1068 would amend the Government Code to allow a governmental body (including an institution of higher education) to redact certain personal information under the public information law without requesting a decision from the Office of the Attorney General (OAG). The amended sections of the bill also would require governmental bodies that withhold or redact information without an OAG opinion to provide certain information to the requestor about the withholding or redacting of the information. The requestor would have the right to request a review and opinion from the OAG before being required to sue for a writ of mandamus or seek a declaratory judgment. The OAG would be required to develop informational handouts and instruction forms, and to promptly render (not later than 45 business days of a request) and deliver a written decision requested under the amended Sections. The bill would add Section 552.151 to the Government Code to allow a governmental body to exemption information about a employee or officer of the governmental body to be excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021, Availability of Public Information, if, under the specific circumstances pertaining to the employee or officer, the disclosure of the information would subject the employee or officer to a substantial threat to physical harm.

SB 1182 by Wentworth/Ortiz - Relating to public information and open government. SB 1182 exempts from public disclosure information that could reasonably be expected to compromise the safety of an employee or official if it were released. To have the information withheld, the individual must apply in writing, describing the information involved and the specific circumstances that make its release dangerous. The agency's (including an institution of higher education) Public Information Officer would request a decision from the OAG regarding withholding the information. This portion of the bill would expire September 1, 2013.

SB 1182 amends the Texas Public Information Code, under the request for public information provisions, by adding a section which exempts information pertaining to certain biological agents and toxins, identified in federal law, from categories of publicly accessible information. Excepted information regarding select biological and toxic agent agents includes their specific location within an approved facility, personal identifying information of an individual whose name appears in documentation relating to the chain of custody, and the identity of authorized individuals. The bill would not allow exceptions from disclosure of the identity of the select agents present at a facility, the identity of an individual faculty member or employee whose name appears on published research, and otherwise public information relating to contracts of a governmental body. SB 1182 would also require that information relating to the identity of out of state residents be subject to disclosure only to the extent the information would be subject to disclosure under the laws of the state of which the person is a resident.

SB 1182 would require a governmental body to provide a copy of written arguments that were submitted to the OAG to a requestor within 15 business days. Currently, a governmental body that requests an open records decision from the OAG under section 552.301(a) must submit written arguments only to the OAG concerning the applicability of exceptions in the PIA within 15 business days of receiving the request for information.

SB 1182 would clarify that the only suit a governmental body may file when trying to withhold information under the PIA is a suit against the OAG that seeks declaratory relief (rather than a mandamus action) from compliance with an open records decision of the OAG. Additionally, a governmental body wishing to preserve affirmative defenses for its public information officer found in section 552.353(b)(3) must file suit within the deadlines provided by that section. The bill would clarify certain sections of the PIA relating to litigation between the OAG and governmental bodies.

The bill would apply to requests for information made before, on, or after the relevant provisions of the bill. Except as otherwise provided by the bill, it would take effect September 1, 2009.

SB 1629 by Wentworth/Rose - Relating to the persons exempted from the required prepayment of the personnel costs incurred by a governmental body in responding to requests from a requestor under the public information law that require large amounts of personnel time. The bill would amend the Government Code to add newspapers of general circulation that are published on the Internet and magazines that are either published at least once a week or are on the Internet to the list of entities that may not be charged for public information requests that require large amounts of employee or personnel time. Requestors of the information would have to be individuals for whom a substantial portion of their livelihood or financial gain comes from gathering news or information and who seeks the information for a radio or television station, newspaper, magazine, or other accepted form of information dispensation.

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Benefits Related Related Legislation

HB 806 by Gallego/Zaffirini - Relating to health benefit plan coverage for certain prosthetic devices, orthotic devices, and related services. HB 806 is applicable to the HMOs and PPOs used by the A&M System. The legislation states that the plans must provide coverage for prosthetic devices, orthotic devices, and professional services equal to coverage provided under federal laws for health insurance for the aged and disabled. Covered benefits are limited to the most appropriate model of device that adequately meets the medical needs of the enrollee as determined by the enrollee's treating physician. Subject to applicable copayments and deductibles, the repair and replacement of a prosthetic device or orthotic device is a covered benefit under this chapter unless the repair or replacement is necessitated by misuse or loss by the enrollee. Coverage may be subject to annual deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance that are consistent with annual deductibles, copayments, and coinsurance required for other coverage under the health benefit plan; and may not be subject to annual dollar limits.

HB 1138 by Shelton/Davis - Relating to information required on pharmacy benefit cards.

The bill would require certain healthcare plans (inclusive of the A&M System health benefit plan) to provide certain information; the additional information would include: the name of the entity administering the pharmacy benefits if the entity is different from the health benefit plan issuer; the group number applicable to the enrollee; an identification number for the enrollee, which may not be the enrollee's social security number; the bank identification number necessary for electronic billing; the effective date of the coverage evidenced by the card; and copayment information for generic and brand name prescription drugs. The bill would be effective September 1, 2009 and would apply to coverage issued or renewed after on or after January 1, 2010.

HB 1290 by Oliviera/Lucio - Relating to health benefit plan coverage for bariatric surgery and for certain tests for the early detection of cardiovascular disease. HB 1290 stipulates that a health benefit plan (including the A&M System health benefit plan) must provide the minimum coverage required to males older than 45 years of age and younger than 76 years of age and females older than 55 years of age and younger than 76 years of age; and those who are diabetic or have a risk of developing coronary heart disease.

The minimum requirement is coverage of up to $200 for one of the following tests every five years:

(1) computed tomography (CT) scanning measuring coronary artery calcification; or

(2) ultrasonography measuring carotid intima-media thickness and plaque.

The Section of the bill that applies to ERS employees regarding coverage for bariatric surgery is already covered under the A&M System plan.

HB 1342 by Mendenez/Harris - Relating to adoption of certain information technology. HB 1342 will require health benefits plans (including the A&M System health benefit plan) to use information technology to provide participating providers with real-time information at the point of care concerning the enrollee's copayment and coinsurance; applicable deductibles; and covered benefits and services; and the enrollee's estimated total financial responsibility for the care.

A physician, hospital, or other health care provider that receives an overpayment from an enrollee must refund the amount of the overpayment to the enrollee not later than the 30th day after the date the physician, hospital, or health care provider determines that an overpayment has been made.

HB 2000 by McCall / Van de Putte - Relating to health benefit plan coverage for certain amino acid-based elemental formulas. HB 2000 requires that a health benefit plan (including the A&M System health benefit plan)must provide coverage for amino acid-based elemental formulas, regardless of the formula delivery method, that are used for the diagnosis and treatment of: (1) immunoglobulin E and non-immunoglobulin E mediated allergies to multiple food proteins; (2) severe food protein-induced enterocolitis syndrome; (3) eosinophilic disorders, as evidenced by the results of a biopsy; and (4) impaired absorption of nutrients caused by disorders affecting the absorptive surface, functional length, and motility of the gastrointestinal tract.

The coverage should be provided on a basis no less favorable than the basis on which prescription drugs and other medications and related services are covered by the plan.

HB 3347 by Truitt / Duncan - Relating to plan qualification provisions for and certain supplemental payments and health insurance deductions under the Teacher Retirement System of Texas. HB 3347 changes state law in the TRS plan to include "differential pay" for active duty military under the federal "Heroes Act" (Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax Act of 2008). The bill also conforms state law to federal law for members who die while performing active military duty and their survivors. The bill also allows a non-spouse beneficiary to rollover an eligible distribution to an IRA and makes additional updates needed to keep TRS rollover provisions consistent with federal rollover provisions.

The bill allows for the withholding of health insurance premiums for eligible retired public safety officers participating in the University of Texas System and Texas A&M University System retiree health programs from their Teacher Retirement System (TRS) retirement annuities. Retirees would need to meet the requirements of Section 845 of the Pension Protection Act of 2006 or a similar law to exclude from annual gross income up to $3,000 of distributions from an eligible retirement plan used for qualified health insurance premiums.

The bill also allows the TRS board of Trustees to make a one-time payment to qualified retired public school employees in an amount equivalent to the annuitant's monthly benefit, not to exceed $500. The one-time payment is payable only if General Revenue funds are appropriated and may not be paid from pension trust funds.

HB 4402 by Martinez Fischer / Van de Putte - Relating to a study regarding insurance coverage of prescription drugs provided under a health benefit plan. HB 4402 requires that the Texas Department of Insurance will conduct a study to evaluate the ways in which pharmacy benefit managers use prescription drug information to manage therapeutic drug interchange programs and other drug substitution recommendations made by pharmacy benefit managers. It is likely that the Department will require information from the A&M System throughout the year to perform this study.

SB 39 by Zaffirini / Zerwas - Relating to health benefit plan coverage for routine patient care costs for enrollees participating in certain clinical trials. SB 39 requires that a health benefit plan issuer (including the A&M System benefit plan) shall provide benefits for routine patient care costs to an enrollee in connection with a phase I, phase II, phase III, or phase IV clinical trial if the clinical trial is conducted in relation to the prevention, detection, or treatment of a life-threatening disease or condition. Routine patient care costs means the costs of any medically necessary health care service for which benefits are provided under a health benefit plan, without regard to whether the enrollee is participating in a clinical trial. Routine patient care costs do not include an investigational new drug or device that is not approved for any indication by the United States Food and Drug Administration, or the cost of a service that is clearly inconsistent with widely accepted and established standards of care for a particular diagnosis or a health care service that is specifically excluded from coverage under a health benefit plan.

A health benefit plan issuer is not required to provide benefits under this section for services that are a part of a clinical trial and that are customarily paid for by the research institution conducting the clinical trial. The benefits required under this chapter may be subject to a deductible, coinsurance, or copayment requirement comparable to other those for other services under the health benefit plan.

SB 704 by Nelson/Kolkhorst - Relating to the regulation of pharmacy benefit managers and mail order pharmacies. SB 704 requires that a state agency (including the A&M System) on request of another state agency shall disclose information relating to the amounts charged by a pharmacy benefit manager for pharmacy benefit manager services and other requested pricing information related to a contract for pharmacy benefit manager services. This does not require a state agency to disclose information the agency is specifically prohibited from disclosing under a contract with a pharmacy benefit manager executed before September 1, 2009. The information received by a state agency under this subchapter may not be disclosed to a person outside of the state agency or its agents.

In awarding a contract to provide pharmacy benefit manager services under this chapter, the contract must state that: 1) the system is entitled to audit the pharmacy benefit manager to verify costs and discounts associated with drug claims, pharmacy benefit manager compliance with contract requirements, and services provided by subcontractors; (2) the audit must be conducted by an independent auditor in accordance with established auditing standards; and (3) to conduct the audit, the system and the independent auditor are entitled access to information related to the services and the costs associated with the services performed under the contract, including access to the pharmacy benefit manager's facilities, records, contracts, medical records, and agreements with subcontractors.

The contract must define the information that the pharmacy benefit manager is required to provide to the system concerning the audit of the retail, independent, and mail order pharmacies performing services under the contract and describe how the results of these audits must be reported to the system, including how often the results must be reported.

SB 1143 by Carona/McCall - Relating to requirements regarding employer liability for certain group health benefit plan premiums and to a health benefits study to be conducted by the Texas Department of Insurance. SB 1143 is a follow-up to last session's SB 51 that holds the employer liable for an enrollee's premiums from the time the enrollee is no longer part of the group eligible for coverage under the contract until the end of the month in which the contract holder notifies the health maintenance organization that the enrollee is no longer part of the group eligible for coverage by the contract; and the enrollee remains covered by the contract until the end of that period. SB 1143 expands these rules & regulations to PPOs; however, interpretation on its applicability upon self-insured groups is underway.

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Employment Related Related Legislation

HB 978 by Burnam/Watson - Relating to the employment rights of certain individuals with disabilities.

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Amendments Act of 2008 (ADAAA) was signed into law by President George W. Bush to expand the definition of the word "disability." This bill amends the Labor Code to reflect changes in federal law made by the ADAAA, such as extending nondiscrimination protections to individuals who have an impairment that is episodic or in remission when the impairment substantially limits a major life activity when it is active, and individuals whose impairment is ameliorated by mitigating measures (e.g., medications, hearing aids), except for eyeglasses and contact lenses.

HB 1043 by Orr/Nelson-Relating to the creation of business opportunities for certain former foster children. HB 1043 establishes an employment preference at state agencies, including institutions of higher education, for individuals who were in the state foster care system on the day before they turn 18 years of age. The preference applies when two or more applicants vie for the same position, and only prefers the former foster youth if the other applicants do not have a greater qualification. The employment preference applies only to individuals age 25 or younger.

HB 1462 by Pickett/Uresti - Relating to leave for certain state employees who volunteer or participate in training for Court Appointed Special Advocates. HB 1462 would grant up to 5 hours per month of time off from work without reduction in pay or leave to state employees (including higher education employees) who volunteer for the Court Appointed Special Advocates program. Court Appointed Special Advocates is an organization that trains and organizes volunteers who are appointed by judges to oversee and advocate for abused and neglected children as they move through the legal and social service systems.

HB 1831 by Corte/Carona - Relating to disaster preparedness and emergency management and to certain vehicles used in emergencies. Article 4 of the bill includes provisions for state employees (including higher education employees) who are emergency services personnel, who are not subject to the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act, to take compensatory time off during the 18-months period following the end of the work week in which the emergency compensatory time was accrued or may receive overtime for all or part of the hours of compensatory time accrued during the declared disaster.

SB 833 by Carona/Turner, C. - Relating to the accrual of vacation and sick leave for certain state employees during a military leave of absence and to the eligibility of military service members to hold state office. Section 1 of the bill amends the Government Code to allow a state employee (including higher education employees) to continue to accrue vacation and sick leave while on unpaid leave of absence for military duty.

Section 2 of the bill amends the Government Code by authorizing an officer or enlisted member of the state military forces to hold other civil offices. This section will take effect on January 1, 2010, only if the constitutional amendment proposed by the 81st Legislature, Regular Session, 2009, authorizing an officer or enlisted member of the Texas State Guard or other state militia or military force to hold other civil offices, is approved by the voters.

SB 2298 by Watson/Farabee - Relating to compensation of certain state employees. SB 2298 amends Section 659.018, Government Code related to compensatory time; the legislation creates an exception to authorize an employee (including higher education employees) to accumulate compensatory time off for hours worked during any calendar week at the employee's personal residence if the employee obtains the advance approval of the administrative head of the agency for which the employee works or that person's designee. The bill also deletes existing text prohibiting the employee's personal residence from being considered the employee's regular or temporarily assigned place of employment.

SB 2298 also removes the six month waiting period required between one-time merit payments for state and higher education employees who are paid a one-time merit for performance during a disaster.

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Health Related Related Legislation

HB 394 by Rose/Van de Putte - Relating to the use of money from the Enterprise Fund to benefit certain small businesses and certain projects. Amends Section 481.078, Government Code, by adding Subsections (k) and (l), to require the governor to encourage the creation, development and location of small businesses in this state and to consider making grants from the Texas Enterprise Fund to recipients that are small businesses in this state that commit to using the grants to create additional jobs or small businesses from outside the state that commit to relocate to this state.

HB 497 by Zerwas/Nelson - Relating to a study to determine the effect on the health care infrastructure in this state if the state Medicaid program is abolished or a severe reduction in federal matching money under the program occurs.

Requires the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to conduct a joint study to determine the effect on the health care infrastructure in this state, including health care delivery mechanisms, if the state Medicaid program is abolished or the amount of federal matching money available to the state under the program is severely reduced. Requires that the study address the effect on the availability of and accessibility to health care services provided under the state Medicaid program as of the effective date of this Act. Authorizes HHSC and TDI, in conducting the study, to seek input from health advocacy groups.

HB 1218 by Howard/Watson - Relating to programs to exchange certain health information between the Health and Human Services Commission and certain health care entities and facilities. A section of SB7, Senator Nelson's omnibus healthcare bill, was amended to HB1218. The section deals with Electronic Health Information Exchange and requires the Health and Human Services Commission to develop a pilot program in at least one urban area of the state to determine the feasibility, costs, and benefits of an electronic health information exchange system to improve the safety, quality and efficiency of services delivered under the child health plan and Medicaid. An advisory program is created, and the bill establishes phases to implement the system, including a requirement for HHSC to encourage providers to use the system and report to designated legislative committees.

HB 1358 by Keffer/Nelson - Relating to the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute. HB1358 is a follow-up to HB14, the enabling legislation passed in 2007 to create the Cancer Prevention and Research Institute. HB1358 clarifies the structure and process for administration of CPRIT funds. The legislation calls for the Executive Director to appoint the Scientific Research and Prevention Committee, sets the terms of the committee at four years, and allows members of the committee to receive an honorarium. The Oversight Committee may appoint ad hoc advisory committees as needed and is required to create an ad hoc committee on childhood cancers. HB1358 addresses a conflict of interest identified by the Texas Attorney General by creating a separate University Advisory Committee to provide input rather than review proposals. The University Advisory Committee is to include: 1) Two members appointed by the Chancellor of the UT System to represent UT Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas, UTMB Galveston, UTHSC Houston, UTHSC San Antonio, UTHSC Tyler or UT MD Anderson Cancer Center; 2) One member appointed by Chancellor of Texas A&M System to represent the A&M HSC or its teaching hospital; 3) One member appointed by Chancellor of Texas Tech to represent Texas Tech HSC; 4) One member appointed by Chancellor of University of Houston System; 5) One member appointed by the Chancellor of Texas State University System; 6) One member appointed by Chancellor of University of North Texas System; One member appointed by the president of Baylor College of Medicine. HB1358 sets out requirements for disclosure of conflict of interest by members of the Science and Prevention Committee, University Advisory Committee, or ad hoc advisory committee to the Executive Director in writing and recusal of the member from deliberations, actions or decisions. No more than five percent of an award may be spent on indirect costs, and no more than five percent of an award can be spent on purchase, construction, remodel, or renovation of a facility. Requires oversight committee to issue rules regarding procedure for awarding grants including: 1) Science and Prevention Committee is to review applications and make recommendations to ED regarding award of cancer research grants by prioritized list; and 2) ED is required to submit to Oversight Committee list of applications in priority order. Oversight Committee is required to follow funding recommendations of the ED in the order submitted unless overridden by a 2/3 vote. ED is allowed to terminate grants not meeting contractual obligations. ED is to report annually to Oversight Committee on progress and merits of each funded program. Clarifies Public Information including 1) applicant name and address; 2) amount of funding applied for; 3) type of cancer to be addressed; and 4) other information designated.

HB 1671 by Crownover/Nelson - Relating to mutual aid agreements for newborn screening laboratory services. HB1671 authorizes the Department of State Health Services to enter into a mutual aid agreement to provide services to another state and to receive services from another state in the event of an unexpected interruption of service, including an interruption caused by a disaster. This bill includes provisions to address the confidentiality of the identity of the newborn child and the newborn child's family.

HB 1795 by Pierson/Uresti - Relating to newborn screening and the creation of the Newborn Screening Advisory Committee. The bill requires establishment of the Newborn Screening Advisory Committee to include healthcare providers, a hospital representative, persons who have affected family members, and persons involved in the delivery of newborn screening services, follow/up or treatment in Texas. The bill removes the requirement for DSHS to screen for galactose epimerase, and galactokinase and allows the department to require additional newborn screening tests with the advice of the Advisory Committee.

HB 2004 by McCall/Ellis - Relating to a breach of computer security involving sensitive personal information and to the protection of sensitive personal information and certain protected health information. HB 2004 amends Chapter 181, Health and Safety Code, by adding a section that provides that an individual's protected health information, for a covered entity that is a governmental unit, includes any information that reflects that an individual received health care from the covered entity, and is not public information and is not subject to disclosure under Chapter 552 (Public Information), Government Code.

HB 2154 by Edwards/Hinojosa - Relating to physician loan repayment.

Was amended to be replaced by HB 1876 (Chisum), Relating to creating the health care access fund to recruit health care providers in health professional shortage areas and to support federally-qualified health centers with tobacco tax proceeds. This bill addresses this loophole in the state's smokeless tobacco taxation method, shifting from an ad valorem method to a weight-based method. This change in the basis for taxation would bring the taxation of smokeless tobacco in line with taxation methods for other tobacco products. Under the program, A physician may receive repayment assistance under this subchapter in the amount determined by board rule, not to exceed the following amounts for each year for which the physician establishes eligibility for the assistance, (1)for the first year, $25,000; (2)for the second year, $35,000; (3)for the third year, $45,000; and (4)for the fourth year, $55,000.

HB 4471 by Kolkhorst/Nelson - Relating to the professional nursing shortage reduction program.

Texas is currently suffering a shortage of approximately 22,000 registered nurses, and the shortage is expected to grow as the state's rapidly increasing population ages and as more nurses retire. Prior to the session, a coalition involving higher education institutions, the Texas Nurses Association, the Texas Hospital Association, and others, worked to develop a comprehensive solution to increase enrollment and graduation of Texas-trained nurses to help meet the shortage. HB4471 updates the statutes regarding the Professional Nursing Shortage Reduction program, removing outdated parameters and including language to confirm participation of all schools, including those that are newly established. The Legislature appropriated $49.7 million in nursing education for 2010-2011, a $35 million increase over the previous biennium. Funding for nursing education includes $14.7 million per year in the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's base budget to continue supporting increased graduation rates. Up to 50 percent of this part of the program funding can be allocated to community college programs (a change from 40 percent of the program last biennium). In addition, $30 million per year in upfront funding will be available for nursing schools to increase enrollments beginning in the fall 2009 semester, with $20.5M allocated to schools with graduate rates above 70 percent. This part of the program is to be funded at $10,000 per student. The $9.5M in remaining funds will be distributed to programs with graduation rates of less than 70 percent, hospital based diploma programs, or new programs with no established graduation rate. Institutions will receive $20,000 for each additional initial RN graduate in two year programs and $10,000 for each additional graduate in one-year programs. Through an application process to be outlined by the Coordinating Board, institutions will agree to increase graduates by a certain amount and must meet certain benchmarks to receive payment of these funds. Another $5 million will go to The University of Texas at Arlington to establish a regional nursing education center. Under HB4471, the THECB is required to through rule establish the process under which a professional nursing program may apply for a grant to enroll additional nursing students or graduate additional nursing students prepared for initial licensure as registered nurses. In addition, the board is required to adopt rules for permitting newly established professional nursing programs to participate in and receive grant awards under the program.

SB 39 by Zaffirini/Zerwas - Relating to health benefit plan coverage for routine patient care costs for enrollees participating in certain clinical trials. There is currently no statutory requirement for Texas insurers to cover routine patient care costs for individuals who elect to participate in clinical trials. Lack of health insurance coverage for routine medical costs could be a significant barrier to patients who might otherwise enroll in a beneficial clinical trial. This is due in part to many insurers denying medical coverage for clinical trial participants. Since 1995, nearly half of all states have passed legislation or entered into agreements requiring health plans to cover routine patient care costs for trial participants and, in 2000, Medicare beneficiaries who chose to participate in clinical trials were eligible for routine patient care cost coverage. SB39 sets forth health benefit plan coverage (including the A&M System Plan) requirements for routine patient care costs for persons with life-threatening illnesses who have elected to participate in certain clinical trials. In addition, it requires the state Medicaid program to provide the required benefits, to the extent allowed by federal law.

SB 78 by Nelson/Smithee, Relating to promoting awareness and education about the purchase and availability of health coverage. SB6 by Duncan was amended to SB78 to create the Healthy Texas program to increase small business' access to health insurance, to encourage small employers to offer coverage to employees and dependants, and to maximize managed care strategies. As a result, Texas Department of Insurance is charged with adopting rules to administer the program by January 4, 2010.

SB 98 by Lucio/Lucio III - Relating to establishing a health science center and medical school in South Texas. SB98 adds the health science center and its component institutions, if established, to the definition of "medical and dental unit" for purposes of the Higher Education Coordinating Act of 1965, to the list of institutions eligible to receive funds from the permanent health fund for higher education, and to the list of component institutions and entities of The University of Texas System. The bill prohibits funds for a fiscal biennium ending on or before August 31, 2015 from being appropriated for the purposes of the health science center.

SB 174 by Shapiro/Branch - Relating to accountability of institutions of higher education, including educator preparation programs, and online institution resumes for public institutions of higher education. The bill requires the THECB to prepare online resumes on institutions of higher education. Subchapter D relates to medical and dental units including nursing and allied health programs. The resume must provide a medical or dental unit's institutional grouping and in-state and out-of-state peer institutions. The THECB shall request any information it considers necessary to be included in the institution's resume. The report card must also have comparisons for the most recent available fiscal year with its previous fiscal year of information about (a) enrollment, including total students enrolled; (b) total enrolled by the institution's medical school; (c) total number of physicians in accredited residency training programs each September. The section on costs will include the average annual total academic costs, including by degree program and student type, as well as comparisons with costs of peer institutions. On success rates data will include a) the percentage of medical students who are practicing primary care in the state (including comparisons with peer group success rates; b) percentage of medical school students who pass licensure; c) the percentage of medical school students who are practicing primary care in the state; d) the number of nursing degrees or allied health degrees awarded for each level (including comparison with peer group success rates); and e) the estimated total amount of research expenditures for the most recent state fiscal year available. Also included will be information about legislative funding (including money appropriated for faculty and staff health coverage and retirement benefits) and funding from all other sources. The THECB must also maintain a website for prospective students and others that identifies a medical or dental unit's (a) institutional grouping and in-state and out-of-state peers, (b) enrollment data disaggregated by student ethnicity, (c) costs, including tuition and fees charged, average annual total academic costs, tuition increases during the five preceding fiscal years (d) information about financial aid, including the percentage of students receiving financial aid and the average amount received, and (e) success rates of graduates including pass rates on first time licensure exams.

SB 291 by Nelson/McReynolds - Relating to hepatitis B vaccination for students enrolled in certain health-related courses of study at an institution of higher education. Current law stipulates that all students enrolled in certain health-related courses of study receive a hepatitis B vaccination series before the students begin providing direct patient care. Some potential students may choose not to pursue health care careers due to the expense and time required to receive the hepatitis B vaccination.

SB291 specifies that a rule requiring a hepatitis B vaccination for students may apply only to students enrolled at an institution of higher education in a course of study involving potential exposure to human or animal blood or bodily fluids.

SB 347 by Nelson/Kolkhorst - Relating to the receipt and release of immunization information by the immunization registry in connection with a disaster. Current law has no provision that allows for the exchange of immunization registry data, although it is permitted under federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) guidelines. There is a need to avoid duplicative immunizations and ease transition efforts for Texans who are forced to evacuate or relocate to other states during disasters. SB347 authorizes DSHS to exchange immunization records stored in ImmTrac, the state's immunization registry, with other state and local health departments during disasters or emergencies involving evacuations or relocations.

SB 381 by Van de Putte/Hopson - Relating to the authority of physicians to delegate to certain pharmacists the implementation and modification of a patient's drug therapy. Current law requires a pharmacist to implement or modify a patient's drug therapy as required by the patient's test results and as ordered by the physician in a physician protocol. SB381 allows a pharmacist working in a hospital, hospital-based clinic, or academic health care institution to carry out the supervising physician's orders and provide greater ease for patients in certain healthcare settings who receive services at an urban hospital or clinic but live in a rural area or who use a mail order pharmacy to fill new prescriptions.

The bill authorizes a physician to delegate the implementation or modification of a patient's drug therapy, including the authority to sign a prescription drug order for dangerous drugs, to a qualified pharmacist if certain conditions are met. The bill requires the Texas State Board of Pharmacy to provide on its Internet website a list of pharmacists authorized to sign prescriptions and the name of the pharmacist's delegating physician.

SB 455 by Shapiro/Hopson - Relating to the regulation of the practice of dental assistants, including the delegation of certain dental acts. Access to dental care continues to be an issue for many Texans, and SB455 seeks to address this issue by modifying the dental practice act to allow more efficient use of the existing dental workforce. Allowing dental assistants, who have been trained and certified, to perform certain procedures will relieve dental hygienists and dentists to focus their time on more complex procedures. Under the new law, a dentist will now be able to delegate additional procedures to be performed by a dental assistant, who will remain under the supervision of the dentist.

SB 526 Nelson/Martinez - Relating to grants for federally qualified health centers. More than 200 Texas counties are designated as medically underserved areas. Federally qualified health centers provide health care services to low income and medically underserved communities. The 78th Legislature, Regular Session, 2003, enacted SB610 directing the Department of State Health Services to create the federally qualified health center incubator program to make grants to establish new or expand existing facilities that can qualify as federally qualified health centers. This program is set to expire on September 1, 2009. SB526 deletes language providing that the program expires on September 1, 2009, and authorizes the program to make grants to support new or expanded services at facilities that can qualify as federally qualified health centers.

SB 532 Patrick/Coleman - Relating to a physician's delegation of prescriptive authority to physician assistants or advance practice nurses. Public demand has increased for more retail clinics for quick and affordable delivery of basic health care. However, Texas law limits and restricts the prescriptive authority of practicing physician assistants and advanced practice nurses. SB532 expands the parameters related to delegated prescriptive authority and decreases, from 20 percent to 10 percent, the amount of time required for physicians delegating prescriptive authority to practice on-site with a physician assistant or nurse practitioner. The bill also increases the distance allowed, from 60 to 75 miles, between an alternate site and a delegating physician's primary residence or practice site. The bill authorizes the Texas Medical Board to waive limitations on the number of physician assistants or advanced practice nurses, mileage, and on-site supervision requirements. The bill authorizes the development and usage of electronic options for the delegation registration process of and review of medical charts.

SB 1182 by Wentworth/Ortiz - Relating to public information and open government. In the interest of protecting security measures in place to allow for research using select biological agents or toxins, SB1182 provides an exception to public information and open records law pertaining to select biological agents or toxins. The following information that pertains to a biological agent or toxin identified or listed as a select agent under federal law, including under the Public Health Security and Bioterrorism Preparedness and Response Act of 2002 (Pub. L. No. 107-188) and regulations adopted under that Act, is excepted from the requirements of Section 552.021: (1)the specific location of a select agent within an approved facility; (2)personal identifying information of an individual whose name appears in documentation relating to the chain of custody of select agents, including a materials transfer agreement; and (3)the identity of an individual authorized to possess, use, or access a select agent. This section does not except from disclosure the identity of the select agents present at a facility. This section does not except from disclosure the identity of an individual faculty member or employee whose name appears or will appear on published research. This section does not except from disclosure otherwise public information relating to contracts of a governmental body (including institutions of higher education). If a resident of another state is present in Texas and is authorized to possess, use, or access a select agent in conducting research or other work at a Texas facility, information relating to the identity of that individual is subject to disclosure under this chapter only to the extent the information would be subject to disclosure under the laws of the state of which the person is a resident.

SB 1325 by Nelson/Corte - Relating to the creation of a mental health intervention program for military veterans. Currently, veterans can access mental health services through the Department of State Health Services (DSHS)if they meet requirements for the general public including income and diagnoses. However, many veterans may not be covered by such services. The Veterans Administration provides some services, but veterans are often wary of accessing treatment because they are concerned about the implications of mental health treatment on their military records. Peer-to-peer counseling may reduce the concerns about stigma or negative repercussions. Veterans can share their experiences in a supportive environment, knowing that others have had similar experiences. SB 1325 directs DSHS to create a military veterans peer-to-peer mental health program to provide counseling to military veterans. The bill requires DSHS to solicit and train volunteers to provide the peer-to-peer counseling.

SB 1328 by Nelson/Naishtat - Relating to a study on the feasibility of providing vaccines to first responders deployed to a disaster area. SB1328 requires the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to conduct a study assessing the feasibility of providing vaccines to a first responder who may be exposed to certain diseases during deployment to a disaster area, the vaccination status of first responders and their families, workplace immunization policies and insurance coverage for first responders, the current ability of DSHS to provide vaccines to this population, possible funding sources for such a vaccination program, and ways to educate first responders about available options to vaccinate themselves and their families.

SB 1728 by West/Chavez - Relating to the administration of and eligibility for the Joint Admissions Medical Program. The bill deletes existing text requiring an undergraduate student to have enrolled at an institution of higher education not later than the first fall semester following the student's graduation from high school in order to be eligible for admission to the Joint Admission Medical Program or for selection as a program alternate The bill adds the medical school at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at Lubbock and the medical school at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso as eligible schools for the program. The bill requires the medical school at Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center at El Paso, as soon as practicable to enter into the agreement with the Joint Admission Medical Program Council required by the Education Code and to select an appropriate faculty member to represent the medical school on the council.

SB 1932 by Carona/McReynolds - Relating to the licensing requirements of hospitals temporarily providing outpatient dialysis services to a person because of a disaster. This language was proposed by TAMHSC to address the need for disaster evacuees who require dialysis to be able to receive outpatient services at hospitals in the area to which they have been evacuated. Following Hurricane Ike, patients with medical special needs were housed and cared for at Reed Arena but unable to receive dialysis due to local outpatient clinics being closed and a requirement that hospitals have special licensure to provide the service on an outpatient basis. SB1932 provides an exemption from licensure requirements for hospitals licensed under the Texas Hospital Licensing Law that provide dialysis only to individuals receiving outpatient services who are temporarily relocated due to a disaster declared by the governor or a federal disaster declared by the president of the United States occurring in this state or another state.

SB 2442 by Uresti/Gallego - Relating to the exemption from ad valorem taxation of property owned by certain charitable organizations. Language added via floor amendment provides ad valorem tax exemption for buildings leased to a higher education institution but owned by a charitable organization. Real property owned by a charitable organization and leased to an institution of higher education, as defined by Section 61.003, Education Code, is exempt from taxation to the same extent as the property would be exempt if the property were owned by the institution.

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Engineering Related Related Legislation

Engineering - Transportation

HB 55 by Branch/Carona - Relating to an offense of using a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle. HB 51 prohibits an operator of a motor vehicle from using a wireless communication device while operating a motor vehicle within a school crossing zone unless the vehicle is stopped or the wireless device is used with a hands-free device. An offense would be a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of not more than $50.

HB 339 by Phillips/Carona - Relating to driver education and driver's licensing requirements for minors. HB 339 strengthens current standards for driver education and the state's graduated driver license (GDL) law. Most notably, the bill requires additional hours of behind-the-wheel instruction during both daytime and nighttime hours, doubles the driving restriction phase to 12 months, and reinstates the on-road driving test that was suspended by DPS in 1995. The bill also mandates data analysis to determine crash rates associated with each form of driver education currently available.

HB 646 by Hughes/Eltife - Relating to the participation of this state in the Southern High Speed Rail Compact. HB 646 allows the Governor to execute a compact with other states to study the feasibility of rapid rail transit service between certain states and to establish a joint interstate commission.

VETOED

HB 2142 by McClendon/Carona - Relating to the promotion of toll projects by the Texas Department of Transportation. HB 2142 authorizes TxDOT to conduct informational campaigns about the status of pending or ongoing state highway toll projects, rather than promotional campaigns for the development and use of toll projects or toll roads. The bill explicitly states that the department is not authorized to engage in marketing, advertising, or other activities for the purpose of influencing public opinion about the use of toll roads or the use of tolls as a financial mechanism.

SB 61 by Zaffirini/Vaught - Relating to the offense of failure to secure a child passenger in a motor vehicle and to fines for the offense. SB 61 changes the requirements for securing a child in a motor vehicle. Under current statute, a child under the age of five years and less than 36 inches in height is required to be secured in a child safety seat. The bill would require a child younger than the age of eight years, unless the child is taller than four feet, nine inches, to be secured in a child safety seat. This requirement would not be enforceable until June 1, 2010.

SB 334 by Carona/Pickett - Relating to the repeal of the authority of TxDOT to regulate air carriers. SB 334 repeals the statute that grants authority to TxDOT to regulate air carriers as Federal law preempts a state's economic regulation of air carriers.

VETOED

SB 434 by Wentworth/Bolton - Relating to the establishment and operation of a motor-bus-only lane pilot program in certain counties. SB 434 requires the Texas Department of Transportation, in consultation with the Department of Public Safety and certain mass transit authorities and municipalities, to establish and operate a public transit motor bus-only lane pilot program for highways in Bexar, Denton, El Paso and Travis Counties that are part of the state highway system and have shoulders of sufficient width and structural integrity to provide for use by public transit motor buses of highway shoulders as a low-speed bypass of congested highway lanes.

SB 883 by Carona/Pickett - Relating to the use of the state highway fund to participate in the costs associated with a toll facility of a public or private entity. SB 883 specifies that the Texas Department of Transportation may not pledge or encumber money in the State Highway Fund to guarantee a loan obtained by a public or private entity for costs associated with a toll facility of the public or private entity, with certain exemptions; or insure bonds issued by a public or private entity for costs associated with a toll facility of the public or private entity. The provisions of the bill would only apply to an agreement entered into on or after the effective date of the bill.

SB 970 by Seliger/Phillipis - Relating to the qualifications required of the executive director of TxDOT. SB 970 removes the requirement that the executive director of TxDOT be a registered professional engineer and adds the requirement that he or she have organizational management experience and skills.

SB 1218 by Averitt/Pitts - Relating to the collection of data by the TxDOT regarding bridge collapses. SB 1218 requires TxDOT to report, at least annually, fatalities caused by a bridge collapse.

SB 1317 by Wentworth/T. Smith - Relating to education and examination requirements for the issuance of a driver's license to certain persons. SB 1317 requires driver education for all persons under the age of 25, and establishes new standards and a curriculum for that instruction.

SB 1382 by Carona/McClendon - Relating to the coordination of the planning, construction, operation, and maintenance of a statewide passenger rail system by TxDOT. S.B. 1382 requires the Texas Department of Transportation to create a long-term plan for a statewide passenger rail system, which is required to include annual updates on existing and proposed passenger rail systems, analysis of potential interconnectivity problems, and ridership projections. The bill requires TxDOT to coordinate the planning, construction, operation, and maintenance of a statewide passenger rail system and to coordinate with local entities involved with passenger rail responsibilities.

Engineering - Energy:

HB 469 by P. King/Seliger - Relating to the establishment of incentives by this state for the implementation of certain projects to capture and sequester carbon dioxide that would otherwise be emitted into the atmosphere. HB 469 The bill would provide tax incentives to organizations that participate in research and development activities related to a "clean energy project", defined as the construction of a coal-fueled or petroleum coke-fueled electric generating facility, including a facility in which the fuel is gasified before combustion, that: (1) has a capacity of at least 200megawatts; (2) meets various emission limits outlined in the bill; (3) will capture at least 70 percent of the carbon dioxide resulting from the generation of electricity by the facility; (4) is capable of permanently sequestering the captured carbon dioxide in a geological formation; and (5) is capable of supplying the carbon dioxide for use in an Enhanced Oil Recovery (EOR) project.

SB 184 by Watson/Chisum - Relating to "no regrets" greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies. SB 184 requires TCEQ to develop and present a report to the legislature by December 31, 2010, that outlines strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that, over the lifetime of the strategy, will result in no financial cost to businesses and consumers of the state.

Engineering - Economic Development:

HB 394 by Rose/Van de Putte - Relating to use of money from the Texas Enterprise Fund to benefit certain small businesses and certain projects. HB 394 requires that the Governor consider making grants from the Texas Enterprise Fund to small businesses in Texas that commit to creating additional jobs, for the relocation of small businesses from outside the state, or for individual projects that create 100 or fewer additional jobs.

HB 2531 by Chavez/Shapiro - Relating to a reporting requirement regarding the Texas emerging technology fund. HB 2531 requires the governor to submit an annual report containing performance metrics such as the aggregate amount of private sector investment, federal government funding, and contributions from other sources obtained in connection with awards made under any of the Emerging Technology Fund's (ETF) programs; as well as the amount of ETF awards received by each award recipient for the past three fiscal years. The annual report would be distributed to the legislature and posted on the governor's office website no later than January 1 of each year. The bill also requires ETF annual reports to identify the planned and actual outcomes associated with the commercialization program for the last two fiscal years. Finally, the bill requires ETF annual reports to provide a brief description of the equity position which the governor may take in companies that get commercialization awards, and the names of companies in which the governor has taken an equity position during the past three fiscal years.

Engineering - Emergency Response/Homeland Security:

HB 4102 by Eiland/Carona - Relating to the disaster contingency fund and relief for school districts located in a disaster area. HB 4102 allows a state or local government entity that participates in disaster preparation or disaster recovery to request and receive funding from the disaster contingency fund to pay for costs incurred in preparing for or recovering from a disaster. If state or local government entities receive reimbursement from the federal government, then the entities are required to reimburse the disaster contingency fund by the amount received from the federal government.

HB 4560 by Naishtat/Deuell - Relating to certain diseases or illnesses suffered by certain emergency first responders. HB 4560 requires that notification of a possible exposure to certain diseases or illnesses shall be given (1) by the hospital to the local health authority; and (2) by the local health authority to the director of the appropriate department of the entity that employs the emergency medical service personnel, peace officer, detention officer, county jailer, or fire fighter.

SB 1328 by Nelson/Naishtat - Relating to a study on the feasibility of providing vaccines to first responders deployed to a disaster area. SB 1328 requires the Department of State Health Services to conduct a study assessing the feasibility of providing vaccines to a first responder who may be exposed to certain diseases during deployment to a disaster area, the vaccination status of first responders and their families, workplace immunization policies and insurance coverage for first responders, the current ability of DSHS to provide vaccines to this population, possible funding sources for such a vaccination program, and ways to educate first responders about available options to vaccinate themselves and their families.

Engineering - Other:

HB 2013 by Keffer/Hegar - Relating to tuition and laboratory fee exemptions at public institutions of higher education for certain volunteer firefighters enrolled in fire science courses. HB 2013 extends the exemption program for firefighters enrolled in fire science curricula to volunteer firefighters who hold an Accredited Advanced level of certification or an equivalent under the State Firemen's and Fire Marshal's Association of Texas volunteer certification program or a phase V certification or equivalent successor certification under the Texas Commission on Fire Protection's voluntary certification program.

HB 2347 by Thibaut/Whitmire - Relating to tuition and fee exemptions at public institutions of higher education for certain peace officers enrolled in criminal justice or law enforcement course work and for certain educational aides. HB 2347 extends the tuition and laboratory fee exemption program, currently only applicable to firefighters enrolled in fire science curricula, to peace officers employed by political subdivisions of the state who enroll in a course or courses offered as part of a criminal justice or law enforcement management-related curriculum designed for peace officers.

HB 2425 by Morrison/Averitt - Relating to engineering recruitment programs established by the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board. HB 2425 allows private and independent institutions of higher education to participate in the engineering recruitment program administered by the Higher Education Coordinating Board. The bill also directs the Coordinating Board to study the success of baccalaureate degree programs offered at public community colleges.

HB 3389 by Harper-Brown/Deuell - Relating to the continuation and functions of the Texas Commission on Law Enforcement Officer Standards and Education. HB 3389 is the Sunset legislation. Among other things, the bill requires all peace officers to take a continuing education course on state and federal law every twenty-four months and eliminates the requirement for every peace officer to take continuing education topics on civil rights, racial sensitivity, and cultural diversity every four years, limiting these provision to only those peace officers that have not yet obtained intermediate proficiency.

SB 1011 by Estes/B. Brown - Relating to the continuation and functions of the Texas Commission on Fire Protection. SB 1011 is the Sunset legislation. The bill changes the name of the agency to the Texas Fire Protection Agency and transfers the commission's grant program to the Texas Forest Service.

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Agriculture Related Related Legislation

HB 1908 by King, Tarcy/Hinojosa- Relating to the safety of the fresh fruit and vegetables produced in this state.The bill requires the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) toassist the fresh fruit and vegetable industries with food safety issues. Thebill would also requireTDAto coordinate, plan, and approvetraining and awareness programs for producers and packers of freshfruits and vegetables.

HB 2527 by Aycock/Hegar - Relating to the regulation of commercial fertilizer. HB 2527 preempts and supersedes any local legislation already in place by a political subdivision relating to commercial fertilizer regulation. It also amends Section 63.152 (Registration Required), Agriculture Code, to prohibit the production, storage, and transfer of ammonium nitrates unless the person holds a certificate of registration. The bill also clarifies what information is to be included on an application for registration submitted by an applicant who owns an ammonium nitrate facility.

HB 375 by Miller, Sid/Estes - Relating to classifying elk and elk hybrids as livestock under the Agriculture Code. Currently, many farmers and ranchers receive agriculture-related valuation for farming and ranching operations on their property. Historically, farm elk have fallen into the ag valuation category but, because the Agriculture Code does not specifically include "elk" in the definition of "livestock," a few counties are revoking agriculture-related valuations of some property owners. HB 375 relates to classifying elk and elk hybrids as livestock under the Agriculture Code.

HB 1530 by Button/ Deuell- Relating to the licensing and regulation of health-related pest control by the Department of Agriculture. HB 1530 addresses the significant public health threats that mosquitoes pose, including concerns over the West Nile Virus. By amending pesticide law, this bill allows the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) to license health-related pesticide applicators for free or for a minimal fee. This will ensure that public health professionals retain the training and licensure important in managing insecticides while keeping Texas residents safe from potentially harmful mosquito populations.

HB 1622 by Giddings/Zaffirini- Relating to a grant program to provide children at risk of hunger or obesity with increased access to nutritious foods. HB 1622 will combat the growing crises of hunger and obesity among Texas youth by providing access to food choices vital to both effective nutrition education and behavioral change. This bill addresses this deficit and supplements existing efforts by nonprofit agencies to combat child obesity by establishing a grant program to purchase and distribute nutritious foods to children at risk of hunger or obesity. HB 1622 amends current law relating to a grant program to provide children at risk of hunger or obesity with increased access to nutritious foods.

HB 1684 by Brown, Betty/Estes- Relating to the creation and administration of the rural veterinarian loan repayment program. HB 1684 amends current law relating to the creation and administration of the rural veterinarian loan repayment program. Reasonable access to veterinary care is crucial for the continued maintenance and health of animal agriculture. Many farmers, ranchers, and cattlemen have highlighted the need for more rural large animal veterinarians in rural areas. Given the growth of the Texas deer breeding industry, the need has extended to include large animal practitioners who are familiar with deer medicine and protocols.

HB 3144 by Gonzalez Toureilles/ Seliger- Relating to an exemption from the sales and use tax for property used in agricultural operations and for aircraft used in connection with agriculture. HB 3144 extends the sales tax exemption for agricultural items to include tangible personal property, including tires or other equipment exclusively used or employed on a farm or ranch for specified purposes. It also clarifies the exemption from sales and use tax for machinery and equipment used in agricultural aircraft operations. This is consistent with current law because it affords agricultural aircraft the same tax exemptions extended to other forms of agricultural machinery.

HB 4006 by Hardcastle/Estes- Relating to veterinarian reports of diseased animals. The legislation requires veterinarians, veterinary diagnostic laboratories (including the TVMDL) and/or persons having care, custody or control of livestock, exotic livestock, bison, domestic or exotic fowl to report certainsignificant diseases to the Texas Animal Health Commission (TAHC)within 24 hours of diagnosis.

HB 4031 by McCall/Seliger- Relating to the agricultural biomass and landfill diversion incentive program. The bill would amend the Agriculture Code to modify the Agricultural Biomass and Landfill Diversion Incentive Program to include renewable biomass aggregators and bio-coal fuel producers who provide qualified agricultural biomass, forest wood waste, urban wood waste, co-firing biomass, or storm-generated biomass debris to facilities that use biomass to generate electric energy.

SB 184 by Watson/Chisum- Relating to "no regrets" greenhouse gas emissions reduction strategies. This bill calls on the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to identify cost-effective ways to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Commonly known as the "no regrets" approach, this bill seeks to realize the economic benefits, cost savings to businesses and consumers, and environmental benefits of identifying and prioritizing no-cost and cost saving greenhouse gas reduction strategies first.
SB 184 requires TCEQ to develop and present a report to the legislature by December 31, 2010, that outlines strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions that, over the lifetime of the strategy, will result in no financial cost to businesses and consumers of the state.

SB 870 by Lucio/Castro- Relating to the duties of the interagency obesity council and the Department of Agriculture relating to health, wellness, and prevention of obesity and to the establishment of an obesity prevention pilot program. SB 870 relates to the duties of the Interagency Obesity Council and the Department of Agriculture (TDA) relating to health, wellness, and prevention of obesity. The bill would require the council to create an evidence-based public health awareness plan. The bill also requires the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) and the Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to establish an obesity prevention pilot program for a period of at least 24 months in one or more health care service regions.

SB 876 by Averitt/Dunnam- Relating to the performance of annual soil tests for certain concentrated animal feeding operations by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. SB 876 will require the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) to perform annual soil sampling at concentrated animal feeding operations (CAFOs) in a major sole source impairment zone (parts of the North Bosque Watershed).The bill would allow the TCEQ to have the sampling performed under contract.

SB 958 by Hegar/Heflin- Relating to an exemption from the sales and use tax for certain aircraft, including machinery and equipment used in an agricultural aircraft operation. SB 958 exempts agricultural aircraft operations from sales and use taxes on machinery and equipment used to dispense substances intended for plant nourishment, soil treatment, propagation of plant life, or pest control; or engaged in dispensing activities directly affecting agriculture, horticulture, or forest preservation, but not including the dispensing of live insects.

SB 1016 by Estes/Flynn - Relating to the continuation and functions of the Department of Agriculture and the Prescribed Burning Board, the creation of the Texas Bioenergy Policy Council and Texas Bioenergy Research Committee, and the abolition of the Texas-Israel Exchange Fund Board; providing penalties. The Texas Department of Agriculture, Prescribed Burning Board, and Texas-Israel Exchange Fund Board are subject to the Sunset Act and would have been abolished on September 1, 2009 unless continued by the Legislature. The bill contains the Sunset Commission's recommendations to continue the Department for the standard 12-year period; continue the Prescribed Burning Board, but remove its separate Sunset date so that it will be reviewed along with the Department in the future; and abolish the Texas-Israel Exchange Fund Board, but allow the Department to seek funding for bi-national agricultural research as it sees fit. The Sunset Commission also found opportunities to redirect several of TDA's programs to ensure they meet the needs of today's agriculture industry and the state as a whole.

SB 1163 by Seliger/Kolkhorst- Relating to the penalties for theft of cattle, horses, exotic livestock, exotic fowl, sheep, swine, or goats. SB 1163 makes the theft of cattle, horses, exotic livestock or fowl, sheep, swine, or goats a state jail felony if the stolen property is less than 10 head of sheep, swine, or goats or any part thereof under the value of $20,000, and a felony of the third degree if the property stolen is cattle, horses, or exotic livestock stolen during a single transaction and having an aggregate value of less than $100,000 or 10 or more head of sheep, swine, or goats stolen during a single transaction and having an aggregate value of less than $100,000.

SB 1693 by Ogden/Cook- Relating to the regulation of poultry facilities and poultry litter by the State Soil and Water Conservation Board and to the enforcement authority of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality. SB 1693 amends current law to address issues related to poultry facility odors, response to complaints, air contaminant prevention measures and the record of sale, purchase, transfer or application of poultry. This bill also adds a course of action for responding to poultry odor complaints, as well as improving upon record retention for the sale, purchase or transfer of poultry litter.

SB 2534 by Wentworth/Corte- Relating to the creation of an interagency task force on economic growth and endangered species; providing information and direction regarding endangered species issues in certain areas of the state. The bill would amend the Government Code and create a task force on economic development and endangered species and require that the Comptroller's Office provide administrative support. The Texas A&M University System would also be required to assist in the analysis of any biological and economic impacts.