Key Interim Charges

82nd Legislative Session

The Texas Legislature meets every two years. In the year between, the Lieutenant Governor and Speaker of the House appoint interim committees to study important issues. These interim committees hold hearings and take public testimony. Their findings will affect actions taken during the Regular Session of the 83rd Texas Legislature which begins January 8, 2013.

Below are key Texas Senate and House interim charges identified by the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities (TCDD) as issues that could have an impact on people with disabilities.

Key Senate Interim Charges

Senate Business and Commerce Committee

Study and make recommendations for workforce training programs in Texas to ensure that such programs meet business and worker needs for health care, skilled trades, construction, manufacturing, aerospace, and information technology industries.

Senate Criminal Justice Committee

  • Evaluate existing comprehensive mental health (MH) diversion and treatment systems within Texas, including federal, state, and local collaborations to maximize effective use of funding and resources.

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of school discipline practices including Disciplinary Alternative Education Programs (DAEP), Juvenile Justice Alternative Education Programs (JJAEP), “Zero Tolerance” policies, and specialized school police departments.

  • Determine number of students in conservatorship referred to juvenile or municipal courts, suspended, expelled, or placed in DAEPs and make recommendations to increase educational outcomes.

Senate Education Committee

  • Study public school management practices. Examine the role of Regional Education Service Centers. Specifically, review the types of services being provided and their ability to assist school districts with improving efficiencies.

  • Study educator and principal preparation programs and make recommendations to improve these programs.

  • Study the performance and accountability of charter schools, best practices and benefits of, and costs related to increasing the number.

  • Study the impact of school choice programs in other states on students, parents, and teachers, and potential impacts on state funding.

  • Conduct a comprehensive review of school discipline practices, including:

    • DAEPs, JJAEPs, disproportionate school discipline referrals, and “Zero Tolerance in secondary education;

    • The number of students in the conservatorship of the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) referred to juvenile or municipal courts, suspended, expelled, and placed in DAEPs. Examine data-sharing practices between DFPS, the Texas Education Agency (TEA), and local education agencies, and make recommendations to increase communication between schools and DFPS to increase educational outcomes for children in foster care; and

    • Evidence-based models used for addressing juvenile delinquency prevention that is targeted to non-adjudicated, but at-risk youth, in the school disciplinary system. (Joint Charge with Senate Committee on Criminal Justice)

  • Monitor House Bill (HB) 1942 passed during the 82nd legislative session relating to bullying in public schools and legislation related to the state’s accountability system.

Senate Finance Committee

  • Review the state’s current spending limits and determine if statutory changes are needed to continue restraint of spending growth below the rate of inflation plus population growth.

  • Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Finance during the Regular and Called Sessions of the 82nd Texas Legislature, and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation. This includes implementation of budget riders to enhance government efficiency, reduce government, and encourage job growth and others.

Senate Government Organization Committee

  • Investigate the costs and benefits of cost-effectiveness analysis in state agency rule making and consider the development of cost-effectiveness standards for all state agencies.

  • Examine ways to ensure the protection of state information and electronic data from unauthorized access and cyber threats.

Senate Health and Human Services Committee

  • Monitor the potential impact and constitutional challenges of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA) on insurance regulations, Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), health care outcomes, health care workforce, overall health of all Texans, and the state budget in Texas. (Joint charge with Senate State Affairs Committee)

  • Evaluate cost-containment strategies across the Health and Human Services Enterprise to determine if and how each strategy can be expanded upon to achieve additional savings next biennium.

  • Review the state’s current investment in health care innovation to improve the health of Texans and encourage continued medical research in the most cost-effective manner possible.

  • Review existing policies for prior authorization and medical necessity review across the Medicaid Program to reduce unnecessary utilization and fraud.

  • Review the Medicaid Home and Community Based Services Waivers to identify strategies to lower costs, improve quality, and increase access to services.

  • Evaluate the management structure and supervision of Child Protective Services (CPS). Identify legislative changes that could improve the quality of care children receive while in CPS custody.

  • Review the state’s public MH system and recommend “best value” practices to improve access, service utilization, patient outcomes, and system efficiencies.

  • Monitor pertinent health and human services legislation and make recommendations to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation, including but not limited to:

    • Transition of Medicaid and CHIP to quality-based payments, establishment of the Texas Institute of Health Care Quality and Efficiency, implementation of the Health Care Collaborative certificate, patient-centered medical home for high-cost populations, development and use of potentially preventable event outcome measures, and reduction of health care-associated infections and reducing infant and maternal mortality;

    • Implementation of initiatives to increase state flexibility, including the Health Care Compact and the Medicaid Demonstration Waiver;

    • Implementation of the initiative to redesign the foster care system; and

    • Implementation of the Department of Justice Settlement Agreement to address State Supported Living Center concerns.

Senate Intergovernmental Relations Committee

  • Study the impact that regulatory requirements have on the price of residential housing on the sale of new and used homes and ways to improve the affordability of housing.

  • Review state policies regarding the provision of affordable housing, including ways to improve the provision of affordable housing to special-needs populations, such as co-location with social services and coordination with mass transit.

  • Study the impact of recent court rulings regarding the determination of eligibility for property tax exemptions of community housing development organizations by local appraisal districts to ensure the provision of affordable housing and reduce any cost to the state.

  • Study the most effective ways to identify and report data on homeless and runaway youth, and develop recommendations for prevention and maximizing services for this population.

Senate Jurisprudence Committee

  • Examine the process for the creation of powers of attorney in Texas. Review methods to protect consumers, particularly older Texans and those with disabilities, from power of attorney abuse perpetrated by agents or co-agents.

  • Review the jurisdiction and qualifications of special judges.

  • Examine court processes in child protection cases, in Texas and in other jurisdictions, and identify any legislative changes that would create better outcomes for children.

Senate Select Committee on Open Government

  • Examine the effectiveness of security measures used to protect electronic information held by state agencies and make recommendations for enhancing security, if needed.

  • Review record retention policies for state and local governments and make recommendations for improvements to record retention schedules and policies, including e-mail retention and archiving requirements.

Senate State Affairs Committee

  • Study the policies and actions the state can pursue to preserve state authority and protect Texas citizens from federal overreach in the form of conditional federal grants, conditional federal preemption, and excessive legislation and regulation interfering with states’ enumerated powers by Congress.

  • Study the feasibility and fiscal impact to consumers of altering the insurance code to allow for the purchase of health insurance across state lines.

  • Monitor the potential impact of and constitutional challenges to the PPACA. (Joint charge with Senate Health and Human Services Committee)

Senate Subcommittee on Flooding and Evacuations

Examine the current practices Texas uses during evacuations to provide immediate assistance to evacuated residents.

Key House Interim Charges

All House Committees

All Substantive House Committees must find ways to increase transparency, accountability, and efficiency in state government.

House Committee on Appropriations

  • Monitor the implementation of cost-savings initiatives in health and human services programs directed by HB 1 (82R) and Senate Bill (SB) 7 (82S1), including the expansion of Medicaid managed care. Study the impact of changes in hospital reimbursement methodology, including implementation of a statewide Standard Dollar Amount and the Texas Healthcare Transformation and Quality Improvement Program Medicaid 1115 waiver.

  • Study existing financing mechanisms and delivery methods for long-term services and supports in the Texas Medicaid program. Consider best practices, expansion of consumer-directed models, and successful programs in other states. Make recommendations to simplify and streamline existing programs and to provide services in a more cost-effective manner to a greater number of eligible individuals while ensuring an appropriate level of services for those with significant needs.

  • Assess the current infrastructure and funding mechanisms for MH services in both rural and urban areas throughout the state. Study innovative local programs that could be expanded, as well as successful delivery and financial models in other states. Make recommendations to expand access and improve services through increased efficiency, competition, and transparency.

  • Examine strategies to maximize state funding for programs designed to prevent and end homelessness, with an emphasis on programs that have demonstrated a successful coordination of state and local resources. (Joint with the House Committee on Urban Affairs)

  • Evaluate the funding, performance, and administration of the state’s adult basic education programs. (Joint with the House Committee on Higher Education)

House Committee on Corrections

Study ways to reduce the number of youth referred to the juvenile justice system. Consider the availability of MH services, diversion, and early intervention programs, and other prevention methods.

House Committee on Government Efficiency and Reform

Examine areas of potential privatization of state services in an effort to achieve a higher level of service and greater efficiency for Texas taxpayers. (Joint with the House Committee on State Affairs)

House Committee on Higher Education

Evaluate proposals for the state’s next master plan for higher education beyond 2015, including a review of various metrics to measure successful outcomes in higher education.

House Committee on Human Services

  • Monitor the implementation of Foster Care Redesign. Evaluate the mechanisms for monitoring and oversight, including rates, contracts, and client outcomes.

  • Explore strategies, including those in other states, to support the needs of aging Texans, including best practices in nursing home diversion, expedited access to community services, and programs to assist seniors and their families in navigating the long-term care system, with the goal of helping seniors remain in the community. Assess the feasibility of leveraging volunteer-supported initiatives using existing infrastructure to enhance the ability of seniors to remain active and involved.

  • Monitor the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed during the 82nd legislative session, including the implementation of managed care in South Texas.

House Committee on Insurance

Study whether Texas would benefit from allowing purchases of health insurance coverage across state lines. Examine the options available to facilitate such purchases, and include consideration of how to guarantee appropriate consumer protections.

House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence

Study and make recommendations regarding the discrepancies in guardianship and child custody statutes. Review potential solutions to the problems surrounding “arbitrary and capricious” findings by trial court judges.

House Committee on Pensions, Investments, and Financial Services

Monitor all agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction. Specifically, monitor the study by the Employees Retirement System of Texas and the Teacher Retirement System of Texas of the viability of the current defined benefit plans as well as the implications and feasibility of creating a defined contribution or hybrid plan.

House Committee on Public Education

  • Monitor state and local implementation of the new state assessment system (STAAR), specifically the impact on students, instruction, teachers, and graduation or promotion rates. Review how districts are implementing the requirement that the end-of-course assessment count for 15% of the student’s course grade. Recommend any changes to graduation or testing requirements that promote instructional rigor and support postsecondary readiness while appropriately limiting an overreliance on standardized testing.

  • Evaluate the charter schools system in Texas. Examine success and failure stories in Texas and other states. Review the educational outcomes of students in charter schools compared to those in traditional schools. Identify any best practices and how those practices may be applied statewide. The study should include recommendations.

  • Review and make recommendations on the effectiveness of DAEPs and JJAEPs in reducing students’ involvement in further disciplinary infractions. Determine the appropriate role of disciplinary alternative placements in promoting education achievement and how technology could be used to supplement education services. Consider appropriate placements in DAEPs or JJAEPs and consistent funding models for those programs. Consider options for counties without a JJAEP or inefficiently few placements in a JJAEP. Identify positive behavioral models that promote a learning environment for teachers to appropriately instruct while addressing any behavioral issues and enforcing student discipline.

  • Review methods and best practices in Texas and other states to encourage more parental and community involvement in the education of Texas children.

  • Monitor the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 82nd Texas Legislature.

House Committee on Public Health

  • Examine the adequacy of the primary care workforce in Texas and assess the impact of an aging population, the passage of the PPACA, and state and federal funding reductions to graduate medical education and physician loan repayment programs. Study the potential impact of medical school innovations, new practice models, alternative reimbursement strategies, expanded roles for physician extenders, and greater utilization of telemedicine. Make recommendations to increase patient access to primary care and address geographic disparities.

  • Monitor implementation of the federal PPACA, including any changes that may result from ongoing litigation or legislative modification or repeal. (Joint with the House Committee on Insurance)

House Committee on State Affairs

Examine areas of potential privatization of state services in an effort to achieve a higher level of service and greater efficiency for Texas taxpayers. (Joint with the House Committee on Government Efficiency and Reform)

House Committee on Transportation

Conduct a thorough review of the operations of transit organizations in Texas. Explore possible reforms to streamline and improve services to Texans.

House Committee on Urban Affairs

  • Examine strategies to maximize state funding for programs designed to prevent and end homelessness, with an emphasis on programs that have demonstrated a successful coordination of state and local resources. (Joint with the House Committee on Appropriations)

  • Study whether Texas would benefit from allowing purchases of health insurance coverage across state lines. Examine the options available to facilitate such purchases, and include consideration of how to guarantee appropriate consumer protections.

  • Monitor implementation of the federal PPACA, including any changes that may result from ongoing litigation or legislative modification or repeal. (Joint with the House Committee on Public Health)