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Lieutenant governor issues 57 interim charges ahead of 89th legislative session

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(The Center Square) – Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has issued 57 interim charges for Senate committees to study in preparation for the 89th Legislature, which begins in January 2025.

Each legislative cycle, the lieutenant governor and Speaker of the House issue interim charges for Texas Senate and House committees to study in order to prepare for the next legislative session. The Texas legislature meets every other year in odd years for roughly 140 days.

While some legislative cycles include special sessions, the 88th legislative session in 2023 was a session of the century. It included a grueling five sessions encompassing one regular legislative session and four special sessions. Additionally, the Republican majority House impeached Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton on nearly the last day of the regular session in May. Paxton was the first and only attorney general in Texas to be impeached. The Senate acquitted him in mid-September.

Patrick released 57 interim charges on Thursday, which he said “reflect issues that Texans have asked us to study.”

All 31 state senators submitted hundreds of ideas, he said, “with many senators sharing similar proposals.” He and his staff “worked diligently for weeks to review each request, and this is the first set of interim charges I am releasing in preparation for the 89th Legislature.” A second shorter list may be released before the next session, he said.

In January 2025, “the Senate will hit the ground running” Patrick said. “The priorities of the conservative majority of Texans will be accomplished, including school choice, continued property tax relief, and strengthening the power grid.”

The interim charges include priorities addressed by each committee.

The Border Security Committee will address securing the Texas-Mexico border, considering the impact of border security efforts on Operation Lone Star personnel, and making recommendations related to legislation.

The Business and Commerce Committee appears to have the fullest docket. They are tasked with evaluating the Texas electricity market design and the Texas Energy Fund, which the last legislature created and voters approved through a new constitutional amendment. They will also evaluate emerging technologies related to innovative power generation, make recommendations related to improving safety and resiliency of Texas’ electric transmission system, evaluate Texas’ ability to keep pace with increasing electricity demand as it relates to population growth, study the impact of cryptocurrencies, address the rising cost of property and casualty insurance, and Artificial Intelligence.

The Criminal Justice Committee will address issues related to stopping child predators, bail reform, and monitoring the implementation of new laws created within the last year.

The Education Committee will address reading and math readiness in pre-K-5th grade in public schools, reform the STARR Test and the Texas Through-Year Assessment Pilot (TTAP), examine and report on how federal COVID-19 subsidies were spent by Texas public schools, and monitor new laws that went into effect related to public school safety.

The Finance Committee will consider how to further reduce property taxes, including reporting on the cost of eliminating the school maintenance and operation property taxes, all school property taxes, and all property taxes. They will also monitor the implementation of new bills that went into effect related to mental health and property tax relief.

They will also make recommendations for any legislation needed to approve, enhance, or complete implementation of several billion-dollar funds also approved by voters through new constitutional amendments. They include the Texas Energy Fund, the Texas Water Fund, the Centennial Parks Conservation Fund, and the Broadband Infrastructure Fund.

The Health and Human Services Committee will address issues related to children’s mental health, access to healthcare, the Texas Health insurance market and alternatives to employer-based insurance, and cancer prevention, among other issues.

The Higher Education Committee will review issues related to governance, innovation and technology, the implementation of the ban on DEI policies, faculty tenure policies, anti-Semitism and free speech on college campuses, and financing of public junior colleges.

The Local Government Committee will evaluate additional property tax relief and reform, local government spending related to distributing federal funds, housing affordability, review laws related to squatters, among other issues.

The Natural Resources and Economic Development Committee will evaluate enhancing workforce productivity, overcoming federal incompetence, protecting local taxpayers, and preserving Texas history, among other issues.

The State Affairs Committee will address maintaining election security, social media and protecting children, protecting Texas land and assets, responsible investing, including further protections from ESG, and banning certain hemp products.

The Transportation Committee will assess funding appropriated for various ports and public transportation, evaluate autonomous vehicle operations, among other issues.

The Veterans Affairs Committee will review current programs and make recommendations to improve them. The Water, Agriculture and Rural Affairs Committee will evaluate water systems and make recommendations related to new laws that were implemented.

Reports including their findings will be submitted before Dec. 1, 2024, Patrick said.

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