House Interim Charges
When not in session, the work of the Texas Legislature continues. Though they convene at the capitol in Austin to pass laws for only five months in odd numbered years, interim charges help committees to continue their work. Each committee in both the House and Senate are assigned a set of questions to study prior to the next session. The questions are assigned by the Speaker of the House and the Lieutenant Governor and are often read as a good indication of what issues they feel are most important and should be addressed the next session. The committees convene, often outside of Austin, hear testimony from experts and the public and then publish reports of their findings.
The current interim charges for the House were released by Speaker Straus in November. Several charges address issues of interest for the CLC, a few of which are set out below. The CLC staff will use this opportunity to interact with lawmakers and their staff and educate them about our policy positions.
:: Entire List of Charges (pdf)
Watch upcoming newsletters for a link to the Senate charges when they are released.
House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence
- Study the human and sex trafficking problem in Texas. Make recommendations on best practices in the areas of investigation, prosecution, and tracking of the victims of these crimes. Study whether victims of these crimes are allowed to adequately recover from their attackers in a civil cause of action. Joint Interim Charge with House Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence
House Committee on Environmental Regulation
- Monitor federal legislative and regulatory initiatives as they pertain to climate change. Consider Texas’ responses to proposals and make recommendations as to any further preparations.
House Committee on Energy Resources
- Examine the state’s portfolio of electric generation resources, including traditional sources, emerging renewable technologies, and energy efficiency. Determine whether the existing state regulatory programs and incentives are adequate to meet the energy needs of the future. Consider factors relating to reliability, requirements for additional transmission, or auxiliary services. Joint Interim Charge with House Committee on State Affairs.
House Committee on Human Services
- Monitor the Health and Human Services Commission’s progress toward improving the timeliness of Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program eligibility determinations. Evaluate the impact of corrective measures already taken by the commission.
House Committee on Insurance
- Monitor implementation of the Healthy Texas insurance program established by SB 78 (81R).
On November 19, the Baylor University – Texas at The Table Hunger Summit was held in Waco. The summit was a huge success with hundreds of advocates from across the state accepting the challenge to work together to end food insecurity in Texas by 2015. The Texas Hunger Initiative, a joint project of the CLC and the Baylor School of Social Work, hosted and help organize the event. In 2010 the work of the Hunger Initiative will focus on organizing local efforts in 7 Texas counties to combat hunger. The CLC will help convene advocates in Austin to establish a Food Policy Roundtable to address any policy changes necessary to meet our goals.
The BGCT Annual meeting had a slightly younger look this year as 200+ Texas Baptists under-35 gathered for STREAM. The group was comprised of both young ministers and lay members many of whom were registered messengers. STREAM was a series of parallel activities designed with the younger generation in mind. CLC Austin staff members were involved in the planning and recruitment efforts for the event. The conference began with a purely social gathering hosted at the Union Station rooftop at Minute Maid Park, home of the Houston Astros. The group also met for two general sessions and held several workshops. The workshops concentrated on social justice issues all addressed by the Christian Life Commission including Hunger, Human Trafficking and the Environment. A group of over 45 young people also spend one afternoon at the Houston Food Bank where they packaged for delivery over 20,000 pounds of food.
Stop Predatory Gambling Conference
In early November the national anti-predatory gambling organization, Stop Predatory Gambling, held their annual conference in San Antonio. The conference brought together advocates, experts and legislative staff members from across the country. If you are passionate about this issue, you should certainly check out their website and join together with advocates to prevent expansion and turn back the progress of predatory gambling establishments.