Senate and House Committees Get Assignments

 

February 17, 2014

 

Lt. Gov. David Dewhurst and House Speaker Joe Straus have made their interim charge assignments to the legislative committees dealing with transportation.  None of the charges deals directly with the large and growing transportation project funding gap facing Texas.  Additional charges are expected later in the year.

 

In issuing his charges to all House of Representatives committees Speaker Straus wrote that one of the reasons the last session of the Legislature was successful was that members identified key priorities early and worked hard on those priorities.

 

SENATE TRANSPORTATION
The Senate Transportation Committee, chaired by Sen. Robert Nichols, was given the following two charges:


1. Examine the anticipated impact increased oil and gas production will continue to have on roadways and bridges.  Make recommendations to enhance the safety and infrastructure damaged by truck activity related to oil and gas exploration and production.


2. Evaluate the Texas Department of Transportation and Metropolitan Planning Organization’s progress on reducing congestion on the 100 most congested roadway segments and make recommendations to advance the development of the remaining congestion relief projects.

 

HOUSE TRANSPORTATION
Speaker Straus gave the House Transportation Committee, chaired by Rep. Larry Phillips, a total of nine topics to work on during the months leading up to the legislative session that will start next January.  Here is the list:


1. Evaluate actions by state agencies under the committee's jurisdiction to increase transparency, accountability, and efficiency. Consider the cost-saving outsourcing of technologies and recently developed practices, such as the conversion of roadways, used by the Department of Transportation designed to demonstrate savings. Identify and make recommendations on the credibility and effectiveness of these goals.


2. Monitor the usage of state funds by the Texas Department of Transportation for improving road quality in areas impacted by Energy Sector activities.


3. Evaluate the status of Texas's port system, including a review of the structure and operations of the Maritime Division of the Texas Department of Transportation.


4. Evaluate the status of passenger and freight rail in Texas, including a review of the structure and operations of the Rail Division of the Texas Department of Transportation.


5. Review the state of our current transportation infrastructure outside of the five most populous areas. Explore future needs of our infrastructure and make recommendations to ensure long-range sufficiency.


6. Monitor the implementation of the "Turn-Back Program" by the Texas Department of Transportation, specifically its fiscal impact to municipalities and taxpayers.


7. Examine county authority to utilize tax increment financing and transportation reinvestment zones to fund transportation projects.


8. Monitor and review the efforts of the Department of Transportation’s (TxDOT) Texas Technology Task Force (TTTF). The TTTF shall study emerging transportation, communication, and computing technologies and determine physical infrastructure and system components that TxDOT or other state departments would need to provide to enable selected technologies. The task is to be completed by TTTF as directed by SB 1 (83R), item 44, Article VII-31. (Joint charge with the House Committee on Technology)


9. Conduct legislative oversight and monitoring of the agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction and the implementation of relevant legislation passed by the 83rd Legislature. In conducting this oversight, the committee should:


a. consider any reforms to state agencies to make them more responsive to Texas taxpayers and citizens;
b. identify issues regarding the agency or its governance that may be appropriate to investigate, improve, remedy, or eliminate;
c. determine whether an agency is operating in a transparent and efficient manner; and
d. identify opportunities to streamline programs and services while maintaining the mission of the agency and its programs.