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TxCR is pleased to release its assessment of the 84th Texas Legislature.

2O15 Conservative Effectiveness Index

TxCR’s 2015 Conservative Effectiveness Index strives to fairly and accurately inform Texans about the efforts and accomplishments of the Texas Legislature during the 84th Legislative Session. The Index considers over 50 substantive bills across 7 key policy areas, provides summaries and position statements for each bill, and recognizes the diligence of lawmakers by noting authorship and absences. TxCR champions conservative economic solutions, free market principles, reasonable and limited regulations, reliable infrastructure, low taxation and efficient government. TxCR recognizes each legislator who receives a “B” or better as a 2015 Effective Conservative Lawmaker.

Considered Legislation

TxCR’s 2015 Conservative Effectiveness Index considers over 50 of the most important bills of the 84th Legislative Session across 7 key policy areas that represent the building blocks of the Texas economy and the focus of the Conservative Roundtable of Texas. To remain a leader in job creation, economic growth and quality of life, Texas must have: a balanced and transparent budget, low taxation, a predictable regulatory environment, adequate and reliable infrastructure, responsible stewardship of its natural resources, and an educated and healthy workforce.

TxCR acknowledges that some conservative legislation was omitted from consideration and that competing conservative principles may produce legitimate differences of opinion. Nevertheless, TxCR seeks to provide an informative tool that articulates the conservative accomplishments of the 84th Texas Legislature. Below please find a brief description and TxCR’s position statement on each piece of considered legislation.

HB 1: Appropriating a Balanced Budget for the State of Texas

Allocates approximately $209 billion to the state budget for fiscal years 2016-2017, including legislatively approved funding, dedicated and non-dedicated general revenue, and federal funding. TxCR supports HB 1 because it provides for the needs of our rapidly growing state, invests in transportation and other critical infrastructure, and improves border security and public safety, all while restraining the growth in spending to under 4 percent—less than population growth plus inflation—ensuring billions in tax eliminating cuts and relief, and leaving untouched the state’s $11 billion Rainy Day Fund.

SB 1: Providing Increased Tax Relief for Homeowners

Increases the mandatory homestead exemption for school district property taxes, reduces the taxable value of homesteads owned by elderly or disabled Texans, and to the extent a school district loses maintenance, operations or debt-service tax revenue, entitles the school district to certain additional state aid. TxCR supports SB 1 because it provides roughly $125 in tax relief for every homeowner, makes residences more affordable, homeownership more attainable, amends the Texas Constitution to improve tax protections for homeowners and encourages economic growth.

HB 32: Cutting Business Taxes & Expanding E-Z Computation Eligibility

Reduces the franchise tax rate by 25 percent, lowers the E-Z tax rate from 57.5 percent to 33.1 percent, increases the number of businesses eligible to use the E-Z calculation and requires the Comptroller to study the effect of reductions to the franchise tax rate. TxCR supports HB 32 because it enacts $2.6 billion in franchise tax cuts, increases employment, reduces business tax burdens, promotes economic growth and encourages business investments in Texas.

HB 31: Decreasing the Sales Tax Rate

Reduces the state portion of the sales tax rate from 6.25 percent to 5.95 percent. TxCR supports HB 31 because it provides $4.9 billion in tax relief, benefits all Texans, lowers the cost of goods, increases consumer spending, promotes job growth and improves the business climate in Texas. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

Electing the Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives

Members of Texas House of Representatives elected state Rep. Joe Straus of Bexar County to serve as the duly elected Speaker of the Texas House for the 84th Legislative Session. TxCR supports Rep. Joe Straus as the Speaker of the House for the 84th Legislative Session because he has led the chamber toward effective conservative solutions since 2009 on diverse issues such as the budget, infrastructure, water and education, delivered results for Texas taxpayers, maintained civility in the House, and discouraged partisan and ideological gridlock.

HB 2: Providing Supplemental Appropriations for Fiscal Year 2015

Directs supplemental appropriations and reductions to certain state agencies for fiscal year 2015, establishes transfer and other appropriation authority, and imposes contingencies on the appropriation and use of certain funds. TxCR supports HB 2 because it responsibly appropriates $564.6 million, makes use if savings and unexpended balances in several areas of the 2014-2015 budget to address over $1 billion in state needs through reallocations and appropriations, contributes $768 million to help shore up the state health care plan for Texas teachers, allows state agencies to continue providing important services to Texans and appropriately modifies some agencies spending authority over certain funds.

HB 7: Modifying Provisions Governing Certain General Revenue Dedicated Funds

Amends and repeals provisions related to dedicated revenue and accounts, provides for the dedication and use of certain state revenue, and adjusts the amounts or rates of certain statutorily dedicated fees and assessments. TxCR supports HB 7 because it curtails the use of budgeting gimmicks, reduces the reliance on general revenue dedicated funds to certify the budget and increases budget transparency.

HB 9: Addressing Unfunded Liabilities of the Texas Employees Retirement System

Increases the employee contribution to the Texas Employees Retirement System (ERS) from 7.2 percent to 9.5 percent, adds roughly $440 million to the pension fund and removes the 90-day waiting period to join ERS. TxCR supports HB 9 because it reduces the burden on taxpayers by increasing state employee contributions, preserves the state’s high credit rating and addresses unfunded liabilities in the state employee retirement program.

HB 11: Strengthening Penalties for Human Smuggling Offenses & Revising the Powers and Duties of the Texas Department of Public Safety

Enhances penalties for a convicted human trafficker, creates as a new offense the continuous smuggling of persons, authorizes the use of wiretapping for certain prostitution crimes, reauthorizes an anti-gang program, requires local law enforcement to implement an approved incident-based reporting system, and revises the powers and duties of the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). TxCR supports HB 11 because it adds 250 DPS troopers and support staff for border operations, strengthens the protections against human trafficking, toughens penalties for smuggling activities and promotes a stable law enforcement presence along the Texas portion of the U.S.-Mexico border.

HB 1690: Reforming the Investigation and Prosecution of Offenses Against Public Administration

Requires the Texas Rangers to investigate complaints alleging an offense against public administration, refers prosecution to the county where the defendant resided at the time the offense was committed, requires state agencies and local law enforcement to provide information requested by the prosecutor, and exempts that information from state public information laws. TxCR supports HB 1690 because it establishes a less biased, non-political and more effective process for investigating and prosecuting elected officials in public corruption cases.

SB 20: Improving State Agency Contracting, Purchasing & Accounting Procedures

Enhances reporting, ethics and approval requirements for certain state contracts, requires the state auditor to audit the performance of Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) contracts in excess of $100 million in annual value, instructs the Comptroller to conduct a study examining the feasibility of consolidating state purchasing functions, provides for verification of the use of a best value standard in state agency contracting and procurement, establishes additional training requirements for state agency purchasing personnel and conditions the purchasing authority for an institution of higher education on compliance with established standards. TxCR supports SB 20 because it ensures that state contracts are awarded fairly and transparently, protects tax dollars and taxpayers, and improves reporting, accountability and transparency mechanisms for state contracts.

SB 455: Convening a Three-Judge District Court for a Case of Statewide Importance

Requires a three-judge district court convene in cases related to school finance and redistricting, and gives the Chief Justice of the Texas Supreme Court discretion to empanel a three-judge district court in cases that affect certain state policies, operations and finances or that consist of matters of exceptional statewide importance. TxCR supports SB 455 because it allows for the representation of citizens, taxpayers and voters from around the state with respect to issues of statewide impact.

SB 1760: Protecting Texans from Property Tax Increases

Increases the voting requirement from 1/2 to 3/5ths for a local jurisdiction to raise a property tax rate, expands a taxpayer’s representation before a property taxing entity, increases transparency and notice with respect to proposed tax rate increases, and in the event of excessive payment, ensures a qualified taxpayer automatically receives a refund. TxCR supports SB 1760 because it requires local taxing authorities to justify property tax increases to voters, promotes transparency and establishes equitable application of property tax procedures.

HJR 111: Prohibiting the Use of Dedicated Revenues to Certify the Budget

Amends the Texas Constitution to prohibit the Comptroller from using dedicated revenues to certify spending or for available revenue estimates. TxCR supports HJR 111 because it increases transparency and accountability in the state’s budgeting process and promotes a honest evaluation of available state revenue. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

SCR 5: Urging Congress to Reimburse Texas for Border Security Expenses

Expresses dissatisfaction with the inadequate efforts of the federal government to secure the Texas portion of the international border between the United States and Mexico, and urges the United States Congress to reimburse the State of Texas for certain border security costs from 2012 to 2015. TxCR support SCR 5 because it calls for the federal government to secure the border with Mexico and requests an estimated $700 million in relief for Texas taxpayers who have been unfairly burdened with the costs of border security.

HB 903: Investing Rainy Day Fund Assets Prudently

Instructs the Comptroller to invest a percentage of available Economic Stabilization Fund (ESF) assets according to specified investment standards, and requires the Comptroller to include the fair market value of the Fund’s investment portfolio in ESF cap calculations and when determining allocations from general revenue to the ESF and State Highway Fund. TxCR supports HB 903 because it preserves the ESF’s purchasing power, grows the state’s savings account by prudently investing roughly $4 billion in available ESF funds, annually increases the state’s savings amount by an estimated $60 million and protects sufficient funds for use in the event of an emergency.

HB 187: Extending the Statute of Limitations for Unlawful Employment Practices

Increases the statute of limitations for an unlawful employment practice to five years after the date of the alleged offense or 180 days after the plaintiff discovered the alleged offense. TxCR opposes HB 187 because it would overly burden businesses, especially small businesses, unnecessarily increases lawsuits against employers, and improperly interferes with the employer-employee relationship. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

HB 1295: Compelling Disclosure of Sponsored Research & Certain Contracts with Governmental Entities

Requires an employee of a public institution of higher education disclose certain research sponsors in public communications relating to research and provides that a contracting business disclose any conflicts of interest to the governmental entity and that the governmental entity give a copy of the disclosure to the Texas Ethics Commission (TEC). TxCR supports HB 1295 because it promotes appropriate disclosures and greater transparency in government contracts.

SB 293: Expanding Eligibility for the Major Events Trust Fund

Broadens Major Events Trust Fund eligibility to include ESPN, NASCAR and the Ultimate Fighting Championship among such currently eligible organizations as the National Football League, National Basketball Association, National Hockey League and Major League Baseball. TxCR supports SB 293 because it expands participation in a fund that attracts tens of thousands of out-of-state tourists, generates millions in tourism revenue for Texas businesses, enables Texas to compete with incentives offered by other states, and amends existing law to properly reflect the legislative intent of prior reforms to the Major Events Trust Fund.

SB 722: Ensuring the Integrity of Unemployment Benefits

Amends the Labor Code to disqualify an individual from receiving benefits under the Texas Unemployment Compensation Act if the individual refuses to submit to or fails to pass a pre-employment drug test for certain jobs. TxCR supports SB 722 because it promotes personal responsibility for those seeking employment, encourages a healthy work environment and ensures the integrity of unemployment benefit payments. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

SB 837: Improving the Ability of a Municipality or Public Improvement District to Attract Business

Permits Arlington, Austin and San Antonio to create tourism public improvement districts (PID) to compete for convention business and raises the requirements to create a PID. TxCR supports SB 837 because it increases the number of Texas cities that are authorized to more effectively pursue convention business and authorizes these municipalities to pursue the tourism success that the Dallas PID has made possible.

SB 860: Updating the Business Organizations Code to Reflect Current Business Practice

Clarifies portions of the Business Organizations Code relating to corporations and fundamental business transactions so that the statutory framework reflects current business practice. TxCR supports SB 860 because it provides greater legal certainty in commercial transactions in Texas and promotes the continuation of a pro-business economic environment in Texas.

SB 899: Revising Regulations of Money Transmitters & Currency Exchangers

Implements revisions to the Finance Code based on recommendations from the Texas Department of Banking that include narrowing and clarifying the language of the Money Services Act and modifying certain security requirements to be based on transaction type and volume of business. TxCR supports SB 899 because it provides for statutory updates that increase consumer protections and resolve potentially detrimental issues with current statutes relating to the banking industry.

SB 1639: Forcing Unnecessarily Restrictive Limits on Municipal Annexation

Prohibits a city from annexing a surrounding area through limited purpose annexation and requires a municipality complete a petition or election process prior to city-initiated annexation. TxCR opposes SB 1639 because it would unnecessarily modify municipal annexation procedures, inappropriately burden local taxpayers and prevent a municipality from ensuring that residents pay for the city services they use. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

HJR 26: Imposing an Inappropriately Burdensome Compensation Mandate on Businesses

Amends the Texas Constitution to require a business pay each employee the greater of $10.10 per hour or the federal minimum wage. TxCR opposes HJR 26 because it would increase unemployment, particularly for low-skilled workers, raise prices for consumers and likely have little effect on reducing poverty. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

SJR 5: Creating a Dedicated Revenue Stream for the State Highway Fund

Proposes an amendment to the Texas Constitution to dedicate over $2.5 billion of sales and use tax revenue as well as motor vehicle sales tax revenue to the State Highway Fund and authorizes appropriate uses of dedicated funds. TxCR supports SJR 5 because it uses existing revenue to provide a predictable, constitutionally dedicated, sustainable and long-term funding solution for transportation and promotes continued economic growth in Texas.

HB 20: Improving Transparency & Accountability at the Texas Department of Transportation

Requires the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) to develop and implement a performance-based planning and programming process for funding transportation projects, instructs local transportation entities to submit funding prioritization guidelines to TxDOT, and creates House and Senate select committees to examine issues relating to transportation planning and assess how well TxDOT achieved its goals and objectives. TxCR supports HB 20 because it helps ensure that taxpayer dollars are spent appropriately, increases transparency and oversight, and encourages an objective and accountable allocation of transportation funds.

HB 122: Promoting Fiscally Responsible Use of the Texas Mobility Fund

Prohibits the Texas Mobility Fund (TMF) from issuing bonds and requires the Texas Transportation Commission exclusively use available TMF money to pay for the construction and maintenance of state highways with an expected life of at least 10 years, create debt service accounts, pay interest on bonds for less than two years or refund outstanding obligations. TxCR supports HB 122 because it promotes a return to the fiscally prudent “pay-as-you-go” method of funding transportation projects and reduces the state’s debt burden.

HB 1833: Increasing Local Government Authority with Respect to Toll Bridges

Removes a current population limit to allow any county along the United States-Mexico border to contract with a private or governmental entity to acquire, construct, maintain or operate a toll bridge. TxCR supports HB 1833 because it encourages local control and allows a county to construct and manage a toll bridge in the manner that is most effective and efficient and best serves local needs.

SB 678: Improving Capabilities of a North Texas Transportation Authority

Requires that a coordinated county transportation authority provide assistance for property relocated through an exercise of eminent domain, changes the conditions under which an authority’s board of directors may authorize contract negotiations without competitive, sealed bids and caps at $125 million the total liability that the Denton County Transportation Authority (DCTA) may assume in an agreement to provide certain passenger rail services. TxCR supports SB 678 because it allows a North Texas transportation authority to more effectively and affordably serve transportation needs in the D/FW area.

HB 40: Establishing the Applicability of Local Ordinances to Oil & Gas Production

Affirms that state laws and Texas Railroad Commission regulations relating to oil and gas production preempt local ordinances, and creates a four-prong test for determining whether an ordinance enacted by a local government applies. TxCR supports HB 40 because it reasserts the state’s proper role as the governmental body responsible for setting statewide energy and environmental standards, ensures fair and consistent application of regulations across the state, limits unnecessary litigation and protects both private property rights and well-established city ordinances.

HB 1736: Clarifying Energy Standards for Homeowners & Homebuilders

Updates the Health and Safety Code for single-family residential construction by adopting the energy efficiency chapter of the 2015 edition of the International Residential Code (IRC), and prohibits the State Energy Conservation Office (SECO) from adopting an updated edition of the IRC more often than once every six years. TxCR supports HB 1736 because it streamlines regulations, provides for clear and predictable energy-use policies for homeowners and homebuilders, promotes affordable housing and encourages code compliance.

HB 1794: Capping Penalties in Environmental Lawsuits & Establishes a Statute of Limitations

Limits the civil damages a local government may recover in a suit for a violation of the Water Code or Health and Safety Code, requires the suit be brought no later than five years from the date of written notice of the violation and maintains the authority of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s (TCEQ) to pursue violations of environmental laws. TxCR supports HB 1794 because it promotes a more predictable regulatory environment, encourages compliance, discourages unnecessary litigation and promotes the timely resolution of violations.

HB 2769: Extending an Unsuccessful LoanSTAR Revolving Loan Pilot Program

Extends the expiration date of an ineffective pilot program created to provide energy efficiency investment loans to non-profit organizations. TxCR opposes HB 2769 because it directs taxpayer funds to an ineffective and inefficient program that has not issued a single loan. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

SB 523: Increasing Accountability of River Authorities

Establishes a sunset review process for the governance, management and operating structure of a river authority. TxCR supports SB 523 because it increases accountability, ensures a river authority delivers appropriate outcomes, creates an opportunity to examine more efficient and effective ways to manage river authorities in Texas and provides for increased transparency.

SB 932: Continuing Authority of the Public Utility Commission to Retain Outside Counsel and Advisers

Extends through 2023 the authority of the Public Utility Commission (PUC) to retain outside experts, counselors and advisers in Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) proceedings and other electric utility matters. TxCR supports SB 932 because it provides the PUC with the ability to better enable it to defend the energy interests of Texas.

SB 1356: Encouraging Consumers to Replace Water-Inefficient Products in Their Homes

Expands the existing Memorial Day weekend sales tax holiday for energy-efficient products to include water-efficient products and incentivizes Texas homeowners to implement water-saving technologies. TxCR supports SB 1356 because it promotes sensible, elective water conservation, provides tax relief, supports ongoing efforts to address water shortages in Texas, decreases the demand for water, and helps reduce the cost of water for businesses, taxpayers and individuals.

HB 4: Supporting High-Quality Pre-K Education

Encourages school districts in Texas to provide half-day prekindergarten instruction by establishing a $130 million grant-funding program available to public school districts, open-enrollment charter schools and private providers who meet the stated curriculum, teacher and reporting requirements. TxCR supports HB 4 because it implements research-based reforms designed to measurably improve education outcomes and significantly reduce state expenditures, helps reduce disparity in educational opportunities for young Texans, increases opportunities for parents in the workforce, encourages familial involvement in childhood education, and provides for transparency and accountability to ensure the program delivers expected results.

HB 18: Encouraging Postsecondary Success & Career Planning for Public School Students

Provides for expanded participation in the Texas High Performance Schools Consortium and the development and distribution of public outreach materials to promote awareness of curriculum changes, directs the University of Texas Center for Teaching and Learning to develop a postsecondary education and career counseling academy for school counselors, and prohibits the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) from limiting the number of dual credit courses in which a high school student may enroll. TxCR supports HB 18 because it encourages student academic achievement and high school, college and career readiness, expands the state’s educated workforce, allows high school students to save time and money while earning college credits.

HB 506: Increasing the Tax Rate Limitation on School District Bonds

Allows a public school district to exceed by 20 percent the cap of 50 cents per $100 property valuation for debt service on bonds issued for school construction if the district meets certain criteria. TxCR opposes HB 506 because it weakens limitations on public school bonds, one of the largest categories of debt in the state, and could result in increased debt and higher taxes for homeowners. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

HB 743: Improving Public School Curriculum & Standardized Testing

Requires the Texas Education Agency (TEA) to conduct a study of the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS), statewide standardized tests and end-of-course tests and to report the study’s finding to the State Board of Education (SBOE) for recommendations, limits the duration of a statewide standardized test, and requires an independent third-party determine the validity and reliability of all statewide standardized exams. TxCR supports HB 743 because it reforms current test practices, reduces the amount of test preparation and stress on students, teachers and parents, and promotes a more efficient test contracting system.

HB 2804: Evaluating Public School District & Campus Performance

Establishes a new method for evaluating school districts and campuses using an A through F performance scale based on five achievement metrics: three metrics use State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) scores, the fourth incorporates measures unrelated to standardized testing, such as dropout and graduation rates, and the fifth relies on indices that measure student and community engagement and is individually developed by each district and campus. TxCR supports HB 2804 because it more clearly evaluates public school performance, gives districts and schools greater control of performance ratings and reduces the importance of STAAR scores in district and campus ratings.

SB 149: Allowing Alternatives to State High School Graduation Requirements

Requires public and charter schools to establish an individual graduation committee to determine whether a student who fails to pass one of the five STAAR end-of-course (EOC) exams may nevertheless qualify to graduate if they passed all of their coursework and meet additional requirements for remediation and coursework. TxCR supports SB 149 because it allows local educators and parents to participate in the process that determines whether a student is qualified to graduate high school, allows for the consideration of student success measurements other than STAAR EOC exams such as college placement exams, and promotes higher education and occupational success by giving students an alternative to dropping out of high school because of one failed exam.

SB 925: Training for Public Elementary School Teachers

Establishes Literacy Achievement Academies that support teacher training and the implementation of scientific, research-based programs to better develop the reading skills of primary grade students. TxCR supports SB 925 because it promotes development of teaching skills that increase student achievement, especially for students who are educationally disadvantaged.

HB 100: Financing Capital Projects at Pubic Universities Across Texas

Gives public universities the authority to finance certain capital projects through the issuance of roughly $3 billion in tuition revenue bonds (TRBs). TxCR supports HB 100 because it authorizes for the first time since 2006 an expansion of facilities at all public universities across the state, takes advantage of low interest rates and construction costs, invests in higher education without requiring an increase in tuition, expands the number of graduates available to fill the workforce shortage in STEM fields, and increases future tax revenue for Texas.

HB 26: Reforming Incentive Programs

Abolishes the Emerging Technology Fund, creates the Governor’s University Research Initiative, establishes the Economic Incentive Oversight Board to oversee economic incentive programs, and directs the Texas Enterprise Fund to provide research grants to higher education institutions in order to attract top-tier researchers. TxCR supports HB 26 because it audits existing programs to increase efficiency, improves oversight of gubernatorial funds, simplifies the application process, standardizes economic incentives and makes more information available online.

HB 1583: Improving Community College Completion Rates and Student Experience

Requires public junior colleges to establish a block schedule curriculum for certain associate degree and certificate programs. TxCR supports HB 1583 because it increases on-time graduations, improves community college completion rates and establishes class schedules that better meet the needs of students.

SB 18: Encouraging Texas Medical Students to Complete Their Residencies in Texas

Amends strategies for graduate medical education (GME) by specifying types of residency programs targeted for expansion, supports existing residency slots and establishes a permanent $400 million GME fund. TxCR supports SB 18 because it creates more residency slots, provides for a greater return on tax dollars invested in higher education, encourages medical students educated at Texas institutions to complete their residencies in Texas and expands the state’s physician workforce, particularly in areas experiencing a critical shortage of healthcare providers.

SB 632: Incentivizing Research at Texas Public Universities

Dissolves the Emerging Technology Fund and transfers certain funds to the Texas Research Incentive Program and Texas Research University Fund to encourage research at Texas public universities. TxCR supports SB 632 because it reallocates funds to university research programs, incentives private investment in research at public institutions, expands recruitment efforts, advances the state’s higher education system and promotes innovations and economic advances in Texas.

SB 686: Revising Funding and Eligibility for the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program

Expands funding sources of the Math and Science Scholars Loan Repayment Program to include legislative appropriations and changes certain eligibility requirements of the program. TxCR supports SB 686 because it encourages math and science teachers to teach in Title 1 schools.

SB 1735: Reforming Hazlewood Program for Veterans and Veteran Dependents

Reduces the unsustainable growth in cost of the Hazlewood program by revising certain eligibility and other requirements of the program. TxCR supports SB 1735 because it restrains the growth of a program the cost of which has increased nearly sevenfold since 2009, puts downwards pressure on rising tuitions costs and ensures the continuation of tuition benefits for qualified veterans and their dependents at public institutions of higher education in Texas. (Note: This bill did not pass the Legislature during the 84th Session.)

SB 219: Improving Health and Human Services in Texas

Clarifies and updates health and human services statutes to provide a more orderly, accessible, up-to-date and accurate body of legislation that citizens and lawmakers can better understand. TxCR supports SB 219 because updated and understandable statutes promote adherence to the law and allow lawmakers to make policy changes that improve the provision of health and human services in Texas.

HB 19: Establishing Preventative Services and Mental Health Programs for Veterans & Military Families

Requires the Texas Veterans Commission and Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to coordinate the administration of mental health programs for veterans, including a community collaboration initiative, and establishes a pilot program that provides preventative services for veterans and military families who may be at risk of family violence, abuse or neglect. TxCR supports HB 19 because it enhances the network of preventative programs and mental health resources available for veterans and military families.

HB 764: Notifying Patients of the Collection of Health Care Information

Requires health care providers give written notice to a patient if the Texas Health Care Information Collection (THCIC) or Department of State Health Services (DSHS) collect the patient’s health care data and imposes certain standards with respect to the use and security of their health care data. TxCR supports HB 764 because it increases transparency and security with respect to the collection and use of health care data by THCIC or DSHS.

HB 3014: Utilizing “Pay for Success” Contracts to Promote Cost-Effective Solutions to Social Problems

Creates the Success Contract Payments Trust Fund, authorizes a state agency and the Comptroller to jointly enter into a pay for success contract with private service providers, conditions payment on contract completion and provides for a third-party verification of performance. TxCR supports HB 3014 because it encourages innovative, bottom-up solutions to social problems, allows for the provision of governmental services without the expansion of government, and injects competition, transparency and accountability into the provision of government services.

SB 200: Providing for the Continuation and Functions of the Health and Human Services Commission

Consolidates certain functions of the state health and human services system, requires the executive commission of the Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) develop a transition plan for the transfer and consolidation of the functions of abolished state agencies, and creates the Health and Human Services Transition Legislative Oversight Committee to facilitate the transfer of regulatory functions from the Department of Family and Protective Services (DFPS) and Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to the HHSC and to study whether to continue DFPS and DSHS as independent state agencies. TxCR supports SB 200 because it takes a graduated approach to reorganization and implements reforms designed to improve accountability, efficiency and consistency among the state health and human services agencies.

SB 481: Protecting Patients from the Unfair Practice of Balance Billing

Expands consumer access to health care information and dispute resolution procedures, revises the content of billing statements to require additional conspicuous, plain-language explanations, and lowers from $1,000 to $500 the amount for which a consumer may be liable under balanced billing practices. TxCR supports SB 481 because it ensures that patients and health care consumers receive important information about their rights under Texas law, curtails unfair billing practices, and encourages a more fair, effective and transparent approach to health care.

Considered Legislation

TxCR’s 2015 Conservative Effectiveness Index considers over 50 of the most important bills of the 84th Legislative Session across 7 key policy areas that represent the building blocks of the Texas economy and the focus of the Conservative Roundtable of Texas. To remain a leader in job creation, economic growth and quality of life, Texas must have: a balanced and transparent budget, low taxation, a predictable regulatory environment, adequate and reliable infrastructure, responsible stewardship of its natural resources, and an educated and healthy workforce.

TxCR acknowledges that some conservative legislation was omitted from consideration and that competing conservative principles may produce legitimate differences of opinion. Nevertheless, TxCR seeks to provide an informative tool that articulates the conservative accomplishments of the 84th Texas Legislature. Below please find a brief description and TxCR’s position statement on each piece of considered legislation.

2O15 Exemplary Conservative Lawmakers

Advancing conservative solutions and achieving conservative results requires thoughtful leadership, principled compromise and dedicated public service. TxCR recognizes the following 2015 Exemplary Conservative Lawmakers for successfully championing conservative solutions in specific areas of public policy during the 84th Legislative Session. Their accomplishments reflect the leadership of Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joe Straus and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, President of the Texas Senate.

READ MORE

Speaker Joe Straus


Speaker of the
Texas House of Representatives

READ MORE

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick


President of the
Texas Senate

READ MORE

Rep. John Otto


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

READ MORE

Rep. Dennis Bonnen


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

READ MORE

Rep. Dan Flynn


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

READ MORE

Sen. Jane Nelson


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

READ MORE

Rep. Giovanni Capriglione

Exemplary Conservative for
Business & Economic Development

READ MORE

Rep. Tan Parker


Exemplary Conservative for
Business & Economic Development

READ MORE

Sen. Kevin Eltife


Exemplary Conservative for
Business & Economic Development

READ MORE

Rep. Ron Simmons


Exemplary Conservative for
Transportation

READ MORE

Sen. Robert Nichols


Exemplary Conservative for
Transportation

READ MORE

Rep. Drew Darby


Exemplary Conservative for
Energy & Natural Resources

READ MORE

Sen. Kelly Hancock


Exemplary Conservative for
Energy & Natural Resources

READ MORE

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock

Exemplary Conservative for
Public Education

READ MORE

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst


Exemplary Conservative for
Public Education

READ MORE

Rep. John Zerwas


Exemplary Conservative for
Higher Education

READ MORE

Sen. Kel Seliger


Exemplary Conservative for
Higher Education

READ MORE

Rep. Susan King


Exemplary Conservative for
Health Care & Human Services

READ MORE

Rep. Four Price


Exemplary Conservative for
Health Care & Human Services

READ MORE

Sen. Charles Schwertner

Exemplary Conservative for
Health Care & Human Services

2O15 Exemplary Conservative Lawmakers

Advancing conservative solutions and achieving conservative results requires thoughtful leadership, principled compromise and dedicated public service. TxCR recognizes the following 2015 Exemplary Conservative Lawmakers for successfully championing conservative solutions in specific areas of public policy during the 84th Legislative Session. Their accomplishments reflect the leadership of Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Joe Straus and Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, President of the Texas Senate.

Speaker Joe Straus


Speaker of the
Texas House of Representatives

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick


President of the
Texas Senate

Rep. John Otto


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

Rep. Dennis Bonnen


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

Rep. Dan Flynn


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

Sen. Jane Nelson


Exemplary Conservative for
Budget, Taxes & Governance

Rep. Giovanni Capriglione

Exemplary Conservative for
Business & Economic Development

Rep. Tan Parker


Exemplary Conservative for
Business & Economic Development

Sen. Kevin Eltife


Exemplary Conservative for
Business & Economic Development

Rep. Ron Simmons


Exemplary Conservative for
Transportation

Sen. Robert Nichols


Exemplary Conservative for
Transportation

Rep. Drew Darby


Exemplary Conservative for
Energy & Natural Resources

Sen. Kelly Hancock


Exemplary Conservative for
Energy & Natural Resources

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock

Exemplary Conservative for
Public Education

Sen. Lois Kolkhorst


Exemplary Conservative for
Public Education

Rep. John Zerwas


Exemplary Conservative for
Higher Education

Sen. Kel Seliger


Exemplary Conservative for
Higher Education

Rep. Susan King


Exemplary Conservative for
Health Care & Human Services

Rep. Four Price


Exemplary Conservative for
Health Care & Human Services

Sen. Charles Schwertner

Exemplary Conservative for
Health Care & Human Services