AUSTIN – Texas House Speaker Joe Straus released the full list of House interim charges Monday, assigning almost every committee at least one charge related to the state’s recovery from Hurricane Harvey.
By issuing interim charges, Speaker Straus highlighted issues that should receive study and discussion leading up to the next legislative session, which will begin in January 2019. Committees will report their findings to the House before that session begins.
Last month, Speaker Straus assigned Harvey-related charges to three House committees: Appropriations, Natural Resources and Public Education. The latest charges look at many other aspects of the storm and the state’s response, including Hurricane Harvey’s impact on public health, the juvenile justice system, agriculture and the state’s tax structure. A number of charges also call for committees to evaluate how state agencies responded to the storm.
“This is an opportunity for the Legislature to better understand the impact of the storm, to evaluate the response of state agencies and to prepare for future disasters,” said Speaker Straus, San Antonio. “Hurricane Harvey will impact just about every major issue in the next legislative session, and the House should be fully prepared for that moment.”
As he released interim charges, Speaker Straus also created the Select Committee on Opioids and Substance Abuse, which will study the prevalence and impact of substance abuse and substance use disorders in the state. Rep. Four Price of Amarillo will serve as the committee’s Chairman, while Rep. Joe Moody of El Paso will serve as Vice Chairman.
“Two years ago, we formed the Committee on Mental Health to look at behavioral health and substance abuse issues, and this new committee will continue some of that work,” Speaker Straus said. “Opioid addiction is a national epidemic that has had a devastating impact on many lives. It’s important that we learn more about the prevalence and impact of opioid addiction and other substance abuse issues in Texas.”
In total, Speaker Straus issued more than 230 interim charges, including:
• The Public Education Committee will examine research-based options for examining student achievement beyond standardized testing.
• The General Investigating and Ethics Committee will review conflict-of-interest laws governing public officers and employees to ensure that the laws are adequate to maintain the public’s confidence.
• The Business & Industry Committee will study the impact of data breaches or theft on Texas consumers and businesses, while the Investments & Financial Services Committee will study the impact of a large-scale security breach of a credit bureau.
• The Human Services and Public Health committees will look at the prevalence and treatment of behavioral health issues among children and adults involved with Child Protective Services.
• The Natural Resources Committee will evaluate the status of groundwater policy in Texas and of the markets for surface water and groundwater in the state, in addition to continuing and expanding its efforts related to Harvey and flooding.
“The House will work on a broad range of issues over the next year,” Speaker Straus said. “The work in the months ahead will help ensure that taxpayer dollars are being used properly, that state agencies are meeting the state’s needs and that our private-sector economy is prepared for continued growth.”
Earlier this month, Speaker Straus created the House Committee on Economic Competitiveness, which is focused on making sure that state policies welcome and support job creation and private-sector growth.