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									                  Matt Matthews & Company, LLC

From: Matt Matthews

Date: 20 February 2009

Re:    Weekly Report


GOVERNOR – On Tuesday, Governor Rick Perry addressed the National Federation of
Independent Business (NFIB) Small Business Day luncheon. He expressed his support
of small business in Texas, including the idea of raising the business margins tax
exemption to $1 million. The governor additionally reiterated his commitment to
maintain reasonable taxes and regulations, and pursue fiscal responsibility as the state
works to balance the budget for the upcoming biennium in order to enhance Texas’
competitive edge in the current national economic downturn. In his remarks, Governor
Perry also emphasized the need to continue investing in state incentive programs like the
Texas Enterprise Fund (TEF) and the Texas Emerging Technology Fund (ETF) which are
powerful tools in the state’s efforts to create jobs, and commercialize technology and
research in Texas. Governor Perry said, ―I think we can do more to make Texas the best
option for companies that employ Texans, which should include taking a close look at the
reformed business tax we implemented a few years ago. I support raising the small
business exemption to $1 million but also look forward to hearing what our legislators
have to say. We need to do everything we can to reduce the weight of government so
that employers can have the breathing room they need to make it through these uncertain
economic times. I am committed to working with our legislators to keep Texas living
within its means, continuing our adherence to proven fiscal principles and making tough
choices. It may not be the most popular course, but it is the wisest and will keep Texas
strong in the months and years to come.‖

SENATE – The Senate was in session on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week. They
conducted routine business and passed resolutions honoring many groups having their
legislative days at the capitol this week. 550 Senate bills out of almost 1,000 bills filed
have been referred to Senate committees. The Senate adjourned until 1:30p.m. on
Monday.

HOUSE – The House was in session Tuesday through Thursday this week also
conducting routine business and passing resolutions. 800 House bills have now been
referred to House committees out of more than 1,500 filed. The House adjourned until
2:00p.m. on Monday.

On Wednesday, the House Republican Caucus unanimously elected Representative
Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood) as Chairman of the caucus. Taylor said, ―I am honored to
have been selected by my peers to work with Speaker Straus and the Republican majority
to lead our party into the future. My goal for our caucus is to work smarter, faster, and be
more effective in communicating our Party’s values.‖ Other officers elected include:
Representatives Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria as Vice Chair; Linda Harper-Brown (R-
Irving) as Treasurer; and Tan Parker (R-Flower Mound) as Secretary. Representative
Morrison said, ―It is truly a privilege to have been elected by my fellow Republicans.
The fiscally responsible leadership of the Republican Majority has allowed Texas to
sustain a healthy economy and serve as a model for other states. I look forward to
working with my colleagues to continue our efforts to ensure that the people of Texas are
put first, and that our great state remains strong.‖

On Thursday, Representative Jessica Farrar (D-Houston) was elected chair of the House
Democratic Caucus. Representative Farrar said, ―I am honored that my colleagues have
demonstrated such faith in my leadership by electing me Democratic Caucus Chair. I
pledge to continue to work with all members of the Texas House to protect and promote
Democratic values by organizing efforts that deliver what Texans need in these hard
economic times – health care, child care, an educated workforce produced by solid public
schools and universities, all of which build a stronger economy. First on my agenda as
Chair is to immediately ask all Democratic Caucus members to participate in developing
an agenda for the 81st Legislative Session that addresses the state’s most pressing needs.
It is our responsibility to listen to our constituents and act on their concerns. Many times,
the most crucial needs of everyday Texans are overlooked and overrun by misguided
political agendas that cater to everyone but our constituents. I am committed to ensuring
that the Democratic Caucus continues to put people before politics.‖ The Democratic
Caucus also elected Representative Jim Dunnam (D-Waco) as House Democratic Leader;
Representative Marc Veasey (D-Fort Worth) as Caucus Chair Pro Tempore; and
Representative Terri Hodge (D-Dallas) as Treasurer.

BUDGET – The Senate Finance Committee met every day this week hearing testimony
from state agencies. The House Appropriations Committee Chair Jim Pitts (D-
Waxahachie) appointed subcommittees, and they started their hearings on the budget
immediately. Subcommittees include:
        General Government – John Otto (R-Dayton) Chair; Abel Herrero (D-
Robstown) Vice Chair; Betty Brown (R-Athens); Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe); and
Kino Flores (D-Mission).
        Health & Human Services – John Zerwas (R-Fulshear) Chair; Dawnna Dukes
(D-Austin) Vice Chair; Ellen Cohen (D-Houston); Craig Eiland (D-Texas City); and Carl
Isett (R-Lubbock).
        Education – Scott Hochberg (D-Houston) Chair; Geanie Morrison (R-Victoria)
Vice Chair; Jimmie Don Aycock (R-Killeen); Susan King (R-Abilene); and Mike
Villarreal (D-San Antonio).
        Criminal Justice – Debbie Riddle (R-Houston) Chair; Ruth Jones McClendon
(D-San Antonio) Vice Chair; Myra Crownover (R-Denton); Joe Driver (R-Garland); and
Al Edwards (D-Houston).
        Business & Economic Development – Helen Giddings (D-Dallas) Chair; Drew
Darby (R-San Angelo) Vice Chair; Angie Chen Button (R-Richardson); Norma Chavez
(D-El Paso); and Doug Miller (R-New Braunfels).
        Hurricane – Craig Eiland (D-Texas City) Chair; Ellen Cohen (D-Houston); Kino
Flores (D-Mission); John Otto (R-Dayton); and Debbie Riddle (R-Houston).
        Stimulus – Myra Crownover (R-Denton) Chair; Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe);
Drew Darby (R-San Angelo); Dawnna Dukes (D-Austin); and Craig Eiland (D-Texas
City).

 On Thursday, Governor Rick Perry sent a letter to President Obama in response to
passage of the Economic Stimulus Package. His letter said, ―I’m writing you today in
response to stipulations set forth in HR 1, the $787 billion stimulus package you signed
into law yesterday. As you know, I have been vocal in my opposition to this legislation
because I believe there are better ways to reinvigorate our economy and believe HR 1
will burden future generations with unprecedented levels of debt. Throughout the years,
Texas taxpayers have sent substantially more dollars to Washington than we receive on
issues ranging from transportation to border security and hurricane relief. As I have said
during the debate on HR 1, should Congress pass stimulus legislation using Texas tax
dollars, I would work to ensure that our citizens receive their fair share. On behalf of the
people of Texas, please allow this letter to certify that we will accept the funds in HR 1
and use them to promote economic growth and create jobs in a fiscally responsible
manner that is in the best interest of Texas taxpayers. I remain opposed to using these
funds to expand existing government programs, burdening the state with ongoing
expenditures long after the funding has dried up. I continue to believe that the best way
to stimulate the economy is the approach we are taking here in Texas. As a result of low
taxes, controlled government spending and a predictable regulatory climate, nearly 80%
of all jobs created last year in the United States were created in Texas; the vast majority
of these were private sector jobs. Just last week, Texas was ranked the top exporting
state in the nation for the seventh year in a row. While we differ on solutions to the
ongoing economic crisis facing our country, I believe we both share a desire to see our
great nation endure as a beacon of freedom and economic vitality to the world.‖

On the issue of the stimulus package, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst said that he and
his staff have just started looking at the provisions in the bill and how they relate to
Texas, but he warned lawmakers to be wary about relying on one time payments from the
federal government saying, ―We need to be careful on how we use one time funds, so that
we’re not painting ourselves into a deficit in 2010, but a number of these funds, I think,
will be able to help us in these program areas.‖

The House Select Committee on Federal Economic Stabilization Funding held its
first hearing on Thursday. They received invited testimony from the State Federal Office
and the federal funding section of the Legislative Budget Board. Provisions of the
Recovery and Reinvestment Act include an immediate tax break for 95% of Americans; a
$2,500 tax credit for individuals working toward a college education; $50 billion for
energy efficiency initiatives and green jobs; expanding broadband services; preventing
teacher layoffs; and $8.4 billion to improve public transit and rail. Additionally, the
Obama Administration said that 3.5 million jobs would be created over the course of the
next two years, with 269,000 of those jobs in Texas. Representative Jim Dunnam, Chair
of the House Select Committee said, ―I look forward to working closely with my
colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure that Texans see our fair share of federal
investments in job creation, tax cuts for working families, and support to struggling
businesses. During this time of national economic crisis, it is vital that we in Texas do
everything we can to protect jobs and our economy.‖

Also on Thursday, Senator Dan Patrick (R-Houston) and Representative Ken Paxton (R-
McKinney) filed SB 928 and HB 994 which would limit the growth of appropriations in
the Texas budget to the rate of the State’s population increase plus monetary inflation.
Senator Patrick said, ―Last week, Lt. Governor Dewhurst and Speaker Straus called for
the submission of innovative proposals to reduce our state’s budget by approximately
2.5%. The tax and expenditure limitation plan developed by Representative Paxton and
myself will alleviate budget concerns in future years as appropriations will not be
allowed to exceed the rate of population growth plus monetary inflation. By limiting
government spending, we can provide our constituents substantial tax breaks while
supporting our essential service needs.‖ Representative Paxton said, ―Given the current
economic trends, the Legislature must act responsibly this Session by limiting the growth
of government. Government spending must be curtailed to promote a true economic
stimulus which will allow our citizens to keep more of their hard earned money to use for
their families, their mortgages, and their personal needs. Individuals can spend their own
money better than the government can.‖ Former State Representative Talmadge Heflin,
who is Director of the Texas Public Policy Foundation’s Center for Fiscal Responsibility,
endorsed the plan saying, ―Population growth plus inflation is an appropriate government
spending limit because it caps the cost of government per person. The current state
spending limit that the voters approved in the late 1970’s has been ineffective in slowing
the expansion of government. The Legislative Budget Board openly ignored this
constitutional amendment throughout the 1980’s. Even when the spending limit was tied
to growth in personal income in 1992, it never factored into the state’s budget process
until last session, when an exceptionally large appropriation was made to buy down the
school property tax. If the provision in SB 928 and HB 994 had been in place and
followed by the legislature between 1990 and 2007, Texas taxpayers would have kept
more than $320 billion in their pockets rather than sending them to Austin. We can’t
give taxpayers those dollars back, but we can let them keep more of their own going
forward.‖ Peggy Venable, Texas Director for Americans for Prosperity also agreed
saying, We appreciate the leadership of Senator Dan Patrick and Representative Ken
Paxton for sponsoring this legislation which provides transparency, accountability and
some degree of certainty to Texas taxpayers. This legislation provides stronger
protections against a potentially uncertain economic future. With more precise spending
limits, Texans can rest assured that good fiscal stewardship will be carried out in the
future.‖

Next Week: The Senate Finance Committee will meet every day next week starting at
8:30a.m. in room E1.036 in the capitol extension. The House Appropriations
Subcommittees will continue to meet next week.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT – The Senate Economic Development Committee’s
regular meeting time will be 1:30p.m. or upon adjournment on Monday afternoons, and
they will meet in room E1.028 of the capitol extension.

ENVIRONMENT – On Thursday, Representative Mike Villareal filed HB 1469 which
requires the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) and the Legislative
Budget Board (LBB) to produce a carbon emission impact statement for all bills filed
in the Texas Legislature. The ―Carbon Note‖ would be similar to the Fiscal Note that is
currently included with all legislation for the purpose of determining the fiscal cost to the
state and other governmental entities. Representative Villarreal said, ―Government has a
responsibility to lead the way in our efforts to clean up our air. Before casting a vote on
any legislation, we should be fully informed about the positive or negative impact for our
environment. Whether we’re voting on light-rail legislation that would reduce our carbon
footprint, or coal plant bills that would increase it, a Carbon Note will help us make better
policy decisions. We need to know when we’re shrinking our carbon footprint and when
we’re growing it.‖

The Senate Natural Resources Committee’s regular meeting times will be at 1:00p.m.
or upon adjournment on Tuesdays and Thursdays in room E1.012 of the capitol
extension.

ENERGY/ELECTRIC UTILITY – On Tuesday, Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston)
called for swift action on a series of legislation designed to reduce emissions, combat
global warming, increase renewable energy use, create new high-tech green jobs and
boost energy efficiency in Texas.
     SB 119 clean car legislation, would adopt California’s emissions standards for
        2012 cars;
     SB 136 would create a Texas Cap & Trade system to combat the effects of
        global warming;
     SB 108 would create a Texas Green Jobs Skills Development Program;
     SB 128, SB 130, and SB 133 would give tax breaks for green buildings, hybrid
        and electric cars and renewable energy devices like solar panels and geothermal
        heat pumps; and
     SB 435 would require that Texas receive 5% of its peak power production from
        renewable sources, such as solar, bio-mass and geothermal.
Senator Ellis said, ―I am proud to have filed comprehensive environmental legislation
which will increase the use of renewable energy, significantly cut carbon emissions, help
create jobs and boost energy efficiency. It is vital to remember that carbon regulation
will help Texas’ economy. If Texas leaders are involved in finding solutions to global
warming, our economy could benefit greatly. We’ve barely begun to take advantage of
the economic benefits of these proposals. Green jobs are the wave of the future, and
Texas needs to do everything we can now to start planning for that future today. Senate
Bill 108 moves us forward and will help us take advantage of the unprecedented efforts
made at the federal level toward energy efficiency, weatherizing and other green projects.
Everyone knows by now that Texas is the leader in wind energy, producing more than
any other state, including California. But so far, we’ve been beaten badly in the solar
race, by just about everybody—including New Jersey, which has a fraction of the solar
potential of Texas. That is unacceptable and SB 435 will change that by requiring 5% of
our power during peak energy use come from solar, bio-mass, geothermal and other
renewable energies beyond just wind.‖

On Wednesday, Senator Troy Fraser (R-Horseshoe Bay) and Representative Patrick Rose
(D-Dripping Springs) filed SB 921 and HB 1390 to ensure that electric cooperatives are
open and responsive to their members. The bills would:
     Set guidelines for the use of proxies in board elections;
     Prohibit the use of prizes as incentives for providing of proxies in board elections;
     Set forth provisions for Open Meeting requirements;
     Allow for executive sessions of co-op boards of directors but make all final
        actions, decisions and votes public;
     Require that written/audio records of executive sessions be maintained for two
        years;
     Set forth provisions for Open Records requirements;
     Require co-op boards of directors to adopt written policies for travel expenditures,
        reimbursement, conflicts of interest, whistleblower protections, procedures for 3rd
        party professional services, and a committee to audit actions of the co-op board;
     Require annual, independent financial audits of all co-ops;
     Authorize state audits by the State Auditor, if approved by the Legislative Audit
        Committee;
     Set forth a complaints process for co-op members including an initial review by a
        co-op’s General Manager and a right of appeal to the Public Utility Commission;
     Prohibit Pedernales Electric Co-op from generating electricity without prior
        approval by the PUC; and
     Require all Texas co-ops to notify PUC when creating a business entity not
        related to its core purpose of generating, transmitting or distributing electric
        energy.
Senator Fraser and Representative Rose said, ―We are strong supporters of electric
cooperatives. The beauty of the electric cooperative system is that members are able to
determine how best to run the system through the election of a board of directors. The 3
million Texans served by co-ops need the protections provided in our legislation to have
earnest and lasting local control. . . It is important for Texas consumers that our energy
market includes public power. For the long-term viability of co-ops, we must ensure that
local control truly exists. In the absence of PUC regulation, co-op members should be
empowered, through open meetings, open records and fair elections, with preserving their
success.‖

GENERAL BUSINESS – The Senate Business and Commerce Committee’s regular
meeting times will be at 9:00a.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays, and the committee will
meet in the Betty King Committee Room.

Next Week: The House Business and Industry Committee will have an organizational
meeting on Monday at 2:00p.m. or upon adjournment in room E2.026 in the capitol
extension.
HEALTH – On Tuesday, Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) filed SB 877, which would
require that Texans be offered an HIV test as part of their routine medical check up. The
proposal implements the 2006 Centers for Disease control recommendations, which
called for patients to be screened for HIV as part of their routine medical exams. Senator
Ellis said, ―Texas ranks 4th in the nation for reported cases of AIDS, but there are pockets
in my district where infection rates rival that of African nations. This legislation will
address that crisis by building knowledge and reducing fear, all while ensuring patient
privacy is maintained. Thankfully HIV is no longer a death sentence, but it is clear that
early diagnosis is a key to fighting the disease and its spread. The sooner a person is
made aware of their status, the sooner they will change their behavior, which will reduce
the risk of transmitting the disease to others.‖

On Wednesday, Senator Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) filed three pieces of legislation
designed to improve the health of Texas’ youth, more than 40% of whom are either
overweight or obese and at risk of developing chronic illnesses. SB 890 seeks to expand
the PE requirements to cover all six semesters of middle school. Currently students must
complete the equivalent of 30 minutes daily of PE in 4 of the 6 semesters of middle
school. SB 891 defines physical education in state law in order to ensure that students
receive an actual health benefit. SB 892 directs schools to report on the progress of their
coordinated school health programs to local school boards via Campus Improvement
Plans. Senator Nelson said, ―Far too many of our youth are leading super-sized,
sedentary lifestyles which put their lives in danger. Unless we take action, an entire
generation of Texans will live shorter lives than their parents.‖

The Senate Health and Human Services Committee’s regular meeting times will be
9:00 a.m. on Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and the committee will meet in the Senate
Chamber on Tuesdays and in room E1.028 in the capitol extension on Thursdays.

Next Week: The Senate Health and Human Services Committee will meet on
Tuesday at 9:00a.m. in the Senate chamber to take up:
SB 86 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) would require applicants for a license to
practice medicine who are not US citizens to present proof that the applicant has
practiced medicine or has signed an agreement to practice medicine as a condition of the
license for at least three years in a health professional shortage area or a medically
underserved area.
SB 291 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) would require students enrolled in a course of
study that involves potential exposure to human or animal blood or bodily fluids to
receive hepatitis B vaccinations.
SB 343 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) would require the executive commissioner of
the Health and Human Services Commission and the Agriculture Commissioner to jointly
establish an advisory committee to study and provide recommendations to the legislature
regarding retail availability of fresh fruits and vegetables and other healthy foods in
underserved areas.
SB 395 by Eddie Lucio (D-Brownsville) would create the Early Childhood Health and
Nutrition Interagency Council to conduct research to assess the health of children under
the age of five in Texas compared to the health of similar children in other states; the
significance of nutrition and physical activity in the development of children under the
age of six; and the effectiveness of nutrition and physical activity requirements and
practices in early childhood care settings.
SB 525 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) would give priority to areas with a shortage
of physicians in granting waivers for qualified alien physicians to practice medicine
under federal waiver requirements.

The House Public Health Committee will meet on Tuesday at 8:00a.m. in room E2.012
in the capitol extension for an organizational meeting and to hear invited testimony.

HIGHER EDUCATION – Last Thursday, Representative Dan Branch (R-Dallas), Chair
of the House Higher Education Committee, outlined his priorities for Higher Education
which include developing more first tier universities in Texas, addressing college
affordability challenges by improving the state’s financial aid and tuition policies, and
reforming the state’s top 10% admissions rule. In addition, Branch is the author of
legislation to establish The University of North Texas School of Law in downtown
Dallas. Representative Branch said, ―I am honored by Speaker Straus’ decision to entrust
me with assignments so critical to the future prosperity of our state. Chairing Higher
Education allows me to focus on policies to best prepare future generations to compete in
a knowledge-based economy. I’m up to the challenge and look forward to beginning our
work.‖

The Senate Higher Education Committee’s regular meeting time will be at 8:00a.m. on
Wednesday mornings and the committee will meet in room E1.012 in the capitol
extension.

Next Week: The House Higher Education Committee will meet on Wednesday at
2:00p.m. or upon adjournment in room E2.014 of the capitol extension to hear invited
testimony from the Commissioner of Higher Education, the State Demographer, and the
Legislative Budget Board.

INSURANCE - On Tuesday, Governor Rick Perry requested the Federal Emergency
Management Agency (FEMA) waive, or extend for 180 days, the deadline to file proof of
loss requirements for flood insurance policyholders whose homes were damaged by
Hurricane Ike. Due to the severity and magnitude of the disaster, FEMA granted an
extension of the 60-day proof of loss deadline for flood insurance policyholders.
Currently, policyholders are required to file proof of loss by March 12, 2009. An
extension would allow Texans the same amount of time to file their claims as was
allowed following Hurricane Rita. Many homes along the Texas coast were flooded with
several feet of water, leaving hundreds of thousands of homes damaged or destroyed. A
confluence of factors has led to delays in proof of loss submission for many homeowners.
There has been a shortage of insurance adjusters resulting from the number of flooding
events that occurred across the state and nation in 2008. Also, many damages related to
flooding are not immediately apparent, and the full extent of damage is unknown until
walls are torn down and sheetrock and flooring are removed. Governor Perry said, ―With
so many Texas homes suffering flood damage related to Hurricane Ike and so many
families who have not yet been able to rebuild, a deadline of March 12 is unrealistic. I
urge FEMA to waive or extend the deadline so that Texans with flood insurance have
adequate time to file their claims.‖

Next Week: The House Insurance Committee will meet on Tuesday at 2:00p.m. or
upon adjournment in room E2.026 in the capitol extension to receive invited testimony
regarding the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association.

PUBLIC EDUCATION – On Tuesday, the House Public Education Committee held
its first meeting. Representative Scott Hochberg, Vice Chair of the committee, gave an
overview of the Texas School Finance System.

On Tuesday, Representative Diana Maldonado (D-Round Rock) introduced HB 1330,
which would require state legislators visit at least 5 public school campuses within
their district every two years. The bill allows the lawmaker to decide how to spend that
time such as speaking to a classroom about state government, touring the campus,
discussing curriculum with teachers, or hosting an assembly on the legislative process.
Representative Maldonado said, ―I have always felt education is the backbone of one’s
life because of the lessons it can teach us and its impact on our communities. My
education legislation is a first-step towards building and sustaining a constructive
dialogue between lawmakers and school administrators, educators and students who
benefit from state programs and resources. I believe this legislation will help to build
trust and sustain an important relationship between our schools and our government.
This will also be a great opportunity for our students to learn first-hand how our
government works and the meaning of public service in our society.‖

On Thursday, Senators Leticia Van de Putte (D-San Antonio), Kevin Eltife (R-Tyler),
and Royce West (D-Dallas) filed SB 982, which would inject $2.6 billion into the state’s
school finance system and would increase equity among school districts by reducing
recapture and returning state funding for school districts to a cost-based formula funding
system. Their press release said, ―School districts’ level of operating revenue has been
frozen at the 2006-2007 level. School districts have not received any additional state
funding to meet inflationary costs or other cost increases. With no prospects of
additional state funding and with school districts across the state facing budget shortfalls,
many districts are being forced to cut programs, freeze salaries or lay-off teachers and
staff in order to overcome the lack of sufficient state support. SB 982 returns our school
finance system to a cost-based, formula-driven system, improves equity among all
districts and children, and reduces recapture. Every school district is guaranteed a
minimum increase of dollars and beginning in year two taxpayers receive property tax
relief. SB 982 creates a structure for funding our schools based on our children’s actual
needs not on a fixed dollar amount that continues to minimize the Legislature’s
obligation to fund a high quality education for its future generations.‖ Senator Van de
Putte said, ―We must improve our school finance system, but we need to start with a
strong foundation and structure. Without a strong foundation, nothing else is secure. We
need to provide a structure for funding our neighborhood schools, a structure that allows
school districts to plan ahead and provides a constancy of resources.‖ Senator West said,
―Texas’ once formula driven system of public school finance is now a target revenue
system that has districts struggling to meet costs and provide quality education.‖ Senator
Eltife said, ―It is important to properly fund public education and this proposal increases
equity while providing additional resources for all school districts.‖

The Senate Education Committee’s regular meeting times will be at 8:30a.m. on
Tuesday and Thursday mornings, and the committee will meet in room E1.028 in the
capitol extension.

Next Week: The Senate Education Committee will meet on Tuesday at 8:30a.m. in
room E1.028 of the capitol extension to take up:
SB 33 by Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) would require school districts to provide the parents
of a student removed to a disciplinary alternative education program with written
notice of the district’s obligation to provide the student with an opportunity to complete
coursework required for graduation.
SB 100 by Eddie Lucio, Jr. (D-Brownsville) would require the Commissioner of
Education to develop and make available professional development institutes for
teachers and paraprofessionals relating to research-based instructional services for
students with disabilities, including autism spectrum disorders.
SB 270 by Chris Harris (R-Arlington) would require school districts to publish a report of
income-producing contracts and programs.

TAXATION – Last Friday, Texas Comptroller Susan Combs said the state collected
$1.92 billion in sales tax revenue in January, up 3.9% compared to January 2008.
Combs sent $665.5 million in local sales tax to Texas cities, counties, transit systems and
special purpose taxing districts, up 3.9 % compared to sales tax distributions to local
governments in February 2008. January state sales tax collections and February’s local
sales tax allocations represent sales made in December, but also include earlier sales by
businesses that report sales tax to the Comptroller on a quarterly or annual basis.
Comptroller Combs said, ―Growth in state sales tax collections remains modest. While
overall growth has continued for the first five months of fiscal 2009, collections from
important sectors such as retail trade and construction have decreased.‖

TECHNOLOGY – On Wednesday, the new Technology, Economic Development, and
Workforce Committee held its first meeting. They received invited testimony from Kip
Thompson, Vice President for Global Facilities and Strategic Growth at Dell; Guy
Dietrich, Vice Chancellor of Commercialization for Texas A&M University; Mark
Melliar-Smith, President and CEO of Molecular Imprints; and John Ramirez, Graduate of
Capitol IDEA Program. Mr. Thompson testified that Texas needs to: develop a 21st
century workforce; invest in innovation; and invest in economic development. Dietrich
stressed the importance of commercializing university research and said that the
Emerging Technology Fund has done more than anything else to benefit the shift to
commercialization. Melliar-Smith, who is the former CEO of Sematech, highlighted
Texas’ assets as research universities, well-established companies and organizations, and
cost of living.
Next Week: The House Technology, Economic Development, and Workforce
Committee will meet on Monday at 10:30a.m. in room E2.030 in the capitol extension to
hear invited testimony from the agencies under the committee’s jurisdiction.

TORT REFORM:
Next Week: The House Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence Committee will have an
organizational meeting on Monday upon adjournment in room E2.010 in the capitol
extension.


Additional information can be obtained via the Senate and House websites:
       www.senate.state.tx.us
       www.house.state.tx.us

								
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