House State Affairs met on May 6 to take up a number of bills. While intending to cover more bills, the committee only covered SB 799 (Nelson), SB 800 (Nelson), Sb 507 (Nichols), SB 220 (Zaffirini), SB 424 (Hinojosa), SB 760 (Springer), SB 1281 (Hancock), SB 23 (Huffman), and SB 14 (Creighton­), partially. An archive of the meeting can be found here.


This report is intended to give you an overview and highlight of the discussions on the various topics the committee took up. It is not a verbatim transcript of the hearing but is based upon what was audible or understandable to the observer and the desire to get details out as quickly as possible with few errors or omissions.


Vote Outs

HB 623 (Morales) (13-0)

SB 282 (Alvarado) (13-0)

SB 1225 (Huffman) (13-0)

  • Companion to HB 3627 (Paddie)

SB 1650 (Perry) (13-0)

  • Companion to HB 3853 (Anderson)


SB 799 (Nelson) (CS) – Relating to contracting procedures and requirements for governmental entities

  • Paddie – Would clean up contracting procedures
  • Legislature has previously approved omnibus contracting laws, this bill includes cleanup changes from various state agencies

SB 799 left pending


SB 800 (Nelson) (CS) – Relating to certain required reports or information received or prepared by state agencies and other governmental entities

  • Streamlines agency reporting requirements by eliminating redundant/obsolete reports, and removing recipients who no longer need to receive reports
  • Bill will reduce costs for reports and help agencies focus on their mission

SB 800 left pending


SB 507 (Nichols et al.) – Relating to an accommodation process authorizing the use of state highway rights-of-way by broadband-only providers

  • Anderson- Expedites broadband expansion
  • Corrects HB 2422 and expands definitions to allow providers of broadband to access TxDOT resources

SB 507 left pending


SB 220 (Zaffirini) – Relating to notice and reporting requirements for vendor rebates under a contract listed on a multiple award contract schedule

  • Smithee – Cleanup bill for the comptroller
  • State uses program for purchasing goods and services, would report use of federal funds due to rebates
  • Comptroller needs to report those expenditures to the federal level, but they don’t have the ability to easily determine which funds were spent, either state or federal
  • Bill would require agencies to report that information to the federal government after expenditures rather than the Comptroller

SB 220 left pending


SB 424 (Hinojosa et al.) – Relating to state agency enforcement of laws regulating small businesses

  • Hunter- Allows small business the right to remedy on a first violation before they get a penalty

SB 424 left pending


SB 760 (Springer) – Relating to the removal of solar power facilities

  • Shaheen – Requires removal of energy devices once facility is no longer generating energy or is decommissioned
  • Other generator facilities are required to dispose of equipment after use concludes and solar should be no different
  • CS changes date of posting financial assurance from 10 to 20 years due to 30-year lifespan of solar power plants


Charlie Hemmeline, Texas Solar Power Association – For

  • In full support of bill and committee substitute
  • Solar power here for long haul, want to be good stewards of land and landowners
  • Decades away from facilities dying but standard to take appropriate precautions
  • Howard – Any environmental remediation necessary/required?
    • Physical removing of equipment and re-leveling soil, no remediation necessary

SB 760 left pending


SB 1281 (Hancock) (CS) – Relating to certificates of public convenience and necessity for certain transmission projects

  • King – ERCOT transmission lines are paid for by customers
  • Currently no planning test for building projects to save customer’s money/reduce rates
  • Transmission lines can create congestion cost, which increases rates due to demand
  • Would require PUC to identify projects when transmission line cost would be offset
  • Lines are determined now via production cost, but the bill would reinstate consumer impact test


Julia Harvey, Texas Electric Cooperatives- For

  • Consumer-oriented impact evaluation of new transmission lines is good because consumers pay for these new lines
  • Will result in a more robust transmission system and more resilience
  • Paddie – Do you know why the consumer impact test was changed?
    • Think related to a transmission project in Houston that caused controversy, a discreet issue resulted in the test being set aside


Jeffrey Clark, Advanced Power Alliance – Against

  • This was reversed and repealed in 2011 – consumer impact test was changed for a reason
  • HB 1607 is much better; looks at variety of variables rather than just one for determining transmission projects
  • Commission found that a consumer test alone only addresses load pockets, but the lines connecting to the rest of the system are insufficient to bring power in when needed
  • Customers outside the load pocket will pay more, while those inside will pay less


Jason Ryan, CenterPoint Energy – For

  • Operate enough transmission lines to trace the perimeter of the State of Texas
  • We have expanded the network based on reliability needs
  • Bill would take into account the economic benefits of lines to customers
  • Lines built for reliability purposes a few years before they’re needed would help customers with lower rates

SB 1281 left pending


SB 23 (Huffman | et al.) – Relating to an election to approve a reduction or reallocation of funding or resources for certain municipal or county law enforcement agencies

  • Oliverson – Bill relates to the trend towards defunding police departments and law enforcement
  • Bracketed to deal with unincorporated areas in larger urban counties that don’t fall under HB 1900 – does not affect rural or incorporated areas
  • Bill recognizes that people need an opportunity to provide input into public safety
  • Bill would require local agencies hold elections for defunding/funding changes to law enforcement
  • Violation results in freezing of tax rate at rollback rate


Russell Schaffner, Tarrant County Commissioner’s Court – On

  • Support all law enforcement
  • We increased funding for our law enforcement by $8 million, but we still would have needed an election to approve that
  • Zero-based budgeting; we do not budget at the same level every year, budget for the person in the position resulting in our Constable budget being down about $29,000 despite overall increase
  • Would like to see some exemptions/flexibility to prevent annual budget elections based on administrative issues and to prevent inflated budgets


Chris Jones, Combined Law Enforcement Associations of Texas – For

  • Want to ensure public safety is funded and the public is taken care of, supportive of any measures that further that goal


David Riddle, Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner’s Office – For

  • Need to go beyond reactionary law; want a policy-making procedure that ensures the safety of every citizen
  • Public safety is fundamental; to be safe you must be well funded
  • Elected officials need immediate access to funds
  • Harless – Harris county unique, constables a big part of law enforcement. Precinct 4 has over 500 deputies is that correct?
    • Yes, law enforcement struggling to keep up with growing population
  • Harless – What would make you think you budget was at risk of being cut?
    • Recently policy that prohibits manipulation of funding to law enforcement was changed
  • Harless – Was Precinct 4 defunded by $5.8 million?
    • Yes


Samuel Bridgewater, Harris County Commissioner – For

  • Been in criminal justice system for many years
  • Last thing we need to be concerned with is defunding or misevaluation of budget
  • Harless – was your budget recently cut as well?
    • Yes
  • Harless – how many deputies does precinct 3 have?
    • A little over 500
  • Harless – So a big part of our law enforcement

SB 23 left pending


SB 14 (Creighton et al.) – Relating to the regulation by a municipality or county of certain employment benefits and policies

  • King – Best thing to stimulate economy is ensuring employers have a consistent set of employment regulations to follow for private sector employment relationships
  • Tarrant county has 34 different municipalities; makes it difficult for business owners to navigate different employment laws across municipalities
  • Standards across the state should be unified and consistent
  • House has looked at bill in prior sessions
  • Have looked at ways this could affect civil rights; Does not affect the Texas Minimum Wage Act or authority of political subdivision


Omar Narvaez, City of Dallas – Against

  • City Council opposes the bill – would limit cities right to adopt rules that benefit all employees
  • Concerned about impact on local non-discrimination policies – lack of clarity on discrimination protections
  • Concerned specifically with gender/sexual identity employment protection policy in Dallas, important to the city and residents
  • Concerned with contractors as well – City has been providing COVID leave to contracted employees, not sure what our abilities are under this bill


Carol Johnson, City of Austin – Against

  • Civil rights attorney for the City
  • Local governments have historically filled gaps in civil rights for residents caused by higher levels of inaction
  • SB 14 would be detrimental to certain rights and benefits protected by nondiscrimination ordinances – would prevent City from passing non-discrimination ordinances for small businesses, but they make up a large amount of employers
  • Especially critical to women, immigrants, and people of color
  • Bill also impacts policies like paid sick leave
  • Lucio – Would like to work out the issues you raise while still helping small businesses stay afloat post-COVID


Neil Sarcar, Harris County Attorney’s Office – against

  • Does not make clear if the bill covers public employers
  • Exposes county to burdensome litigation as it would apply to existing policies with respect to employees
  • Burdens resources and requires analysis on the front end before we implement a policy, requiring more time and resources


Shelby Sterling, Texas Public Policy Foundation – For

  • Aims to protect employer/employee relationship and protect freedom to negotiate without local government interference
  • One size fits all mandates for benefits hurt employers, employees, and consumers


Rene Lada, Texas AFL-CIO – against

  • Very broad bill – deals with every municipality in the state and all federal and state laws, and even specific policies
  • Very few of these municipality-specific laws actually exist – local minimum wage laws were pre-empted in the 1990s
  • Flexible scheduling does not exist in any ordinance in Texas, and paid sick leave only passed in 3 cities, but were stopped by courts from being implemented
  • 2 cities created 10-minute break ordinances for construction workers
  • Proverbial hammer being used to swat a fly; taking authority from local government and a huge overreaction
  • Bill goes against principle of local control


Martin Gutierrez, San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce – For

  • Believe there is government overreach, especially in San Antonio and actions of City Council
  • Ordinances stifle growth for small businesses
  • Wages, benefits, scheduling, and employment practices should be left to employers


Caitlin Boehne, Equal Justice Center – Against

  • Bill takes away ability of local governments to raise the floor of worker protections – needed protections
  • Provides several anecdotes about individuals being unjustly treated by employers due to legal loopholes that would not be resolved without local ordinances


Lisa Fullerton, Self – For

  • Small business owner
  • Small businesses need predictability and certainty
  • Bill would allow businesses to focus on their staff


Don Miller, Self – For

  • Consistent employee regulations are essential for businesses
  • Owns multiple small businesses and would not be able to successfully operate without consistent regulations


Scott Norman, Texas Association of Builders – For

  • Builders and land development is regulated more through local ordinances
  • Local government does have roles in regulation, there are many issues that require a uniform approach: environmental regulation, transportation, etc. Similar with requirements on private employers – need to be standardized policies
  • Different regulations across city lines is too complicated and deters businesses


Annie Spillman, National Federation of Independent Business – For

  • 20,000 members in Texas
  • Misinformation about public employees, but bill excludes those groups and bargaining agreements between public entities and private contractors
  • Includes provisions that protect non-discrimination ordinances, as a technical definition aspect
  • Bill key to protect business and ensure competitiveness in the state – standards are key


Robert Livar, CDI Technology Services – Against

  • Largest unionized electrical contractor in the state
  • Local leadership and ordinances helped ensure safety of employees through safety ordinances and COVID protections
  • Lots of talk about paid sick leave that hasn’t materialized
  • Not actually that much regulation from local government


Jonathan Lewis, Every Texan – Against

  • Role of government is to protect citizens – bill will harm many health and safety regulations/ordinances
  • Communities relying on local government to protect them and respond to needs not met by state regulations, like rest requirements


Kelsey Strafer, Texas Restaurant Association – For

  • Pandemic devastated small businesses, largest employment drop is in restaurant businesses
  • Bill will help standardize regulations and help businesses come back – keeps costs down by reducing regulatory burdens


Maggie Luna, Statewide Leadership Council – Against

  • 254 counties across the state, and 254 justice systems – hiring practices are irrelevant compared to sentencing across counties
  • Austin’s ordinance to prevent discrimination over criminal status would be struck down by this bill – terrible for individuals trying to rejoin society and would increase recidivism


Hannah Alexander, Workers Defense Action Fund – Against

  • SB 14 would eliminate essential protections for workers at the local level
  • Texas is a huge state and different cities have different needs – local control is important
  • Anecdotes about the state minimums failing to protect many workers, and how local governments have stepped in to raise standards


K.B. Brookins, Embrace Austin – Against

  • Bill will do more harm than good for many citizens, especially LGBTQIA+ individuals, employers, and employees
  • Will take away protections from communities that need them, including paid sick leave, rest breaks on work, and anti-discrimination ordinances


Joe Hamill, American Federation of State County & Municipal Employees – Against

  • Bill will negatively impact ability of localities to pass ordinances and standards for protections and training standards for employers and employees
  • Bill unintentionally impacts ability of cities to regulate non-discrimination issues – cities need to be able to create their own working and employment rules
  • Still might be issues with government employers being impacted despite changes


Stephanie Gharakhanian, Worker’s Defense Action Fund – Against

  • Agrees with prior testimony against – essential protections are needed statewide, but local governments are filling in absent state action right now

SB 14 left pending