Photo by Bill Stipp (www.billstipp.com)

Speaker, Lieutenant Governor release Interim Charges to House, Senate

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick (R-Houston) and Texas House Speaker Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) have rolled out numerous interim charges to legislative committees, giving citizens a hint of the potential key issues the legislature will tackle the next time legislators meet in 2017.

“The next legislative session is more than a year away, but the work of that session starts now,” Straus said.

Various Capitol media observers say that the Senate charges aim to tie up loose ends from the 84th session. Among the most important of these charges in the upper chamber for Texas agriculture and landowners are Patrick’s requests to the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs.

“The Natural Resources Committee will study the federal mandates being implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the impact they will have on the Texas economy,” Patrick said in the official release. “The committee will also review the competitiveness of Texas’ permitting process and make recommendations on how to maintain our friendly business climate.”

Patrick’s charge to the Agriculture, Water & Rural Affairs Committee included this message: “The Senate Agriculture, Water and Rural Affairs Committee will continue their critical focus on protecting and increasing the water resources of our state while preserving the water rights of all Texans.”

On the House side, Straus issued more than 150 charges, but stated he chose to focus on three core priorities: supporting private sector growth, creating opportunity through education, and continuing to make government more transparent and accountable.

Between the two chamber leaders’ charges, there was some overlap, including the requests for legislators to study oil field theft, eminent domain, and groundwater issues, as well as Texas’ property tax appraisal system.

Tara Trower Doolittle of the Austin-American Statesman notes that the ability to set the interim charges is perhaps one of the most powerful tools that chamber leaders have at their disposal. The charges not only set the groundwork for the most developed and comprehensive proposals of the next legislative session, but they also dictate, by default, what lens will be used for creating policy. The laws the governor will sign in 2017 will be based in no small part on the parade of charges laid out this month.

To view the entire list of interim charges to the House, click here.

To view the Senate interim charges, click here. Charges are listed on home page.