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The Lieutenant Governor’s Office has released the 2024 Legislative Interim Charges for the Texas Senate. Some of the charges related to public schools are below. No hearings on the charges are posted at this time, but we anticipate they will begin in a few weeks.

Education Committee

  • Reading and Math Readiness: Study current local, state, and national policies and programs that improve student achievement in reading and mathematics, with an emphasis on “early readiness” in grades preK-5. Make recommendations to ensure every student has a strong academic foundation in reading and math.
  • Testing Reform: Review the state’s current development and phase-in of the STAAR test redesign and ongoing innovative assessment reforms, including the Texas Through-Year Assessment Pilot (TTAP). Recommend ways to accelerate current testing improvement efforts and the development of a real-time testing program that meets the educational needs of Texas students.
  • COVID-19 Funding Oversight: Examine and report on COVID-19 how public schools spent federal funds since the beginning of the pandemic, including funds received under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), with a dual focus on demonstrated improved student outcomes and efficient use of taxpayer funds.
  • Monitoring: Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Education passed by the 88th Legislature, as well as relevant agencies and programs under the committee’s jurisdiction. Specifically, make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, or complete implementation of the following:
    • measures ensuring public school safety;
    • oversight of public-school library procurement and content policies; and
    • high-quality instructional materials and open-educational resources for public schools.

Business and Commerce Committee

  • Addressing the Rising Cost of Insurance: Assess the impact of rising property and casualty insurance costs on Texas property owners, real estate lenders, and commercial and industrial development. Identify ways to increase consumer transparency to better inform coverage decisions and make recommendations to ensure a competitive and affordable insurance market for consumers.
  • Artificial Intelligence: Examine the development and utilization of artificial intelligence (AI). Evaluate the implications of AI adoption across the public and private sectors. Make recommendations for a responsible regulatory framework for AI development, including data privacy, industry standards, consumer protections, risk mitigation, and compliance processes. Propose any necessary changes to state law to protect the Texas radio, television, music, and film industries against unauthorized use by AI. Monitor the findings of the Texas Artificial Intelligence Advisory Council.

Finance Committee

  • Continue Cutting Property Taxes: Identify the best combination to further increase the amount of homestead exemption and compression to continue cutting Texans’ property taxes. Additionally, establish and report on the cost of eliminating:
    • School maintenance and operation property taxes;
    • All school property taxes; and
    • All property taxes.

Determine the fiscal consequences of each action, including whether revenue reallocations would be required for public education funding and local government funding, and impacts on the state’s ability to respond to disasters and other urgent priorities. For example, determine the effect on other state programs if general revenue were used to fully replace school property taxes, particularly during economic downturns. Evaluate and report on how much state revenue would need to be generated to replace foregone property tax revenue, and from what source.

  • Monitor Property Tax Relief and Infrastructure Funds: Monitor the appropriations supporting, and implementation of, the following legislation passed during the 88th Legislature, Regular or Special Sessions, and approved by voters, amending the Texas Constitution:
    • Property Tax Relief: Senate Bill 2 and House Joint Resolution 2, 88th Legislature, Second Called Special Session;
    • Texas Energy Fund: Senate Bill 2627 and Senate Joint Resolution 93, 88th Legislature, Regular Session;
    • Texas Water Fund: Senate Bill 28 and Senate Joint Resolution 75, 88th Legislature, Regular Session;
    • Centennial Parks Conservation Fund: Senate Bill 1648 and Senate Joint Resolution 74, 88th Legislature, Regular Session; and
    • Broadband Infrastructure Fund: House Bill 9 and House Joint Resolution 125, 88th Legislature, Regular Session.

Local Government Committee

  • Additional Property Tax Relief and Reform: Report on the effects of prior property tax relief and reform, including the $18 billion tax cut with the $100,000 homestead exemption authorized by the 88th Legislature. Focus particularly on the interaction between Senate Bill 2, 88th Legislature, 2nd Called Session, and Senate Bill 2, 86th Legislature. Make recommendations for further property tax relief and reform, including methods to improve voter control over tax rate setting and debt authorization, and mechanisms to dissolve taxing entities such as municipal management districts (MMDs) and tax increment reinvestment zones (TIRZs) when they have outlived their purpose.
  • Extra-Territorial Jurisdictions: Study issues related to the implementation of Senate Bill 2038 and House Bill 3053, 88th Legislature, and make recommendations to secure and enhance the protection of landowners’ property rights.
  • Local Government Spending of Directly Distributed Federal Funds: Examine how local governments spend funds directly distributed to them by the federal government, such as Harris County’s use of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds to set up a guaranteed-income pilot program. Make recommendations to ensure that the spending of such funds is transparent, accountable, and within the legitimate purposes for local governments under Texas law.
  • Secure Texas Against “Squatters”: Review current laws relating to “squatters” or those claiming adverse possession of property. Make recommendations to streamline the process for the immediate removal of “squatters” and to strengthen the rights of property owners’.

State Affairs Committee

  • Maintaining Election Security: Identify threats to Texas’s election integrity, including those from “Big Tech” and foreign entities. Recommend ways to neutralize such threats. Additionally, evaluate the countywide polling place program in Texas. Make recommendations to address countywide polling issues, such as increased wait times, longer travel distances, supply shortages, and reporting irregularities. Evaluate current laws that prohibit political subdivisions and public-school districts from using government resources for illegal electioneering. Make recommendations to strengthen these laws and put a stop to illegal electioneering.
  • Social Media & Protecting Children: Study the impact of social media use on children. Review current mechanisms in place to protect minors online. Monitor the implementation of House Bill 18, 88th Legislature, relating to the protection of minors from harmful, deceptive, or unfair trade practices in connection with the use of certain digital services and electronic devices, including the use and transfer of electronic devices to students by a public school. Make policy recommendations to further protect Texas children online.
  • Responsible Investing: Study the impact of environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors on our state’s public pensions, with a focus on proxy voting services. Make recommendations to ensure our state’s pension systems vote and invest in accordance with their fiduciary responsibility to maximize profit. Additionally, monitor the implementation of Senate Bill 13, 87th Legislature, relating to state contracts with and investments in certain companies that boycott energy companies. Specifically, examine how a company is removed from the list of companies that boycott energy companies when the company ceases to boycott energy companies. Report on how frequently the list maintained by the comptroller is updated and make recommendations to ensure an ongoing accurate list.

See the full document.