Texas House Speaker Joe Straus on Friday sent state representatives a list of interim charges, ordering committees to study everything from the 2013 explosion in West to online voter registration to graffiti.
"These charges will help every standing committee in the Texas House begin the important work of preparing for the 2015 legislative session," the Republican speaker told members in a letter.
Straus said the charges are based on suggestions made by House members and he said he plans to add more items to the list.
He asked members to approach the issues "with an open mind."
"Don't be afraid to consider new and different ways to make state government more effective, efficient and accountable to taxpayers," Straus wrote.
Here is a sampling of the charges included in the 44-page document:
- Determine whether to enhance current laws and rules to help eradicate feral hogs (Committee on Agriculture and Livestock)
- Study the feasibility of the creation of a border agricultural inspection training program and the authority of state workers to augment federal inspectors at Texas border land ports of entry (Committee on Agriculture and Livestock)
- Monitor the administration of new state funding to expand behavioral health services (Committee on Appropriations)
- Study the voluntary nature of worker's compensation in Texas and how it meets the needs of employers and employees (Committee on Business and Industry)
- Study the impact of credit card data theft on Texas consumers and businesses (Committee on Business and Industry)
- Review policies on incarcerating certain mentally ill people (Committee on Corrections and Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence)
- Examine population growth in Texas counties and the impact of growth on the state's land resources, businesses and economy (Committee on County Affairs)
- Study the classification of 17-year-olds as adults in the state's criminal justice system (Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence)
-Develop a plan to incorporate into the state park system land that has been donated or sold to the Texas Department of Parks and Wildlife (Committee on Culture, Recreation and Tourism)
- Examine the effectiveness on economic development of the Texas Film Commission and Texas Music Office (Committee on Culture, Recreation and Tourism)
- Study ways to make sure returning veterans have access to job training and education (Committee on Defense and Veterans' Affairs)
- Study whether there needs to be a single state entity responsible for administering public-private partnerships (Committee on Economic and Small Business Development)
- Determine how Texas compares to other states in attracting venture capital dollars (Committee on Economic and Small Business Development)
- Weigh the pros and cons of online voter registration (Committee on Elections)
- Study the impact of the expanding oil and gas exploration and production occurring across the state (Committee on Energy Resources)
- Study rules and laws on the disposal of high-level radioactive waste in Texas and determine the potential economic impact of permitting a facility in Texas (Committee on Environmental Regulation)
- Review the application of the Public Information Act to requests for large amounts of electronic data (Committee on Government Efficiency and Reform)
- Study technology-enabled higher education innovations such as Massive Open Online Courses (Committee on Higher Education)
- Consider ways to enroll more former foster children in higher education (Committee on Higher Education and Committee on Human Services)
- Investigate the fatal 2013 explosion in West, Texas, for deficiencies in safety, risk management and disaster planning (Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety)
- Examine ways to improve the resiliency of the Texas coast to withstand tropical storms (Committee on Insurance)
- Analyze the costs and benefits of implementing an interstate equity crowd funding system (Committee on Investments and Financial Services)
- Study whether regional presiding judges should be appointed by the chief justice rather than the governor (Committee on Judiciary and Civil Jurisprudence)
- Identify occupational licenses that may not be necessary for public safety or health (Committee on Licensing and Administrative Procedures)
- Evaluate the availability and management of groundwater in the state (Committee on Natural Resources)
- Study the affordability of health care for public school employees (Committee on Pensions)
- Study how to recruit and retain more of the state's best and brightest into the teaching profession (Committee on Public Education)
- Recommend ways to improve the regulation of compounding pharmacies (Committee on Public Health)
- Study what types of groups are exempt from financial reporting requirements in the Election Code and recommend ways to make the political process more transparent (Committee on State Affairs)
- Examine the public's access to government through the use of mobile applications and online services (Committee on Technology and Committee on Government Efficiency and Reform)
- Study whether abuses in the patent system interfere with the goal of expanded opportunity and innovation for Texas businesses (Committee on Technology)
- Review the state's transportation infrastructure outside the most populous areas (Committee on Transportation)
- Examine strategies to address the chronic graffiti problem (Committee on Urban Affairs)
- Examine ways to increase efficiency in the administration of taxes through the use of technology (Committee on Ways and Means)
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