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Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick releases Texas Senate’s 2024 interim legislative charges

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has released the Texas Senate’s 2024 Interim Legislative Charges.

Interim charges are priorities that lawmakers will focus on in the lead-up to the regular session.

“The 57 interim charges I released today reflect issues that Texans have asked us to study. Our 31 senators submitted hundreds of ideas, with many senators sharing similar proposals,” Patrick wrote in a press release.

The charges include having the Border Security Committee review local and state agencies’ participation in border security, monitoring the implementation of a variety of border-related laws, and support for personnel at the border.

Border security is an issue that remains on the minds of voters across political lines as problems continue to mount in relation to the large number of illegal immigrants attempting to enter the country.

The Texas Energy Fund was front and center in Patrick’s conversation earlier this year with BlackRock CEO Larry Fink. It is addressed in the legislative charges as the Business and Commerce Committee is tasked with reviewing the impact of how grants and loans will be employed in the future construction and use of electric power plants in Texas.

Artificial intelligence (AI) and the mention of Texas’ AI Advisory Council are notable new additions to the Texas Legislature and will be tasked with making recommendations for a “responsible regulatory framework” according to Patrick’s charges.

The Education Committee will be given priority to study reading and math readiness for pre-kindergarten through fifth grade, in addition to reviewing the State of Texas Assessments of Academic Readiness (STAAR) test redesign and monitoring education-related bills passed during the 88th Session. 

“Continue cutting property taxes” was top of the list for the Finance Committee as well as addressing mental health services, following the implementation of tax relief measures passed last session.

Patrick’s release tasks the committee to “Identify the best combination to further increase the amount of homestead exemption and compression” in addition to determining “how much state revenue would need to be generated to replace foregone property tax revenue, and from what source.”

Property tax reform was a hot button issue throughout the 88th Legislative session, with Patrick saying at one point that the suggestion to eliminate property taxes is a “fantasy.”

Senate Bill (SB) 17 banning diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) offices at public universities continues to be top of mind for both Republicans and Democrats as the Higher Education Committee will be tasked with monitoring the implementation of the DEI office ban. The committee will also review campus free speech policies and how best to combat “anti-Semitism on Texas college campuses.”

“Additional property tax relief and reform” will be assigned to the local government committee, in addition to reviewing laws related to “squatters.”

Squatting, the act of occupying a property or building without lawful permission, has become more prominent in the political landscape following reports from states with more relaxed enforcement.

“Federal interferences” and their impact on the Texas economy is assigned to the Matural Resources and Economic Development Committee, which will report on the “net-zero carbon agenda” and “supply limitations.”

The State Affairs Committee will oversee and identify “threats to Texas’s election integrity, including those from ‘Big Tech’ and foreign entities.” Further emphasis for the committee is given to studying how social media use impacts children.

The committee will also be tasked with studying “the impact of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors on our state’s public pensions, with a focus on proxy voting services.” Further regulation and a potential ban of Delta 8 and 9 products is also mentioned in Patrick’s charges.

ESG investing was recently addressed by State Board of Education Chairman Aaron Kinsey in his move to withdraw the State of Texas Permanent School Fund from its former relationship with BlackRock in March.

The Transportation Committee is tasked with two big items — “autonomous vehicle safety” and “evaluate President Biden’s plan to transition to all-electric vehicles, and the impact on Texans and the state economy.”

The autonomous vehicle company Cruise recently found itself in hot water and announced it will pause all operations. 

In the press release, Patrick also mentions that a second list of charges could be released prior to the next legislative session.

“Come January 2025, the Senate will hit the ground running at the start of the 89th Legislative Session. The priorities of the conservative majority of Texans will be accomplished, including school choice, continued property tax relief, and strengthening the power grid.”

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