Legislative Update: The Calm Before the Storm

January 26, 2017

Just shy of three weeks into the legislative session, activity is still relatively quiet in terms of issues affecting the active and retired state workforce. TPEA has posted a list of bills to watch  that would affect either employee and retiree benefits or the administration of the Employees Retirement System.

Both the House and the Senate released their versions of the base budget last week, and they reflect the extremely tight fiscal outlook projected by State Comptroller Glenn Hegar Jan. 9 in his biennial revenue estimate. TPEA is in the process of thoroughly analyzing the base budgets in light of the shortfall facing lawmakers; stay tuned to the TPEA website and Facebook page for more information. We will also send our traditional email blasts this session when there is major news to report.

Senate Committees Begin Meeting

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick announced Senate committee assignments for the 85th Legislature Jan. 18.

The Senate Finance Committee is once again chaired by Sen. Jane Nelson, Flower Mound. Sen. Juan “Chuy” Hinojosa, McAllen, will again serve as vice chair. The Finance Committee reviews and acts on all revenue-related bills and adopts the Senate’s version of the budget bill.

Sen. Joan Huffman, Houston, will again chair the Senate State Affairs Committee, which has historically reviewed legislation related to state employee pensions and benefits. The new vice chair of State Affairs is Sen. Bryan Hughes, Mineola.

Find all Senate committee assignments in this statement from Patrick.

Senate Finance began meeting this week and has scheduled a hearing on ERS appropriations Feb. 1. During the committee’s first meeting Jan. 23, Chairwoman Nelson appointed a work group to study containment of health care costs in Medicaid, TRS, ERS and correctional managed care. Sen. Charles Schwertner, Georgetown, will serve as chair of the work group; the other members are HuffmanSen. Lois Kolkhorst, Brenham; Sen. Robert Nichols, Jacksonville; Sen. Carlos Uresti, San Antonio; Sen. Kirk Watson, Austin; and Sen. John Whitmire, Houston.

House committee assignments have not yet been announced.

How to Stay Informed this Session

The session will start moving quickly once House and Senate committees are both meeting. To ensure you always have the latest news:

  • Subscribe to TPEA updates through your home email address.
  • Text TPEA to 313131 to receive a text message when your action is needed. (Your carrier’s standard text and data rates will apply.)
  • Bookmark TPEA’s Bills to Watch page to keep track of bills affecting active and retired state employees.
  • Follow TPEA on Facebook and Twitter.
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