AUSTIN – The Conference Committee on HB 1 today adopted decisions on budget articles pertaining to the judiciary, economic development, natural resources and regulatory agencies. Conferees will meet again later in the week to adopt additional decisions.
"Today we adopted decisions that will improve transportation, keep our economy growing and maintain a fair regulatory environment that ensures public health and safety," said Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, who is chair of the Senate Finance Committee and Senate sponsor of HB 1, the General Appropriations Bill. "We made decisions that will expand legal aid for crime victims and ensure that Texans have access to an efficient court system."
For Article IV, the Judiciary, conferees agreed to:
- An additional $3M to support basic civil legal services for veterans and their families;
- $10M in funding to provide basic civil legal services to victims of sexual assault;
- $29.6M to implement a uniform case management system to provide magistrate judges immediate access to critical information and to speed the timely reporting of court records for federal background checks;
- $350,000 to support a statewide protective order registry to better protect victims of assault and violence;
- $3.6M to create nine new child protection courts, increasing capacity for child protective service cases in high-needs areas;
- $5M for a pilot project to identify and provide special representation for indigent defendants with mental illness;
- An additional $5M to in grants to counties to support indigent defense costs;
- $4.8M to fully implement a statewide Guardianship Compliance Project; and
- A new attorney at the Special Prosecution Unit to focus on juvenile sexual assault cases
In Article VI, Natural Resources, conferees provided:
- 100-percent appropriation of the sporting goods sales tax to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department including $12.5M for the development of Palo Pinto State Park, $6M for interoperable radios and law enforcement equipment for game wardens and disaster response teams, and $99.3M for deferred maintenance of facilities and wildlife fish hatcheries;
- $28.1M to improve technology at the Railroad Commission, including 22 additional oil and gas and pipeline safety inspectors, and $39.1M for oil and gas well-plugging;
- $1.2B, an increase of $75.3M in All Funds, for food and nutrition programs at the Texas Department of Agriculture, including: the Surplus Food Program, home-delivered meals for at-risk adults and children, School Lunch Program, School Breakfast Program, and After School Care Program;
- $2.6M to create a new Skimmer Fraud Unit at the Texas Department of Agriculture for the implementation of a detection, investigation, and enforcement program that will crack down on fuel pump credit card skimmers;
- $45 million to maintain the state's investment in air quality monitoring systems at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality; and
- $1.5M and 10 FTEs for a dedicated team full-time disaster response staff at the General Land Office.
In Article VII, Economic Development, conferees adopted:
- More than $31B to address the state's transportation needs, including $3.2B under Proposition 1 and the full $5B transfer to the State Highway Fund under Proposition 7;
- $1M and 9 new FTEs at the Department of Motor Vehicles to continue customer service capability improvements; and
- A rider to maximize adult literacy performance in Texas and initiate a review of the Adult Literacy Program at the Texas Workforce Commission.
In Article VIII, Regulatory, conferees approved:
- $1M and 8 FTEs for a dedicated Anti-human Trafficking Unit at the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation;
- $690,000 to improve operational, investigative, and customer service capabilities at the Texas Medical Board; and
- $332,000 to increase utility security oversight at the Public Utility Commission.
Senator Jane Nelson represents District 12, including portions of Tarrant and Denton Counties. She is Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee and the highest-ranking Republican in the Texas Senate.