I hope this note finds you well and that you are having a wonderful start to the new school year. It has been another busy and exciting couple of weeks in our office! In this edition of the Capitol Update, you can read about:
- Harris County Constables Office Funding
- House Insurance Committee Interim Hearing
- Events Around HD 130
Update on Harris County Constables Office Funding
During the last legislative session, I passed Senate Bill 23, which requires voter approval if a city or county chooses to defund its law enforcement. The bill allows a citizen who believes that their city or county has reduced local law enforcement funding to file a complaint with the Office of the Governor, which shall screen the request and, if appropriate, forward it to the Comptroller. If the Comptroller determines that a city or a county adopted a budget in violation of the bill, then that city or county may not adopt an ad valorem tax rate for the subsequent fiscal year that exceeds the no-new-revenue tax rate.
Earlier this year, two Harris County constables filed complaints with the Governor’s office pursuant to SB 23. These complaints were forwarded to the Comptroller’s office, which found after several months of investigation, that the Harris County Commissioners Court took action that significantly limited the funds available to the Harris County Constables Office for the 2021-2022 fiscal year and has proposed a 2023 fiscal year budget that will reduce funding available to the constables.
In a letter to Harris County sent at the end of August, the Comptroller stated that Harris County needs to seek voter approval before it can adopt its FY 2022-2023 budget because it implements a reduction in the Constables Office’s budget. The letter urged the Harris County Commissioners Court to review its budgetary support for its Constables Office and restore funding lost due to the decision to end “rollover” budgeting. According to the letter, Harris County must reverse its proposal to reduce funding FY 2023 or allow its residents to voice their opinion through an election held for the purpose of approving these actions.
Shortly after receiving the letter, Harris County commissioners voted in favor of suing the Comptroller’s office in a party-line decision. In a press release published earlier this week, Comptroller Hegar encouraged Harris County to find “an amicable solution that keeps constables on the streets with the equipment and personnel needed.” You can read the Comptroller’s press release in its entirety here.
I am proud of the work Senator Huffman and I did in passing Senate Bill 23, and I look forward to having a fully-funded law enforcement in Harris County.
House Insurance Committee Interim Hearing
Earlier this week, the House Insurance Committee held its final interim hearing. Interim hearings provide us with an opportunity to have in-depth discussions on pressing issues and develop ideas as to how they might be legislatively addressed in an upcoming session.
At this hearing, we discussed the following topics:
- Reviewed existing state laws, administrative regulations, and agency practices to identify barriers to competition in the insurance marketplace. Examined existing business practices in the industry to determine if additional laws or regulations are needed to promote competition, lower premiums, and protect consumers.
- Reviewed consumer rights and appraisal in automotive and homeowner policies.
- Reviewed trade industry practices and interaction with insurers and consumers.
- Reviewed the current regulatory landscape for Healthcare Sharing Ministries, County Mutual Insurance Companies, and Farm Mutual Insurance Companies.
- Monitored the implementation compliance and enforcement of legislation related to freestanding emergency rooms to determine whether patients are adequately protected and if further safeguards and disclosures are needed.
- Reviewed Texas’ insurance anti-rebating laws and model legislation related to rebates. Made recommendations for legislation that would preserve the purpose of the current statute while allowing certain services for and benefits to insurance consumers.
If you would like to watch the hearing, you can click here.
Events Around HD 130
Representative Oliverson presenting a resolution to Edward Carrizales-Saucedo. Edward was appointed by Governor Abbott as the new student regent on the University of Houston System Board of Regents for the 2022-2023 academic year.
Representative Oliverson meeting with Jane Eixmann (TRTA State Legislative Committee District 4), Margaret Preston (TRTA Legislative Chair District 4), and Nelwyn Coffey (CFISD Chapter Chair)
As always, feel free to call my office by phone at (512) 463-0661 or email District130.Oliverson@House.Texas.Gov to share any comments or concerns you may have. If you have a question about a particular bill that passed this session, please do not hesitate to reach out. Thank you for giving me the chance to serve as your State Representative in 2022 and for placing your trust in me to continue doing so in the future.
Dr. Tom Oliverson
Republican State Representative
House District 130