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Villarreal Authors Aggressive Legislative Agenda on Education, the Environment, our Economy, and Fair Government

Friday, March 13, 2009

 

(Austin) – Today marked the last day that Legislators may file new bills during the 81st Legislative session. Representative Villarreal filed a number of new bills today, bringing his total legislative package to 71 bills and 4 constitutional amendments. The lawmaker’s aggressive policy agenda focuses on investing in education, protecting the air we breathe and the water we drink, valuing work and aspiration in these difficult economic times, and fighting for fair government that represents all Texans.
 
Summary of State Representative Mike Villarreal’s 2009 Legislative Agenda:
 
Invest in Education
 
Invest in high-quality early childhood education
l        Require the Texas Education Agency to develop a communications and outreach plan to notify eligible parents about enrolling their children in pre-kindergarten. (HB 136)
l        Set pre-kindergarten class size limits of eighteen students-to-one teacher. (HB 1241)
l        Provide parents of newborns with a child development guide about the importance of reading to your child, health and safety information, and more. (HB 1240)
l        Establish a Kindergarten-Plus pilot program for an extended school year for at-risk students (HB 3110)
l        Support funding for early childhood education initiatives (Appropriations bill)
 
Ensure access to higher education for hard-working students
l        Support funding for UTSA (Appropriations bill)
l        Expand funding for Texas Grants and other financial aid (Appropriations bill)
l        Improve enrollment in the state's college savings programs. (HB 399)
l        Require state four-year universities to admit a minimum percent of their undergraduate class from community colleges. (HB 1262)
l        Limit college tuition and fees to no more than 8% of family income. (HB 3939)
l        Establish the Early Enrollment Guaranteed Texas Grant program for students between 7th and 12th grade. (HB 4405)
 
Protect the Air We Breath and Water We Drink
 
Allow local voters to choose new transportation options
  • Create new local transportation funding streams to support local government investment in public transit within Bexar County and commuter rail to Austin. (HB 1674)
Put our government on a path to Go Green
  • Set higher requirements for purchasing hybrid vehicles at state agencies. (HB 657)
  • Provide incentives to school districts to build energy efficient "green schools." (HB 2337)
  • Require a "Carbon Note" analyzing the positive or negative climate change impact of all bills. (HB 1469)

Promoting energy efficient buildings

  • Authorize cities to promote energy efficiency by providing a tax exemption to energy efficient homes. (HB 1936)
  • Authorize cities to facilitate energy efficiency upgrades and installation of renewable energy devices by developing a system for homeowners to finance the cost through their property tax bills. (HB 1937)
  •  Allow Texans to apply for a refund on the sales tax they pay for remodeling and repair of commercial property that results in an Energy Star designation for the facility or a 25 percent reduction in energy consumption. (HB 2338)
Protect our communities from uncontrolled development
  • Allow cities to collect impact fees from new developments to pay for fire stations. (HB 403)
  • Close an "agricultural exemption" loophole used to avoid city ordinances on flood control, protecting trees and other local priorities. (HB 2016)
  • Allow cities to reject a developer's claims that their project is exempt from any city ordinances passed to protect the aquifer, tree growth, or other local priorities if the developer has not begun a permitted projected five years after receiving the permit. (HB 2506)
 
Value Work and Aspiration
 
Expand and protect opportunities to get ahead
  • Fully fund the Texas Capital Access Program (TCAP), a small business loan program. (Appropriations bill)
  •  Expand the number of small businesses eligible for a permit the Legislature created for small businesses to offer on-site childcare to their employees. (HB 415)
  • Outlaw employment discrimination based on sexual orientation. (HB 538)
  • Direct the Texas Credit Union Department to work with credit unions to provide low-cost alternatives to predatory payday loans (HB 1124)
  • Establish a state grant program to fund adult career education programs. (HB 1935) 
Ensure that families receive the income supports they have earned
  • Prevent parents from avoiding their child support obligations by letting time run out or hiding their assets. (HB 446)
  • Establish penalties on financial institutions or others who ignore child support liens. (HB 447)
  • Create a state grant program to fund free tax assistance and outreach efforts. (HB 955)
  • Provide parents with information on free tax assistance and the Earned Income Tax Credit through schools. (HB 956)
  • Improve employer compliance with worker compensation requirements by directing the Texas Department of Insurance to report on the results of their efforts to address current non-compliance (Appropriations bill)
Empower Texans to plan healthy pregnancies
  • Allow low-income women whose births are covered by Medicaid to automatically enroll in the Women's Health Program for preventative health services, including contraception. (HB 892)
  • Allow 16 and 17 year-old mothers to receive contraception through CHIP. (HB 893)
  • Allow 16 and 17 year-old mothers to consent for contraception. (HB 891)
  •  Prohibit medically inaccurate information in sex education classes (HB 1567)
  •  Allows mothers of low-birth weight and pre-term babies to enroll in Medicaid after a Medicaid-sponsored birth. (HB 3362 and HB 3363)
  • Use public assistance programs to provide information to fathers about staying involved in their children's lives. (HB 2659)
 
Fight for Fair Government
 
Make property taxes and appraisals more fair
  • Establish state oversight of county appraisal districts in order to improve statewide uniformity in property appraisals and appeals. (HB 134)
  • Require the disclosure of real estate sales prices so that appraisals and taxes on commercial and high-end residential properties are not artificially low. (HB 133)
  •  Expand access to the appraisal appeal process for homeowners. (HB 1401)
  •  Increase state uniformity in appraisals by directing the Comptroller to provide free web-based applications for Appraisal Districts. (HB 2363)
  • Establish training requirements and preferred qualifications for Appraisal Review Board members. (HB 2317)
  •  Direct the Comptroller to design a state property tax "circuit breaker" system to prevent high property tax bills for low-income homeowners. (HB 866)
End corporate tax giveaways
  • Establish a periodic review of all taxes and tax exemptions. (HB 1402)
  • Eliminate a $10 million tax "rebate" to corporations that receive local tax abatements but not school district tax abatements. (HB 1403)
  • Establish limits on the sales tax refund that corporations can receive from the state as compensation for the administration of sales tax contributions (HB 2043)
Make government more accountable
  • Prohibit individuals from contributing more than a total of $100,000 per election cycle to all state candidates combined. (HB 391)
  • Authorize local governments to establish limits on contributions to local campaigns. (HB 4527)
  • Limit the influence of campaign contributions in the judicial system by changing from elected state judges to appointed state judges. (HB 4403)
Click here to view the full list of bills authored by Representative Villarreal this legislative session, or read the text of any of the bills described above.

 

 

Villarreal Offers Final Bills on Deadline for Legislators to File Legislation