TTA’s 2020-2021 Legislative Committee:
Gary Thomas/Eron Linn Chair & MTA Liaison
Sarah Hidalgo-Cook – email email@example.com
Interested in participating in Legislative Committee meetings? All are welcome! Reach out to the committee and let them know you are interested.
To research bills and for updates on legislative actions please visit Texas Legislature Online
TTA actively supports public transportation in the State of Texas and works with members of the state legislature in the pursuit of additional resources to support public transportation.
POST SESSION UPDATE
86TH LEGISLATIVE SESSION
On Monday, May 27, 2019, the Texas Legislature adjourned sine die. There were 7,324 bills filed. Of those filed bills, 1,428 bills passed into law. The Texas Transit Association reviewed every bill filed to ensure that the final versions fairly addressed the interests and priorities of your association.
MAJOR STATE ISSUES
HB 1 – State General Appropriations bill:
- Appropriates $250.7 billion in state expenditures for the 2020-2021 biennium. This is an increase of 16% from 2018-2019;
- $5.1 billion to buy down Texans’ local property taxes;
- $6.5 billion in new state funding for public schools;
- a total appropriation of $94.5 billion for public schools and universities. This is an increase of 16% from the last biennium;
- a total appropriation of $84 billion for health and human services. A 1% increase from the last biennium.
SB 500 – Supplemental Budget bill:
- a record-breaking $6.1 billion withdrawal from the state rainy day fund mostly to cover unpaid bills that weren’t accounted for in the 2018-19 state budget and hurricane Harvey related projects;
- $1.7 billion to create the Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund and the Flood Infrastructure Fund. These funds will assist local governments in drawing down federal disaster recovery funds and pay for long-term infrastructure projects;
- $445 million to construct new state mental hospitals;
- $100 million for school districts to purchase school safety systems.
SB 2 – Local Property Tax Reform
- SB 2 will cap the property tax revenue growth of cities and counties at 3.5% over the previous year at which point voter approval would be required to collect further revenue;
- Exemption: more than a thousand smaller taxing units may not have to abide by the 3.5% threshold in the reform bill, due to a provision that lets them raise up to an additional $500,000 a year without automatically having to hold an election.
A total of 266 bills were filed by the Texas Legislature that mentioned the word “transit”. A total of 23 bills were filed that mentioned the phrase “public transportation”. The Transit Association closely tracked and monitored each of these bills to ensure the bills remained friendly to the transit association.
Our main focus this past legislative session was the State Appropriations to the Texas Department of Transportation for Public Transportation. Below is a brief summary of the final appropriations for public transportation.
APPLICABLE APPROPRIATION RIDERS
- Public Transportation Activities. The Department of Transportation shall develop and submit an annual report to the Legislature no later than March 15, each fiscal year on public transportation activities in Texas. The report shall at a minimum include monthly data on industry-utilized standards which best reflect: ridership, mileage, revenue by source, and service effectiveness, such as passengers per revenue mile. In order to meet the mandates of Chapter 461, Transportation Code, relating to the coordination of public transportation and to implement the legislative intent of §461.001, Transportation Code, the Department of Transportation is directed to engage the services of the Texas A&M Transportation Institute, or any entity that the Department of Transportation deems appropriate, to maintain an inventory of all public transportation providers in the state to determine the types and levels of services being provided by each of them and the extent to which those providers can assist the state in meeting the mandates of the statute.
- Public Transportation. Notwithstanding other transfer provisions in Article IX of this Act, appropriations made to the Department of Transportation in Strategy C.1.1, Public Transportation, from the State Highway Fund shall not be reduced.
Sec. 18.104. Human Trafficking Signage. In addition to appropriations made elsewhere in this Act, the Texas Department of Transportation is appropriated $200,000 from the General Revenue Fund in fiscal year 2020 for the purpose of installing signage, or providing grants to install signage, at public transportation hubs, including buses, bus stops, trains, train stations, rest areas, and airports, regarding services and assistance available to victims of human trafficking. In expending these funds, the Department shall consult with the Office of the Attorney General regarding the design and content of the signage. Any unexpended balances of these funds remaining as of August 31, 2020, are appropriated for the same purposes for the fiscal year beginning September 1, 2021.
- Federal Funding for the Texas Rail Plan. The Department of Transportation shall make it a top priority to seek, obtain, maximize, and expend federal funding for rail and other related multimodal transportation funding, including rail relocation and improvement funds from the Federal Highway Administration, Federal Railroad Administration, and Federal Transit Administration. Contingent upon the availability and receipt of federal rail and other related federal multi-modal funds to the State, such federal funds are appropriated to the Department of Transportation.
UNIVERSITY OF TEXAS AT ARLINGTON
- Study of Transit Systems in Certain Municipalities. Out of funds appropriated above, The University of Texas at Arlington shall conduct a study of the Grand Prairie and Arlington transit systems. The study must: identify the needs in the municipalities’ transit systems; identify the causes of the needs; identify options to address the needs; suggest improvements to the transit systems; identify the economic benefits of the suggested improvements; identify the geographic areas most affected by improvements; identify the cost of the improvements and possible sources of funding; and study the merits of the municipalities joining existing/surrounding transit authorities. In addition to using peer research, the study must include community outreach. The University of Texas at Arlington shall submit the study to the Legislature no later than December 31, 2020.
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