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Newsletter: Setting the Agenda

The Texas House isn't scheduled to convene again until January 2017. But as Speaker of the House, I have the opportunity to begin setting the agenda for that 2017 session by giving every House committee a list of issues and priorities to study between now and then. And that's exactly what I did last week.

These list of assignments, also known as "interim charges," provide direction to House committees as they begin to think about the next session. Committees' work on these charges will help all Members get up to speed on key issues once we're back at the state Capitol.

Some of the key issues addressed by the House's interim charges include:

Economic Growth: Committees will look at ways to encourage the growth of small businesses, evaluate the state's ability to compete for high-tech industries, and look at how declining oil prices affect the Texas economy. I also created a special committee to examine the economic threat posed by federal environmental regulations.

Education: The Public Education Committee will continue to review the state's school finance system, which is currently under court review. The committee will also look at how to strengthen education in middle school, which is a critical time for so many students, and evaluate the benefits and costs of expanding school choice. The Higher Education Committee will look at community college funding and governance.

Water: Two years ago, voters approved a funding source for our State Water Plan. The Natural Resources Committee will review state and regional water planning processes and the state's progress in encouraging regional management of groundwater.

Border Security: The State Affairs Committee will look at state and local policies and ordinances to see how they comply with federal immigration laws and the practices followed by U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement. The Appropriations Committee will monitor the effectiveness of the significant increase in border security funding that we provided earlier this year.

Emergency Preparedness: Several committees will review how well the state is prepared for emergencies and disasters such as severe flooding, wildfires and the spread of highly infectious diseases.

For more information about these interim charges and many others, please read my full press release.

I will keep you posted on the important work that these committees will do over the course of the next year. I also welcome your feedback on these charges or on other issues that you believe the House should examine before our next session. Please feel free to email me at