Representative Ruth McClendon with Gavel
Representative Ruth McClendon
















2009 Legislative Accomplishments 81st Legislature

The 81st session of the Texas Legislature was a big success for many because it started off with the election of the Speaker of the Texas being one of our own from San Antonio, the Honorable Joe Straus. The last time a Speaker was elected from San Antonio was 96 years ago.  Second, it was a big success for District 120 and Bexar County because the Speaker assigned Representative McClendon to committees and issues that allowed her to have her hands in just about every important issue that debated on the floor of the Texas House.  Considering that there were 7,419 House and Senate bills filed this Session, not counting Resolutions, 1,424 of those Bills actually passed into law.

Texas Monthly distinguished her with "Honorable Mention" as one of the Best Legislators of the 81st Session.  Capitol Inside named her as one of seven House members of the twelve legislators in the "Top Tier" of Legislators of the 81st Session.  Altogether, Representative McClendon has authored, sponsored, co-sponsored and passed more than 160 bills, excluding resolutions, during her tenure in the Texas House.  The Texas Criminal Justice Coalition presented her their outstanding leadership award for The Most Thoughtful Juvenile Justice Reformer in May, 2009.

As a member of the House Appropriations Committee since 2003, legislators are fully aware that the passing of the state budget is the only task, according to the Texas Constitution, that they have to fulfill during a regular session of the legislature. The House Appropriations Committee and Senate Finance Committee write the $180 Billion budget for approval by both legislative bodies. Speaker Straus appointed McClendon to one of the most coveted positions in the Texas Legislature, the Budget Conference Committee which consists of 5 House Members and 5 Senate members. This is a very powerful group that reconciles the budgetary differences between the House and the Senate.

Highlights of the State Budget

  • Adopted the 2010-2011 biennial budget which reduces general revenue spending by 1.9 percent.
  • Unanimously passed new education reforms that focus on student growth and achievement to rate schools.
  • Funded $1.9 billion dollar increase in public education money.
  • Funded $1.2 billion dollar increase in higher education funding.
  • Provided Seed Money to lay the groundwork for additional Tier One Texas universities.
  • Added $250 million in financial aid to make college affordable for 35,000 more students.
  • Provided tax cut which will benefit approximately 40,000 Texas small businesses.

Unlike numerous states raising the tax and debt burden on citizens and employers, Texas legislators cut taxes for small businesses to help thousands of business owners survive the national recession. By leaving the $9 billion dollar "Rainy Day Fund" untouched, legislators also created a budgetary cushion for the next legislative session when the state will have to address a structural deficit without the benefit of another infusion of federal stimulus funds.

MCCLENDON ITEMS OF INTEREST IN THE BUDGET BILL (SB 1): APPROVED BY THE LEGISLATURE

Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund

Article VII, Rider 64 -- $11,700,000 in 2010:
a)$8,700,000 for environmental review and other preliminary planning activities for the Austin-San Antonio passenger rail project, and
b)$3,000,000 for rail improvements for rehabilitation and track improvements for the South Orient Rail Line from San Angelo to Coleman and Austin-San
Antonio Corridor

Article IX Rider, Sec. 17.10. Allocation for Rail Relocation and Improvement Fund -- $182,000,000 Million to create the Rail Relocation & Improvement Fund

GORDON HARTMAN FOUNDATION SPECIAL NEEDS PARK
$6.1 Million state match for building park in Northeast San Antonio for children with special needs.

Department of Housing and Community Affairs
Article VII, Rider 18.  Homeless Housing and Services.  $20 Million requested by Mayor Phil Hardberger and seven (7) other Big City Mayors to assist regional urban areas in providing services to homeless individuals and families, including services such as case management, and housing placement and retention. Funding for this TDHCA program will be awarded through a competitive matching grant process by which the eight largest Texas cities (populations larger than 285,500) may seek additional funding for this purpose.  See A332-Conf-7, page VII-8, May 24, 2009.

UTSA P-16 Council initiative $500,000. This initiative, also supported by Mayor Hardberger, to align curriculum from elementary through the university level so there is a smooth transition in the learning experiences of our students.

Juvenile Probation Commission/Texas Youth Commission
Allocated  funding for a Juvenile Justice Information System $6,000,000 Million [a one-time appropriation in 2010 for the juvenile justice case management system to facilitate TYC and TJPC communications].

UTSA / UTHSCSA

Article IX, Sec. 10.06. Informational Listing on Use of Tobacco Settlement Receipts.

(a)(8) University of Texas Health Science Center at
San Antonio
2010 & 2011
  F.1.1. Tobacco Earnings-UTHSC San Antonio, estimated $9,000,000
  F.1.2. Tobacco-Permanent Health Fund, estimated $1,571,000

Article XII Higher Education Appropriations Riders
[see AS12-Conf-12, page XII-13, May 25, 2009]:
2010 & 2011
UTHSC-SALSI [University of Texas Health Science Life Science Institute Center-San Antonio]: $4,000,000
UTSA-SALSI [University of Texas-San Antonio Life Science Institute]: $4,000,000
UTSA: P-16 Council $ 500,000

TAMU Kingsville-San Antonio
Article III, at A732-Conf-3-B, page III-99, May 23, 2009

C. Goal: SPECIAL ITEM SUPPORT 2010 & 2011
C.1.2. Strategy: SYSTEM CENTER - SAN ANTONIO $8,138,652
A & M - Kingsville System Center - San Antonio  
   

Article III, at A732-Conf-3-B, page III-99, May 23, 2009

B.1.2. Strategy (San Antonio campus): 2010 2011
TUITION REVENUE BOND RETIREMENT n/a

$3,487,382

B.1.3. Strategy (San Antonio campus):    
SMALL INSTITUTION SUPPLEMENT n/a 750,000

Funding Formula Increases

Alamo Colleges:
increase from $135,693,392 to $144,268,383 (+ 6.32% over last biennium)

UTSA:

increase from $128,147,642 to $141,129,239 (+ 7.77% over last biennium)
Texas A&M-San Antonio: increase from $10,000,000 to $16,277,304 (+ 62.77% over last biennium)

UTHSC:
increase from $200,314,680 to $228,497,312 (+ 14.07% over last biennium)

Seven (7) Bills Enrolled and sent to the Governor

HB 144 -- Authorizes collection for a limited time of a nominal additional filing fee for civil cases filed in Bexar County, to be used for historic courthouse restoration and improvements.  Effective 06/19/2009.

HB 498 -- Creates the Timothy Cole advisory panel on wrongful convictions to assist the Task Force on Indigent Defense in conducting a study and preparing a report for the Legislature regarding the prevention of wrongful convictions.  Effective on 9/1/09

HB 1282 -- Aids in the investigation of property theft and detection of identity theft by classifying theft of a driver's license, commercial driver's license, or personal identification certificate as a criminal offense, punishable as a Class B Misdemeanor. Effective on 9/1/09

HB 2142 -- Restricted authority for TxDOT to promote the development and use of toll road projects and turnpikes by prohibiting marketing, advertising, and other activities aimed at influencing public opinion and policy about toll roads, while allowing TxDOT to continue to provide information relating to the status of pending or ongoing toll projects.  Vetoed by Governor. 

HB 3097 -- Establishes the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, including provisions to create, organize, govern, and establish certain duties and functions to be transferred from the Department of Transportation to the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles and to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. The DMV will handle vehicle title and registration and various fees and permitting activities. Effective on 9/1/09.

HB 3316 -- Authorizes prosecution of offenses by adults working at Texas Youth Commission facilities against juveniles in custody at TYC facilities to go forward in Travis County as an alternate venue, when prosecution in the venue of the offense is stalled or prevented. Effective on 9/1/09.

HB 3689 -- This "Sunset Bill" renews the authority of the Texas Youth Commission, the Texas Juvenile Probation Commission, and the Office of the Independent Ombudsman to continue performing their functions and establishes statutory guidelines for improved practices to enhance the coordination of efforts between the agencies.  Maintains the TYC and JPC as separate agencies; the TYC would be governed by a seven-member board, and the JPC by a nine-member commission composed of two district juvenile court judges, two county judges of commissioners, a chief juvenile probation officer, a member of an advocacy group, an educator, a mental health professional, and a public member.  A follow-up Sunset review will be conducted in 2011.  Effective 06/19/2009.

Two (2) Bills Enrolled and sent to the Governor Under their
Senate Number

HB 1554 --  Passed under identical number, SB 1628 (Sen. Wentworth) -- Amended the San Antonio fire and police pension fund which is subject to state regulation and provides retirement and disability annuities to qualifying fire fighters, police officers, and their surviving spouses or children, in order to accommodate disbursed funds, cost-of-living adjustments, and other eligibility requirements. The changes proposed in this bill also maintain the actuarial stability of the fund.  Effective on 10/1/09.

HB 2418 -- Passed under identical number, SB 1382 (Sen. Carona) -- Establishes a distinct internal division at the Texas Department of Transportation with responsibility for coordinating the planning, construction, operation, and maintenance of a statewide passenger rail system. Effective on 9/1/09.

Five (5) Bills Amended to Other Bills

HB 144 -- Modified as part of HB 2919 (Rep. Susan King): authorizes certain populous counties and municipalities to establish and fund a regional military sustainability commission in certain areas located around military installations. Two public hearings would be required prior to establishing a commission, and it would be required to establish an advisory committee to advise the commission on protecting the critical military missions of the military installation with regard to land use development.  Effective 06-19-09.

HB 1209 -- Combined with HB 1513 (Rep. Wayne Smith):  helps homeowners by imposing a duty on building contractors to treat construction payments as trust funds, held for the benefit of the homeowner as well as subcontractors and material suppliers; once earned by the builder, the funds can be released, but until then could not be used by the builder for other purposes; funds not yet earned by the builder would not be included as funds in a bankruptcy estate if the builder enters bankruptcy. Effective on 9/1/09. 

HB 1504 -- Passed as an amendment to SB1645 (Sen. Van de Putte): authorizes state-licensed secondary wholesale distributors to provide direct delivery of prescription medications and products to medical offices to be administered to patients by authorized physicians and staff. Requires the Health and Human Services Commission to report in 2010 on the feasibility of establishing separate reimbursement under the Medicaid program for pharmacy care management services, and provides HHSC with rulemaking authority to manage specific purchases of prescription drugs by state agencies and political subdivisions determine when substantial costs in pharmacy reimbursements result to the state or a political subdivision of the state. Effective 6/19/09.

HB 3359 -- Passed as part of HB 1831 (Rep. Corte):  as amended, the law will help support the funding of emergency dispatch operational costs by requiring retailers to collect a statewide prepaid wireless 9-1-1 emergency services fee of 2% per retail transaction on prepaid wireless telecommunications services bought by consumers.  Retailers will deduct and retain 2% of the purchase price to offset their administrative costs for administering the 9-1-1 emergency services fee.  HB 1831 takes effect September 1, 2009, except for Section 1.26(a) and Article 5, which take effect 06/19/09.

HB 1650 -- Became part of "Safety Net" Bill (Sunset Schedule Bill), HB1959 (81R), which then became SB 2 (Rep. Isett - Special Session): continues the Texas State Affordable Housing Corporation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) established by the state, to continue its functions for an additional two years, providing access to lending resources for lower-income housing. Enrolled as SB 2 and sent to the Governor on 07/02/2009.

Six (6) Bills (Enrolled and Effective), Authored jointly with Other Representatives:

HB 51  Branch | McCall | Coleman | McClendon | Madden
Relating to Tier One status for state universities regarding measures to enhance and maintain the quality of state universities, including funding and incentives to support emerging public research universities, to the abolition of the higher education fund, to the institutional groupings under the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board's accountability system, to the independent status of Lamar Institute of Technology, to research conducted by public universities and other state entities, and to the authorization of revenue bonds for certain institutions of higher education. Signed 06/17/2009; See remarks for effective date.

HB 1343 Menendez | McClendon
Relating to blind and disabled pedestrians and failure of the operator of a motor vehicle to yield the right-of-way. Effective on 9/1/09.

HB 1580 Flynn | Miller, Sid | Kolkhorst | McClendon
Relating to the continuation and functions of the board of directors of the official cotton growers' boll weevil eradication foundation and the management of certain cotton in pest management zones. Effective 05/27/2009.

HB 2447 Flynn | Otto | Kolkhorst | McClendon | Harper-Brown
Relating to the abolition of the Board of Tax Professional Examiners and the transfer of its functions to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation. Signed 06/19/2009; See remarks for effective date.

HB 2546 Isett | Moody | McClendon | Corte
Relating to the continuation and functions of the Texas Military Preparedness Commission. Effective on 9/1/09.

HB 2682 Alvarado | Guillen | McClendon | Merritt
Relating to the authority of municipalities to alter speed limits.
Effective 06/19/2009.