Interim Charges Released for the 88th Texas Legislature

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Victor Rivera Labiosa

Texas

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Election Related Activities


As you may have heard, Texas is fairly unique, especially when it comes to its legislative sessions. The Texas Legislature meets every odd-numbered year, meaning we will not have another one until 2025. In the meantime, the leader of each chamber releases a list of priorities known as interim charges, setting the agenda for the upcoming session.

Since these interim charges are public, they represent a valuable opportunity for nonprofit organizations to prepare for the upcoming legislative session and take steps to ensure their voices are heard. By examining the key issue areas each committee will tackle, nonprofits can maximize their advocacy and launch strong campaigns for or against these charges.

Nonprofits interested in getting involved in the process can visit the Texas Legislature website to learn more about each committee’s schedule, meeting minutes, and reports.

Relevant Interim Charges in the House of Representatives 

Speaker Dade Phelan established several committees in key issue areas that range from exploring the use of name, image, and likeness for student athletes to the impact of reducing or eliminating firearm purchasing fees. On the environmental front, the returning leader of the House of Representatives also set up committees that will explore, among other things, the impact of new air quality regulations implemented by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the state’s groundwater infrastructure, the conservation of Texas farm and ranch land, and the implications of foreign-owned agricultural land. The latter is eerily reminiscent of last year’s battle over a controversial bill, SB147, which sought to ban land ownership by citizens from several countries like China, Russia, North Korea, and Iran.

In the education sector, Speaker Phelan aims to explore the use of education savings accounts by other states in another attempt to push for school voucher programs. Additionally, he is taking aim at diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives (DEI) at public institutions of higher education.

The list of House interim charges also includes committees that will evaluate tax relief for property owners, the functions and operations of state agencies involved in carrying out Operation Lone Star —  Governor Greg Abbott’s administration’s border security program that has come under intense scrutiny from immigrant rights groups — and the possibility of abolishing the position of county elections administrator in certain counties.

To read the complete list of interim charges proposed by Speaker Dade Phelan, click here.

Relevant Interim Charges in the Senate 

On April 11, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick released the list of Senate interim charges, which will evaluate issues relevant to border security, education, natural resources, and state affairs. Continuing the dispute over the border with the federal government, Lt. Gov. Patrick ordered senators in the Border Security committee to review state and local agencies’ performance and to make recommendations to support and strengthen these security operations.

The leader of the Texas Senate wants the Finance committee to explore the impact of lowering property and school taxes, while the State Affairs committee will evaluate election security, enhance tools to protect children from social media, and evaluate land acquisitions by foreign entities. They will also explore the impact of large-scale purchases of single-family homes by domestic entities.

Like the interim charges released by Speaker Phelan, the Senate also wants to evaluate and monitor DEI policies in higher education. Additionally, the Senate committee will tackle “combating antisemitism on Texas college campuses,” a direct response to public outcry over the Israel-Palestinian conflict and protests at the University of Texas at Austin and other institutions.

The Criminal Justice committee, significant for local nonprofit organizations focused on bail reform, will examine charitable bail organizations. To learn more about recent bail reform initiatives, check out this insightful blog post by Bolder Advocacy’s Monika Graham.

To read the complete list of interim charges proposed by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, please click here.

What Can Nonprofit Organizations Do During the Interim? 

Nonprofit organizations can use this time to do the following:

  • Foster relationships with elected officials: After an election cycle, it is crucial to build relationships with newly elected officials and strengthen ties with incumbents.
  • Influence the legislative agenda and participate in committee hearings: Despite these interim charges coming from the top, nonprofits can still provide input during committee hearings. Stay updated on committee meetings and collect any data relevant to achieving your organization’s mission.
  • Set up a list of priorities ahead of the upcoming legislative session: Use this time to prepare a game plan for 2025. Be ready to hit the ground running once the legislative session starts in January 2025.
  • Collaborate with other nonprofit organizations: Continue to work with other nonprofits to amplify your efforts and community voices. Use the interim charges to develop lobbying campaigns in coalition with others.
  • Get involved in the state budget process before it becomes HB1: The Texas state budget is established on a biennial basis. This means the process to evaluate and approve the new budget begins during the interim between legislative sessions. Nonprofit organizations should use this opportunity to identify specific budgetary needs and organize their lobbying activities.

We Are Here to Help! 

At Bolder Advocacy, we provide technical assistance to nonprofit organizations that are looking for ways to maximize their advocacy efforts. Bolder Advocacy has an extensive library of resources that are available free of charge, along with trainings and a technical assistance hotline dedicated to answering your questions.

Local nonprofits can also make use of the following Texas-specific resources: