Senate Committee on Business and Commerce - 81st R.S. (2009)

Committee Members


  • Study the implementation of H.B. 4409 enacted by the 81st Legislature pertaining to the financing of insured losses in excess of premium and other revenue of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA). Assess the coverage and affordability of TWIA policies. Review the claims and payments processes and make recommendations to improve the stability of TWIA while enhancing services to clients.
  • Study options for reducing demand for electricity, including innovative pricing options relating to the use of smart meters, programmable thermostats, and other demand side management and behavioral response strategies. Review current consumer education programs to reduce demand, decrease energy prices, and improve air quality. Consider benefits and costs of alternative energy sources such as geothermal and solar, and current incentives for electric and plug-in hybrid electric vehicles. The study should include recommendations on improving consumer knowledge and usage of these strategies in lowering overall electric usage, promoting energy efficiency, and improving the reliability of the ERCOT grid.
  • Study and make recommendations relating to the development and implementation of wind energy. Assess the total impact of wind energy, including additional costs to consumers, if any, buy-back provisions and pricing, the need for alternative energy sources at times when wind does not generate electricity, impact on the ERCOT grid, development of battery storage and other storage methods, and economic development impacts.
  • Study the generation costs of municipally owned electric utilities' planned generation portfolios. Consider the impact of planned generation costs on electric rates for residential and commercial customers. Solicit input on the impact of future electric rates on charitable and non-profit organizations, and the impact on such organizations' cash assistance programs to indigent customers. Consider the merits of a justifiable planned generation cost standard, and whether a deviation above the standard should be subject to approval by a vote of all customers of a municipally owned utility's service area.
  • Study and make recommendations relating to the Texas Unemployment Compensation Insurance system, including, but not limited to, the following:

    • The capacity and efficiency of the claims filing and benefits delivery system as well as the ability of the agency to meet the needs of the clients it serves given the transition to call centers and web based filing;
    • The current financing scheme for the Unemployment Compensation Trust Fund, and any options to improve the long term financial health and stability of the Fund;
    • The use of debit cards for delivery of UI benefits, including ways to limit user fees to access payments; and
    • Improving public access to local and statewide data on current and historical UI claims.
  • Study and make recommendations regarding career-focused education and workforce training programs in Texas to insure that such programs meet business and worker needs. Specifically, study whether such programs: meet the current and future workforce needs of health care, skilled trades, construction, manufacturing, aerospace, information technology and green jobs; help retain workers in such trades and fields; retrain and update the skills and education of workers in such trades and fields; and foster and encourage collaboration between the State, education, labor and business to provide education and training.
  • Study the effectiveness of Chapter 557 of the Insurance Code, relating to insured property subject to a security interest, in setting forth the obligations of a lender and a residential real property insured resulting from an insurer's payment of a claim for damage to the residential real property caused by a natural disaster. Consider the legislation's requirements for release of the insurance proceeds, lienholder's approval of payment of the insurance proceeds, accrual and payment of interest on such proceeds and penalties provided by the statute. Make recommendations for any needed refinements of the legislation.
  • Monitor the implementation of legislation addressed by the Senate Committee on Business & Commerce, 81st Legislature, Regular and Called Sessions, and make recommendations for any legislation needed to improve, enhance, and/or complete implementation.


Senator Fraser, Chair, and Senator Averitt, Member, 1/30/2009-7/14/2010. Senator Carona appointed Chair and Senator Fraser appointed Member, 7/14/2010 (Press release, Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst, 7/14/2010).

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