HBA-JLV H.B. 1545 77(R)BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 1545 By: Uher Higher Education 8/7/2001 Enrolled BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE Institutions of higher education in the state of Texas have identified changes in the laws concerning several administrative areas that could save money, produce new revenue, or increase the operational efficiency of institutions of higher education across the state. Institutions seek to streamline operations, minimize duplicate requirements, and enhance their competitive edge in attracting and retaining employees. The changes addressed by the 77th Legislature cover virtually all administrative areas, including procurement, human resources, financial management, and notice policies. House Bill 1545 modifies provisions relating to the operation, regulation, and administration of public institutions of higher education. RULEMAKING AUTHORITY It is the opinion of the Office of House Bill Analysis that this bill does not expressly delegate any additional rulemaking authority to a state officer, department, agency, or institution. ANALYSIS House Bill 1545 amends the Education and Government codes to modify provisions relating to the operation, regulation, and administration of public institutions of higher education (institution). The bill authorizes an institution to acquire goods and services by the method that provides the best value to the institution and provides criteria for determining the best value. The bill authorizes the state auditor to audit purchases of goods or services by an institution or by a component of an institution that purchases goods and services. The bill sets forth that the provisions for the acquisition of goods and services do not apply to a public junior college (Sec. 51.9335, Education Code). The bill authorizes the governing board of an institution to purchase insurance insuring the institution and its employees against any liability, risk, or exposure and covering the losses of any institutional property. The bill authorizes the governing board to pay the cost of any insurance from any funds of the institution (Sec. 51.966, Education Code). The bill prohibits the Texas Department of Criminal Justice from contracting with an institution to provide personmade goods or services (Sec. 497.0211, Government Code). The bill repeals Government Code provisions relating to the delegation of purchasing authority to an institution of higher education, group purchasing programs, and purchases from higher education research funds (SECTION 1.06). The bill amends the Education Code to authorize the governing board of a university system to adopt a comprehensive leave policy that applies to employees working in a hospital or clinic of a medical and dental unit of the university system. After September 15, 2005 the governing board of an institution of higher education is authorized to adopt a leave policy for employees of the institution. The bill sets forth the provisions a comprehensive leave policy must address (Sec. 51.961). An institution is authorized to grant merit salary increases, including one-time merit payments, to employees from any funds. The bill provides that an institution must adopt criteria for the granting of merit salary increases before awarding them to an employee (Sec. 51.962). The bill authorizes a full-time employee of an institution who has appointments to more than one position at the same institution to receive pay for working more than 40 hours a week if the institution determines that pay, in lieu of compensatory time, is in the best interest of the institution (Sec. 51.963). The bill authorizes an institution to employ an individual who has retired under the Teacher Retirement System or the optional retirement program if the governing board of the institution determines that the employment is in the best interest of the institution and the person has been retired for at least one calendar year before the effective date of the employment, except that a person retired under the optional retirement program may be rehired after retirement without a break in service. The bill also authorizes the governing board to pay the retired individual an appropriate amount, as determined by the governing board (Sec. 51.964). The bill authorizes an institution, by adopted rules and guidelines, to notify employees by means of electronic media if a state law requires an institution to provide written notification to its officers or employees (Sec. 51.965). The bill amends the Government Code to provide that a state employee who, at any time during the employee's lifetime, has accrued six months of continuous state employment and who resigns, is dismissed, or otherwise separates from state employment by an institution is entitled to be paid for the accrued balance of the employee's vacation time as of the date of separation (Sec. 661.062). The bill provides that certain provisions relating to employee leave, hours of labor, and salary deductions do not apply to a public junior college (Secs. 658.001, 659.002, and 661.915). The bill authorizes an employee of an institution to voluntarily authorize in writing a reduction each pay period from the employee's salary or wage payment for the payment of any fee or charge for parking, a parking permit, a transportation pass, or other qualified transportation benefit charge. The bill also authorizes an employee of an institution to voluntarily authorize in writing a deduction each pay period from the employee's salary or wage payment for the payment of certain activity or program fees. The bill requires an institution to determine which fee or charge an employee may pay by this method (Sec. 659.202). The bill requires that a salary deduction made by an employee be considered compensation. If authorized by federal law, a salary deduction or salary reduction may be made on a pretax basis (Sec. 659.205). The bill amends the Education Code to remove provisions that require the board of regents of The University of Texas System to secure the opinion of the attorney general before a gift or grant of real property may be conveyed to certain medical units of The University of Texas System (Secs. 74.103 and 74.153). The bill amends the Government Code to provide that no interest accrues or may be paid on a payment for goods and services if the total amount of the interest that would otherwise have accrued is equal to or less than $5 and the payment is made from the institutional funds of an institution (Sec. 2251.026). The bill amends the Education Code to provide that no statute of limitations shall apply to a lawsuit, to the enforcement of a judgment, or to any other legal action to collect an educational debt owed to an institution of higher education or to the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board (THECB) (Sec. 51.967). The bill provides that a nonprofit corporation contracted to invest the permanent university fund is subject to the open meetings law that applies to the board of regents of The University of Texas System, except that the board of directors of the corporation are authorized to discuss an investment or potential investment with one or more employees of the corporation or with a third party to the extent permitted by the board of trustees of the Texas growth fund. The board of directors of the corporation is not subject to provisions relating to the open meetings law involving telephone conversations. The bill authorizes any director of the corporation to attend any meeting of the board of directors by telephone conference call provided that the telephone conference is audible to the public at the meeting location specified in the notice of the meeting during each part of the meeting that is required to be open to the public (Sec. 66.08). The bill amends the Government Code to require an institution to enter into a memorandum of understanding with the General Services Commission and any other another agency receiving construction and maintenance or lease of space information from the institution if the institution is to include the information for the construction and maintenance information and lease of space reports to the General Services Commission in a report to another agency. The bill does not limit the authority of the state auditor to request and receive information directly from the institution (Secs. 2166.101 and 2167.005). The bill provides that a university system or an institution is not required to make a strategic plan for its operations (Sec. 2056.001). The bill amends the Education Code to authorize the board of regents of Midwestern State University to acquire by gift or donation a museum and any related property. The bill requires THECB to include in the funding formula applicable to the university funding for the operation and maintenance of a museum (Sec. 103.11). The bill authorizes an institution that accepts payment of tuition, a fee, or other charge by credit card to charge the credit card user a fee for processing the payment but prohibits an institution from charging a fee that exceeds the amount charged by the issuer of the credit card in connection with the payment to the institution. The bill requires the institution, before accepting a payment by credit card, to notify the student of any fee to be charged to the student in connection with the payment (Sec. 54.5011). The bill repeals the provision requiring the governing board of an institution to prorate a student fee charged for a summer session of nine weeks or less (SECTION 6.03). EFFECTIVE DATE September 1, 2001.