HBA-JLV H.B. 1545 77(R) BILL ANALYSIS Office of House Bill AnalysisH.B. 1545 By: Uher Higher Education 2/25/2001 Introduced 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 proposed changes address 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 (Sec. 51.9335, Education Code). The bill prohibits the Texas Department of Criminal Justice from contracting with an institution to provide these goods or services (Sec. 497.0211, Government Code). 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 medical and dental unit of the university system and, after September 1, 2005, applies to other employees of the university system or any component institution of the system as determined appropriate by the governing board . The bill sets forth the provisions a comprehensive leave policy must address (Sec. 51.961, Education Code). The bill authorizes an institution 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 a state retirement system if the governing board of the institution determines that the employment is in the best interest of the institution. The bill also authorizes the governing board to pay the retired individual an appropriate amount, as determined by the governing board. The bill provides that a retired individual employed by an institution is authorized to participate in the appropriate state retirement system, but is not authorized to continue to receive retirement benefits under other state law if the person is employed by the institution on a greater than one-half time basis (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 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 authorize the governing board of an institution to exempt, by written policy, full-time employees of the institution from the payment of all or a portion of tuition and fees (Sec. 54.220). The bill removes 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). If an institution refunds the amount of fees and tuition collected for courses from which a student drops, then the bill provides that the institution may pay refunds on a pro rata basis (Sec. 54.006). In determining the amount of a fee or tuition waiver for a student, the bill authorizes an institution to set the amount of a waiver or exemption on a pro rata basis (Sec. 54.202). The bill authorizes the governing board of an institution to retain control of tuition collected at the institution (51.002). The governing board of an institution is not required to deposit tuition or laboratory and special course fees collected at the institution in the state treasury (Sec. 51.008). 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 (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 provide that a general property deposit may not exceed $50 for each student (Sec. 54.502). 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 (Sec. 54.5011). EFFECTIVE DATE On passage, or if the Act does not receive the necessary vote, the Act takes effect September 1, 2001.