Overview of the 81st Regular Session »

In its personality, every legislative session is different. Each one develops its own character as a result of changing politics, policies, and perhaps most importantly changes among interpersonal and group dynamics. Styles of leadership, legislative process and methods of resolving conflict evolve anew each session. This was especially true in the House this session given the House’s election of a new speaker and the 76-74 Republican/Democrat split. Previous power dynamics dissolved and new ones emerged, new expedient relationships are discovered and new lines of communication are formed; these changes are part of the natural order, and understanding them is vital to our success in each legislative session. For the 81st Legislature, actions taken early on by both the House and Senate confirmed once again that such changes are real and consequential.

At the close of the 80th Legislature in 2007, five House members had announced their candidacy for Speaker of the Texas House. Throughout much of 2008, candidates jockeyed for position and traction, but no clear front-runner emerged, leading to speculation by insiders that Representative Tom Craddick (R-Midland) might retain his Speakership. However, just prior to the start of the session a small group of Republicans who were committed to “anybody but Craddick” (the ABCs) met to try to coalesce around a single candidate. Their goal was to select a consensus candidate who could garner a coalition of supporters from both parties sufficient to unseat the incumbent. Representative Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) emerged as the surprise choice. Straus received the support of over 100 of his colleagues. Given the numbers, Speaker Craddick stepped down, and Straus assumed the Speakership without opposition on the first day of the session. In his opening statements, Speaker Straus pledged his commitment to foster a more positive tone in the House, to allow the “will of the House” to determine the ultimate outcome of issues, and to give committee chairs and their committees primary sway regarding the issues assigned to their committees.

After the normal delays associated with assembling a new staff, making committee assignments and choosing chairs, the House began its work with a recommitted emphasis on “the process.” Though media published stories on the (alleged lack of) speed with which legislation was moving through the House during the first half of the Session, bills moved to the floor in about the same numbers as before, including the unprecedented unanimous passage of the budget. However, that all changed in the final days when the House gridlocked over consideration of Voter Identification (Voter ID) legislation.

Voter ID had already been the subject of controversy in the upper chamber. On the second day of the session, Republican Senators successfully carved out an exception to the Senate’s long-standing “two-thirds” rule. The two-thirds rule is a Senate parliamentary procedure which traditionally ensures that highly controversial legislation doesn’t reach the Senate floor unless the bill has the support of 2/3 of the Senate membership to be brought up for consideration. Led by Lt. Governor David Dewhurst and Senator Tommy Williams (R-The Woodlands), the Senate voted in an 18-13 decision to allow consideration of Voter ID legislation before the Senate adopted its operating rules, and thus circumventing the traditional two-thirds rule for that one issue. After intense, sometimes decidedly “un-collegial” and personally vitriolic debate, the Voter ID bill passed the Senate by a party line vote and the Senate tried to return to business as usual. However, evidence of relationships that were tested and strained over Voter ID remained evident throughout the Session.

The federal government had an unusually significant impact on the tone and focus of the 81st Legislative Session. The passage of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) made Texas eligible for an immediate infusion of more than $16 billion in federal economic stimulus funding. At the start of the session, Governor Perry took a principled stand against accepting all the funds made available through the federal stimulus package. While Governor Perry reluctantly agreed to accept most of the $16 billion in State Fiscal Stabilization Funding, he rejected $551 million in funding to increase unemployment benefits for longer periods of time and to expand coverage to include part-time workers. The Governor’s interpretation of the changes in the state’s unemployment insurance (UI) law that would be required by the federal act was that such changes would expand coverage permanently, thus creating an ongoing, larger obligation for the state in the future. Despite a bipartisan legislative attempt to override the Governor’s decision to reject the UI funding, the end of session voter ID imbroglio blocked consideration of a vote to override.

The Legislature sought a clear and certain understanding of how the estimated $16 billion in State Fiscal Stabilization funding could be used for the best benefit the state of Texas. Ultimately, the funds were used to plug holes in the state’s budget wherever allowable and as a consequence budget leaders, led by Senator Steve Ogden in the Senate and Representative Jim Pitts in the House, were able to craft a budget that maintained, and in several instances, even improved on current state services. Significantly, they were able to do so without having to draw on the “Rainy Day Fund”, thus leaving it available for the 82nd Session, when it is estimated to be at $9.1 billion and to be badly needed.

Overview of Issues

The following is a summary of the major issues that shaped the 81st Regular Session, with special attention given to higher education issues and to those with specific importance to the Texas A&M University System and its member institutions. Given the statewide and comprehensive reach of the education, research, and service programs delivered by its member institutions, the range of legislative issues affecting the System is broad. In addition, some issues not resolved this session are noted as likely priorities for future legislative consideration.

Higher Education Issues

In addition to the general appropriations act, several higher education policy issues were considered by the 81st Legislature. A brief overview of the most prominent is provided below. A more detailed listing of bills, organized by subject area, may be found within the body of this report.

National Research Universities, HB 51 (Branch/Zaffirini)

After years of discussion, the issue of growing more “Tier 1” comprehensive research universities in the state of Texas found traction and moved to the forefront of higher education priorities in the 81st Legislative Session. During the interim Senators Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo), Florence Shapiro (R-Plano) and Robert Duncan (R-Lubbock) held hearings to take testimony, sharpen policy issues and identify performance steps necessary for certain institutions to begin their march toward so-called “Tier 1” status. Early in the Session, all three senators filed legislation containing her/his vision of how best to do so. On the House side, Representative Dan Branch (R-Dallas) and his Select Committee also conducted hearings across the state on the same issues; he filed his vision in HB 51, and it ultimately became the vehicle bill used to set forth the state’s policy and support for the development of more nationally recognized research universities, along with other policy matters affecting higher education.

HB 51 provides for the creation of a strategic plan for developing additional national research universities in Texas and requires emerging research universities to submit a long-term strategic plan to be used in achieving such status. The bill also creates the Texas Research Incentive Program (TRIP) to provide matching funds to emerging research institutions to leverage private gifts for faculty recruitment and enhancing research productivity. SB 1, the General Appropriations Act, included $50m for the TRIP. The bill also establishes the National Research University Fund (NRUF) for eligible universities to provide a dedicated, independent, and equitable source of funding so emerging research universities may achieve national prominence as major research universities.

If the constitutional amendment provided in HJR 14 passes, the “permanent” Higher Education Fund (HEF) will be abolished and its funds will be transferred to the new NRUF. Upon meeting certain specific criteria, each of the current seven emerging research institutions identified in the bill (University of Houston, Texas Tech University, UT-Dallas, UT-Arlington, UT-San Antonio, UT-El Paso, and University of North Texas) would be entitled to a proportion of the income generated by the corpus of the NRUF. The bill also provides criteria for other institutions to qualify for designation by the Coordinating Board as emerging research universities.

The bill also renames the Texas Competitive Knowledge Fund (CKF) as the Research University Development Fund (RUDF) and continues to distribute its funding based on “total research” expenditures. Total research expenditures was the method of distribution decided upon by the legislature for the CKF in 2007 because that methodology results in an equitable distribution of the funding to both Texas A&M and UT-Austin, which was one of the principal aims in creating the Fund . The purpose of the RUDF continues to be to support recruitment and retention of highly qualified faculty and enhance research productivity at research and emerging research institutions that have at least $50 million in total research. Currently, only Texas A&M, UT-Austin, University of Houston and Texas Tech Universities qualify for the CKF/RUDF; however, others may participate when they reach the $50 million research expenditure criterion.

HB 51 was signed by the Governor on June 17, 2009, and the election on the constitutional amendment to fund the NRUF will be held on November 3, 2009.

Top 10 Percent

Since adopted in 1997, Texas’ top 10 percent law has been a hotly debated topic in virtually every legislative session. The law, as originally written, provides for automatic admission to any public university in Texas of high school students who are graduated in the top 10 percent of their class. For the fourth consecutive session, proposals were offered to set limitations on this automatic admission so that universities, particularly the University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M University to a lesser extent, could limit the percent their class composed of students admitted solely on the basis of being in the top 10% of their high school class. Both institutions testified that Top 10% students do well academically, but they would like to consider a broader range of qualifications in making admissions decisions. In the 81st Legislative Session, multiple bills, including SB 175 by Senator Shapiro/ Rep. Branch were filed to modify the top 10 percent law.

Although Texas A&M testified in favor of broadening the criteria for admission to include other measures beyond class rank alone, SB 175 as finally passed only applied to the University of Texas at Austin. The bill allows UT to opt into a program wherein no more than 75 percent of its freshman class would have to be accepted strictly on the basis of high school class rank. However, additional requirements were adopted and commitments were made by UT to improve the demographic make-up of its freshman classes if the percentage limit was capped. A six year sunset provision was added, so this issue will be back as a legislative issue soon.

Financial Aid Funding and Policy

Since 2000, Texas has made substantial investments in financial aid to improve access to higher education. During this time period, Texas created the TEXAS grant program, Texas Equal Opportunity Grant (TEOG) program and the B-on-Time Loan Program as well as several tuition set-aside programs that also fund student financial aid. Despite this significant investment by the state, student financial aid was not keeping pace with growth in population and cost.

The 81st Legislature stepped up and provided substantial additional funding for financial aid program. For the 2010-11 biennium, student financial aid funding provided by the Legislature to the Coordinating Board totals over $1 billion. Key general revenue increases include $186 million for the TEXAS grant program as well as increase in the B-On-Time Program ($15.0 million), Texas Educational Opportunity Grant Program ($10.0 million), Teach for Texas Loan Repayment Program ($2.5 million) and $34 million for Top Ten Scholarships. The Legislature also funded a new scholarship program for ROTC students (HB3452 by Gattis/Ogden) and provided $2 million for the program this biennium.

The 81st Legislature also passed several policies providing additional financial support for students through a variety of mechanisms: tuition and fee exemptions for certain volunteer firefighters, peace officers, educational aides, military personnel/dependents; loan repayment program for physicians in health professional shortage areas; extension of current tuition exemptions for foster care students; and resident tuition rates for certain veterans and service members and their dependents. These programs in total will provide more access to higher education for a variety of Texans by making a college education more affordable.


Given the strength of efforts in the 79th and 80th Legislative Sessions to limit the authority of university Boards of Regents to set tuition rates, coupled with the media attention and interest of key legislators during the interim, it was widely expected that tuition would be a major policy issue this session. Accordingly, more than twenty pieces of legislation were filed addressing the issue of tuition re-regulation during the 81st session, and multiple members who signed on as co-sponsors of tuition legislation. After considerable jockeying among Senators and the appointment of a “tuition work group” by the Lt. Governor, the eventual vehicle bill for addressing tuition rates became SB 1443, by Senator Zaffirini. This compromise legislation contained a complex mixture of provisions relating to institutions’ current tuition rates, indices of inflation, and linkage of appropriations and tuition to calculations of core total academic costs. The measure passed the Senate, but stalled out in the House, and ultimately the House as a whole failed to take action on a tuition bill.

However, in an attempt to address the issue in the final hours of the session, the House passed HCR 288, by Representative Branch. This resolution, though it does not have the force of law, indicates the legislative intent that Boards of Regents keep the increase in total academic costs to no more than 3.95% per year for the coming biennium. While there is little doubt that the Senate held the same sentiments, it failed to take action on the Resolution.

While a tuition bill was not finally passed in this Session, it is clear that the legislature is concerned about tuition rates, and so tuition will probably be a major higher education issue in future sessions unless Boards hold tuition rate increases to more modest increases.

System Centers Independency and TRBs

SB 629 as finally passed and signed by the governor provides that upon reaching 1000 Full Time Student Equivalent enrollments each of the three identified System Centers will become independent universities. Since each one was certified by the Coordinating Board, the Centers became Texas A&M University-Central Texas, Texas A&M University-San Antonio and the University of North Texas-Dallas when SB 629 was signed by Governor Perry. In addition, all three now qualify to issue their previously approved Tuition Revenue Bonds (TRBs).

Senators West, Fraser and Uresti, and Representatives Aycock, Farias and Giddings, et al., worked together so that each new university received an addition $6m in transitional funding to support conversion to independency, and they also secured TRB debt service funding so each one is now able to proceed with construction.

Tuition Revenue Bonds

Even though the 81st Session nominally would have been a tuition revenue bond (TRB) session, expectations were low for additional TRBs. Expectations were met. With the exception of TRBs to address the damage to infrastructure caused by Hurricane Ike at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and Texas A&M at Galveston, no new TRBs were approved.

New/Expanded Higher Education Programs

Funding for the development of a new Mechanical Engineering program at Texas A&M – Corpus Christi and a new Construction Engineering program at Texas A&M – Commerce were included in SB 1. Also, Texas A&M–Texarkana was appropriated $6 million to support its transition to a full four year university. The University of Houston-Victoria was authorized to expand to four year status, but no funds were appropriated this session for that purpose.

The University of North Texas at Dallas, one of the newly created institutions, was authorized and funded $5 million to create a new College of Law, the first new public law school in the state of Texas since 1967. The Higher Education Coordinating Board was tasked to conduct a feasibility study on the need for legal education in the Texas-Mexico Border region.

The legislature also authorized the establishment of the University of Texas Health Science Center - South Texas, including a medical school with the main campus and administrative office located in Cameron County, but no funding was appropriated.

In addition, the Legislature provided funding to continue previously-approved medical school expansions to help address the physician shortage in Texas. The Texas A&M Health Science Center College of Medicine received $16 million, and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center Paul L. Foster School of Medicine in El Paso received $17.6 million in new funds for FY2010-11 to provide additional faculty and infrastructure support in order for the student class sizes to continue to grow.

Social Issues

Each session there are numerous polarizing social issues considered, and the 81st Legislative Session was no exception. Two recurring and controversial issues have been funding to expand eligibility for the Children’s Health Insurance Program and requiring voters to present photo identification at the polls.

Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP)

In the 80th Session, legislation was passed to permit coverage of an additional 128,000 new children in the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP). This increase came after several years of decreasing enrollments in the program, beginning with budget cuts resulting from the 2003 legislative session.

This session CHIP proponents wanted to expand eligibility to help cover additional uninsured Texas children. An option being proposed by many was raising the income threshold for eligibility. Others argued the state should be making more of an effort to enroll the nearly 175,000 children currently eligible, but not yet participating in CHIP. Midway through the session, Senator Kip Averitt proposed a compromise to try to resolve the debate. The bill would have made health coverage available for children whose parents were willing to pay a portion of the related health care premiums.

In the waning days of the 81st Session, the CHIP expansion language was amended onto two legislative vehicles; however, time ran out on CHIP expansion.

Voter Identification

Of all issues considered by the 81st Legislature, none had a larger effect than seeking to increase the level of documentation required to cast a vote. As noted previously, the Senate exempted the traditional two-thirds rule in order to allow voter ID to be considered by a simple majority. In mid-March, SB 362 was passed and sent to the House. It lingered in the House Elections Committee for two months while the chair sought to forge a compromise among his divided panel. Ultimately, the Senate version of the bill emerged from committee relatively unchanged.

As the bill moved through the Calendars Committee onto the House Calendar, the positions of each end of the spectrum became firmer as potential amendments were prepared and discussed. Strict interpretation would require a photo ID without any alternatives. House Democrats sought a version allowing same-day registration of voters during early voting, criminal prosecution of voter suppression, the ability to show a voter registration card and an affidavit in lieu of producing a photo ID, and a four-year delay before the voter ID law took effect.

Without an acceptable compromise, House Democrats turned to “chubbing”, a practice of debating to the full extent under House Rules each bill on the Local and Consent Calendar, in an effort to prevent consideration of the Voter ID legislation. With more than 200 items on the calendar, the strategy was ultimately successful in preventing the voter ID bill from ever reaching the floor of the House. However, by exhausting the time left for consideration of other bills, the clock ran out on about 300 other bills. While proponents and opponents share responsibility, the way the Speaker and House leaders handled this issue served to demonstrate that even with such an intense issue, a narrowly divided House was able to adhere to its rules. Nonetheless, the failure of several “must-pass” bills necessitated a Special Session; more on that below.

State School Reform

Governor Perry declared legislation to improve the condition of Texas’ state schools for the mentally disabled an emergency item at the start of the legislative session. This came on the heels of a U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the conditions of all 13 Texas state schools. The investigation found an excessive number of residents died from preventable conditions, and hundreds of state school employees had been fired for abuse, neglect and exploitation of residents. The Department of Justice threatened legal action if Texas did not resolve these problems, which were determined to have violated residents’ constitutional rights.

In early March, as lawmakers were debating how to overhaul state schools, video was discovered on a cell phone showing disabled residents being forced by employees into fight club-style brawls at the Corpus Christi state school. The footage showed staff shoving residents into one another to provoke the residents to kick and punch each other, and staff would raise their arms in victory to declare a winner.

SB 643 was passed to increase oversight and security at state schools and community homes for Texans with mental disabilities. The legislation changes the institutions’ names from state schools to “state supported living centers” to more accurately reflect their mainly adult population. The bill requires video surveillance in common areas, and requires each institution to have an independent ombudsman to protect residents’ rights.

Legislators also agreed to a settlement with the U.S. Department of Justice. The state will be required to hire 1,160 new employees, and all employees will face enhanced background checks, random drug screening, and more substantial on-the-job training.

Additionally, the state will spend $500 million to create community-living options such as group homes or home-assisted care. This should accommodate approximately 8,000 people, some now living in state schools, who will be able to live in a less restrictive environment.

Public Education Accountability

This session, legislators passed comprehensive legislation regarding public school accountability. HB 3 addresses three broad issues: college readiness for Texas high school graduates, a reduced emphasis on high-stakes testing as a significant factor in school district ratings, and increased rigor and attention to career and technical education courses.

Texas Windstorm Insurance Association

In the aftermath of Hurricane Ike, state leaders were informed the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) was expected to lose between $3-4 billion. The state’s windstorm insurer of last resort estimated it would receive between 120,000 and 140,000 claims as Gulf Coast residents began returning home to the damage to their property. As a result, Governor Perry declared TWIA reform legislation an emergency item at the beginning of the 81st Legislature.

Legislators began work on what would prove to be a contentious topic. Coastal advocates argued protecting Texas’ coasts from hurricanes is the state’s responsibility. Others argued it was unfair to ask the entire state to contribute to a fund which only extends benefits to a handful of coastal counties, and those counties should be required to contribute a greater portion for coverage. These differences lead to an impasse in both the House and Senate.

Legislation began moving again after Governor Perry promised to call legislators back for a special session immediately after the close of the 81st Legislative Session if TWIA reform legislation was not passed. Ultimately, a compromise was reached and amended onto HB 4409 in the last days of the Session. House and Senate conferees agreed to cap the level of claims that can be paid out at $2.5 billion. Previously, TWIA had an open-ended funding layer in order to deal with storms leading to multi-billion dollar claims. Because such storms are very rare (Hurricane Ike was the only storm in the history of TWIA to cause more than $500 million in claims), conferees removed the highest layer of funding. They also reasoned capping the claims levels would give insurers more certainty and flexibility.

Franchise Tax, Smokeless Tobacco Tax & Physician Loan Repayment Program

There has been an eight-year dispute in the Texas legislature over the state’s tax on smokeless tobacco products. Previously, the state levied taxes based on the product’s price, which gave an advantage to the lower priced brands. The 81st Legislature passed HB 2154 which taxes smokeless tobacco products based on weight, as opposed to price. This will create greater competition between the lower-priced brands and the more expensive brands.

In order for this tax change to occur, legislators agreed the expected $104 million in additional revenue from the tax would be used to fund important state priorities. A portion of the revenue would be required to fund fully the Physician Loan Repayment Program, an initiative which pays back medical school loans for Texas students who agree to practice in medically underserved areas for a designated period of time. The estimated cost for the loan repayment program is $36.2 million.

The remaining funds collected from the smokeless tobacco tax, approximately $75 million, will go toward offsetting a loss in franchise tax revenue. In the 2006 special session, legislation was passed creating a franchise tax as a method of funding public schools and offering home owners relief from property tax increases. In the 80th Legislative Session, a franchise tax cleanup bill was passed to clarify certain issues with collecting the tax; however, before the tax was ever collected, groups were calling for more reform, stating it was unfair to small business owners in Texas. Under the structure implemented in 2007, businesses earning less than $300,000 were exempt, and the tax was levied in a “stair step” approach for businesses earning between $300,000 and $900,000 where businesses would then be fully taxed.

This session the legislature passed HB 4765, another revision to the franchise tax law, to increase the exemptions for small businesses earning less than $1 million. The estimated cost of this exemption is $172 million over the biennium, meaning the additional revenues from the smokeless tobacco tax will cover roughly one-third of the cost of the franchise tax emption. The difference will have to be covered by general revenue.

Transportation Issues and the Lead up to the Special Session

In 2007, concerns over the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT) and its promotion of toll roads polarized legislators and caused session-long debates. As in the 80th Legislature, transportation issues continued to be prominent during the 81st Legislative Session.

Senator John Carona (R-Dallas) and the TXDOT reauthorization legislation, HB 300 were at the center of this transportation-related contention. Without legislative reauthorization preventing agency sunset, TXDOT would be scheduled to close on September 1, 2010. One of Senator Carona’s key legislative initiatives, and an important issue for many DFW-area leaders, was a local option tax, which would have allowed counties to conduct local elections for financing road and rail projects in an effort to reduce traffic congestion. County commissioners would have had three funding options to put on a ballot: a gasoline tax of up to 10 cents per gallon, a driver’s license fee, or a fee collected with vehicle registration renewals.

Senator Carona amended HB 300 to include the local option tax language after his bill addressing the issue, SB 855, died as a result of chubbing tactics to prevent the controversial Voter ID bill from being recognized.

Conferees were appointed from both the House and Senate to work out the differences between each chamber’s version of HB 300. Many House members were opposed to the local option tax, as they did not want to appear to be allowing/support raising taxes in any form, and they were able to persuade enough conferees to strip the language from the bill.

After learning the conference committee report did not include his local option tax language, a frustrated Senator Carona promised to filibuster consideration of the bill. Carona raised questions of side deals, and took particular issue with Senator Hegar. While Senator Carona implied he was unaware the tax provisions were being removed from the bill, Senator Hegar stated it had been clear from the start of negotiations with the House the tax would not make the final cut. Ultimately the Senate did not take up the conference committee report on HB 300, and the bill died.

In order to ensure the Texas Department of Transportation did not sunset, Senator Hegar amended HB 1959 to include re-authorization of TXDOT. Without the passage of HB 1959, known as the sunset safety net bill, five state agencies (TXDOT, Texas Department of Insurance, the Racing Commission, State Affordable Housing Corporation, and the Office of Public Insurance Counsel) would be forced to shut down beginning in Fiscal Year 2011.

The safety net bill was being debated when the House reached its deadline for considering legislation. In a parliamentary move, questions (i.e., chubbing) were posed for the final ten minutes before the midnight deadline, and then a motion to adjourn was made before a vote could be taken on HB 1959. The House voted on the motion to adjourn; and while a majority of members voted against the motion, House rules require a two-thirds majority in order to remain in session, and the House adjourned.

On the final day of the 81st Legislature, a day normally dedicated to congratulatory resolutions and technical corrections, lawmakers in both chambers were scrambling to find a way to save TXDOT and the other agencies scheduled to sunset without their intervention, and prevent being called into a special session by the Governor.

The House, after much discussion, voted to move the sunset dates for the affected agencies back from 2010 to 2013. However, they did this by filing HCR 291, a technical corrections resolution to HB 4583. Some members argued it was against House rules to amend statute by resolution and worried it set a bad precedent, but ultimately the measure passed on a 111-29 vote. The House adjourned for the interim leaving the Senate to approve HCR 291.

At the same time, the Senate was expecting the House to vote on SCR 88, by Senator Williams, which contained a bond issue from HB 300 that senators were trying to revive before adjourning. The resolution would have authorized the sale of $2 billion in highway bonds over the next two years. Since the House had already adjourned sine die, the resolution was no longer eligible for consideration in the 81st session. Senators were angry the House adjourned before passing the bond issue, and after a series of meetings, adjourned on a party-line vote without taking up HCR 291, the sunset safety net resolution.

Finger-pointing and criticism began within and between chambers over the downfall of major transportation and sunset safety net legislation. Some senators hoped not voting on these issues would force the Governor to call a special session. Others counseled there would be no need for a special session, and the Governor could prevent the “sunsetted” agencies from closing through executive order.

One week after the close of the 81st Legislative Session, Governor Perry confirmed a special session would be necessary, but no specific date was indicated at that time. However, on June 25, the Governor announced his call and set the date for July 2. His call included two of the unfinished issues outlined in HCR 291 and SCR 88 from the regular session. The third issue in the call was legislation extending the authority of the TXDOT and a regional mobility authority to use comprehensive development agreements to design, finance, build and maintain transportation infrastructure.