Volume 17, Issue 11- Friday, March 22, 2019Optional Link
$9B House bill designed to improve Texas schools
House Bill 3 (HB3) advanced to the Texas House of Representatives after the Texas House Committee on Public Education unanimously approved the bill. HB3 would inject $6 billion into classrooms over the next two years.
 
The money would increase funds to low-income students, increase the base funding per student from $5,140 to $6,030, allow property-wealthy school districts to obtain transportation funding, establish funding for dyslexic students, spend $100 million more to help fast-growing school districts pay for the operational expenses of opening new facilities, increase funding for dual language programs and provide either full-day prekindergarten or literacy and mathematics programs if districts already have full-day pre-KAn additional $3 billion dispersed over the two years would drop most school districts' property tax rates. HB3 is backed by an overwhelming majority of House members.

The Senate already unanimously passed Senate Bill 3, which would put $4 billion toward $5,000 raises for full-time classroom teachers and librarians. The House received SB3 on March 5. There has been no activity since. 
Cy-Fair ISD's $1.7B bond vote to be held in May 
The Cypress-Fairbanks (Cy-Fair) Independent School District has called a massive $1.7 billion bond election for May. The plan calls for a new middle school and elementary school, as well as improvements to existing district assets. The passage of the bond would result in a tax increase of $40.50 for owners of a $200,000 home by 2025.  

The district's planning committee, comprised of students, staff and community members, recommended about half of the bond to go toward updates to security, cybersecurity and more robust Career and Technical Education (CTE) programs. Also included are plans for a new performing arts center. 
Pre-solicitation meeting scheduled for I-35 Capital Express projects 
The Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) will hold a pre-solicitation meeting for upcoming Interstate 35 Capital Express projects on April 18 from 2-5 p.m. in the District Hearing Room of Bldg. 7, 7901 N. I-35 in Austin. The purpose of the pre-solicitation meeting is to inform the consultant community of the upcoming solicitations to procure three specific deliverable contracts for the I-35 Capital Express project for the Austin District. 

TxDOT will share the plans, specifications and estimate (PS&E) of Capital Express North - State Highway 45 N. to U.S. 290 E. The PS&E will also be shared for the Capital Express South project - U.S. 29 W/ SH 71/ Ben White Boulevard to SH 45 SE. Lastly, TxDOT officials will cover the schematic, environmental and PS&E for the Capital Express Central project - U.S. 290 E. to U.S. 290 W./ SH 71/ Ben White Boulevard. 

The meeting will include a brief overview of the solicitation and selection process, anticipated pre-certification work categories, solicitation timeline, an overview of the I-35 Capital Express contract's scope, questions and answers and a consultant meet-and-greet session. For more information, contact TxDOT through its messaging page or at 512-832-7187.   
Five appointed to Lower Colorado River Authority board  
Gov. Gregg Abbott has appointed five to the Lower Colorado River Authority (LCRA) Board of Directors. 

Timothy "Tim" Timmerman of Austin is the president of Colorado River Land Trust and a member of Austin Area Research Organization. He has been reappointed to the LCRA Board of Directors. 

Michael "Mike" Allen of Kerrville is a real estate investor. He has served on the Upper Guadalupe River Authority Board of Directors. Margaret "Meg" Voelter of Austin is a member of the State Bar of Texas and a former adjunct professor at Baylor Law School. 

Robert "Bobby" Lewis of Elgin is involved in veterinary and animal organizations throughout Texas. Thomas Michael "Tom" Martine of Cypress Mill is a highly active in Austin real estate associations.  

These appointments are subject to Senate confirmation.
One-of-a-kind hospitality college will undergo expansion and renovation  
A $30.4 million plan to expand and renovate Hilton University of Houston (UH) has been approved by the university's board of regents. This is a teaching hotel for students at UH's Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management. The project is financed through a revenue bond issued by the UH System which will be repaid by revenue generated by the hotel. 

An opportunity for an architect and contractor for the project is available, based off the decision of a committee established by the college. Preliminary designs include the addition of a five-story tower that would nearly double the number of rooms in the existing hotel.  

University officials say the completed project will be a more realistic learning experience for students since the operation will be more of a full-service, non-teaching hotel. Hilton College is the only hospitality program in the world where students work and take classes in a full-service hotel. Students comprise 70 percent of the hotel staff. 

Construction is expected to begin within 18 months once an architect and contractor are selected, and the projected completion of the tower and hotel renovations is late 2022 through early 2023. 
Two more Assistant Manager positions filled in Austin
Rey Arellano              Gina Fiandaca
Two more Assistant Managers have been selected by Austin City Manager Spencer Cronk in an ongoing effort to align his executive team with the Austin's Strategic Direction 2023. Two others were appointed in December. The search for a deputy city manager, who would oversee the priority Strategic Outcome called "Government That Works For All" is ongoing. 

Gina Fiandaca and Rey Arellano were both chosen as Assistant Managers for the Austin Safety and Mobility project. Arellano currently serves as an assistant city manager for the city of Austin, and oversees the safety portfolio that includes police, fire, Austin-Travis County EMS, Austin Code, Homeland Security & Emergency Management, Watershed Protection and the Downtown Austin Community Court.  Fiandaca was a commissioner of the city of Boston Transportation Department (BTD).
AACOG and San Antonio consider new Joint Land Use Study  
The Alamo Area Council of Governments (AACOG) plans to issue a request for proposals (RFP) for an updated land use study if the Department of Defense's (DoD) Office of Economic Adjustment provides a grant. Land chosen for the study is the Joint Base San Antonio (JBSA), which includes Camp Bullis, JBSA Lackland, JBSA Randolph, Kelly Field at Port San Antonio and Martindale Army Airfield. The money would come through the DoD which provides grants to state and local governments to help support military installations. 

The Joint Land Use Study between the city and the AACOG would include goals for the region for up to 20 years. As the San Antonio region continues to grow, the military bases within it have land that becomes more enticing for projects. San Antonio has relied on the Joint Land Use Study for guidance when voting on ordinances. The city has turned to the document in recent years when it explored annexation around military bases. Land restrictions were enacted despite full annexation requests being voted down by residents living near military bases in San Antonio. The document is also used as a guide for economic development and infrastructure projects.  
State is seeking stakeholders for strategic health plan 
The Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) is working with stakeholders across Texas to develop an Intellectual and Developmental Disability (IDD) Strategic Plan, which would focus on aiding those with intellectual disabilities throughout the state. 

The foundation is in its first phase of development and intends to create a statewide IDD Strategic Plan by late summer 2019. The plan would be used to develop goals, establish a timeline for implementation, address already identified gaps and create mechanisms to track the outcomes of projects regarding intellectual disabilities. 

HHSC also has updated its five-year Statewide Behavioral Health (SBH) Strategic Plan to address gaps in mental health and substance use services, and increase access to services. View the SBH plan update and the Foundation for the IDD plan here
SRBA chooses Shelton as executive director 
Meg Shelton
Meg Shelton has been selected as the executive director of the Sulphur River Basin Authority (SRBA). Shelton most recently worked for an employee benefit administration company as general counsel for the chief compliance officer. Instead of having an executive director, the SRBA has been under contract since 2014 with a consultant. This contract was amended in 2017 to a month-to-month contract. 

The hiring of an executive director and developing a strategic plan are required by House Bill 2180, passed during the last session of the Texas Legislature. The bill addressed several issues within the authority, which were identified by the Texas Sunset Commission. They include transparency, board training and development of a strategic plan.  
New city manager pushes for sewer system expansion 
Jeff Underwood
Jeff Underwood has been named the new city manager for the city of Alton after a commissioner's announcement on Tuesday. Underwood replaces Jorge Arcaute, who retired after 12 years with the city. Underwood has been the assistant city manager of Alton since February 2014.  Prior to that he was the planning director for the city of Weslaco for a year.
 

A city project is currently underway for the expansion of a local park that Underwood will oversee, but the city also is developing plans to bring more sewer services to the city. Alton has been functioning on a Certificate of Convenience and Necessity to provide sewer services to residents, but the city will be applying to the Public Utility Commission (PUC) of Texas for its sewer services expansion. If the PUC request is approved, the project may take several years before its completion. 
Disaster relief bills approved by Senate, head to the House 
The Texas Senate this week approved three bills that would allow $1.8 billion from the Economic Stabilization Fund, also known as the rainy day fund, to provide further assistance from damages left behind by Hurricane Harvey and protection against future storms. Senate Bills 6, 7 and 8 will now go to the Texas House where they will be evaluated in legislative committees.   

SB6 would require the Texas Division of Emergency Management to create a how-to guide for local officials on both disaster response and recovery and how to manage debris removal. SB7 would establish the "Texas Infrastructure Resiliency Fund" to pay for expenses like floodplain management and projects related to Hurricane Harvey. SB8 would create an official statewide flood plan that would be compiled by regions across the state that would manage different watersheds. The bill also calls for the creation of a 10-year plan to repair and maintain unsafe dams in the state. It is expected to cost nearly $87 million over the next two years. 
Tarleton State University will seek new president 
F. Dominic Dottavio
After 11 years of leadership, F. Dominic Dottavio will step down as president of Tarleton State University. A national search for his replacement will begin soon. 
 
Dottavio has worked with elected and Texas A&M officials on more than $400 million in construction and expansion projects, including a $54 million engineering building and a $26.4 million renovation of Memorial Stadium. 

Formerly, Dottavio was president of Heidelberg University in Tiffin, Ohio, and led the Marion campus of The Ohio State University prior to that. After August, Dottavio will be a faculty member in Tarleton's College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, where he has had an appointment as a tenured professor since coming to the university.
Port Isabel city manager provides update on projects in 2019  
Port Isabel City Manager Jared Hockema recently provided updates on projects the city plans to tackle in 2019. Some of the funding will come from a bond election that was approved by voters in November 2018.  There were three propositions on the ballot: $4.1 million for street and drainage improvements, $1.1 million for parks and recreation and $750,000 to improve city buildings and facilities.  

The city plans to solicit bids in the coming weeks for improvements to Washington Park. Projects include construction of a pavilion, a basketball court, exercise equipment and landscaping.   

The bidding process is currently underway for the second phase of the Arturo Galvan Coast Park. Projects include construction of a walking trail, a gazebo, parking spots, restrooms and amenities such as landscaping, play areas and lighting.  

Road projects that will begin this year include the reconstruction of sections of Maxan Street, reconstruction of sections of Island Avenue and reconstruction of deteriorated areas on Tarpon, Bass, Trout and Pompano streets. City officials plan to apply for funds from the Texas Community Block Grant Program for reconstruction of the South Shore from Adams to Cisneros streets. Funding should be available in the fall.
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Cities chosen for potential veteran health centers  
Six pilot sites have been selected for a Texas Health and Human Services Commision effort to increase mental health treatment for veterans across rural Texas. Health care and community service centers in Tyler, Abilene, Round Rock, Nacogdoches, Waco and Edinburg were chosen as the pilot cities.  

Veteran counselors were hired at these pilot sites using existing program funding. For more help in locating a local mental health authority, click here. 
DPS hiring state troopers for 2020 
The Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) is accepting applicants for new state troopers. Submitting a 2020 online application is the first step in the hiring process, which can take up to 12 months. The beginning salary of a trooper in training is $55,481, increasing to more than $60,000 once the trainee is commissioned and moved to a 6-month probationary period. Texas requires law enforcement officers to pass a physical test, but individual agencies can set their own standards. To join the DPS, applicants must be at least 21 years old, have two years of military experience or 60 credit hours in college. 

The webpage for applicants can be found here.
Dallas tackles climate change problems 
The effects of Hurricane Harvey not only included the devastation of parts of Houston, but also caused $2.1 billion in damages to the Dallas metro, and predictions show Texas will continue to be a vulnerable target for future economic losses due to climate change 

Because of these potential issues, Dallas will soon launch a climate action plan. The Dallas Office of Environmental Quality & Sustainability has been tasked to develop the Comprehensive Environmental and Climate Action Plan (CECAP). The CECAP has launched a website for the public to find information and track the progress of the city's environmental and climate efforts. The website can be viewed here. 
Calendar of Events

April 3-5 / Austin, Texas
The State Energy Conservation Office (SECO), PACENation (Property Assessed Clean Energy) is offering 25 scholarships for local county, city and special district Texas government participants to attend the 2019 PACENation Summit. The Summit is scheduled for April 3-5, 2019 at the Hilton Austin Hotel. Join PACE experts, local governments, entrepreneurs and other PACE leaders to network, learn and share experiences. 

The 2019 PACENation Summit is the only national conference focused completely on PACE and this year PACENation is showcasing a Texas track including sessions on PACE as an Economic Development Tool, Rural PACE in Texas, Measuring the impact of PACE and more! For more information on the Summit or to apply for a scholarship, visit here or email sarah@pacenation.org. The scholarships are being offered on a first-come, first-serve basis.
April 17 / Austin, Texas
The University of Texas (UT) at Austin and The UT System are hosting the annual Historically Underutilized Business (HUB) Economic Opportunity Forum, "Open for Business Diversity." The forum will be held on April 17 from 11 a.m. - 3 p.m. in the Lone Star Room at the Frank Erwin, 171 Red River St., Austin. 

HUB vendors are invited to meet and greet key purchasing personnel from some of the top spending departments at the university. This year's forum includes a "Co-Opportunities" panel from Buyboard, Premier, E&I Cooperative and The UT System Supply Chain Alliance. The panel will provide HUB vendors insider knowledge on group and cooperative purchasing organizations and contracting processes. Learn about essential steps to take for your company to get involved with these organizations and build essential business relationships. 

To register, visit here and look under "Upcoming Events." Please register by April 5 at 5 p.m.
A number of national issues which were previously relegated to "back burner" status in Congress are now front and center. This is a result of public awareness, citizen concern and media reports outlining the danger and the cost of doing nothing.

Renewable energy, global warming, public safety and infrastructure reform are four issues that have captured the country's attention. There are other critical issues, of course, but most observers believe these issues have now garnered enough attention to force change at the federal level of government. That would be good, but change is already occurring... even without assistance from Congress. State and local leaders are moving to protect citizens and preserve public infrastructure. 

It should be noted that as these issues are addressed, huge new opportunities will emerge for private-sector contractors. 

Renewables are now the fastest growing fuel in history. State and local government leaders have committed to meet future power requirements with clean, renewable, zero-emission energy sources. Although the Green New Deal legislation filed in Congress recently may be dead on arrival, the proposed law has elevated the issue of global warming significantly. The bill calls for upgrading buildings nationwide to improve energy efficiency, expanding the use of electric cars and finding other ways to reduce emissions. Those types of activities are already happening in most regions of the country. 



Wagner reappointed to TFC 
Gov. Greg Abbott has reappointed Commissioner C. Price Wagner of Dallas to the Texas Facilities Commission (TFC). 

His term is set to expire January 31, 2025. The commission controls state buildings, grounds and property, and is responsible for maintenance, repair and construction of state buildings for Texas. The appointment is subject to Senate confirmation. 
Longley leaving LBJ Presidential Library 
Kyle Longley
Kyle Longley will be stepping down as director of the Lyndon B. Johnson (LBJ) Presidential Library and Museum. The LBJ is one of 14 presidential libraries in the U.S. Longley, the institution's fifth director, began his position July 2018. 

Before Longley was hired, the institution had spent more than a year without a director, following the departure of Mark Updegrove, who now serves as president and CEO of the LBJ Foundation. Before taking the position, Longley was a professor at Arizona State University. His last day is March 28.


Vasquez chosen as Katy city treasurer 
Andrew Vasquez
Andrew Vasquez, a former deputy director of finance for the city of Houston, started March 4 as Katy's treasurer and finance director. 

Vasquez succeeds Becky Wilkins who left Nov. 26 to assume a position near Austin. City administrator Byron Hebert, the director of finance from 2000 until 2014, had stepped in as treasurer in the interim.  
Dillard named CIO for San Antonio 
Brian Dillard
San Antonio officials appointed Brian Dillard earlier this month as its chief innovation officer (CIO), moving him from interim to permanent within that role. Dillard has served as chief innovation officer on an interim basis since the departure of innovation officer Jose De La Cruz in November.  

Prior to that appointment, he was San Antonio's smart city administrator, a position he took in 2018. In his new role, Dillard will continue to oversee ongoing projects including local smart city efforts, innovation zones and CivTechSA. 


Boards move forward with plans to update sports fields 
Kilgore athletic association boards are teaming up with stakeholders to advance the city's revitalization project of two sports fields. Once the boards and stakeholders agree on a design, the first phase of the project could begin this summer. The project timeline is unestablished but is estimated to be finalized within the next 5 years. 

The city of Kilgore would own the revitalized facility while maintenance and operations would fall on the partner organizations. 


GOVERNOR'S APPOINTMENTS
Gov. Greg Abbott has announced the following appointments/reappointments from March 15 - March 21:

Gerald R. Callas, MD, FASA - Beaumont, Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation 
Joel S. Garza, Jr. - Houston Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation 
Sen. Charles Perry - Lubbock, Southwest States Water Commission
Rep. Lyle Larson - San Antonio, Southwest Water Commission
Eddie Sikes - Brownsville, Aerospace and Aviation Advisory Committee
Carlos Y. Benavides, IV - Edinburg, Specialty Courts Advisory Council
Keta Dickerson - Richardson, Specialty Courts Advisory Council
Amy Granberry - Portland, Specialty Courts Advisory Council
Grant Weidler - Spring, Texas State Board of Acupuncture Examiners
Mary Heber, M.D. - Nacogdoches, Texas State Board of Acupuncture Examiners
Richard Tesson - Houston, One Call Board of Texas
Christopher Nowak - Cypress, One Call Board of Texas
Kevin Bryan - Dallas, Texas Judicial Council
Rachel Racz - Houston, Texas Judicial Council
George Green - New Braunfels, OneStar Foundation Board
Shelley Rayburn - Fort Worth, OneStar Foundation Board
Maria Hernandez Ferrier, Ed.D. - San Antonio, One Star Foundation Board
Cassandra "Cassie" Bering - Fort Worth, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board
Richard Dean - Wolfforth, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board
Ryan Dollinger - Beaumont, Juvenile Justice Advisory Board


RECENT REPORTS and DATA
Legislative Budget Board- Senate Bill 500, House Committee Substitute - Infographic
Legislative Budget Board- Committee Substitute for House Bill 1
Study recommends larger police force for Fort Worth 
A 331-page study suggests that the Fort Worth Police Department would need to hire 300 police officers over a 10-year period to keep up with the city's growth. The additions would cost the city more than $6 million per year. 

One recommendation is to hire 35 sworn officers, mostly patrol officers, each year, along with 10 civilians to work with the department. Fort Worth City Council members plan to work with police officials in determining which recommendations are achievable. View a presentation of the study here.  
JOB BOARD
Dozens of public-sector jobs are available. Click here to view all job openings and guidelines for job submissions to SPI. New jobs added this week: 
  • Texas Parks and Wildlife- Assistant Park Superintendent II
  • Texas Ethics Commission- Staff Services Officer III
  • Texas Water Development Board- Professional Geoscientist/Geoscientist-in-training (Geoscientist II/Hydrologist II)
  • Texas Comptroller of Public Accounts- Residential Appraiser II
  • Texas Commission on Environmental Quality- Budget Analyst IV
  • Texas Employee Retirement System- Benefits Analyst
  • Texas Department of Banking- Director V of Corporate Activities
  • Texas Department of Public Safety- Performance Management Technical Writer
  • Texas Department of Information Resources- Manager IV Information Technology Operations
  • Texas Department of Agriculture- Food & Nutrition Administrative Review Training Specialist/ 2 Vacancies
  • Texas Real Estate Commission- Appraiser III
  • Alamo Area Council of Governments- Program Manager Joint Land Use Study and Related Plans
  • City of Austin- Procurement Specialist III Capital Contracting Office
  • City of Dallas- Library Associate Special Events 


View our Texas Government Insider and Government Contracting Pipeline newsletter archives

Texas Government Insider is a free weekly newsletter detailing important happenings throughout the state and summarizing current political issues relevant to individuals interested in government.   
Publisher: Mary Scott Nabers
Editor: Kristin Gordon 
TGI is published by Strategic Partnerships, Inc. (SPI), a research and consulting firm. Founded in Texas in 1995 by former government executives and public sector experts, the SPI Team has developed a national reputation for partnering public and private sector entities.   
To learn more about SPI services, click here or contact our sales department at 512-531-3900. 
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