Bill Text: TX HB819 | 2021-2022 | 87th Legislature | Introduced


Bill Title: Relating to the creation of certain pilot programs to encourage economic and educational opportunities in certain regions of this state.

Spectrum: Bipartisan Bill

Status: (Introduced) 2021-04-07 - Left pending in committee [HB819 Detail]

Download: Texas-2021-HB819-Introduced.html
 
 
  By: White H.B. No. 819
 
 
 
A BILL TO BE ENTITLED
 
AN ACT
  relating to the creation of certain pilot programs to encourage
  economic and educational opportunities in certain regions of this
  state.
         BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF TEXAS:
         SECTION 1.  Subtitle C, Title 15, Business & Commerce Code,
  is amended by adding Chapter 682 to read as follows:
  CHAPTER 682. SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE PILOT PROGRAM
         Sec. 682.001.  DEFINITIONS. In this chapter:
               (1)  "Department" means the Texas Department of
  Licensing and Regulation.
               (2)  "Pilot program" means the Special Economic Zone
  pilot program established under this chapter.
         Sec. 682.002.  ESTABLISHMENT OF PILOT PROGRAM. (a)  The
  Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation, in cooperation with
  the secretary of state, the comptroller, the Texas Commission on
  Environmental Quality, other state agencies, and political
  subdivisions of this state that provide occupational licenses,
  shall establish a pilot program to create special economic zones in
  eligible counties of this state for the purpose of reducing
  barriers and costs of entry to occupations and entrepreneurship for
  residents of and new and existing businesses located in or
  relocating to a special economic zone.
         (b)  The department shall select eligible counties for
  participation in the pilot program, at least one of which must have
  a school district in the county participating in the Rural School
  Innovation Zones pilot program established under Subchapter O,
  Chapter 29, Education Code.
         (c)  To the extent not prohibited by law, the pilot program
  must, unless the department determines that the activity endangers
  or is likely to endanger the health, safety, or welfare of the
  public, provide for the following in participating counties:
               (1)  waiving fees for filing a certificate of formation
  with the secretary of state;
               (2)  waiving all professional licensing fees imposed by
  state agencies;
               (3)  waiving minimum time periods or examination
  requirements for offering reciprocity to out-of-state occupational
  license holders;
               (4)  waiving minimum credit hours and other educational
  prerequisites for eligibility to sit for certain occupational
  licensing exams and allowing licensure from the passage of the
  relevant licensing exam;
               (5)  waiving or reducing permitting fees and allowing
  expedited processing of certain environmental permits issued by the
  Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, including:
                     (A)  waiving fees or issuing refunds for air
  permits by rule and waiving requirements for certain standard air
  permits for small businesses, nonprofit corporations,
  municipalities, counties, and independent school districts;
                     (B)  exempting facilities permitted by rule from
  additional permits or registrations required by local air pollution
  control agencies;
                     (C)  expanding the readily available permit
  program of the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality, including
  by developing additional readily available permits tailored for
  manufacturing, wood-processing, and other industrial sectors and
  facility types commonly found in East Texas; and
                     (D)  reducing or waiving fees and waiving
  requirements for obtaining a Texas Commission on Environmental
  Quality occupational license, including waiving the requirement
  that an individual must be in compliance with the payment of
  guaranteed student loans to be eligible for a license;
               (6)  suspending any duplicative local government
  occupational license requirements;
               (7)  waiving the annual requirement to file a "no tax
  due" franchise tax report with the comptroller; and
               (8)  a $2 million minimum deduction from the state
  franchise tax.
         Sec. 682.003.  ELIGIBLE COUNTIES: SPECIAL ECONOMIC ZONE
  LOCATIONS. (a)  A special economic zone may be created in counties
  in this state that meet one or more of the following criteria, as
  measured during the five years preceding the creation of the zone:
               (1)  school districts in the region received an overall
  district performance rating under Section 39.054 or made
  achievements under the closing the gaps domain under Section
  39.053(c) lower than the state average;
               (2)  the percentage of the population with a bachelor's
  degree or higher was lower than the state average;
               (3)  population growth was negative or lower than the
  state average;
               (4)  zero or very few new building permits were issued;
               (5)  retail sales per capita were lower than the state
  average;
               (6)  the number of employer establishments was lower
  than the state average;
               (7)  median household income was lower than the state
  average;
               (8)  the number of persons living in poverty was higher
  than the state average for communities of the same size; and
               (9)  unemployment rates were stagnant or increasing.
         (b)  A pilot program must be created in eligible counties
  that, to the extent possible, represent different regions of this
  state.
         Sec. 682.004.  REPORT.  Not later than December 1 of each
  even-numbered year, the department shall submit to the legislature
  a report on the effectiveness of the pilot program.  The department
  shall include in the report a recommendation regarding whether the
  pilot program should be continued, expanded, or terminated.
         Sec. 682.005.  EXPIRATION. This chapter expires September
  1, 2027.
         SECTION 2.  Chapter 29, Education Code, is amended by adding
  Subchapter O to read as follows:
  SUBCHAPTER O.  RURAL SCHOOL INNOVATION ZONES PILOT PROGRAM
         Sec. 29.601.  DEFINITIONS. In this subchapter:
               (1)  "Institution of higher education" has the meaning
  assigned by Section 61.003.
               (2)  "Pilot program" means the Rural School Innovation
  Zones pilot program established under this subchapter.
         Sec. 29.602.  ESTABLISHMENT. (a)  The Rural School
  Innovation Zones pilot program is established to align the delivery
  of educational services in eligible regions of the state to
  maximize workforce preparation and improve student outcomes at the
  primary, secondary, and postsecondary levels.
         (b)  A school district located in an eligible region of the
  state designated under Section 29.605 may elect to participate in
  the pilot program by entering into an agreement with one or more
  other school districts in that region to establish a regional
  administrator to manage the educational and career opportunities
  that will be offered under the pilot program to high school students
  enrolled at the participating districts.
         Sec. 29.603.  REGIONAL ADMINISTRATOR. (a)  The governing
  body of a regional administrator established under Section
  29.602(b) must include:
               (1)  at least one representative of:
                     (A)  the applicable regional education service
  center; and
                     (B)  each participating school district; and
               (2)  representatives of the business community or
  institutions of higher education in the applicable region that have
  experience in operating a P-TECH program under Subchapter N.
         (b)  The members described by Subsection (a)(2) must be
  appointed by the commissioner in a number that exceeds the number of
  members affiliated with participating school districts.
         (c)  The governing body shall hire an executive director for
  the regional administrator.
         (d)  The regional administrator shall:
               (1)  manage the portfolio of educational and career
  opportunities offered by participating school districts;
               (2)  enter into:
                     (A)  articulation agreements with institutions of
  higher education in the region to offer to high school students
  enrolled at participating school districts dual credit courses
  aligned with the programs offered under the pilot program under
  Section 29.604; and
                     (B)  memoranda of understanding with regional
  business partners to provide high school students enrolled at
  participating school districts access to work-based training and
  education;
               (3)  facilitate discussion between the participating
  school districts, business partners, and institutions of higher
  education to align program offerings under the pilot program;
               (4)  manage student transportation between the
  participating school districts, business partners, and
  institutions of higher education;
               (5)  collaborate with:
                     (A)  parents of students enrolled at
  participating school districts to identify programs of interest;
  and
                     (B)  local businesses and local workforce
  development boards to identify regional workforce needs;
               (6)  work with child care and prekindergarten providers
  in the region to improve the quality of those programs and allow for
  a seamless transition to kindergarten;
               (7)  provide supports to educators who develop ideas
  for new programs or schools that fulfill educational or workforce
  needs in the region; and
               (8)  develop and provide college and career counseling
  services to high school students enrolled at participating school
  districts.
         Sec. 29.604.  PROGRAM REQUIREMENTS. (a)  Each participating
  school district shall offer educational or career-oriented
  pathways of focus to all high school students enrolled at
  participating districts in the region.
         (b)  The programs offered under the pilot program:
               (1)  must:
                     (A)  enable each high school student enrolled at a
  participating district to graduate high school with an associate
  degree;
                     (B)  include a P-TECH program in each community in
  the region; and
                     (C)  include an open-enrollment early college
  high school program in at least one community in the region; and
               (2)  may enable each high school student enrolled at a
  participating district to graduate high school with a two-year
  postsecondary certificate or industry certification.
         (c)  Any agreement with a business partner to participate in
  the pilot program must require the business partner to offer paid
  internships to high school students enrolled at participating
  districts.
         Sec. 29.605.  ELIGIBLE REGION. To be an eligible region
  under the pilot program, a region must meet one or more of the
  following criteria, as measured during the five years preceding the
  participation of school districts in the region in the pilot
  program:
               (1)  school districts in the region received an overall
  district performance rating under Section 39.054 or made
  achievements under the closing the gaps domain under Section
  39.053(c) lower than the state average;
               (2)  the percentage of the population with a bachelor's
  degree or higher was lower than the state average;
               (3)  population growth was negative or lower than the
  state average;
               (4)  zero or very few new building permits were issued;
               (5)  retail sales per capita were lower than the state
  average;
               (6)  the number of employer establishments was lower
  than the state average;
               (7)  median household income was lower than the state
  average;
               (8)  the number of persons living in poverty was higher
  than the state average for communities of the same size; and
               (9)  unemployment rates were stagnant or increasing.
         Sec. 29.606.  REPORT.  Not later than December 1 of each
  even-numbered year, the agency shall submit to the legislature a
  report on the effectiveness of the pilot program.  The agency shall
  include in the report a recommendation regarding whether the pilot
  program should be continued, expanded, or terminated.
         Sec. 29.607.  EXPIRATION. This subchapter expires September
  1, 2025.
         SECTION 3.  Subchapter O, Chapter 29, Education Code, as
  added by this Act, applies beginning with the 2021-2022 school
  year.
         SECTION 4.  This Act takes effect September 1, 2021.
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