TYC BOARD RESIGNS FOLLOWING PASSAGE OF SENATE MEASURE
|Horseshoe Bay Senator Troy Fraser lays out his bills aimed at increasing competition in the residential energy market.|
(AUSTIN) — Members of the Texas Youth Commission Board of Trustees announced that they would resign after a measure dismissing the board was passed by the Senate on Wednesday. Senate Bill 1921, by Arlington Senator Chris Harris, fired all current board members and precluded their re-appointment back to the board. Members were under fire for allegations of sexual abuse that occurred on their watch, and for not taking swift or appropriate action to address the allegations once they knew about them. Senator Juan "Chuy" Hinojosa of McAllen said the Senate's Wednesday action was necessary. "This board had to go. It was asleep at the wheel," he said. "They ignored all the red flags, they refused to be active," he said.
Lt. Governor David Dewhurst commented on the mass resignation, saying it will help the state move forward with repairing the troubled youth commission. "I'm pleased that a change in leadership is finally forthcoming at the Texas Youth Commission, and I think that change in leadership will help us protect the juveniles in our custody," he said.
The Senate approved three measures on Thursday aimed at increasing competition in the residential electricity market and driving down electric costs for average Texans. Senator Troy Fraser of Horseshoe Bay, who authored all three bills, said one of the problems in the residential market is that the state had no way to drive down high electric costs once the price of generation came down. These bills will increase competition, he said, and many Texans should start seeing lower electric bills. "The intent is that electric rates will come down and prices will be more competitive," said Fraser
Senate Bill 482 would give the Public Utilities Commission broader discretion to lower electric rates to more accurately reflect the cost of fuel. It would also permit the PUC to transfer certain customers to energy companies that offer better prices, and would increase consumer education efforts in order to promote better pricing and competition.
Senate Bill 483 would restrict the amount of power generation capacity any one company could own in Texas, capping that at 25 percent. Power companies could not state or imply that any one company is a better, more reliable provider than another. The bill was amended to help elderly low income Texans with critical medical needs by placing a moratorium on service disconnection when the temperatures rise above 100 degrees or sink below freezing. These customers would be permitted to pay any outstanding balances through an installment plan.
Finally, the PUC would have more power to review sales of public utility companies through SB 896 . Many lawmakers feel that the commission already has this oversight authority, but Fraser said he wanted to make this power clearer in statute. He said the bill was not in response to the sale of north Texas power company TXU to private investors, but that this bill is good policy that would help preserve the public interest. "The legislation we passed today is not intended to impact any transaction that is ongoing," said Fraser. "This is good public policy that we are putting in place, that should be the policy of the state."
The Senate will reconvene Monday, March 19 at 1:30 p.m.