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Summary: HB 1308 would codify the Agricultural Economic Development Program for rural areas in Texas. The state received a large, one time grant from the federal government and Governor Perry gave the Texas Department of Agriculture (TDA) authority over the money. The fund has been used to support economic development programs controlled by the TDA.
Also, as part of this omnibus bill, HB 1308 changes the language regarding Certified Retirement Community Programs. If passed, the application fee TDA charges to these communities would turn into a fee the TDA could charge at any time, with no limit set on how often.
Analysis: Although the fund currently consists of only federal money, in the future it would be open to state funds. These economic development programs often consist of loan programs, like the Agricultural Diversification and Microenterprise Support Programs, which offer subsidized loans to rural areas and small agricultural businesses. Even if all loans are paid back and the state is able to recover its money, manipulating interest rates is not an appropriate function of the state. Also, these rural areas and small agricultural businesses would be receiving these special loans at the expense of the rest of the state.
Additionally, HB 1308 would give the TDA more authority to charge more fees to retirement communities. Although this program is voluntary, the fee structure should be specified by statute, not left up to the TDA.
Because it expands government and infringes on the free markets, TPPA does not support HB 1308.