[Lt. Governor of Texas]
Post Office Box 12068
Austin, Texas 78711
David Dewhurst

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                            
November 20, 2013  

Lt. Governor Dewhurst Issues Additional Interim Charges to Protect the People of Texas
AUSTIN—In a week marked by natural disasters in the Midwest, Lt. Governor David Dewhurst today issued another round of Interim Charges focused on helping Texas and her citizens deal better with the natural disasters and accidents that threaten life, the Texas economy and our overall quality of life.
"While we have a sunny economic story to tell, it is our responsibility as leaders to ensure state government is helping our citizens prepare for and deal with the storms that occasionally blow through life," said Dewhurst. "Although they span a number of state government functions and address crises of varying sizes, these charges are all a reflection of the genuine compassion which Texans have for each other. I look forward to the Committee recommendations to help us all become better neighbors to one another."
In this round of charges, Dewhurst has continued his efforts to protect Texans by instructing three committees (Agricultural, Rural Affairs & Homeland Security, Health & Human Services, and Business & Commerce) to study specific areas of concern to the People of Texas.
Agriculture, Rural Affairs & Homeland Security
SAFETY REQUIREMENTS. In light of the fertilizer plant explosion in West, Texas this year, Dewhurst asked the Committee to examine the current regulatory and insurance requirements for the storage of ammonium nitrate, including the role of the State Chemist and the Texas Department of Insurance. Additionally, he requested recommendations that would eliminate inconsistencies, improve transparency, and protect Texans' safety without creating duplicitous practices and procedures for the Texas workforce.
DISASTER RELIEF EFFORTS. Considering the aftermath of the West explosion, Dewhurst charged the Committee with dissecting the role of state and local governments regarding recovery operations across the state in the event of a disaster, including how state, local governments, and businesses can work together in order to assist with the rebuilding/recovery of affected areas in the event of a disaster. He also requested the Committee to identify essential personnel and resources needed to increase existing response capabilities.
Health & Human Services
CHILD PROTECTION. In an effort to continue to protect the children of Texas, Dewhurst instructed the Committee to review the Department of Family and Protective Services' (DFPS) efforts to reduce child fatalities. He also instructed them to ensure that DFPS effectively uses data to strategically improve caseworker performance, identify and improve upon deficiencies within the system, and improve overall outcomes for children.
Business & Commerce
STATE OF TWIA. Dewhurst requested the Committee to review the administrative and financial state of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association (TWIA) and determine alternative financial methods to fund a probable maximum loss of a 1-in-75 or 1-in-100 year event. Additionally, Dewhurst requested the Committee to monitor litigation developments, develop and evaluate plans to reduce TWIA's total insured exposure, make recommendations regarding an exposure reduction clearinghouse under development at TWIA, which aims to assist the transfer of TWIA policies to the free market, make recommendations regarding the qualifications for building inspectors conducting inspections for the TWIA and other building inspectors statewide, and consider expanding the types of professionals qualified to conduct inspections and the appropriate entity to oversee inspectors.
TEXAS FAIR PLAN. In an effort to reduce the total insured exposure of the FAIR Plan, Dewhurst directed the Committee to review the Texas FAIR Plan's organizational and financial structure as the state's insurer of last resort for residential homeowner's insurance coverage. Additionally, Dewhurst charged the Committee to study, in particular, the structural relationship to TWIA, cause of its current debt, and available coverages and rates compared to the private market.
"The toughest circumstances bring out the best in our state, with neighbors helping neighbors and communities pulling together. These charges are intended to preemptively equip our citizens to fulfill the commitments of strong community," said Dewhurst. "When we look out for one another, we show what Texas is really about."
Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst will continue to release his interim charges in the coming weeks.
- 30 -