Measure simplifies Texas law to make it easier for state employees to work from home
Austin - Rep. Celia Israel (HD 50 - Austin) and Senator Kirk Watson (SD 14-Austin) successfully passed Senate Bill 1032 out of the House and Senate, in order to ease congestion by encouraging state agencies to allow employees to telecommute and work on flexible schedules.
Current law stands in the way of state agency supervisors who want to give employees an option to work from home. SB 1032 would allow agency directors to adopt department-wide policies for employees who can work remotely, reducing their need to make roundtrips to an office. Currently, state employees must gain approval from the head of their department on a case-by-case basis in order to telecommute.
The bill would make it easier for employees to work alternative hours by providing an exception to the law requiring all state offices to remain open from 8am to 5pm, five days a week. Allowing agencies the choice to implement flexible work hours enables state employees to avoid peak travel times, reducing their impact on downtown traffic.
SB 1032 does not mandate all state agencies and their employees to participate, but makes it easier for those who are able to work remotely or on alternative schedules and wish to avoid traffic. Fewer state employees on the road would mean more congestion-free days for all Texas drivers
"We all notice how much nicer getting around town is on state holidays," Israel said. "If SB 1032 becomes law, I hope to see more of those nice days."
Texas A&M Transportation Institute research has found that individuals commuting to and from work account for most cars on Austin-area roads. State employees drive 19% of the cars traveling to work downtown on a typical weekday, and their impact is most noticeable when they are gone. On state holidays, rush hour traffic on southbound IH 35 went down as much as 38%.
Because of the impact SB 1032 would bring to Travis County congestion, it received strong support from the Real Estate Council of Austin and the Austin Chamber of Commerce.
Rep. Israel said, "Most of the projects to improve traffic on I-35 will cost our state billions of dollars. Here's something we can do to reduce congestion and emissions in Austin that won't cost tax payers a dime."
Contact: David Feigen