85th Legislature | KERA News

85th Legislature

House Backs Giddings Measure Targeting 'Lunch Shaming'

May 24, 2017
Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

After several failed attempts and compromises during the legislative session — and a heated debate with members of the House Freedom Caucus on Wednesday — Rep. Helen Giddings succeeded in getting the House to pass a measure that targets "lunch shaming" in schools.

Texas Senate Will Reject House's 'Bathroom Bill' Compromise

May 24, 2017
Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

The legislative wrangling over where transgender Texans can use the bathroom isn’t over yet.

Texas House Backs Voter ID Overhaul, With Changes

May 23, 2017
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

The Texas House on Tuesday approved legislation to overhaul the state’s embattled voter identification law, moving it one step closer to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk.

Jen Rice / Texas Station Collaborative

At the Texas Capitol, being a rookie lawmaker is a lot like starting any new job. Your first week, you just want to find the right office without getting lost in an empty hallway.

As the 85th Texas Legislature starts its final full week, we asked two freshmen members of the Texas House of Representatives what they’ve learned about low bill numbers and high expectations.

Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

After months of private squabbling and public threats of a legislative overtime session, the Texas House and Senate finally compromised to unveil a joint budget late Saturday.

Bill To Ban Texting While Driving In Texas Clears Senate

May 19, 2017
Tim Park for The Texas Tribune

Legislation that would create a statewide texting while driving ban overcame a last-ditch attempt in the Senate on Friday to gut the bill. The bill's author, state Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, said he will concur with the changes the Senate made. The measure will then head to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk.

From Texas Standard:

The end may be near for straight-ticket voting in Texas. House Bill 25, which would ban the practice, passed out of the Senate on Thursday. It's got one more stop in the lower chamber before heading to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk. Prominent Democrats are decrying the bill – saying it would dilute Democratic votes.

Here's A Roundup Of Bills Addressing Sexual Assault At Texas Colleges, Universities

May 19, 2017
KUT News

The Legislature is set to give final approval on bills addressing sexual assault at Texas colleges and universities. Lawmakers are making campus sexual assaults a top priority this session following some major headlines around the state. 

Texas House Backs Proposal Requiring Seat Belts On School Buses

May 19, 2017
Eric Schlegel

The Texas House on Thursday tentatively backed legislation that would require three-point seat belts be installed on newly-purchased school buses across the state.

The end of this year’s legislative session is a little more than a week away, and health advocates say lawmakers are missing an opportunity to deal with a public health crisis in the state.

Last year, researchers reported a sharp spike between 2010 and 2012 in the number of women in Texas who died while pregnant or soon after giving birth, but they don’t know why.

Texas House Passes Child Welfare Reforms

May 18, 2017

The Texas House on Thursday passed the last bill in a package of sweeping measures aimed at addressing a crisis in the state's child welfare system. 

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

With deadlines looming, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick on Wednesday threatened to push for a special session of the Legislature to pass a bill to regulate bathroom use for transgender Texans and legislation to set new thresholds for when cities and counties must get voter approval for their tax rates.

Government officials and community activists from across the state gathered outside the Texas Capitol on Tuesday to voice support for taking legal action to stop the so-called “sanctuary cities" law.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Law enforcement groups call civil asset forfeiture a vital tool in the war on drugs. Critics on the left and the right say it’s a practice prone to abuse, and it needs to be curtailed. The process allows law enforcement agents to take property and cash they suspect is related to criminal activity.

Nisarg Khatri / Shutterstock

A bill aimed at shedding a little more light on family court proceedings ended up in the dustbin of legislative history when it failed to get a needed vote on the Texas House floor on Thursday.

There's a fight looming at the Texas Legislature: how to balance the state budget for the next two years.

The Texas House's version of the budget pulls $2.5 billion from the state's savings account, also known as the Economic Stabilization Fund, or Rainy Day, Fund.  Right now, there's more than $10 billion in that reserve.

The Senate, though, says it doesn't want to pull out any of that money.

But before that debate heats up, we got to wondering how all that money got there in the first place.

Texas House Backs Measure Barring Mandatory Vaccines For Foster Children

May 11, 2017
Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

What started as Texas House members discussing a bill that would improve the state’s Child Protective Services agency turned into a heated debate over vaccines — and whether they should be required for children placed in foster care.

From Texas Standard:

With the legislative session set to end on May 29, time is running out to pass a state budget, and resolve the avalanche of other bills that are still moving between chambers of the Legislature. And then there are the governor's priority items, some of which are still stuck, because lawmakers can't agree how to pay for them.

Delcia Lopez for The Texas Tribune

When a procedural maneuver in the Texas House helped kill consideration of a school lunch measure Tuesday, the bill's author took to the floor and questioned whether legislators were truly serving their constituents' interests.

Bill To Enforce Reporting Of Police Shootings Stumbles, Then Passes

May 11, 2017
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

After failing by one vote on the House floor Wednesday night, a bill to penalize law enforcement agencies that don't report police shootings to the state was reconsidered and tentatively passed on a quick, quiet voice vote Thursday morning. 

House OKs Bill Allowing Adoption Agencies To Reject Parents On Religious Grounds

May 10, 2017

Faith-based adoption agencies in Texas would be able to reject prospective parents on religious grounds under a bill the state House preliminarily approved Tuesday over strong objections from Democratic lawmakers who said it would ultimately harm children and deny good people the right to care for them.

From Texas Standard:

The cooler in your local gas station or grocery store is now a much more colorful place than it once was. Texans who like to bend the occasional elbow are still riding the wave of the craft beer boom.

Texas Lawmakers Send Sandra Bland Act For Full Vote In The Senate

May 3, 2017

State lawmakers are sending the Sandra Bland Act for a full vote in the Senate. The bill is named after a black woman who died in police custody in Waller County in 2015.

The Texas Legislature is in full swing. And, while lawmakers debate a flurry of bills ahead of sine die, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Today's question comes from Eric Staib: 

Greg Abbott seems to make the news more often than governors in other states I've lived in. How powerful is the Texas governor compared to other states? 

Officers arrested demonstrators who staged an all-day sit-in Monday to protest legislation banning so-called "sanctuary" jurisdictions.

Why Is The State’s Share Of Public School Funding Shrinking?

May 1, 2017
Sally Beauvais / Marfa Public Radio

Every year, the state of Texas and local school districts pay more and more for public education. Together, they’ll spend a projected $46 billion on Texas schools in 2017. That money comes from two main places: the state government and local property taxes. But that burden isn’t shared equally.

The Texas House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday to penalize jurisdictions that don't honor detainer requests from the federal Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency.

From Texas Standard:

As the Texas House works to balance the state's budget, some lawmakers are attempting to abolish a tax – a source of revenue whose loss others fear could jeopardize public education to the tune of untold billions. Earlier in the legislative session, the Senate voted to eliminate the franchise tax – a tax on businesses that's based on gross receipts. The franchise tax brings in $8 billion, during each two year budget cycle. A large chunk of that revenue pays for public schools.

Texas Senate Approves Bill To Require Seat Belts On School Buses

Apr 26, 2017
Eric Schlegel / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate on Wednesday passed legislation requiring three-point seat belts be installed on newly-purchased school buses across the state.