85th Legislature | KERA News

85th Legislature

The Texas House of Representatives has given tentative approval of a bill to ban so-called sanctuary cities. The chamber passed Senate Bill 4 early Thursday morning on a 93-54 vote after about 16 hours of debate. The bill would penalize jurisdictions that limit local law enforcement's cooperation with Immigration and Customs Enforcement detainer requests

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The 85th legislative session ends on May 29. Texas lawmakers have just over five weeks to figure out some of the state’s most pressing issues, plus hear and vote on dozens, possibly hundreds of bills. In all, legislators have filed more than 9,000 bills this session.

Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

Amid concerns about rolling back local protections for vulnerable Texans and dire economic fallout, a panel of House lawmakers considered a measure into the early hours of Thursday morning that some are hoping will serve as an alternative approach to regulating bathroom use for transgender Texans.

Dallas Officials Say State Lawmakers Share Blame For City's Pension Woes

Apr 19, 2017
Illustration by Todd Wiseman / Vittorio Ferrari

The Texas Legislature doesn’t send any state funds to the beleaguered Dallas or Houston pension systems. But legislators nonetheless find themselves mediating city-level disputes over a collection of bills aimed at shoring up at least $14 billion in the cities’ collective shortfalls.

Gov. Abbott Signals Support For 'Bathroom Bill' From Texas House

Apr 18, 2017
Bob Daemmrich for the Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott is signaling support for House legislation that some hope will serve as an alternative to the Senate's "bathroom bill."

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Sherry Cook, the embattled executive director of the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, is stepping down from her post amid a series of spending controversies at the agency.

From Texas Standard:

As the legislative session heads into its final six weeks, lawmakers have a lot left to do. They face the task of reconciling budgets passed by the House and Senate into a single document. They must act on the governor’s emergency agenda items. And they’ll need to decide the fate of the more than 6,000 bills filed during the session.

TABC On Hot Seat Over Trips And Spending Controversies

Apr 14, 2017
Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

For more than three hours Thursday, top Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission officials were grilled by House members for misusing state resources, taking trips to Hawaii on the taxpayers’ dime, mixing vacation with state duties, misreporting who has been assigned which state-owned vehicles, and cozying up to the very industry they’re supposed to be regulating.

Across the country, there's a backlog of kits containing potential evidence of sexual assaults. Victim advocates say the situation threatens public safety. Lawmakers in dozens of states are pushing for funding, and in Texas, one state representative has offered an innovative solution.

Thousands of rape kits sit sealed and untested in forensics labs and law enforcement offices in Texas. What's missing is state and local funding to pay to analyze the evidence in many of those kits.

Bill Zeeble / KERA News

State Sen. Don Huffines, R-Dallas, wants to shut down an agency called Dallas County Schools. It provides bus service to several North Texas school districts, including Dallas ISD, which favors the senator’s plans.

Tamir Kalifa for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate on Tuesday gave initial approval to a measure allowing county clerks to recuse themselves from signing marriage licenses for same-sex couples because of religious objections.

In 2016, Texas was one of the fastest growing states in the country, adding almost a half-million people in a year’s time. With growth like that, securing future water supplies will become critical, so Sen. Ted Cruz filed a bill to loosen regulations around importing water from other states. The idea is to make it easier for Texas to buy water from its neighbors. But some worry it could lead to environmental destruction.

From Texas Standard:

Lt. Governor Dan Patrick entered the current legislative session with a long list of priorities, and a conservative wind at his back. But despite these advantages, Patrick is unlikely to get what he wants. And that’s largely because of fellow Republican and House Speaker Joe Straus.

Texas House Passes Budget After More Than 15 Hour-Debate

Apr 7, 2017
Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

After 15 and a half hours of debate on hundreds of amendments to the Texas House budget, lawmakers in the lower chamber passed the two-year, $218 billion document, with 131 votes in favor and 16 votes against.

Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has challenged the House to at least take a vote on the Senate's "private school choice" bill, one of his priorities for the Texas legislative session.

Courtesy of the Joyful Heart Foundation

When you go to the Department of Public Safety office to apply for a driver’s license, the application asks if you want to donate a buck or more to support veterans or organ donation or people who are visually impaired. If Rep. Victoria Neave, D-Dallas, has her way, you’ll be asked if you’d like to help the state pay to test DNA evidence from sexual assault cases.

Texas House Education Committee Backs Bill Overhauling A-F System

Apr 4, 2017
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

In a bittersweet victory for educators seeking edits to the state's proposed A-F system for grading Texas public schools and districts, the House Public Education Committee voted 11-0 Tuesday in favor of a bill that would drastically change the system.

Texas Senate Passes Private School Choice Bill

Mar 31, 2017
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Texas senators spent hours on Thursday questioning how a “private school choice” bill would hold private schools accountable or help students with disabilities before voting to give it final passage, 18-13.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Just one day after the Texas Senate passed its two-year budget, a key House committee sent their own spending proposal to the full House – but not before cutting $2.4 billion from the state’s largest health care program for the poor and disabled.

The Texas Legislature is in full swing. And, while lawmakers typically wait until the waning weeks of the session to get anything done, we're answering some of your questions about what goes on under the granite dome for our TXDecides project.

Today's question, submitted by Charles Douglas III:

What is a typical ratio between the number of bills proposed versus the number of bills voted on during a legislative session?

Texas Senate Tentatively Approves Voter ID Fix

Mar 27, 2017
Michael Stravato for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate tentatively approved legislation Monday that would revamp the state’s voter identification rules, a response to court rulings that the current law discriminates against minority voters.

Texas Cities Predict Dozens Of Events Canceled If 'Bathroom Bill' Passes

Mar 23, 2017
Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

Every three years, the American Public Transportation Association holds an event it calls the APTA EXPO. For its 2026 EXPO, the trade group for the "bus, rapid transit and commuter rail systems industry" had put Dallas on its list of possible destinations, according to city officials, who estimated the event would generate more than $40 million in economic activity.

From Texas Standard:

What's in a name? It turns out that question has relevance long after Shakespeare's time. In fact, it's at the center of a bill before the Texas Legislature this session.

 

School Choice Bill Proponents, Foes Debate What's Best For Families

Mar 21, 2017
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Maria Aberra put on her red school uniform shirt with the Texas emblem like she does every morning — but instead of heading to her charter school, she drove 20 miles with her mom Tuesday to the Capitol to testify on school choice.

Senate Passes Property Tax Bill State Leaders Love, Local Officials Oppose

Mar 21, 2017
The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate on Tuesday approved a controversial bill that seeks to curb the growth in property taxes that local government agencies like cities and counties levy on landowners.

A statewide ban on texting while driving was unanimously approved Monday by the Senate Committee on State Affairs and is now headed to the full Texas Senate.

Texas Senate Committee Approves Texas Voter ID Overhaul

Mar 13, 2017
Laura Buckman for The Texas Tribune

A Texas Senate panel cleared legislation Monday that would overhaul the state voter identification rules, an effort to comply with court rulings that the current law discriminates against African-American and Latino voters.

A bill introduced in the Texas House of Representatives on Friday would fine men for masturbating, allow doctors to refuse to prescribe Viagra and require men to undergo a medically unnecessary rectal exam before any elective vasectomy.

State Rep. Jessica Farrar, who introduced the bill, tells The Texas Tribune she knows the satirical legislation will never be passed. But she hopes it will start a conversation about abortion restrictions.

The measure turns the language of abortion laws against men.

GOP Lawmaker Wants Texas Law To Catch Up To Driverless Cars

Mar 10, 2017
Brandon Formby / The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Charlie Geren isn’t about to let Texas get left in the dust when driverless vehicles start easing their way into everyday life. Especially since car manufacturers need somewhere to test them and could one day need someplace to mass produce them.

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