85th Legislature | KERA News

85th Legislature

Laurie L. Snidow / Shutterstock

Five stories that have North Texas talking: Lawmakers want to exempt Texas from daylight saving time; SXSW amends performance agreement issue; celebrate St. Patrick’s Day early; and more.

Fort Worth Star-Telegram photo

A major effort to overhaul the bail system in Texas was rolled out Thursday, and the reforms have some powerful backers. The target is a system that releases people held in jail before trial based in part on their ability to pay their bail or a fee to bond out. It’s a system that leaves many of the state's poorest residents to wait in jail until their court date arrives, which advocates say wastes taxpayer dollars and unnecessarily upends lives.   

Brandon Wade / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

There’s not much Republicans and Democrats seem to agree on in Austin these days, but criminal justice reform is one area that has found bipartisan support over the past decade. 

Sandra Bland Act Would Change Processes For Law Enforcement, Jails

Mar 3, 2017

State Rep. Garnet Coleman, D-Houston, on Thursday filed House Bill 2702, dubbed the Sandra Bland Act.

Callie Richmond / Texas Tribune

Texas legislators from both chambers unanimously passed bills on Wednesday that would change how the Texas Department of Family and Protective Services cares for vulnerable children.

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.

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.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Two North Texas lawmakers took a break from the legislative session to share a stage in Dallas Friday. Republican Senator Don Huffines and Democratic Representative Rafael Anchia debated a range of hot button issues being considered in Austin. Neither Huffines nor Anchia shied away from the controversial topics swirling under the Capitol dome.

Texas Republicans Pitch New Voter ID Law

Feb 22, 2017
Tamir Kalifa / The Texas Tribune

Top Texas Republicans unveiled legislation Tuesday that would overhaul the state’s voter identification rules, an effort to comply with court rulings that have found that the current law discriminates against minority groups.

The Texas Legislature gaveled in just a few short weeks ago. 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.

The Texas Legislature gaveled in just a few short weeks ago. 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 comes from Gerryl Krilic:

When a bill is presented, what is the process? How many votes required to pass a bill?

Texas Station Collaborative

For the last few weeks, we’ve been asking what you wanted to know about the Texas Legislature: How it works, why it works the way it does and what you want lawmakers to do.  

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate, passing the first bill of the 2017 legislative session, unanimously approved an ethics reform package that watchdogs say will help curb conflicts of interest and shed more light on the private dealings of state elected officials.

School Choice Bill Pitches Savings Accounts, Tax Credit Scholarships

Jan 30, 2017
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

One of the most anticipated debates of the 85th Legislative Session began taking shape Monday with the layout of a two-part Texas Senate bill that would allow for Texas taxpayer dollars to be used to help parents send their kids to private or religious schools.

Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

Addressing a crowd of cheering supporters on the Texas Capitol's south steps, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick declared Tuesday that he wanted both the House and Senate to take a vote on his upcoming private school choice bill.

Illustration by Todd Wiseman / Paul Hudson

Texas Senate Finance Chairwoman Jane Nelson on Tuesday proposed a $213.4 billion two-year base budget, offering her chamber a starting point for haggling over how to spread limited funds this legislative session.

$25 Million Proposal Would Fund Bulletproof Vests For Patrol Officers In Texas

Jan 12, 2017
Bob Daemmrich / The Texas Tribune

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick wants lawmakers to pass a $25 million grant program to pay for bulletproof vests for all patrol officers in Texas.

Texas Lawmakers Return To Austin For 85th Legislative Session

Jan 10, 2017
The Texas Tribune

They're back. State lawmakers descend on Austin on Tuesday for the 85th Legislative Session, facing a tight fiscal picture, varying priorities from their leaders and all the politics that naturally accompany the last regular session before statewide elections. 

Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

Facing sluggish economic forecasts amid low oil prices along with billions in tax revenue already dedicated to the state highway fund, Comptroller Glenn Hegar announced Monday that lawmakers will have $104.87 billion in state funds at their disposal in crafting the next two-year budget, a 2.7 percent decrease from his estimate ahead of the legislative session two years ago.

With Bathroom Bill, Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick Plows Into 'Tough Fight'

Jan 8, 2017
Todd Wiseman / Texas Tribune

Eight months ago, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick stormed the Texas GOP convention in Dallas as a man on a mission.

This legislative session, Texas lawmakers have some tough discussions ahead of them about how Texas funds its public schools, but some are asking how lawmakers can have those conversations without an updated look at how much it actually costs to educate kids.  

From Texas Standard:

Citizens and journalists requesting Texas public records won’t have a lot of luck getting government contract information right now. Requests for information on nonprofits getting state funding also will come up short.

The Sunlight Foundation

A pair of Texas lawmakers have filed legislation aiming to plug what they called major “loopholes” in public records law that have left taxpayers in the dark about key details of some contracts involving public funds.

It's just a week until the start of the 85th session of the Texas Legislature. And, while you've probably heard lots of stories about lawmaker priorities for the 140-day session, it's not always about what bills are being debated, but whether the Texas House or Senate is leading the charge.

Lawmaker Seeks To Pass 'Constitutional Carry' Gun Bill In 2017

Jan 3, 2017
Todd Wiseman / The Texas Tribune

A hotly contested legislative session in 2015 led to two controversial gun laws: One that allows for the open carry of handguns and another that permits the concealed carry of handguns on Texas college campuses.  

Texas Lawmakers Push Bipartisan Effort For Tax-Free Tampons

Dec 6, 2016
iStock.com

Following the political lead of several northern states, six Texas lawmakers have filed bills to eliminate sales tax on feminine health products used for menstrual period hygiene, including tampons, sanitary napkins and menstrual cups.

Robert White / Fort Worth Star-Telegram

A proposed bill from a Tarrant County lawmaker is causing a stir in education circles. Texas Sen. Konni Burton said the bill is intended to bolster a parent’s right to information about his or her child. But critics say it’s vaguely worded, and some worry it could put LGBT kids at risk.

Texas Lawmakers Set A Spending Cap They Likely Won't Reach

Dec 2, 2016
Illustration by Todd Wiseman / The Texas Tribune

The Legislative Budget Board on Thursday set the state’s growth rate, a number that in flush times looms large over lawmakers haggling over state spending.

Educators Say Parental Rights Bill Could Harm Trust With Students

Nov 30, 2016
Bob Daemmrich / Texas Tribune

A state senator’s bid to expand parental rights to information about their students is drawing spirited criticism from educators and LGBT activists who argue it does not protect students at risk of abuse if teachers or school officials out them to their families.

Dave Wilson via flickr

The next legislative session doesn’t start until January, but the battle lines are being drawn. One issue is sure to be contentious: lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights. Lawmakers have introduced a number of bills, some intended to help LGBT folks, others that would strip protections and reverse recent gains.

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