Here’s How Some Of The Texas Legislature’s Most Important Bills Are Faring In The 2019 Session

Here’s How Some Of The Texas Legislature’s Most Important Bills Are Faring In The 2019 Session

By, Texas Tribune Staff

Editors Note: The bill information below could change at anytime and this page will be updated as new information comes in.

Lawmakers filed thousands of bills during the 2019 legislative session, ranging from a major overhaul of the school finance system to legislation declaring Space Day at the Texas Capitol.

Most of the bills will fail. But lawmakers will spend the final days of the session trying to push through their priorities — and if their bills have failed they still might try to revive them as amendments to other legislation.

Here are the steps of the legislative process that we’re tracking.

  • What’s In the works
    Bills are proposed by the House and Senate and must be approved by both chambers. A conference committee reconciles any differences.

 

  • What’s Been Sent to Abbott
    Next, the bills go to Gov. Greg Abbott, who has until June 16 to decide whether to sign or veto.

 

  • What’s Been Signed into law
    If Abbott doesn’t sign or veto a bill, it goes into effect automatically. Most new laws take effect Sept. 1.

 

  • What’s Been Vetoed or failed
    Some measures fail before they get out of the Legislature, and Abbott could veto others.

Here’s a look at the status of 25 of the most notable bills in 2019.

In the Works

z
Budget

  • HB 1: Sent to conference committee on April 9
    The state’s two-year budget plan calls for spending roughly $250 billion on priorities including public school funding, teacher salaries and early childhood intervention programs.

Property Tax Reform

  • SB 2: Sent to conference committee on May 1
    This bill, a top priority of Texas’ three main political leaders, would require voter approval when local governments want to increase their property tax revenues by more than 3.5%.

School Finance Reform

  • HB 3: Sent to conference committee on May 6
    HB 3 would be a complete overhaul of Texas public school finance. It aims to increase per-student funding, expand pre-K offerings and lessen the state’s reliance on “Robin Hood” payments from wealthier schools. But lawmakers are still negotiating over proposed teacher pay raises.

Creating a State Flood Infrastructure Fund

  • SB 7: Passed the House on May 16
    This bill would create special flood infrastructure funds to help communities harmed by natural disasters like Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The House and Senate versions create separate funds with different funding mechanisms.

School Safety

  • SB 11: Passed the Senate on April 29
    In the first session since 10 people were fatally shot at Santa Fe High School, lawmakers wrote this school safety measure that would strengthen mental health initiatives in schools, require classrooms to have access to a telephone or other electronic communication, and create teams that identify potentially dangerous students.

Teacher Pension Fix

  • SB 12: Sent to conference committee on April 25
    This bill would shore up the teacher pension fund in Texas. The two chambers are negotiating over different versions of the bill. Both would increase state contributions and give retirees a one-time additional check, but the Senate version would require school districts and teachers to increase their contributions, too.

“Born Alive” Act

  • HB 16: Passed the Senate on May 16
    This proposal would require doctors to treat a baby born alive in the rare instance of a failed abortion attempt.

Raising the Smoking Age

  • SB 21: Passed the House on May 15
    This measure would raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21, except for military personnel.

Defunding Abortion Providers

  • SB 22: Passed the House on May 17
    This measure would prohibit state and local governments from partnering with agencies that perform abortions, even if they contract for services not related to the procedure.

Lessen Pot Penalties

  • HB 63: Passed the House on April 30
    People caught possessing small amounts of marijuana would face smaller criminal penalties — a Class C misdemeanor instead of a Class B misdemeanor — under this bill that passed in the House but was declared dead on arrival in the Senate by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick.

Daylight Saving Time

  • HJR 117: Passed the House on April 23
    This proposal would eliminate twice-a-year time changes and let voters decide in November on Texas’ permanent time. Voters would choose between exempting the state from daylight saving time or observing daylight saving time year-round.

Intellectual Disability and the Death Penalty

  • HB 1139: Passed the House on April 30
    It’s been more than 15 years since the U.S. Supreme Court said executing prisoners who are intellectually disabled is unconstitutional. This bill originally would have created a pretrial process to determine if a capital murder defendant is intellectually disabled. It changed in a Senate committee to simply codify existing rulings from the high court that those with intellectual disabilities can’t be sentenced to death and that such determinations must align with current medical standards.

Rules Governing Alcohol Sales

  • HB 1545: Passed the House on April 26
    This bill is part of the state’s regular sunset process, which requires agencies to undergo regular efficiency reviews or face closure. Lawmakers in the House amended the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission’s bill to allow alcohol sales before noon on Sundays and allow breweries to sell beer to go, but it’s unclear whether those changes will also be made in the Senate.

Religious Freedom

  • SB 1978: Passed the House on May 20
    Known by supporters as the “Save Chick-fil-A Bill,” this proposal would prevent government entities from taking adverse action against people or businesses based on their religion. But some members of the LGBTQ community fear it would be a license to discriminate.

Repealing the Driver Responsibility Program

  • HB 2048: Passed the Senate on May 15
    HB 2048 would eliminate this much-maligned program, which critics say traps low-income Texans in a cycle of debt. It has survived past attempts to kill it because money from fines helps fund the state’s emergency trauma care system. The bill offers alternative funding sources for trauma care.

Bail Reform

  • HB 2020: Passed the House on May 10
    This legislation would create a pretrial risk assessment tool for county officials to use when making bail decisions. The tool would consider a defendant’s likelihood of posing danger or skipping court hearings. The bill comes after bail practices in Dallas and Harris were found to be unconstitutional for discriminating against poor criminal defendants who can’t pay for their release from jail.

Extending Statute of Limitations for Sex Abuse Lawsuits

  • HB 3809: Passed the House on May 2
    This bill doubles the amount of time that victims of certain types of sexual abuse have to sue abusers or entities, from 15 years to 30 years after a victim turns 18.

 

Sent to Abbott

x
Red-Light Cameras

  • HB 1631: Sent to Abbott on May 17
    The days of red-light cameras monitoring Texas drivers may be numbered if this bill becomes law, but the devices could still linger in some communities for a few more years, as it would only prevent cities from renewing their contracts with vendors.

 

Signed Into Law

z
None of the bills we are watching have reached this point yet.

 

Vetoed or Failed

z
Sales Tax Increase

  • HJR 3: Failed to pass on May 7
    Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen proposed increasing the sales tax by 1 percentage point and using that money to lower property taxes statewide. The measure failed to gain popular support among rank-and-file lawmakers, however.

Elections

  • SB 9: Failed to pass on May 19
    This wide-ranging legislation would have elevated the penalty for Texans who vote when they’re ineligible — even if they did so unknowingly. They also would have been subject to a felony charge that could include jail time and a fine up to $10,000. But the bill failed to make it onto the House’s calendar.

Lobbying Ban

  • SB 13: Failed to pass on May 19
    Every session, the Texas Capitol draws lobbyists who were previously members of the Legislature. This bill would have banned members of the Texas House and Senate from certain kinds of lobbying for a period of time — about two years in most cases — after they stepped down from their elected offices. But the bill never made it onto the House agenda.

Scooter Regulation

  • SB 549: Failed to pass on May 19
    Texans would have been banned from riding electric scooters on sidewalks under this measure, which also would have required that scooter users be at least 16 years old. It also would have prohibited more than two people from riding a scooter at once. But it missed a key deadline and never made it to the House floor for a vote.

Ban on Certain Abortions

  • SB 1033: Failed to pass on May 19
    This controversial bill would have banned abortions on the basis of the sex, race or disability of a fetus and criminalized doctors who perform what opponents call “discriminatory abortions.” It would have also disallowed abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy even if the fetus has “severe and irreversible” abnormalities. It missed the deadline for making it onto the House agenda.

Confederate Monuments

  • SB 1663: Failed to pass on May 19
    As Texas cities and universities weighed whether to remove Confederate monuments from public land, some lawmakers wanted to give the Legislature more say in those decisions. This bill would have required that two-thirds of members in both chambers approved of the removal, relocation or alteration of any monuments or memorials that have been on state property for more than 25 years. It missed a key deadline in the House and never received a vote from the full chamber.

Social Media

  • SB 2373: Failed to pass on May 19
    This bill would have let the state’s attorney general take legal action based on consumer complaints of censorship against social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter. Some critics questioned whether the measure conflicted with federal law that allows social media platforms to regulate their own content. But it never made it onto the House’s calendar by a key deadline.

This article was originally published by the Texas Tribune.

Related posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *