The Texas Tribune reports that bill filings have begun for next year’s session of the State Legislature. When all was said and done, about 350 proposed laws and constitutional amendments were proposed today. Oddly enough, all this commotion conspicuously occurred amid the silence of Governor-elect Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor-elect Dan Patrick and Speaker Joe Straus (R-Bexar County). Most of the loudest initiatives came from Democrats and Tea Party Republicans, with both leadership and centrists mostly ducking away from the limelight.
For whatever reason, the Tribune as well as the Associated Press have been harping about a new proposed ban on texting-while-driving. The usual suspects, including former Speaker Tom Craddick (R-Midland County), have been pushing the measure once again, cautiously optimistic that the new Governor would consider the idea; a far cry from Governor Rick Perry, who infamously vetoed the bipartisan measure in 2011. However, Abbott noted in the course of the campaign that he too would likely veto a measure. Accordingly, it’s a dumb point to focus upon.
Most notable were three major Tea Party aspirations, all of which very well may get a vote in this upcoming session. First, three concurrent pieces of legislation (HB 106 by State Representative Dan Flynn (R-Van Zandt County); HB 164 by State Representative James White (R-Tyler County) and; HB 195 by State Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Tarrant County)) were all introduced that would have the effect of ushering in “open carry” in Texas, meaning that all CHL holders could openly show off their deadly weapons in any location its hidden counterpart would be welcome. Abbott has implied he would sign such a law.
Second, Stickland also introduced HB 209, which would do away with the Texas Dream Act, the bipartisan policy nearly unanimously passed at the start of Perry’s tenure that allows undocumented students brought into this country in their infancy to attend UT and other public universities at the “in-state” rate. Abbott would also sign this proposal.
Third, State Representative Jim Murphy (R-Harris County) introduced HB 193 while State Senator Craig Estes (R-Wichita County) introduced SB 105. The bills would repeal Texas’ unpopular franchise tax, the closest thing to taxes on corporate profits in the state.
That’s more or less what’s important, but I included a list below of the other assorted bills that piqued my interest one way or another:
- HB41 by State Representative Trey Martinez Fischer (D-Bexar County) would raise the minimum wage to about $10, while HB 174 would do the same for state contractors.
- HB 53 by State Representative Ruth McClendon (D-Bexar County) would raise the age at which offenders are tried as an adult from 17 to 18, all other things being equal.
- HB 68 by State Representative Robert Alonzo (D-Dallas County) would allow for driver’s licenses for undocumented immigrants.
- HB 70 by State Representative Mary Gonzalez (D-El Paso County) would provide for penalties for bullying on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity in school districts.
- HB 71 by Gonzalez would create a “Romeo & Juliet exception” for same-sex partners.
- HB 76 by State Representative Ceila Israel (D-Travis County) would allow for online voter registration.
- HB 78 by Gonzalez would provide for comprehensive sexual education in schools.
- HB 81 by State Representative Ryan Guillen (D-Starr County) as well as HB 170 by State Representative Carol Alvarado (D-Harris County) would regulate e-cigarettes throughout the state, as well as prohibit their sale to minors.
- HB 89 by Gonzalez would regulate tuition at public universities.
- HB 91 by Flynn would create a legal marketplace for the sale of raw milk.
- HB 92 by White would legalize possession of the “Bowie knife,” among other changes to the state’s knife laws.
- HB 93, HB 107 and HB 110 by White would greatly reform and generally liberalize laws pertaining to truancy. Specifically, the fine would be reduced from $500 to $20, among other provisions.
- HB 97 by Guillen as well as HB 189 by State Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Harris County) would end the statute of limitations on sexual assault.
- HB 108 by Guillen would retain the right of lottery winners to be anonymous.
- HB 111 by Fischer would allow for voters to register to vote on election day.
- HB 113 by State Representative Allen Fletcher (R-Harris County) would criminalize aborting a fetus based on its gender.
- HB 116 by Fischer would expand Medicaid in Texas.
- HB 124 by Fischer would expand free, universal Pre-Kindergarten throughout the state.
- HB 130 by State Representative Rafael Anchia (D-Dallas County), as well as other pertinent joint resolutions, would legalize gay marriage in Texas.
- HB 135 by Flynn would require High School students to take a civics class on the US Constitution.
- HB 138 by Flynn would require the 10 Commandments be posted in schools, in clear defiance of the Supreme Court.
- HB 142 by Stickland would prohibit the use of red light cameras for traffic citations.
- HB 147 by State Representative Jose Menendez (D-Bexar County) would require merchants to receive photo identification for major purchases involving credit cards.
- HB 150 by Flynn would nix day light saving’s time in Texas.
- HB 161 by State Representative Lyle Larson (R-Bexar County) would allow prisons to house inmates in tents.
- HB 176 by State Representative Tim Kleinschmidt (R-Lee County) would somehow “allow” the state to not follow Federal laws involving guns that they did not fancy. The ignorance here is astounding.
- HB 204 by State Representative Jeff Leach (R-Collin County) would shorten summer break for public schools by about two weeks.
- HB 213 by State Representative Angie Button (R-Dallas County) would require ex-legislators to wait four years before lobbying under the dome.
- HB 215 by State Representative Patricia Harless (R-Harris County) would do away with the fees for fishing licenses when it came to fishermen 65 years and older.
- HB 216 by White would lower the minimum wage for a concealed handgun license from 21 to 18.
- HJR 31 by Gonzalez would require the Attorney General to be an attorney.
- HJR 37 by Larson would require legislators to resign from office before running for something else.
- HJR 38 by Larson would impose term limits on state offices.
- SB 54 by State Senator Jane Nelson (R-Denton County) would drug test welfare recipients.
- SB 76 by State Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Harris County) would prohibit insurance discrimination on the part of sexual orientation or gender identity.
- SB 81 by Ellis would create a commission to further research wrongful convictions, particularly for capital offenses.
- SB 82 by Ellis would greatly expand the availability of probation for drug-related offenses.
- SB 86 by Ellis would allow for no-excuse absentee voting.
- SB 135 by State Senator John Whitmire (D-Harris County) would reform grand jury systems by transitioning from “pick-a-pal” systems in which the grand jurors are chosen by an intermediary to one in which the District Judge directly selects the participants.
- SB 139 by State Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock County) would end diversions from the State Highway Fund to the Department of Public Safety, among other recipients.
- SB 141 by State Senator Sylvia Garcia (D-Harris County) would increase voter education for high school seniors.
- SB 148 by State Senator Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso County) would repeal the unconstitutional ban on “homosexual conduct.”
- SB 150 by State Senator Kel Seliger (R-Potter County) would appropriate about $3 Billion for university construction around the state.
- SB 158 by State Senator Royce West (D-Dallas County) would grant funds for local police departments to purchase body cameras, then require officers wear them throughout their interactions with the public.
- SB 173 by State Senator Joan Huffman (R-Harris County) would deem synthetic marijuana a “controlled substance.”
- SJR 10 by State Senator Donna Campbell (R-Comal County) would invalidate municipality’s non-discrimination ordinances.