86th Legislative Session Update #16

“The world is a stage, but the play is badly cast.”   Oscar Wilde

 SENATE:

The Senate was in session Monday through Friday of this past week.

Last Monday, the Senate passed 6 bills including HB 638 by Representative Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller) and Senator Beverly Powell (D-Burleson), which would allow high schools to give posthumous diplomas to parents of deceased students at the end of the school year in which a student was expected to graduate;

HB 1483 by Representative James Frank (R-Wichita Falls) and Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), which would require the Health & Human Services Commission to develop a self-sufficiency pilot program for assisting eligible families to gain permanent self-sufficiency and transition off of state assistance; and

HB 2867 by Representative Will Metcalf (R-Conroe) and Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), which would establish the Sam Houston State University College of Osteopathic Medicine.

Last Tuesday, the Senate passed 19 bills including sunset bills for the Texas Medical Board (HB 1504) and the State Securities Board (HB 1535);

HB 337 by Representative Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio) and Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), which would require operators of motor boats equipped with an engine cutoff switch to properly attach and use the switch; and

HB 1769 by Representative Greg Bonnen (R-Friendswood) and Senator Larry Taylor (R-Friendswood), which would require Texas Department of Public Safety to implement an AMBER-like alert system for missing adults between the ages of 18 and 65 who are in imminent danger of injury of death or appears to have been abducted.

Last Wednesday, the Senate gave preliminary approval to two bills, passed 24 bills from the Intent calendar, and passed 105 bills on the Local & Uncontested calendar. Among the bills they passed were HB 18 by Representative Four Price (R-Amarillo) and Kirk Watson (D-Austin), which would expand mental health training for public school personnel;

HB 121 by Representative Valoree Swanson (R-Spring) and Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe), which would create a defense to prosecution for trespass by a handgun licensee who mistakenly carries a gun where it is prohibited if the person promptly departs the property when given verbal notice; and

HB 1325 by Representative Tracy King (D-Batesville) and Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock), which would be the Hemp Farming Act to regulate the commercial production of hemp. Also, Senator Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) was the Senate sponsor of HB 477 by Representative Jim Murphy (R-Houston) would require disclosures by political subdivisions before issuing debt. It would:

  • Require political subdivisions to follow specified disclosures and posting requirements when seeking voter approval of new debt or bonds;
  • Ensure that bond proposals on a ballot are uniform and transparent for taxpayers; and
  • Require local jurisdictions to post a voter information document publicly and on their website with all required information.

Senator Bettencourt said, “Taxpayers need to be informed and know where their money is going. This is just good public policy to make sure all Texas taxpayers are aware of what they are voting on when they go to the polls. We have to inform the people so we can trust their vote.”

Last Thursday, the Senate passed 28 bills. They gave final approval to

SB 1978 by Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), which would prohibit a governmental entity from taking any adverse action against a person based on the person’s membership in, affiliation with, or contribution or support of a religious organization. Senator Hughes said, “Unfortunately, today, individuals and businesses have been discriminated against due to their religious beliefs. The intent of the bill is to make sure that a government or public entity cannot discriminate against a business or individual based on religious beliefs.

Chick-fil-A has gotten a lot of attention, but this bill is to protect all business and individuals’ religious liberty. Furthermore, this bill protects the rights of all Texas citizens to choose which establishments they patronize and prevents government entities from imposing their religious views on others by denying those they disagree with the basic right to operate.”

The Senate Republican Caucus issued a statement saying, “This bill is essential after Chick-fil-A was barred from opening a location at the San Antonio Airport. SB 1978 was revived in the Texas Senate after being ruled out of order in the Texas House last week. It is about protecting freedom of religion and freedom of worship. We must protect our First Amendment rights secured by God and the constitution. Chick-fil-A should not be punished for choosing to support certain religious organizations that align with their beliefs. Progressive liberals killed the Texas House companion bill, HB 3172, but Texas Senate Republicans will not allow the 86th Legislative Session to end without protecting the religious liberty of businesses and individuals.”

Senator Borris Miles (D-Houston) said, “Our state has a long and well-documented history of discrimination. From Jim Crow Laws like the poll taxes to prevent African Americans from voting, red-lining to keep people of color out of select neighborhoods and even stopping our kids from attending specific schools; Texas has been part of it all. SB 1978 is no different because it cloaks discrimination under the guise of religious freedom. It targets the LGBTQ community and would allow the state to give taxpayer dollars to businesses that support discrimination. Further, it sends a chilling effect that would potentially jeopardize hundreds of millions of dollars and thousands of jobs to our state and Senate District 13 in Houston. My district is home to several major stadiums and a convention center that attracts world-class conferences as well as premier events like the Super Bowl, NCAA Final Four, the NBA All-Star Game and MLB All-Star Game. The impact of this bill would be severe as jobs of working-class families are put at risk by the loss of these events. I voted against SB 1978 because it sends the message that Texas discriminates.”

Last Friday, the Senate gave preliminary approval to one bill and passed 19 bills including

HB 1631 by Representative Jonathan Stickland (R-Bedford) and Senator Bob Hall (R-Edgewood), which would prohibit the use of red-light cameras. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick recessed the Senate for most of the afternoon while the House was spending hours debating one bill, He said, “The Senate will resume passing House bills when the House moves to the next bill. The House is not passing Senate bills, so the Senate will not be passing House bills.” The Senate re-convened briefly before adjourning until Sunday and several Senators took the opportunity to complain that the House is not passing very many of the Senate’s bills. But, by the time the House adjourned late Friday night, they had passed an additional 55 SB’s and brought their passing numbers up to a comparable number. So far, the Senate has passed 319 House Bills and 1 House Joint Resolution. The House has passed 276 Senate Bills and 2 Senate Joint Resolutions.

Other bills that passed the Senate this week are in the issue categories below.

Total number of bills reported out of Senate Committees this week:    408

Total number of bills passed by the Senate this week:                                 200

Total number of bills passed on the Local & Uncontested Calendar      100

Total number of bills passed by the Senate this session:                            1121

HOUSE:
The House was in session Monday through Friday of this past week.

On Monday, the House gave preliminary approval to 13 bills including

SB 20 by Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston, which would create new offenses related to the promotion of prostitution in order to crack down on human trafficking;

SB 14 by Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Representative John Kuempel (R-Seguin), which would authorize electric cooperatives to provide broadband through their existing easements to help expand Internet access in rural areas; and

SB 670 by Senator Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) and Representative Four Price (R-Amarillo), which would require Medicaid managed care organizations to cover telemedicine and telehealth services.

Last Tuesday, the House gave preliminary approval to 19 bills; passed 13 bills on the Major and General State calendars, and passed 40 bills on the Local & Consent calendar. They debated three sunset bills including

SB 601 by Senator Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) and Representative Dan Flynn (R-Van) continuing the Texas Veterans Commission;

SB 604 by Senator Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) and Representative Chris Paddie (R-Marshall) continuing the functions of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles, and SB 624 by Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Representative Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston) continuing the Texas Real Estate Commission. The House also debated and gave preliminary approval to SB 21 by Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Representative John Zerwas (R-Fulshear) increasing the legal age to 21 for cigarettes, e-cigarettes, and tobacco products.

Last Wednesday, the House passed 30 bills to Third Reading and gave final approval to 19 bills. They debated SB 1189 by Senator Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) and Representative Giovanni Capriglione (R-Keller), which would prohibit deceptive TV advertisements for legal services soliciting medical malpractice clients;

SB 1511 by Senator Robert Nichols (R-Jacksonville) and Representative John Cyrier (R-Lockhart), which would require the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department to contract with a nonprofit foundation for the operation and maintenance of the Battleship “Texas”; and

SB 2119 by Senator Carol Alvarado (D-Houston) and Representative Craig Goldman (R-Fort Worth), which would transfer regulation of motor fuel metering from the Texas Department of Agriculture to the Texas Department of Licensing and Regulation.

Last Thursday, the House gave preliminary approval to 29 bills and passed 29 bills including SB 615 by Senator Dawn Buckingham (R-Lakeway) and Representative Chris Paddie (R-Marshall), which would make changes to the operations and functions of the Texas Windstorm Insurance Association;

SB 7 by Senator Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) and Representative Dade Phelan (R-Nederland), which would establish the Flood Infrastructure Fund to make grants or loans to political subdivisions for flood control projects;

SB 8 by Senator Charles Perry (R-Lubbock) and Representative Lyle Larson (R-San Antonio), which would create a process to adopt a state flood plan; and

SB 16 by Senator Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) and Representative Lynn Stucky (R-Sanger), which would establish a student loan repayment assistance program for peace officers.

Last Friday, the House gave final passage to 55 bills, and passed 31 bills on the Local & Consent Calendar. They took up SB 18 by Senator Joan Huffman (R-Houston) and Representative Charlie Geren (R-Fort Worth), which would protect campus free speech; and

SB 29 by Senator Bob Hall (R-Edgewood) and Representative Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville), which would prohibit the use of public money for lobbying activities by cities and counties and other political subdivisions. They also spent several hours debating

SB 22 by Senator Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels) and Representative Candy Noble (R-Lucas), which would prohibit governmental entities from entering into a taxpayer resource transaction with an abortion provider or affiliate of an abortion provider.

House Deadlines – Big deadlines are looming in the House. The last House daily calendar with Senate Bills and Senate Joint Resolutions must be printed and distributed by 10:00 p.m. on Sunday, May 19, 2019.

The last day for the House to consider Second Reading SB’s and SJR’s is Tuesday, May 21, 2019. The calendar for Monday is already posted, so there is only one more calendar where SB’s can be added.

There are currently 242 SB’s and 2 SJR’s in the House Calendars Committee and an additional 12 that have been voted out of House committees and are heading to the Calendars Committee. That means that there are 256 bills for the Calendars Committee to consider setting on the last House calendar.

Other bills that passed the House this week are in the issue categories below.

Total number of bills reported out of House Committees this week:     317    

Total number of bills passed by the House this week:                                  187

Total number of bills passed on the Local & Consent Calendar                71

Total number of bills passed by the House this session:                             1703

There is only a little more than one week left in the legislative session, which ends on May 27, 2019. Here is an update on the major issues and their status:

State Budget – HB 1, the general appropriations bill, is in a conference committee. SB 500, the supplemental appropriations bill, is also in a conference committee.

Property Tax Reform – SB 2, the property tax reform bill is in a conference committee

Public School Finance Reform -HB 3, the public school finance reform bill that also contains a reduction in school property taxes is in a conference committee.

Teacher Retirement System – SB 12, the Teacher Retirement System reform bill is in a conference committee.

Chapter 312 Renewal – HB 3143, which would renew Chapter 312 in the Tax Code allowing cities and counties to enter into property tax abatement agreements, has passed the House and is on Sunday’s Senate Intent calendar. It will expire if it is not renewed this session.

End-Of Session Slow-Down Rules – Rules that institute deadlines prior to the end of the legislative session began to kick in Monday, May 6, 2019.

Here is a list of upcoming deadlines:

May 18, 2019 – Last day for House Committees to report Senate Bills and Senate Joint Resolutions (131st Day).

May 19, 2019 – Last House Daily Calendar with Senate Bills and Senate Joint Resolutions must be printed and distributed (10:00 p.m. deadline) due to the 36-hour layout rule for regular calendars (132nd Day).

May 20, 2019 – Last House Local and Consent Calendar with Senate Bills must be distributed by 9:00 a.m. due to the 48-hour layout rule for Local and Consent calendars (133rd Day).

May 21, 2019 – Last day for the House to consider Second Reading Senate Bills and Senate Joint Resolutions on the regular calendar (134th Day).

May 22, 2019 – Last day for the House to consider local and consent Senate bills on Second and Third Reading and to consider all Third Reading Senate bills and Senate Joint Resolutions on the regular calendars. Last day for the Senate to consider all bills and joint resolutions on Second or Third Reading (135th Day).

May 23, 2019 – All Senate amendments must be distributed in the House before midnight due to the 24-hour layout rule (136th Day).

May 24, 2019 – Last day for the House to act on Senate amendments. Senate copies of conference committee reports on tax, general appropriations and reapportionment bills must be printed and distributed before midnight due to the 48-hour layout rule (137th Day).

May 25, 2019 – In the House, all-conference Committee reports must be printed and distributed by midnight due to the 24-hour layout rule. In the Senate, all conference committee reports must be printed and distributed (other than those required to be printed the 137th day) before midnight due to the 24-hour layout rule (138th Day).

May 26, 2019 – Last day for the House to adopt conference committee reports and to discharge conference committees and adopt Senate amendments. Last day for the Senate to adopt conference committee reports or concur in House amendments (139th Day).

May 27, 2019 – Corrections only in the House and Senate. Last day of the session with a midnight deadline to adjourn Sine Die (140th Day).