Lt. Governor Dan Patrick continues to move legislation through the Senate, having now sent over ten of Governor Abbott's twenty special session items to the House.
To do so, the Senate worked through the weekend. After a three-hour Republican Senator Caucus meeting, the Senate announced Monday it would attempt to hear ten to twelve bills before midnight. However, the Senate only got through six bills by 9:18 p.m. and called it a night. Before adjourning, Lt. Gov. Patrick told senators to get a good night's sleep and to expect another long day tomorrow. He was right – the Senate adjourned just before 2:00 a.m. Wednesday morning.
The long hours paid off in the form of sending the following bills to the House:
1. The property tax reform bill (SB 1 by Sen. Bettencourt).
2. School choice for students with special needs (SB 2 by Sen. L Taylor).
3. The bathroom bill (SB 3 by Sen. Kolkhorst).
4. Prohibiting state or local governments from automatically deducting union dues from the wages of public employees (SB 7 by Sen. Hughes).
5. Placing caps on state and local government spending (SB 9 by Sen. Hancock).
6. Strengthening abortion reporting requirements when health complications arise (SB 10 by Sen. Campbell).
7. Patient protection of Do-Not-Resuscitate orders hidden in medical charts(SB 11 by Sen. Perry).
8. Creating a commission to study school finance reform (SB 16 by Sen. L Taylor).
9. Continuing the operation and expanding the duties of the Maternal Mortality and Morbidity Task Force (SB 17 by Sen. Kolkhorst).
10. Teacher pay and benefits increase (SB 19 by Sen. Nelson).
11. Abortion reporting requirements (SB 73 by Sen. Hughes).
The property tax reform bill (SB 1 by Sen. Bettencourt) had nine amendments added to the lengthy bill Monday night, and another three on third reading late Tuesday night. Notable amendments include:
- Amendment No. 4 by Sen. Buckingham – allows residents within a “small taxing unit” to hold an election as to whether the small taxing entity opts-in to limiting its annexation power. Before this amendment, a small taxing entities maximum increase to the rollback rate was not affected by any means.
- Amendment No. 5 by Sen. Perry – Increases the number of small cities in Texas that can keep the higher 8% rollback rate, as long as they don't opt-in under Amendment No. 4 above.
The bathroom bill (SB 3 by Sen. Kolkhorst) saw eight hours of debate on Tuesday and over twenty-five amendments offered, mostly by Democratic Senators attempting to limit the effects of the bill.
- Amendment No. 3 by Sen. Lucio – allows local governments to adopt exemptions for parents of young children and custodians cleaning the restroom.
- Amendment No. 5 by Sen. Huffman – The bill originally only let individuals enter the bathroom associated with the sex listed on the individuals birth certificate. Amendment No. 5 expanded this to include not only the person's birth certificate, but also a driver's license, personal identification certificate, or license to carry a handgun, but NOT a student ID. In essence, an adult can show their DL, but a minor will have to show their birth certificate.
The Senate looks to continue at full-speed this week. So far, they have also taken up abortion, annexation reform and local ordinance issues.
As for the Texas House, they passed the Board of Medical Examiners Sunset Bill – HB 1 and have sent it over to the Senate. The House also held ten committee hearings on Wednesday:
1. House Calendars Committee
2. House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee
3. House Energy Resources Committee
4. House Environmental Regulation Committee
5. House Investments & Financial Services Committee
6. House Natural Resources Committee
7. House Public Health Committee
8. House State Affairs Committee
9. House Select Committee on State & Federal Power & Responsibility, and
10. House Ways & Means Committee
…and will hold another three on Thursday:
1. House Appropriations Committee
2. House General Investigating & Ethics Committee, and
3. House Transportation Committee.
The House also set a Calendar on Thursday for considering three bills on the House Floor. They are:
- HB 13 by Rep. Capriglione (increased reporting requirements for abortion complications),
- HB 2 by Rep. L. Gonazales (ensuring funding for “sunsetted” agencies), and
- HB 7 by Rep. Phelan (offsetting municipal tree cutting fees by planting a new tree).
For more information on these bills you can visit, www.capitol.state.tx.us.