Key bills passed in Texas Legislature
By Richard Lee
Special to The News
Other key bills passed by both chambers this session (Senate author/sponsor in parentheses):
HB 1 — (Nelson): The state budget. The final version appropriates $164.2 billion in state money to pay for services through 2021, including the tax and education reforms passed in Senate Bill 2 and House Bill 3. Other highlights include: funding to increase capacity at state driver license offices, funding to dispose of the backlog on sexual assault kit testing, $7.8 billion in mental health program spending across 23 state agencies, and $347 million for women’s health programs.
SB 500 — (Nelson): The supplemental budget, truing up accounts between what was appropriated in 2017 and actual costs. Includes $3.5 billion in rainy day funds to assist with Hurricane Harvey relief and recovery as well as $800 million to offset lost property values for school districts in the disaster area.
SBs 6, 7, & 8 — (Kolkhorst/Creighton/Perry): Comprehensive Harvey relief and recovery package. Leverages expertise at state institutions to improve disaster response and train local officials (SB 6). Creates a funding structure to pay for flood mitigation and prevention projects, pull down federal matching funds, and cover other costs associated with hurricane relief. (SB 7). Creates a statewide flood planning system that coordinates regional plans for the first time (SB 8).
SB 11 — (Taylor): School safety plan developed in the wake of the 2018 Santa Fe High School shooting. Requires districts to develop safety plans for each campus, implements facility hardening standards and requires safety committees for individual campuses. The Texas School Safety Center in San Marcos will evaluate plans and offer logistical support to districts. SB 10 (Nelson), which creates the Texas Mental Health Consortium, was amended onto this bill in the House. That measure allows mental health professionals at state medical schools to consult with pediatricians and other providers on mental health issues affecting children. Also includes suicide awareness and prevention programs for students and training for teachers from SB 1390 (Menéndez).
SB 12 — (Huffman): Provides long-term fiscal stability for the state teachers’ retirement system through gradual increases in contributions from active employees, school districts and the state over the next six years. Also provides for a 13th bonus annuity check up to $2,000 for beneficiaries this fall.
HB 2048 — (Huffman): Repeals the state drivers responsibility program, a system that adds additional penalties to drivers who exceed a certain number of traffic violations in a year.
SB 1264 — (Hancock): Consumer protections against surprise medical billing for state-regulated health insurance plans. Effectively prevents the practice in cases where a person has no say in who is treating them, such as in an emergency room. Patients would still be responsible for deductibles, co-pays and other expected costs at in-network facilities, but no more.
SB 21 — (Huffman): Raises the age required to purchase tobacco or other nicotine products like vaporizes from 18 to 21
HB 1631 — (Hall): Bans the use of red light cameras in Texas
HB 3906 — (Taylor): State STAAR accountability test reforms that move the test to a shorter, online version over the use five years, intended to reduce test-taking time, stress and instructional time lost to testing.
Per Texas Legislature Online, 7324 bills were filed in the House and Senate, and 1419 passed both chambers. The governor has up to 20 days to veto any bills of which he disapproves. Otherwise, any unsigned bills can become law absent his signature.
By Richard Lee Special to The News AUSTIN — The 86th Legislative session concluded Monday, with lawmakers delivering on a... read more