Thursday, the House spent over 15 hours debating more 400 proposed amendments (64 of which were adopted) before giving preliminary approval to SB 1 by Jane Nelson (R-Flower Mound) and John Zerwas (R-Fulshear), the general appropriations bill by a vote of 129 to 18. Then, they suspended the constitutional rule requiring bills to be read on three several days and gave it final passage by a vote of 131-16, with the Speaker voting "Aye."
They also took up HB 2 by John Zerwas (R-Fulshear), the supplemental appropriations bill. The committee substitute and one floor amendment were adopted, and it was passed to Third Reading by a vote of 145-0. After the Constitutional rule suspension the House gave it final approval by a vote of 141-6. We will provide a more detail version of the House's budget next week. For this week following are a few highlights of the house version:
- The Texas House pulled $2.5 billion out of the Economic Stabilization Fund (Rainy Day Fund) to use for one-time expenditures to address shortfalls because of the current economic downturn.
- The Governor's Enterprise Fund for film incentives and marketing was eliminated. The $43 million from that fund will go to Child Protective Services and Medicaid Therapy Services.
- Rep. Stickland offered an amendment to repeal the law that offers in-state tuition to immigrants not in our country legally. It was defeated by Rep. Anchia citing parliamentary rules.
- The Texas House took a strong stance against school choice by voting 103-44 to prevent state money from being spent on private school vouchers.
by Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) would institute performance-based tuition at Texas public higher education institutions. The committee substitute and one floor amendment were adopted and it passed by a vote of 29-2. The floor amendment was by Senator Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) and it would limit future tuition increases at public universities to no more to 1% over the rate of inflation. The amendment was adopted by a 20-11 vote.
would be the Judge Julie Kocurek Judicial and Courthouse Security Act of 2017 and would establish local court security committees and require court security training for judges and other court personnel. Senator Zaffirini said, "The implementation of these measures would improve safety for everyone who interacts with the Texas justice system, including judges, courthouse personnel, lawyers, jurors and citizens. The attack on Judge Korcurek was not only an assault on our judicial system, but also a wake-up call to improve security for all judges and courthouses in our state, Her courage and perseverance in returning to the bench proved that criminals cannot thwart justice by threatening or intimidating Texas judges. What's more, her desire to ensure that others are not attacked and her belief in justice for all inspired her meaningful advocacy for improving court security." The committee substitute and one floor amendment were adopted and it passed by a vote of 26-5.
by Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) would provide that contract work funded with state money may not prohibit, require, discourage, or encourage a person bidding on the public work contract from entering into or adhering to an agreement with a collective bargaining organization. It passed to Third Reading on Monday and received final Senate approval on Tuesday by a vote of 20-11.
by Kelly Hancock (R-North Richland Hills) would require that the proposed budget of a local government that includes revenue from a new fee or an increase in an existing fee to contain a statement that the budget included a fee increase and itemize the fees being increased; and would require the city to develop an e-mail notification service to which people can subscribe to receive information regarding new or increased municipal fees. Two floor amendments were adopted and it passed by a vote of 29-1. One floor amendment requires a public hearing before a municipality can adopt a new fee or increase an existing fee. The other floor amendment exempts small municipalities in a county with a population of less than 30,000.
by Paul Bettencourt (R-Houston) would prohibit tax increment financing on property unless the area is unproductive, underdeveloped, or blighted as defined by the attorney general. It was left pending.
by Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo) would eliminate the Top 10 percent automatic admissions rule. It was left pending.
by Larry Taylor (R- Friendswood) would establish a joint interim committee to continue to study the feasibility of creating and maintaining a coastal barrier system in the state that includes a series of gates and barriers to prevent storm surge to gulf beaches, coastal ports, industry, or property.