Two Weeks Left in the 85th Legislative Session










Ramon with family on the opening day of the 85th Legislative Session.

Friend,

First - I want to say Happy Mother's Day to all the moms out there!! Today and everyday is the perfect time to tell our mothers how much we love them and they mean to us. I was fortunate enough to get a reprieve from legislative duties for the weekend and head home to spend a couple of days with family.

Of course, during the 140 days of session, the Legislature nevers stops, and we continue our countdown to May 29th. This week was a big week in the Texas House. Thursday at midnight was a big deadline in the Texas House - it was the cutoff time for a House Bill to gain passage through the House. Once the clock strikes midnight, all House Bills that have yet to be voted on in the chamber are dead. As is always the case, the deadline ensures that many bills never get a chance on the Texas House floor, and when the clock struck midnight, hundreds of bills, both good and bad, died a silent death. If the bills did not have a Senate companion, they will have to be tacked onto another bill with the same subject as an amendment, or wait until the 86th Legislative Session to be heard again.

As for my bills, we have passed seven of the 21 filed over to the Texas Senate - a solid increase from the three we passed to the Senate last session.  On average, only about 15-20% of bills pass out of their originating chamber, so we are solidly above average. In fact, one of my bills, HB 1612, has already passed the Senate and is headed to the Governor's desk! It will allow the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (TABC) to suspend, rather than just fine, a bar for offenses related to controlled substances or drugs. Enforcement agents have seen time and time again that bars involved in this sort of activity are usually engaged in other illegal acts such as serving to minors, prostitution, and even human trafficking in some cases. This bill will give TABC another tool in their toolbelt to fight these unscrupulous bars.

My other six bills all have Senate sponsors who are now championing their passage in the upper chamber. All but one has been referred to a Senate committee, and they now await Senate committee hearings before they get voted upon and head to the Senate floor. With 15 days left, there is still time for this to happen, but without a committee hearing in the next week, the chances of passage will be severely diminished.

In the House, we will now be focusing on Senate Bills that have made it  through the process in the upper chamber, but still need House approval before heading to the Governor. Thursday, May 23rd, is the last day for a Senate bill to be heard in the House, so the next ten days will undoubtedly be a scramble - that just makes this weekend spent with loved ones that much more special before the final push to Sine Die, which means final adjournment of the Texas Legislature for the 85th Legislative Session.

Please subscribe to our weekly newsletters or forward our newsletter to your friends and neighbors to keep them informed. And as always, my office is here for you. Please feel free to contact us at 817-924-6788 (District), 512-463-0740 (Capitol), via email at  Ramon.Romero@house.texas.gov, or by mail at P.O. Box 2910, Austin, TX 78768. 
 

Sincerely,
Ramon
In the News
House passes bills to overhaul school ratings, cut down on standardized testing

Last week, the Texas House passed two very important bills for Public Education. House Bill 515 reduces the number of standardized tests to the minimum number allowable under federal law. This will give teachers more flexibility to actually teach, and also get our students more prepared for college.

House Bill 22 reforms the A-F grading system for schools that was passed last session. It will roll back graded categories to just three: student achievement, student progress, and school climate. Districts would be able to use locally selected exams, not just the STAAR, as a factor in their grades, and it would require grading schools on factors beyond standardized tests, including student participation in fine arts and extracurricular activities. I was happy to support both!

Texas governor signs ban on so-called 'sanctuary cities'

Unsurprisingly, the "show me your papers" anti-sanctuary city bill was not softened by the Texas Senate and has now been signed by the Governor. Let me be clear - this bill is not about a real problem in Texas. In fact, according to the Texas Tribune, Texas jails only failed to hand over deportable immigrants to ICE 146 times over the last two years.

This bill was opposed by Law Enforcement from across the state every step of the way, but this was never about public safety either - this was about taking a vote against immigrants for Republican primaries. The bill will become law in September, but not before it heads to court to be challenged by several different groups.