The big news last week was a group within the Texas Legislature, calling itself the Texas Freedom Caucus through parliamentary maneuvers, "killed" 120 bills on the local and consent calendar. Bills referred to local and consent are typically not controversial, but because of House rules, a bill on the local and consent calendar can be stopped by talking for 10 minutes at the back mic or getting five signatures to oppose a bill. Because there is so little time left in the session, the efforts by the Texas Freedom Caucus have basically killed these bills for this 85th Legislative Session. Some of the bills that got "killed" would have done the following:
- (HB 1033) waived federal testing mandates for students with significant cognitive disabilities
- (HB 1192) expanded the College Credit for Heroes program allowing veterans to translate their military experience and training into college credit
- (HB 2403) authorized a study of the causes of maternal mortality among African-American women
- (HB 2974) penalized predators that extort children on-line - "sextortion"
- (HB 3561) helped foster children get the documentation they need for a driver's license
- (HB 3711) established regional advisory committees to help prevent communicable diseases in nursing homes
- (HB 4027) updated transition planning for schools working to address the needs of students in special education
Here is a partial listing of some of the bills that passed the Senate last week.
This past week the Senate was in session Monday through Friday this week, but on Friday, they met only for a Local and Uncontested Calendar.
On Monday, the Senate passed 22 bills including:
bills requiring the seller of property located near a military installation to provide notice to a purchaser that the property may be affected by high noise or air installation compatible use zones),
(HB 1995) updating the Texas Uniform Trade Secrets Act,
improving publicly administered disaster recovery programs,
establishing the Office of Inspector General at the Texas Education Agency,
allowing teachers and other school personnel that are handgun license holders to transport or store firearms and ammunition in a private, locked vehicle located in a school parking area,
requiring the Commissioner of Education to develop a sexual abuse and sex trafficking prevention program that a school district may use in the district's health curriculum,
requiring comptroller to prepare a report for the governor and legislature prior to each session that estimates the financial costs to the state from the presence of persons who are not lawfully present in the United States,
providing funding for expenses incurred by a city or county law enforcement department for sending an officer to the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) training.
On Tuesday, the Senate passed the two Third Reading bills and 22 additional bills including: (HB 1612) would prohibit the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission from offering a civil penalty in lieu of suspending a permit or license if the basis for the suspension involves consumption of or the permitting of consumption of controlled substances or drugs,
clarifying the definition of and penalties for hazing,
clarifying statutes on locations where a handgun license holder is prohibited from carrying a handgun at a school sponsored activity,
prohibiting the conversion of high occupancy vehicle highway lanes to tolled lanes.
On Wednesday, the Senate passed 24 bills including:
establishing the Veterans Recovery Pilot Program to provide treatment facilities reimbursement for diagnostic services, hyperbaric oxygen treatment, and support services to eligible veterans who have post-traumatic stress disorder,
clarifying the duties of the Office of Inspector General under the Health and Human Services Commission,
requiring all seller-financed lenders to give borrowers annual statements that include how much money was paid and is still owed on a loan,
authorizing a physician to prescribe, and a pharmacist to dispense, an epinephrine auto-injector to a day-care facility,
increasing the penalties for habitually trespassing on a university campus,
requiring the Health and Human Services Commission to ensure that the front side of electronic benefits transfer cards for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) and Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) include the name and photograph of the recipient),
requiring the comptroller to study methods to increase compliance with sales and use tax collection and payment requirements including imposing registration or reporting requirements on out-of-state retailers.
On Thursday, the Senate passed 36 bills on the Local and Uncontested Calendar including SCR 47, which urges Congress to propose and submit to the states for ratification a regulation freedom amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
establishing an expedited response procedure for public information requests,
prohibiting political subdivisions from regulating or taxing firearms, ammunition, knives, or air guns without specific authority by state law,
authorizing Mosquito Control Districts in Cameron and Hidalgo Counties,
) enacting the Sandra Bland Act to improve training for jailers and requiring jails to have access to health and mental health professionals). Bills from the Local and Uncontested Calendar and other bills from the Intent Calendar that passed are in the issue categories below.
, the Senate passed 48 bills on the Local and Uncontested Calendar including
( HCR 31)
resolutions urging Congress to encourage the U.S. Department of Agriculture to revise existing policies that promote the waste of water after an irrigated crop has been declared a failure,
designating the City of Rockwall as the official Live Music Capital of North Texas, (HB 394) designating the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center as the state botanical garden and arboretum.
Number of bills reported out of Committees: 154
Number of bills passed this week: 168
Number passed on the Local and Uncontested calendar: 84
Here is a partial listing of some of the bills that passed the House last week.
This past week, the House was in session Monday through Friday. They met in marathon sessions with End-of-Session slow-down rules starting to kick in:
- Monday was the deadline for House committees to report House bills;
- Tuesday at 10:00 p.m. the last calendar with House bills had to be printed and distributed;
- Thursday midnight was the deadline for the House to debate House bills and House Joint Resolutions on Second Reading; and
- Friday was the deadline for the House to pass HB's and HJR's (except local bills).
On Monday, the House passed the 26 Third Reading bills and gave preliminary approval to 56 bills including:
reforming Child Protective Services);
making it legal to carry a knife);
allowing the Health and Human Services Commission's inspector general to hire peace officers);
creating the long-term care legislative oversight committee);
(SB 7) making several changes to statutes relating to improper teacher-student relationships);
(SB 252) prohibiting state agencies and local entities from contracting with a business that is engaged in business operations with the Sudanese or Iranian governments,); and
(SB 500) prohibit state elected officials that have been convicted of a felony from receiving state retirement benefits.
On Tuesday, the House passed 137 bills on the Local and Consent Calendar including:
designating July as Train Safety Awareness Month,
(HCR 99) declaring Israel a major strategic ally of Texas,
urging Congress to repeal the Government Pension Offset and the Windfall Elimination Provision of the Social Security Act.
They passed 51 Third Reading bills and gave preliminary approval to only five Second Reading bills including:
expanding the uses of the Texas Water Development Board's floodplain management account,
authorizing the Commissioner of Insurance to apply for a state innovation waiver for small employer health benefit plans,
requiring conditions of community supervision to reflect personalized assessments to address the factors that lead to criminal behavior.
The House also spent several hours debating and giving preliminary approval to HB 3859 by James Frank (R-Wichita Falls), which would be the Protection of Rights of Conscience for Child Welfare Services Providers. The committee substitute and two floor amendments were adopted and it passed to Third Reading by a vote of 94-51. On Wednesday, it received final approval by a vote of 93-49. Representative Frank said, "Faith-based child welfare services providers have always been a critical source of foster and adoptive homes. However, many of these providers increasingly have been targeted, intimidated, and even sued for nothing more than holding and acting on longstanding, historically-protected beliefs. They face an impossible choice between following their beliefs and risking litigation, or other consequences, for declining to provide certain services. Several organizations around the nation have already shuttered these services in the wake of adverse actions. This bill provides a shield to protect these organizations and foster parents so they can serve children of all backgrounds without having to violate their sincerely held beliefs. Despite rhetoric to the contrary, passage of HB 3859 ensures that anyone who wants to help take care of Texas children will be able to do so. Passage of HB 3859 means more loving homes for children who need them."
Catholic Charities of Central Texas
CEO Sara Ramirez said, "HB 3859 allows organizations and individuals with sincerely-held religious beliefs to remove themselves from actions in direct violation of their faith. This includes assisting a child in obtaining an abortion and providing services to same sex couples in the foster care system. It provides mechanisms for the state to ensure these services are provided. When this becomes law, Catholic Charities will be able to bring our expertise and resources to the aid of some of our most desperate and needy children. We are willing to return to the field and work side-by-side with all people of good will so that no child is further traumatized by an inadequate foster care system."
Texas Freedom Network
President Kathy Miller expressed concern that HB 3859 would open the door to broad discrimination by child welfare service providers that contract with the state. She said, "Let's be absolutely clear about what the Texas House voted for today. If it becomes law, HB 3859 would allow extraordinary discrimination in the name of Texas and at taxpayer expense. The bill's clear intent is to authorize the misuse of religion as a license to discriminate against LGBT families and children in the state's child-welfare system. But it doesn't stop there. Providers could discriminate against people of other faiths and even block access to emergency contraception for teens who are victims of sexual assault. Even President Trump backed away from using religion as a license to discriminate so broadly and recklessly, but today the Texas House shamefully demonstrated that it has no problem with doing so."
On Wednesday, the House passed the Third Reading bills and gave preliminary approval to 33 other bills including:
(HB 816) by Diego Bernal (D-San Antonio) establishing criteria for mentor teachers,
(HB 931) authorizing electric utilities to enter into agreements to allow public access to premises owned by the utility for recreational use,
(HB 2790) authorize independent apprenticeship committees to sponsor apprenticeship training programs administered by the Texas Workforce Commission,
(SB 1516) instituting state registration and regulation of federally regulated appraisal management companies,
allowing trucks carrying intermodal shipping containers traveling within 30 miles of a port of entry to purchase an annual permit to carry cargo of up to 100,000 pounds in designated counties.
On Thursday, the House was in session until midnight because Thursday was the last day for the House to pass Second Reading House bills on the Major State and General State calendar. In the marathon session, the House passed 34 Third Reading bills and gave preliminary approval to 39 bills on Second Reading including:
) requiring disclosure of vendor gifts to local government officers,
adding peace officers to hate crimes laws,
establishing abortion complications reporting requirements for health care practitioners and facilities,
implementing a standard definition of abortion,
requiring state agencies to use iron and steel produced in the United States in their construction projects.
House Bill Deadline
- At the stroke of midnight, there were still 228 bills left on the House calendar to die. The dead bills included 34 bills from Monday's calendar and all the new Second Reading bills from Tuesday (55), Wednesday (68), and Thursday's (71) calendars. That compares to:
2015 - 222 bills left on the House Calendar at the midnight deadline
2013 - 128 bills left on the House Calendar at the midnight deadline
2011 - 30 bills left on the House Calendar at the midnight deadline.
In addition, 332 House bills and House Joint Resolutions died in the House Calendars Committee. That compares to:
2015 - 261 HB's and HJR's died in House Calendars Committee
2013 - 342 HB's and HJR's died in House Calendars Committee
2011 - 320 HB's and HJR's died in House Calendars Committee
2009 - 328 HB's and HJR's died in House Calendars Committee
2007 - 272 HB's and HJR's died in House Calendars Committee
was the last day for the House to pass Third Reading bills on the Major State and General State Calendar. It was also the deadline for the House to pass bills on the Consent Calendar.
The House passed the 40 Third Reading bills. But all 120 bills on Friday's Local and Consent Calendar were killed by the House Freedom Caucus.
Number of bills reported out of committees: 296
Number of bills passed by the House this week:296
Total passed on the Local and Consent week: 137