86th LegislatureIssuesState HouseState SenateHere’s Where Key Legislation Stands in the Final Week of Session

As the end of the 86th Legislature fast approaches, The Texan takes a look at where key legislation stands before the House and Senate adjourn.
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With exactly one week to go until sine die, bills are dropping like flies and members of both chambers are frantically trying to revive their legislation by tacking similar language on to other bills in conference committee. Tuesday is the last day for Senate bills to be heard on second reading in the House. Wednesday is the last day for local or “uncontested” bills to have their chance at becoming law.

Some notable bills are dead, some have all but made it into law, and some are languishing in between.

The Texan has compiled a list of updates for the bills you need to know about.

HB 1 (Budget)

The two plans provide funding for property tax cuts and teacher pay raises but differ on specifics. One such difference is the mechanism by which the tax cuts are implemented. The House’s version provides a four cent reduction per $100 of property value. The Senate’s is an increase in the state’s homestead exemption which amounts to a $10,000 reduction in the taxable value of a family’s home. Both plans appropriate around $250 billion in funding for the 2020-2021 biennium.

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The budget currently sits in conference committee.

SB 2 (Property Taxes)

The Senate’s property tax bill passed through the House on May 1. Included provisions is a 3.5 percent property tax increase cap that, if exceeded, would trigger an automatic referendum election within the taxing entity’s district. Some differences between the two versions include exemptions for hospitals and community colleges, as well as a “de minimus” rate that would allow certain cities and counties to increase property taxes well beyond the 3.5 percent cap.

SB 2 is now being conferenced on by the two chambers.

HB 3 (School Finance)

Inextricably tied to property taxes is school finance. The debate between the House and Senate largely consisted of how big of a raise to give teachers. The House’s version passed with the contingent provision that it be funded with a sales tax hike of one cent. But the Senate’s version did not include that. After polling was released detailing how unpopular the sales tax increase was effectively killed. Another possibility floating around was the inclusion of STAAR provisions adjusting the way standardized tests are taken is no longer part of the discussion.

HB 3 currently sits in conference committee.

SB 16 (Loan Forgiveness)

The Senate’s bill providing loan forgiveness for police officers that qualify has passed both chambers. Portrayed as a useful recruiting tool by some and a reward for service by others, SB 16 would extend the Hazlewood program’s benefits to exponentially more individuals and families. Senate Republicans introduced their own plan in 2015 to curtail the programs ballooning costs.

The bill has passed both the House and the Senate and awaits further action.

HB 16 (Born Alive Infant Protection Act)

Authored by Rep. Jeff Leach (R-Plano), HB 16 would require medical professionals to provide life-saving care to a child that survives a botched abortion. The bill is a response to New York and Virginia passing their own bills permitting abortion at any point in a pregnancy.

The bill passed the Senate on May 16, and the House must act on the Senate’s amendments by Friday, May 24.

SB 21 (Tobacco-21)

Texas is one step away from raising the legal buying age of tobacco products to 21. After it passed the House on May 15, it now awaits the signature or veto of Governor Greg Abbott.

Abbott has expressed support in the past for raising the legal age, and will likely sign the bill into law.

SB 22 (Planned Parenthood and Government Contracts)

SB 22 prevents abortion providers and affiliates from receiving Texas taxpayer dollars. The legislation, authored by Sen. Donna Campbell (R-New Braunfels), passed the Senate on April 1. The bill passed the House on Friday, May 19 in a 81-65 vote.

Every House Democrat present opposed the bill along with one Republican, Rep. Sarah Davis (R-West University Place).

SB 29 (Taxpayer-Funded Lobbying)

The bill, sponsored by Rep. Mayes Middleton (R-Wallisville), that would limit taxpayer-funded lobbying is on the House’s calendar for May 20. The legislation was amended to only encompass counties and municipalities, which would no longer be able to pay lobbyists to represent them. The bill does allow employees of taxing agents, as well as elected officials, to advocate for or against legislation.

The bill is scheduled for a hearing on the House floor today. 

HB 1500 (Heartbeat Bill)

Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park) is the author of the Texas Heartbeat Bill. Despite submitting all the necessary paperwork and assembling a coalition of over 60 members of the House, the legislation was denied a committee hearing. The bill was referred to a committee chaired by Rep. Senfronia Thompson (D-Houston).

Given the number of other states that have passed heartbeat bills into law, this legislation’s failure to even receive a hearing in Texas is notable.

HB 1631 (Red-Light Camera Ban)

The bill that would ban red-light cameras throughout Texas passed the Senate by a vote of 25-6 on May 17. The bill would prevent current red-light camera contracts from being extended, but would allow existing contracts to run their course.

The bill now moves to the Governor’s desk and awaits signature.

HB 1936 (Death Penalty-Mental Illness Exemption)

Rep. Shawn Thierry’s (D-Houston) bill passed the House on May 9. The bill would preclude those diagnosed with a “severe mental illness” from being sentenced to death in Texas. Opponents believe the problem to be that the bill unevenly burdens one side of a case.

The bill has not been assigned to a committee in the Senate yet.

HB 2100 (Free Speech)

Authored by Rep. Briscoe Cain (R-Deer Park), HB 2100 passed 85-58 on April 30 in the Texas House. Out of the 85 votes, 78 were Republicans, 7 were Democrats. It was received by the Senate on the same day, but has not been placed on the Senate calendar, and no further action has been taken on the bill since the vote out of the House.

SB 1978 (Religious Liberty)

The Senate version of Rep. Matt Krause’s (R-Fort Worth) bill that would prevent the government from punishing individuals for donating or affiliating with religious organizations. In particular, this bill was authored in response to the decision by the San Antonio City Council to exclude Chick-fil-A from a city contract due to their donations and affiliations with organizations like the Salvation Army.

The bill passed in the House earlier this morning and will head to the Governor’s desk for likely signature.

SB 2089 (10-Day Rule)

Authored by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), this bill would amend the 10-Day Rule in the Texas Advance Directives Act, which allows hospitals to end treatment for patients after a doctor has deemed further treatment as “futile.” The legislation expands the 10 days that families have to find another facility willing to treat their loved to 45 days. This legislation would address the plight facing Mrs. Carolyn Jones, a Beaumont woman who was cut-off from treatment after a Houston hospital enacted the 10-Day Rule.

The bill is not currently slated on the House calendar.

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McKenzie Taylor

McKenzie Taylor serves as Senior Editor and resident plate-spinner for The Texan. Previously, she worked as State Representative Kyle Biedermann’s Capitol Director during the 85th legislative session before moving to Fort Worth to manage Senator Konni Burton’s campaign. In her free time, you might find her enjoying dog memes, staring at mountains, or proctoring personality tests.