Texas Legislature | KERA News

Texas Legislature

In late May, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill to help veterans exposed to open-air burn pits. It would create a state registry of health and exposure information and use it for outreach purposes. Now, advocates and state officials are wondering how — if at all — they’ll share that information with the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Abbott Extends State Plumbing Board Until 2021 After Legislature Abolished It

Jun 13, 2019
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UPDATE: Early Friday evening, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill allowing the state of Texas to sell the Sutton Building to a private developer. 

Associated Press

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a $1.6 billion storm and flood resilience plan nearly two years after Hurricane Harvey battered parts of the state.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed into law one of lawmakers' biggest achievements this year, a massive overhaul of Texas' long-beleaguered school finance system.

Texas Governor Signs Bill To Allow Women To Pump Breast Milk In Public

Jun 11, 2019
Reynaldo Leal for The Texas Tribune

A bill that would allow women to pump breast milk in public has been signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott.

Research showing that reading passages on Texas standardized tests were years above grade level inspired calls for action this legislative session.

Lawmakers responded by passing a bill to study the matter further.

Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Capping off a yearslong effort to prevent another school shooting like the Santa Fe High tragedy, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a series of bills into law Thursday that would, among other things, strengthen mental health initiatives available to children and allot money to school districts that can go toward “hardening” their campuses.

Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a bill that will aim to eliminate the backlog of thousands of untested rape kits in Texas.

Gov. Greg Abbott signed legislation this weekend that outlawed the use of red light cameras.

However, there’s a loop-hole to the law.  If a municipality has a contract with a camera operator, it may continue to use the devices.

Gov. Greg Abbott claimed Tuesday he can keep Texas' plumbing board alive without calling a special legislative session, as he reassured plumbers who were worried their profession will no longer be subject to state regulations.

Holly McDaniel is the executive director at the Austin Diaper Bank, primarily working to distribute diapers and menstrual products to partner agencies around the city.

Usually, she sits in an office or packages supplies in a warehouse overflowing with diapers and menstrual products. But, in the last few months, she headed out to the Texas Capitol to testify at the House Ways and Means Committee.

Sixty-three bills related to marijuana or hemp were filed at the beginning of the 86th Texas legislative session in January. Four measures passed out of the House, including bills that would establish a hemp market in Texas, reduce penalties for low-level marijuana possession and expand the list of Texans who can access medical marijuana.

Future Of Texas Plumbers' Licensing, Regulation Uncertain After Legislative Impasse

May 29, 2019
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Plumbers in Texas will no longer be subject to state regulations after lawmakers this week flushed the state plumbing code and the Texas State Board of Plumbing Examiners, a state agency that employed dozens and generated $5.2 million in revenue in 2017.

A bill that aims to prevent violence in Texas schools – one of Greg Abbott's legislative priorities – is on the governor's desk.

Senate Bill 11 would require schools to teach lessons on mental health, substance abuse, coping mechanisms and suicide prevention. The bill is a compromise of House and Senate efforts to keep schools safe after 10 people were killed in a shooting last year at Santa Fe High School.  

Lauren Johnson speaks at a rally for legislation to address the issues affecting women in the criminal justice system.
Christopher Connelly / KERA News

Texas incarcerates more women than any other state. The number of women in Texas prisons has ballooned since 1980, growing by nearly 1,000% – twice the rate of men. 

The Texas Republican Convention at the Henry B. Gonzales Convention Center in San Antonio. Bob Parks salutes the flag from the front row on June 14, 2018.
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

Today’s Texplainer question was inspired by reader Al Schlieske: If the Texas Republican Party platform supports marijuana decriminalization, how can Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick say it’s dead in the Senate? Are party platforms not binding for elected officials?

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Gov. Greg Abbott and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen announce a deal on the top three legislative priorities.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

Texas’ top three political leaders declared Thursday that the Legislature had reached agreements on its three main 2019 priorities: A two-year state budget, a comprehensive reform of school finance and legislation designed to slow the growth of rising property taxes.

Anita McHaney displays a photo of her beets and carrots. She and her husband stopped farming after learning that they could not sell pickled beets.
Laura Skelding for The Texas Tribune

In a victory for home cooks across Texas, the Legislature has expanded the state’s definition of the word “pickle,” allowing for pickled beets, carrots and other produce to be easily sold at farmers’ markets alongside pickled cucumbers.

Susan Morrison was two years old when her dad left.

Her mother, Eleanor, was left to care for Susan and her two siblings. The experience led Susan on a journey to change the Texas Constitution to make sure other kids didn't have the same experience she did growing up.

Under the Texas Capitol dome in the Rotunda.
State of Texas

State lawmakers have breathed new life into a major mental health bill with bipartisan support, after it was temporarily struck down by a North Texas Tea Party leader.

From Texas Standard:

Momentum for one of Gov. Greg Abbott's priority issues this legislative session appears to have dwindled. Ordinances passed in Dallas, Austin and other Texas cities, which require private employers to offer paid sick leave to employees, will remain on the books now that an attempt to prohibit them failed to pass in the legislature.

Mock weapons are used to train educators in Harrold. The North Texas school district was the first to allow educators to carry guns on school grounds, starting in 2007.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

The Texas House expanded a sweeping school safety bill that now calls for students to learn about domestic violence prevention, requires certain training for school resource officers, and would provide an undetermined amount of state money for campus security measures and mental health initiatives.

Ray Dunn, CEO of On the Mark Enhanced Tactical Training, teaches a gun training class for educators in Harrold ISD.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate moved Tuesday to abolish the cap on how many trained school teachers and support staff — known as school marshals — can carry guns on public school campuses, nearly an hour after the House voted to approve a separate and sweeping school safety bill.

The Texas Senate bill bans any governmental entity from punishing a private business for its past donations to religious organizations. Critics condemned it as a new version of the 2017 bathroom bill or as a reaffirmation that the state is hostile to LGBTQ people.

The Texas Senate unanimously passed legislation expanding the Texas Compassionate Use Program on Wednesday. The legislation is expected to become law, enabling more patients to purchase marijuana-derived CBD oil in Texas.

A sign prohibiting the carry of concealed firearms at the Coryell County Courthouse.
Gabriel Cristóver Pérez for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate approved a bill Friday that would allow handgun owners to carry their concealed firearms without a license for up to 48 hours when leaving an area due to a mandatory evacuation order.

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State legislation with bipartisan support is taking aim at "surprise medical bills" and may get a final vote Monday, May 20, in Austin. It's designed to protect the consumer by requiring medical providers and insurance companies to work things out themselves.

With less than two weeks left in the 86th legislative session, lawmakers are racing to have their bills considered, passed and sent to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk. The fate of much of the proposed legislation will be decided in these final days.

County judges and voting groups say they're concerned an update to a sweeping voting bill could reduce the number of countywide polling places in minority communities – particularly in larger metropolitan areas in Texas.

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