Texas Legislature | KERA News

Texas Legislature

Michelle R. Smith / AP

The 2020 census is still a year away but the nationwide head count is already on the minds of lawmakers in Austin. There are big political and policy implications for states in the once-a-decade headcount, so there's an incentive in Austin and other state capitols to help ensure that every Texan is counted.

Nine bills concerning marijuana and hemp are set for public hearing in the Texas House on Monday.

For years, short-term rentals – the rooms and homes on apps like Airbnb and HomeAway – have been the subject of lawsuits and hand-wringing on the part of regulators and people looking to rent out properties.

Texas House Approves 2020-21 Budget Plan, With Extra $9B For School Finance, Property Tax Relief

Mar 28, 2019
Texas House Appropriations Chairman John Zerwas, R-Richmond, talks with House Speaker Dennis Bonnen on March 27, 2019, as the House took up the budget debate.
Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

In Dennis Bonnen’s first major test as speaker of the Texas House, the chamber he oversees resoundingly passed a $251 billion budget Wednesday after a long but largely civil debate — a departure from the dramatics that have typically defined such an affair.

UT Faculty, Students Feel The Impact Of Airbnb Blacklist

Mar 27, 2019
The iPhone Airbnb app. March 26, 2019.
Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

When Amanda Bosky, a graduate student in sociology, goes to an academic conference, she often uses Airbnb to save money. Now the University of Texas at Austin student is worried that she can't anymore.

Two Bills Aim To Bring Broadband To Rural Texas

Mar 26, 2019

From Texas Standard:

In the 1930s, a young congressman named Lyndon Johnson decided he wanted to do something grand – on the scale of his hero, Franklin Delano Roosevelt. He pushed for rural electrification, i.e., bringing electricity to remote areas that didn't yet have power – both in Texas and across the country. Today, there's a similar urban-rural divide when it comes to broadband internet access.

Debate Over Texas Abortion Bill Prompts Tears, Frustration And A Boycott From Democrats

Mar 26, 2019
The Texas Capitol
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

A Texas House committee's attempt to consider a bill regarding "the rights of a living child born after an abortion" boiled over Monday, leading to tears from the committee chairman, frustration from Republicans and a boycott by Democrats that delayed the hearing for a few hours.

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To avoid what's been dubbed the "benefits cliff," some workers turn down higher-paying jobs because it would disqualify them from public assistance.

A wide-ranging voting bill in the Texas Senate “would sharply escalate an ongoing campaign of voter suppression” in the state, voting rights advocates say.

Lemonade stands aren't legal in Texas, but House lawmakers gave a preliminary OK today to a bill that would undo that legislative oversight that's dragged on for 85 legislative sessions.

A new coalition of property rental businesses, travel sites and business trade organizations wants the Texas legislature to upend local ordinances around short-term rentals in lieu of one statewide law.

The years-old debate pits private property rights vs community concerns over the future of neighborhoods.

Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick and Senate Parliamentarian Karina Davis on on the Senate floor on Jan. 9, 2019.
Miguel Gutierrez Jr./The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, was on the floor of the Texas House in 2015 trying to convince her colleagues to open up the state to medical cannabis, and it was not going well.

State senators are considering a bill that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products in Texas from 18 to 21. 

From Texas Standard:

As the 2019 legislative session continues, Texas Standard is talking with members about some of the bills they’ve filed, and what they hope their legislation will accomplish.

State Rep. Donna Howard, D-Austin, filed HB 311, which would exempt feminine hygiene products from state sales tax.

Texas has one of the most restrictive medical marijuana programs in the country, according experts who track marijuana laws. But some lawmakers from both parties are ready to change that.

Thorne Anderson for KERA

Lawmakers in Austin who oversee the state’s sprawling prison system are concerned about state jails. These middle-tier facilities, which are for low-level felons with crimes related to underlying issues, were set up with the idea that they’d provide an array of rehabilitative services that would prevent future crime.

A bill that would create more uniform policies on speech at Texas colleges and universities passed unanimously out of a Senate committee Monday.

Bail bondsmen are opposing state legislation that would overhaul Texas' bail laws.
ROY LUCK / FLICKR

Most people in Texas jails are legally innocent. They’ve been arrested but are awaiting trial. They haven’t been convicted of a crime.

Advocates across the political spectrum say that’s because whether a defendant is stuck in jail before trial depends way too much on how wealthy they happen to be, and lawmakers have introduced bills to overhaul the state’s bail laws.

Marijuana plants at Compassionate Cultivation, a home-grown medical cannabis company in Austin that serves patients throughout Texas.
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

Four years after she authored legislation that legalized the sale of medical cannabis oil to Texans suffering from a small number of conditions, Republican state Rep. Stephanie Klick plans to push to expand the list of eligible patients in 2019.

LoneStarMike via Wikimedia

When Mia Greer went to prison, she says she wasn’t the only one who was punished. Her kids suffered too.

“They started failing in school, my son started lashing out,” Greer, a registered nurse from Austin, told lawmakers on the House Corrections committee on Thursday.

From drafting new safety plans to increasing mental health resources on campuses, Texas lawmakers have varied proposals for addressing school safety this legislative session.

State Rep. Eric Johnson, D-Dallas, is joined by state Rep. Angie Button, R-Richardson, during a press conference at the Capitol to announce an anti-corruption bill Monday.
Emree Weaver/The Texas Tribune

A Dallas lawmaker says he plans to file a bill this week that would take away elected officials’ power to influence whether low-income housing is built in their cities or Texas House districts. That vow comes after Dallas officials have faced criminal charges for their involvement in such projects.

Texas Senate Unanimously Passes $5,000 Teacher Pay Raises, Adding Librarians

Mar 5, 2019

The Texas Senate on Monday unanimously passed a bill that would provide $5,000 annual pay raises for full-time classroom teachers and librarians, at a cost of $4 billion over the next two years.

Almost two-thirds of Texans think state lawmakers should expand Medicaid to cover more low-income uninsured people, according to a survey funded by the Episcopal Health Foundation.

A bipartisan group of Texas lawmakers announced plans this week to address surprise medical bills in a way they believe would ease the burden on patients in the state.

Natasha Boone high fives a student as they went over a story the class was reading Jan. 14, 2019 at Edward Titche Elementary School in the Pleasant Grove area of Dallas.
Leslie Boorhem-Stephenson for The Texas Tribune

When third-grade reading teacher Natasha Boone told her peers she was considering a job at Titche Elementary School, a chronically low-performing school known for its low test scores and rowdy classrooms, they all asked, "Why?"

A bipartisan group of lawmakers announced plans to address surprise medical bills in way that would take the "burden" off Texans.

The day after a federal judge in San Antonio criticized Texas Secretary of State David Whitley’s effort to remove alleged noncitizens from voter rolls, a state Senate committee approved his nomination.

The Texas Economic Stabilization Fund, often called the rainy day fund, is doing well. Really well, actually. By the end of 2021, Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar projects, it will have about $15 billion in it. Lawmakers say the account needs to have a minimum of $7.5 billion to help the state maintain a top credit rating.

Texas sunset with powerlines
Texas Tribune

State lawmakers are again trying to abolish daylight saving time in Texas, arguing it's antiquated. But supporters of the practice argue it gives Texans a crucial extra hour of light in the evenings during the summer months.

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