Each time the full Texas Legislature meets, some laws are passed to impose new regulations and some don't. On its face, a proposal could end each time a bill dies in committee or gets voted down in either chamber. However, the budget offers another avenue to approve proposals as amendments.
The Texas House is expected to debate Thursday and into Friday about more than 400 amendments proposed for the first draft of the Senate budget, which was approved late last month. For context, last legislative session there were roughly 350 amendments offered, and that House remained in session for 18 hours to debate the budget.
Amendments proposed so far range in topics, including gender changes, a border wall and education.
With so many amendments offered—and no searchable option offered by the Legislature, we've broken down some important and interesting changes lawmakers are offering to the budget by category. Here's what you need to know:
- State Rep. John Stickland, R-Bedford, offered an amendment that would lower the amount of funding given to an institution of higher education proportional to the amount spent on any undocumented immigrants attending the school in the previous year.
- This amendment by state Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, would prohibit any state funds within the budget from being used to construct a border wall in the Big Bend area of Texas. Another amendment by Israel would prevent any budget funds from being used to construct a border wall anywhere along the United States and Mexico border.
- An amendment by Rep. Cesar Blanco, D-El Paso, would require the comptroller to study the economic impact of undocumented immigrants in Texas, including their benefits to the economy. This amendment failed. Another amendment by Blanco asked for a study on the proposed border adjustment tax by President Donald Trump. The proposed tax would levy a 20 percent tax on imports from Mexico, according to Blanco. This amendment was also tabled.
- State Rep. Matt Schaefer, R-Tyler, wrote an amendment that would prohibit state money from being used to fund entities or individuals performing abortions not covered by Medicaid. This also applies to individuals or entities that are part of a franchise or are owned by groups that perform abortions not covered by Medicaid.
- State Rep. Matt Krause, R-Fort Worth, submitted an amendment that would appropriate an additional $17.5 million per year to the Health and Human Services commission for alternatives to abortion.
- An amendment from state Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, would require the Department of State Health Services to create a grant program, funded via private donations, to cover the costs of cremating or burying fetal remains.
- Written by state Rep. Chris Turner, D-Dallas, this amendment would appropriate $4 million more to State Health Services for family planning services.
- State Rep. Briscoe Cain, R-Houston, offered an amendment that would prevent the Texas Department of Criminal Justice from using funds to cover costs of gender reassignment surgeries for inmates.
- State Rep. Valoree Swanson, R-Tomball, authored an amendment to prohibit any state agency from using funds to construct, renovate or reclassify a bathroom, locker room or shower facility to allow a man to enter a women's facility or vice versa. Unlike the bathroom bill approved by Senate, this does not specify that a gender is defined based on a birth certificate.
- This amendment by state Rep. Gina Hinojosa, D-Austin, would create regulations within State Health Services to further ease the process of changing a birth certificate after a sex change.
- State Rep. Ken King, R-Canadian, proposed an amendment that would prevent any district whose representative voted against the bill from taking advantage of funds appropriated unless otherwise constitutionally required.
- This amendment by Israel would require the Secretary of State to use budgeted funds to create an electronic voter registration system.
- This amendment by Rep. Tony Tinderholt, R-Arlington, would cut the Arts Commission budget by $13 million to put more money into the General Revenue Fund. Tinderholt said this could be used as a bargaining chip within the conference committee debate.
- Rep. Chris Turner, D-Dallas, proposed an amendment to prevent the Attorney General's office from using state funds in any appeals in the Perez v. Abbott case, which ruled Texas intentionally discriminated when drawing district maps. The amendment was tabled.
- Another amendment by Rep. Stickland would remove about $15 million in funding from programming to reduce the use of tobacco products. He said the legislature has spent more than $100 million on this programming in the past decade. Several amendments have been filed in a similar vein to zero out the account.
- State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, filed an amendment to provide an additional $289 million per year from the Economic Stabilization Fund to fund full-day pre-kindergarten programs across the state.
- This amendment by Rep. Abel Herrero, D-Robstown, would ban all funds from the Texas Education Agency from contributing to any school choice program. An amendment to the amendment barred not only funds from the TEA, but also any state funds from going to that school choice purpose. The overall amendment passed 103-44.
The Texas Politics Project compiled a searchable document with all of the amendments included. The budget proposal can be viewed here.