Raising minimum wage, abolishing the death penalty and 3 other Texas issues that went nowhere during the 85th legislative session

While the unofficial end—known as Sine Die—and the official end of the legislative session isn't here yet, and there's no concrete word on a potential special session, it is becoming increasingly clear that certain issues have fallen by the wayside this time around under the pink dome. Here are five topics that failed to advance in 2017:

1. Raising the minimum wage


This session went about the same as other recent efforts to raise the state minimum wage. Despite more than 10 bills being filed on this topic—some to raise the wage to as much as $15 and others to $10.10—none got very far. For the most part, House bills were heard in the House Business and Industry Committee and were subsequently left pending since mid-March. Related Senate bills didn't even get a hearing. So, for now, Texas' minimum wage will remain the same as the federal minimum, $7.25.

2. Decriminalizing small possessions of marijuana


An effort to decriminalize possession of marijuana failed despite bipartisan leadership from Rep. Joe Moody, D-El Paso, and Rep. Jason Isaac, R-Dripping Springs. The two sponsored House Bill 81, which would lower penalties for possession of one ounce of marijuana from arrests to mere tickets. The bill failed to receive approval before an important deadline that rendered all unvoted upon House bills useless.

3. Constitutional carry


While the session has featured numerous steps toward reducing the complexities of the license to carry process, it hasn't featured final movement toward constitutional carry. State Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, sponsored HB 375 which would allow any individual without a license to carry or training to carry a handgun. The bill was heard in committee in late March and has not seen any movement since then.

4. Raising the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18


State Rep. Harold Dutton, D-Houston, rallied this session in favor of his bill, HB 122, which would raise the age of criminal responsibility from 17 to 18, allowing 17-year-olds accused of crimes to remain in the juvenile system rather than the adult justice system. The bill passed the House in late April and has since sat in the Senate with no movement forward. The bill has not even received a committee assignment. At one point, Dutton threatened to kill any Senate bills that came to the House should his bill not pass, but has not done so since that threat was made.

5. Abolishing the death penalty


In the Senate, any bill related to abolishing the death penalty, or prohibiting the use of it in cases of an offense committed by a person with an intellectual disability, never received a committee hearing. In the House, Dutton's bill to abolish across the board received a committee hearing but has ultimately been left pending since early April. A bill that would have abolished the death penalty for individuals with severe mental illness made it onto the House's general calendar but failed to clear an important deadline, rendering the bill lifeless for the remainder of this session.


MOST RECENT

The Balrog Burger ($21.99): The newly added one-pound burger is topped with double cheese, bacon, avocado, mushrooms, jalapeño and chipotle mayo, with a fried, cream cheese stuffed jalapeño on top.(Sierra Rozen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Hobbit Cafe blends fantasy with reality as it nears 50th anniversary

Stepping into Hobbit Cafe feels like being transported into Middle Earth, the fantasy land that serves as the setting for “The Lord of the Rings” and “The Hobbit” series.

The Bellaire City Council unanimously approved a motion Dec. 6 to name Fire Chief Deacon Tittle as interim city manager following the recent departure of former Interim City Manager Brant Gary. (Hunter Marrow/Community Impact Newspaper)
Bellaire names interim city manager for short term, directs staff to seek proposals for services

The Bellaire City Council unanimously approved a motion Dec. 6 to name Fire Chief Deacon Tittle as interim city manager following the recent departure of former Interim City Manager Brant Gary.

Missouri City officials approve new city manager contract

The contract for a new city manager for Missouri City has been approved.

A Memorial Hermann Primary Care Clinic is coming to Shenandoah. (Courtesy Howard Hughes Corp.)
Memorial Hermann Primary Care Clinic coming to Shenandoah; construction to begin on Creekside Park Medical Plaza

Memorial Hermann Medical Group signed a 20,000-square-foot, build-to-suit lease for a Memorial Hermann Primary Care Clinic to be developed in Shenandoah, according to a news release by Howard Hughes Corporation. In addition, the release stated that construction is beginning on the new Creekside Park Medical Plaza within Creekside Park Village Center. 

Located at 2714 W. Lake Houston Parkway, Ste. 130, Kingwood, Kingwood Photo Lab offers a range of services including film processing, digital printing, canvas and enlarged prints, photo restorations, memory card recoveries and film-to-digital conversions. (Courtesy Kingwood Photo Lab)
Kingwood Photo Lab returns to original location on W. Lake Houston Parkway

Kingwood Photo Lab offers a range of services including film processing, digital printing, canvas and enlarged prints, photo restorations, memory card recoveries and film-to-digital conversions.

The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Justice, the Office of Justice Programs and the Office of Victims of Crime through the Texas Office of the Governor Criminal Justice Division. (Sierra Rozen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Fort Bend County approves case management, financial assistance grant for crime victims

The $130,838 grant was officially approved at the Dec. 7 Commissioners Court meeting.

Harris County Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle and Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey celebrated the Louetta Road project completion with a ribbon-cutting Dec. 7. (Courtesy Harris County Precinct 4)
Louetta Road extension, bridge over Little Cypress Creek opens to public

County officials including Precinct 4 Commissioner Jack Cagle and Precinct 3 Commissioner Tom Ramsey celebrated the project’s completion with a ribbon-cutting Dec. 7.

Psychiatry of Texas in Spring moved to a new location in early November. (Emily Lincke/Community Impact Newspaper)
Psychiatry of Texas clinic now open at new Willowbrook-area location

Psychiatry of Texas moved to a new location at 7877 Willow Chase Blvd., Houston, in early November.

House of Pies opened Dec. 7 in Cypress. (Courtesy House of Pies)
House of Pies now open in Cypress

The eatery specializes in pies and cakes but is also a full-service restaurant.

Tomball City Council approved three grants for the Tomball Economic Development Corporation to make incentives for new businesses coming to the city. (Chandler France/Community Impact Newspaper)
Council approves three economic development grants for new businesses coming to Tomball

The three grants will provide incentives for new businesses coming to the city.

The business offers a subscription-based car wash club in which members can use the facilities at any Mister Car Wash location. (Courtesy Mister Car Wash)
Mister Car Wash opening another Katy location

This will be the third Katy-area location.

Legacy Community Health is partnering with Thorne HealthTech to bring a new AI-supplemented lab prevention and wellness lab to Missouri City. (Courtesy Legacy Community Health)
Legacy Community Health, Thorne HealthTech to launch wellness lab in Missouri City

A new AI-supplemented prevention and wellness lab will soon be coming to Missouri City.