Here's the most recent updates from Southwest Austin legislators

Southwest Austin legislators continued their work during the final days of the 85th legislative session.

Southwest Austin legislators continued their work during the final days of the 85th legislative session.

Sen. Kirk Watson

D-Austin • Elected: 2006

Recent Activity
Watson votes no on HB 100: HB 100 creates blanket regulations for ride-hailing companies across the state that allows Uber and Lyft to operate within Austin city limits.

Sen. Judith Zaffirini

D-Laredo • Elected: 1987

Recent Activity
HB 62 moves to governor: Zaffirini co-sponsored HB 62 in the Senate, which bans texting while driving statewide. The bill was passed in the House and Senate.

Sen. Donna Campbell

R-New Braunfels • Elected: 2012

Recent Activity
SB 21 heads to governor’s desk: SB 21, which provides qualifications for delegates should a convention be called to amend the U.S. Constitution, passed the House 119-20.

Rep. Jason Isaac

R-Dripping Springs • Elected: 2010

Recent Activity
Pot possession penalty bill dies: HB 81, which died in the House due to a lack of time, would have lessened the penalty for possessing small amounts of marijuana.

Rep. Paul Workman

R-Austin • Elected: 2010

Recent Activity
A-F accountability changes sought: Workman voted HB 22, a bill that would change the A-F school accountability system, out of the House. The bill is pending in the Senate Education Committee.

Rep. Donna Howard

D-Austin • Elected: 2006

Recent Activity
‘Sanctuary city’ bill now law: Howard joined with 52 other representatives in the House in voting against SB 4, the so-called “sanctuary city” bill, which is now law.

Rep. Gina Hinojosa

D-Austin • Elected: 2016

Recent Activity

Veterans bill goes to governor: Hinojosa’s HB 217 was sent to the governor’s desk. The bill allows disabled veterans to defer or abate the collection of ad valorem taxes.

 Rep. Eddie Rodriguez

D-Austin • Elected: 2002

Recent Activity

HB 168 moves to Senate: Rodriguez’s HB 168, which will recognize healthy lifestyle programs in schools, passed in the House 115-28 and will now move to Senate.

3 things to know about the Senate and House budget proposals

  1. The House budget would allocate $42.1 billion on public schools and advocate for $1.5 billion more for public education through school finance reform. The Senate’s proposal also allocates $42 billion to public schools but would cut the state’s overall portion by $1.8 billion.

  2. The House reduces the current amount allocated to border security—$800 million—to a proposed $653.1 million. The Senate matches the current expenditure with another budget line of $800 million.

  3. The House will take money from the state’s Economic Stabilization Fund or Rainy Day Fund to shore up the budget. The House’s proposal would take $2.5 billion from the RDF. The Senate’s budget draft does not touch it, which has more than $10 billion currently.

State voter ID changes come amid federal rulings

Appeals judge: Texas intentionally discriminated in 2011 legislation

In the middle of the House Elections Committee’s regularly scheduled hearing April 10, a federal judge handed down an especially pertinent decision declaring that Texas’ 2011 voter identification legislation was passed with a discriminatory intent.

In 2016, the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the law had a discriminatory effect on minority voters. The court declined to rule at the time on the law’s intent, waiting until mid-April to do so.

As if the meeting were scheduled with this ruling in mind, the House Elections Committee reviewed an updated voter ID law to address the 5th Circuit’s rulings.

“We had this court ruling that literally happened here while we are sitting here on the dais,” Chairwoman Jodie Laubenburg, R-Parker, said.

The piece of House legislation presented was authored by Rep. Phil King, R-Weatherford, and mirrors the legislation passed in the Senate by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, earlier in the session.

The proposed law requires voters to use photo identification in limited forms, including a driver’s license, U.S. military ID card, U.S. citizenship certificate, handgun carry license or U.S. passport.

Should a voter not be able to obtain one of these ID forms, he or she could present other forms of ID with a signed affidavit stating a reasonable impediment. These forms include a government document showing the name and address of the voter, a copy of a current utility bill, a bank statement, a government check, a paycheck or a certified copy of a domestic birth certificate.

If a voter lies about his or her circumstance, that person could be charged with a third-degree felony, which carries a sentence of two to 10 years in prison. A prosecutor must prove that a voter intentionally lied about his or her impediment.

Rep. Celia Israel, D-Austin, said she did not understand the reasoning for such a harsh penalty.

“The overwhelming reason if there is voter fraud is not because someone impersonated someone else,” she said.

Brantley Starr, deputy first assistant attorney general, said proving intent would be the most challenging part of the proposed law.

In response to the April court ruling, Starr said the Texas Attorney General’s office has yet to appeal the ruling.


Tents have become a common sight throughout Austin including along Cesar Chavez Street downtown, but with the passage of Proposition B the city may now consider moving unsheltered homeless individuals to designated sites. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Designated campsites for the homeless are back on the table

City staff had previously dismissed developing official camping locations in 2019, but new directives from City Council this week could revive the concept in Austin.

Wag-A-Bag is headquartered in Round Rock. (Megan Cardona/Community Impact Newspaper)
Wag-A-Bag to operate under new ownership, name; Austin, TxDOT at odds over I-35 overhaul; and more top Central Texas news

Read the most popular business and community news from the past week from the Austin area.

Stephanie Hayden-Howard will become an assistant city manager in Austin on May 10. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Role changes coming for health officials leading Austin-Travis County COVID-19 efforts

Dr. Desmar Walkes will take over as Austin's next medical director and local health authority as Dr. Mark Escott and Stephanie Hayden-Howard transition to new roles with the city.

The brewery and kitchen‘s new spot will offer a larger indoor setting area than its original. (Courtesy Suds Monkey Brewing Co.)
Dripping Springs brewery relocates to new, expanded facility closer to Austin

Suds Monkey Brewing Co. opened in Dripping Springs in 2017.

A pilot Austin Police Department cadet class is now set to commence in June under an updated training regimen and with additional city and community oversight on the APD academy's culture and curriculum. (John Cox/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Council votes to restart APD cadet training in June, with framework for ongoing reviews of pilot academy

The Austin Police Department's 144th cadet class will now kick off training next month, with continued oversight of APD's instruction and culture throughout the 34-week academy process.

Marco's Pizza will open a South Austin location later this month. (Nicholas Cicale/Community Impact Newspaper)
Pizzeria opening later this month, a local animal shelter hits a milestone and more South Austin business news

Here are updates from The Bungalow, PAWS Shelter of Central Texas and more.

Holland Photo Imaging celebrates 40 years in business this year. (Courtesy Holland Photo Imaging)
The latest business news in South Central Austin

1. Holland Photo Imaging, located at 2125 Goodrich Ave., Ste. A, Austin, is celebrating its 40th anniversary in the community this year. Founded in 1981 by Pete Holland, the business has been owned by residents Brian and Morgan Morrison since 2006. Holland Photo Imaging offers film processing, printing, framing, photo restoration and archiving services. 512-442-4274.

A sign advertises a property for rent in Austin on May 6. Local eviction orders remain in place through August 1 protecting most tenants from eviction. (Jack Flagler/Community Impact Newspaper)
Local eviction moratoriums remain in effect despite federal judge’s decision

The May 5 ruling from a U.S. District Court judge striking down a federal moratorium does not affect orders in place in Austin or Travis County.

Q2 Stadium in North Austin
U.S. women’s national soccer team to debut Q2 Stadium next month

The USWNT takes on the Nigerian national team at Q2 Stadium ahead of the summer Olympic Games.

Juneau was adopted at Austin Animal Center in November 2019. (Amy Rae Dadamo/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin Animal Center reaches critical capacity, opens doors to all adopters for first time since May 2020

Austin and Travis County’s animal shelter, Austin Animal Center, reached negative kennel space May 4, meaning there are more dogs than available kennels, according to a release from the city of Austin.