News from the 84th Texas Legislature

During this legislative session, Community Impact Newspaper is reporting on bills and funding for the state regarding the budget, economy and small business, transportation, public education, higher education, health care and more. All information on this page is as of May 6.

Transportation


Representatives discuss a bill May 5.[/caption]

The status of additional state funding for the Texas Department of Transportation is up in the air as the House and Senate will discuss their differences on approving a bill designed to divert money to the State Highway Fund that helps fund TxDOT.

On April 30 the House approved Senate Joint Resolution 5, which would dedicate $3 billion of revenue from the state sales and use tax to the State Highway Fund each fiscal year. However, the bill differs from the Senate’s version, approved March 4. The Senate’s version of the bill would dedicate the first $2.5 billion of motor vehicle sales tax revenue to the state’s general revenue fund and the second $2.5 billion to the SHF. The Senate declined to accept the House’s version of the bill May 4, requiring both chambers to hash out differences in a conference committee.

Economy and Small Business


HB 40, a bill that would clarify that the state—and not local authorities—regulates oil and gas activity, was approved by the Senate and sent to the governor for action May 6.

HB 26, a bill that would abolish the Texas Emerging Technology Fund, among other actions, was sent May 5 to the Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee.

HB 1155, a bill that would create a program to help the relocation or expansion of businesses with high-skilled jobs, was sent to the Senate on May 5.

Public Education


On May 6 chambers of commerce, school boards and superintendents came to the Capitol to voice support for the House’s version of an education budget allocating $3 billion for education in Texas. The Senate’s version allocates about $1.4 billion.

On May 5 the Senate Committee on Education voted 9-2 to approve HB 4, which outlines a high-quality prekindergarten program. The bill now heads to the Senate.

On April 22 the House passed SB 149, which aims to create committees to determine if students who pass classes but fail standardized tests can graduate. Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, who filed the bill, moved to concur with House amendments April 29, and the Senate approved that motion. SB 149 was sent to the governor April 30.

SB 1483, filed by Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston, defines the community schools model and was considered in a public hearing April 23.

“Although community schools are operational in Texas, currently there is no definition or uniform set of practices,” Garcia said in an April 7 meeting, noting schools could choose the model outlined in statute instead of using a Texas Education Agency intervention team.

Higher Education


University presidents Bill Powers and Mark Hussey joined forces earlier in the legislative session, asking lawmakers for funding.[/caption]

Bills slated to bring changes to higher education are still waiting for passage.

A bill that would allow licensed concealed weapon owners to carry firearms on public college campuses was approved by the Senate but still has not been heard on the House floor. A bill repealing a law allowing some undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates is waiting to be heard by the Senate but has not cleared its first committee in the House. Some other bills in limbo include those that would issue revenue bonds to help higher education institutions fund projects such as new facilities.

Health Care


The Senate approved SB 575 on May 6 with a 21-10 vote relating to abortion services covered by health insurance plans.

The bill, authored by Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, moves on to the House for a vote and prohibits “elective abortions” from being covered in private health insurance plans, some health benefit plans for state employees and those offered through the federal Health Insurance Marketplace, except in the case of a medical emergency, according to the bill analysis. The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act allows individual states to set their own parameters for abortion coverage for health plans offered through the Health Insurance Marketplace.


MOST RECENT

Mortgage purchase applications are down year over year, but the Austin housing market remains hot. (Benton Graham/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin housing market still hot but showing signs of slowing down

Experts say that a decrease in mortgage purchase applications points to “a reversion back to norm” in the Austin housing market.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

The Pit Stop Grooming opened in Georgetown on July 1. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Dog grooming shop now open in Georgetown

The Pit Stop Grooming serves dogs of all breeds and sizes.

Complaints over roofing scams general rise after storms, and the city of Georgetown is looking at how to help residents find reputable roofers. (Courtesy Sarris & MacKir Roofing and Construction)
Roofing scam complaints lead Georgetown officials to consider how to protect residents

Unofficial complaints from residents generally increase after storms such as the recent April hail storm, and leaders are looking at ways to protect residents.

The business serves Georgetown and surrounding areas. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Lice-removal service now open in Georgetown

The mobile company offers professional head lice removal at clients' homes and sells products geared toward lice prevention and treatment.

WCCHD vaccination drive
Outside consultants to review programs, performance of Williamson County’s health district

The firm will review services and programs offered by the Williamson County and Cities Health District as well as the performance of different departments.

Back to school bash. (Courtesy Wolf Ranch Town Center)
Catch these 15 Georgetown events, activities happening in July and August

Plays, a back-to-school bash, live music and more are happening over the next month.

Travis County has been discussing the possibility of a new Samsung facility with Samsung since January. (Community Impact Staff)
Travis County begins incentives negotiations with Samsung for possible $17B facility

Samsung is hoping to finalize a performance agreement by mid-August, which would include information about how the potential facility would affect property taxes.

RadiateHope365 offers its services to Georgetown and surrounding areas. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Financial consulting service now open in Georgetown

The business provides financial coaching services to individuals in Christian ministry.

Poindexter (center) has 24 years of physical therapy experience and has a passion for helping people. (Fernanda Figueroa/Community Impact Newspaper)
Physical therapy practice in Georgetown gets innovative with treatments

Just 20 minutes of using the ARP Wave laser treatment is equivalent to lifting heavy weights in the gym for an hour.

Massey Wallace and her husband, Allen Wallace, will open a seventh location of Lonestar Kolaches at the former Little Red Wagon in October. (Brooke Sjoberg/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lonestar Kolaches coming to Round Rock; Kilwins sweet shop to open in Georgetown and more Central Texas news

Read the latest business and community news from the Central Texas area, such as the Williamson County judge doubting more shutdowns as coronavirus rates increase.

Williamson County courthouse
Williamson County judge: It is ‘not the plan’ to return to COVID-19 lockdowns

Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell at a July 20 public meeting said he has no plans to implement restrictions to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus. According to the WCCHD coronavirus dashboard, the rate of new infections across Williamson County doubled from July 11-18.