At the Capitol: Updates from the 86th Texas Legislature

Texas Capitol

Texas Capitol

Latest news from the 86th Texas Legislature


The 86th Texas Legislature began Jan. 8 and continues through May 27. These updates are what has happened since the session began as well as the latest bill filings from lawmakers representing the Northwest Austin area.



EDUCATION


The Texas Senate unanimously passed legislation March 25 that is designed to make the Teacher Retirement System pension fund financially healthy and give one-time checks to retired teachers.


Senate Bill 12, filed by state Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, would increase how much the state, school districts and current teachers contribute to the pension fund over the next six years. For the first two years, the changes will cost the state about $555.1 million in general revenue. About $195 million of that money would go toward giving retirees one-time additional checks next fiscal year of up to $500.


The money for the bill would come from the Senate’s supplemental budget, which the upper chamber unanimously approved last week.



HEALTH CARE


The Senate Health and Human Services Committee on March 27 approved the infant protection bill with a 6-2 vote. SB 23 gives teeth to an already existing statute that grants legal protections to children born after a failed abortion attempt. Doctors who fail to provide appropriate medical treatment would be charged with a third-degree felony and have to pay a fine.



EDUCATION


The Texas Senate’s budget-writing committee on March 28 approved adding billions more dollars for public education and property tax reform to the Senate’s base spending plan, bringing the total to $9 billion—the same amount the Texas House wants to spend on those items.



PROPERTY TAXES


House Republicans muscled a heavily altered version of their property tax reform bill through a committee March 28, notching a single Democratic vote and swiftly shooting down attempts to further modify the draft.


A top priority for state leaders, House Bill 2 would require cities, counties and other taxing units to receive voter approval before levying 2.5% more property tax revenue than the previous year.


As amended, HB 2 now exempts community colleges, emergency services districts and hospital districts from abiding by the 2.5% election trigger.



Updates from your local representatives


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On March 7, State Rep. Gina Hinojosa (D-Austin) filed a bill necessary to establish a Local Provider Participation Fund with private hospitals in Travis County.


On March 1, State Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin) filed a bill that would establish highway safety corridors and subsequently double fines for offenses in those corridors.


On March 4, State Rep. James Talarico (D-Round Rock) filed HB 2997 that would establish suicide-prevention training and mental health programs for public school employees.



MOST RECENT

As of June 3, Round Rock had 308 confirmed cases of coronavirus, 220 more than the next highest city. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Round Rock reporting significantly more coronavirus cases than other Williamson County cities—here's why

Round Rock has more than 200 additional cases than the next leading Williamson County city.

A screen image of Sam Biscoe at a meeting of the Travis County Commissioners Court
Travis County allocates $7.3 million in coronavirus relief aid to small cities

Commissioners voted to issue $55 per capita to the county's small cities, significantly less than mayors had lobbied for.

FDA testing
Austin Public Health director cautions residents against unauthorized antibody tests

Residents who use some unauthorized antibody tests to determine if they have contracted COVID-19 may be vulnerable to receiving false test results.

There have been a total of 3,501 coronavirus cases in the county and 95 deaths since the pandemic began locally March 13. (Community Impact staff)
Travis County’s first two coronavirus deaths of June bring total to 95

There have been a total of 3,501 coronavirus cases in the county and 95 deaths since the pandemic began locally March 13.

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott announced Phase 3 of his Open Texas plan June 3. (Brian Rash/Community Impact Newspaper)
Gov. Greg Abbott's June 3 guidelines allow most Texas businesses to operate at 50% capacity

Texas Gov. Greg Abbott continues to lift coronavirus-related business restrictions.

Thirteen additional confirmed cases of coronavirus were reported by the Williamson County and Cities Health District on June 3. (Community Impact staff)
13 additional cases reported June 3 in Williamson County

Of the confirmed cases, 424 have recovered, the report said.

Alta Alexander shows the fire damage at her boutique on East 12th Street, Altatudes. (Photo by Jack Flagler, design by Shelby Savage/Community Impact Newspaper)
Altatudes and Kane's Barbershop, 2 black-owned businesses on East 12th Street, look to rebuild after fire

The Austin Fire Department said a fire that started in the early morning of June 1 at Kane’s Barbershop was accidental and caused by an electrical failure.

Legendary baseball player Nolan Ryan has long enjoyed ranching. Now, he and his team are preparing to open a butcher shop in Round Rock to showcase Goodstock, Nolan Ryan Beef and other Texas-made products. (Photo courtesy Nolan Ryan)
Nolan Ryan to open Round Rock butcher shop and 20 other Central Texas business updates to know

Read the latest news on Central Texas businesses from Community Impact Newspaper's latest coverage.

Protesters march toward the Texas Capitol. (Christopher Neely/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin health officials: All who attended weekend demonstrations should get tested for coronavirus

Concerns over the coronavirus pandemic took the passenger seat, but health officials emphasized those health concerns have not subsided.

Barton Springs Pool
Closed since March, Barton Springs Pool to reopen with reservations June 9

After being closed for close to three months, Barton Springs Pool will open with limited hours beginning June 9.

Census reinstates some field operations in Texas following coronavirus delay. (Courtesy U.S. Census Bureau)
Census reinstates some field operations in Texas following coronavirus delay

Operations began in Fort Worth, Dallas, Austin and San Antonio beginning May 25.