Highlights from the Legislative session in February

The 86th Texas Legislature is now in session.

The 86th Texas Legislature is now in session.

During the second month of the 2019 legislative session, bills on issues such as teacher pay raises and a cap on property tax revenue have moved to the full Senate for a vote.

The Senate Finance Committee unanimously passed a bill that would provide annual $5,000 pay raises for all full-time classroom teachers in the state. The measure now moves to the full Senate.

The Texas House Democratic Caucus is calling for a $14.5 billion school finance package that includes all-day pre-K, teacher raises and property tax relief.

Property tax
A Senate committee has passed Senate Bill 2, which would require an election when local governments want to collect an additional 2.5 percent or more in tax revenue from existing properties, regardless of the total taxable values assigned to properties. The measure now goes to the full Senate.

State budget
Texas Comptroller Glenn Hegar has announced the state will have $119.1 billion for lawmakers to use in putting together the state’s 2020-21 budget.

A day after the Texas House unveiled a proposal to pump more than $7 billion in new state funds into public schools, the Texas Senate answered with a budget that would boost the state’s share of public education spending by about $4.3 billion compared with the previous two-year budget cycle. A Senate bill would give schools $3.7 billion to provide $5,000 pay raises to all full-time classroom teachers.

Hurricane Harvey
New legislation would require sellers of residential properties to notify buyers if a property is located in a flood-prone area—and whether it has previously flooded.

Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, has a package of bills that could create Texas’ first statewide flood plan. The statewide plan would incorporate regional plans to better coordinate flood-control projects and strategies.

Public safety
The House’s budget plans would give the state prison system $160 million more to help care for inmates. The Senate’s plan would cut funding.

Rep. Steve Toth, R-The Woodlands, authored House Bill 1042, which would require law enforcement agencies in the state to establish a plan for coordinating with other police and first responders in an active-shooter emergency at school campuses and conduct an annual active-shooter drill. The bill was referred to Homeland Security and Public Safety on Feb. 26.

Health care
Amid uncertainty about the federal Affordable Care Act, state legislators will tackle a variety of issues during the session, from mental health to opioids to funding
for Medicaid.

Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, co-authored SB 15, which states a municipality or county may not adopt or enforce laws requiring terms of employment that exceed or conflict with federal or state law relating to hiring practices, benefits or other terms of employment. The bill was scheduled for a public hearing Feb. 28.

Other issues
In his State of the Judiciary address, Texas Supreme Court Chief Justice Nathan
Hecht called on legislators to back nonpartisan judicial elections as well as
bail reform.

During his State of the State address, Gov. Greg Abbott said he is willing to work to revive the University of Texas and Texas A&M football game.

A bill authored by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, would make it a felony to threaten a romantic partner into taking on debt or financing expensive items such as cars.



(Courtesy Jersey Mike's Subs)
Jersey Mike's Subs plans late February opening in Indian Springs

Jersey Mike's Subs will open a new location in Indian Springs.

Photo by Vanessa Holt/Community Impact Newspaper
Randalls to close 5 locations Feb. 15

Randalls is closing five stores in the Houston area.

DATA: See vacancy rates for The Woodlands area commercial real estate

The amount of office and retail space in The Woodlands market grew in January, and industrial vacancies grew by 2%.

The Shenandoah City Council heard a presentation for an in-depth market study. (Andrew Christman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Shenandoah Council debates $148K market study for its Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Shenandoah City Council debated the necessity of an in-depth market study currently estimated around $150,000.

Star Cinema Grill will open in The Woodlands by the end of the year, according to the company. (Courtesy Star Cinema Grill)
Star Cinema Grill location coming to former Randall's site on College Park Drive by end of 2020

The location at 9420 College Park Drive, The Woodlands, was previously occupied by a Randall's grocery store.

As of mid-January, construction was still underway at the project's western limit near Richards Road. Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper
County, residents anticipate end of Rayford Road widening project

A yearslong project aimed at improving safety and mobility along Rayford Road is nearing completion in March

Students from Lone Star College-Montgomery will perform their production of "Student Body" at the Kennedy Center American College Theater Festival on Feb. 25. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
Lone Star College-Montgomery students invited to perform play at national festival

"Student Body," written by Frank Winters, examines campus sexual assault; its protagonists discover a video at a party of a sex act that "may or may not be considered consensual."

The Tomball ISD board of trustees approved calendars for the next two school years Feb. 11. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Tomball ISD approves 2020-21, 2021-22 school calendars

The Tomball ISD board of trustees approved calendars for the next two school years Feb. 11.

Magnolia ISD students will start school Aug. 12. (Courtesy Fotolia)
Magnolia ISD approves 2020-21 school calendar

Students will start school Aug. 12.

The Malbec Braised Short Rib ($29) is served with parmesan polenta and grilled brocollini. (Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)
The Butler House offers new-American fare, cocktails in Spring

The Butler House offers a full-service bar with house martinis and specialty cocktails, and it serves new-American cuisine such as the Butler Burger, a locally sourced beef burger served in a brioche bun.

The HCTRA executive director is tasked with constructing, maintaining and operating all toll roads in Harris County as well as managing nearly 1.5 million customer accounts. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
HCTRA Chief Financial Officer Peter Key appointed as interim executive director

Harris County Commissioners Court unanimously appointed Peter Key as the interim executive director for the Harris County Toll Road Authority at its Feb. 11 meeting.

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