At the Capitol: Legislature faces varying fates at end of 2019 session

Pearland City Council Member Derrick Reed has announced he is running for Congress in Texas District 22, a seat held by Pete Olson.

Pearland City Council Member Derrick Reed has announced he is running for Congress in Texas District 22, a seat held by Pete Olson.

Bills reached the governor’s desk on topics such as raising the smoking age and creating a state flood infrastructure fund. Gov. Greg Abbott has until June 16 to sign or veto bills, which go into effect automatically if he does neither.

Signed into law

Red-light cameras
HB 1631: Signed on June 3
The days of red-light cameras monitoring Texas drivers may be numbered, but the devices could still linger in some communities for a few more years, as it would only prevent cities from renewing their contracts with vendors.

Sent to Gov. Greg Abbott

Rules governing alcohol sales
House Bill 1545: Sent to Abbott on May 24
This bill is part of the state’s regular sunset process, which requires agencies to undergo regular efficiency reviews or face closure. Lawmakers in the Senate amended the bill to allow breweries to sell beer to go and allow individuals to hold up to 250 liquor store permits.

Extending statute of limitations for sex abuse lawsuits
HB 3809: Sent to Abbott on May 24
This bill doubles the amount of time that victims of certain types of sexual abuse have to sue abusers or entities from 15 years to 30 years after a victim turns 18.

Creating a state flood infrastructure fund
Senate Bill 7: Sent to Abbott on May 22
This bill would create special flood infrastructure funds to help communities harmed by natural disasters, such as Hurricane Harvey in 2017. The legislation would draw $1.7 billion from the state’s “Rainy Day Fund.”

School safety
SB 11: Sent to Abbott on May 26
In the first session since 10 people were fatally shot at Santa Fe High School in 2018, lawmakers wrote this school safety measure that would strengthen mental health initiatives in schools, require classrooms to have access to a telephone or other electronic communication, and create teams that identify potentially dangerous students. The bill was amended in the House to include the creation of a Texas Mental Health Consortium—originally part of SB 10, which died hours earlier on a technicality.

Raising the smoking age
SB 21: Sent to Abbott on May 21
This measure would raise the legal age to buy tobacco products from 18 to 21 except for military personnel.

Religious freedom
SB 1978: Sent to Abbott on May 23
Known by supporters as the “Save Chick-fil-A Bill,” this proposal would prevent government entities from taking adverse action against people or businesses based on their religion. But some members of the LGBTQ community fear it would be a license to discriminate.

Vetoed or failed

Intellectual disability and the death penalty
HB 1139: Missed key deadline on May 25
It has been more than 15 years since the U.S. Supreme Court said executing prisoners who are intellectually disabled is unconstitutional. This bill would have created a pretrial process to determine if a capital murder defendant is intellectually disabled. It changed in a Senate committee to simply codify existing rulings from the high court that those with intellectual disabilities cannot be sentenced to death and that such determinations must align with current medical standards.

SB 9: Missed key deadline on May 19
This legislation would have elevated the penalty for Texans who vote when they are ineligible—even if they did so unknowingly. They also would have been subject to a felony charge that could include jail time and a fine up to $10,000. The bill did not make it onto the House’s calendar.

Lobbying ban
SB 13: Missed key deadline on May 19
Every session, the Texas Capitol draws lobbyists who were previously members of the Legislature. This bill would have banned members of the Texas House and Senate from certain kinds of lobbying for a period of time after they stepped down from their elected offices. But the bill never made it onto the House agenda.


Few students and attendees wore face masks during the ceremony June 4, though students were seated in a socially distanced arrangement. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
PHOTOS: Conroe ISD celebrates graduates in socially distanced ceremonies

"This pandemic and everything else going on has taught us that above all, we need each other," Conroe High School Principal Rotasha Smith said.

Medical businesses in The Woodlands area adapt amid coronavirus challenges

Medical businesses such as dentists, plastic surgeons and private care practices were forced to operate at reduced capacities or close their doors in mid-March.

At-risk population in The Woodlands area faces health challenges, lifestyle changes

Life for many seniors in the area has changed due to concerns over the coronavirus and its higher risks and death rate for the older population.

Total cases have risen to 13,268 in Harris County, 7,812 of which are considered active while 5,215 are confirmed to have recovered. A total of 241 people are confirmed to have died from the coronavirus in the county.(Community Impact staff)
Harris County coronavirus count: 241 new cases, 5 deaths confirmed June 3

Meanwhile, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott said 45% of new cases statewide between May 26 and June 2 can be tied to prisons, jails, meat packing plants or nursing homes.

The county's total COVID-19 case count rose by more than 20 June 3, alongside dozens of new recoveries. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
COVID-19 recoveries jump in Montgomery County; total case count continues to grow

The county reported more than 60 new COVID-19 recoveries June 3 alongside 23 new cases.

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.

(Courtesy Adobe Stock)
'Our hearts are heavy': Area churches to hold prayer rally June 5 at Magnolia High School

The rally will be held at 7 p.m. in front of Magnolia High School, located at 14350 FM 1488, Magnolia, calling for healing and unity in the nation.

pool, The Woodlands, Sawmill Park
Spraygrounds open; pool season begins June 6 in The Woodlands

Sprayground water attractions in The Woodlands Township opened June 3 for a season running through Oct. 31.

Participants held fists in the air during a moment of silence at a June 2 protest over the death of George Floyd. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Q&A: Criminal justice research expert weighs in on George Floyd protests and the sentiments driving them

"I think the data is clear and convincing that there is a problem. I think that we now have societal consensus of that problem and accepting that data."

Houston Food Bank is looking for more volunteers as it handles increased food distribution during COVID-19. (Courtesy Houston Food Bank)
Houston Food Bank: Volunteers needed now more than ever

The Houston Food Bank is distributing more than double the usual amount of food throughout the community.

America's ER operated a drive-thru testing site in The Woodlands in mid-April, which later moved to WoodsEdge Community Church. (Andy Li/Community Impact Newspaper)
America's ER to move to COVID-19 testing by appointment June 8 at Cypress, Magnolia facilities; large-scale testing site closes June 4

While the drive-thru testing site will close permanently June 4, testing will still be available by appointment beginning June 6 at America's ER facilities in Cypress and Magnolia, officials said in a June 2 statement.

(Adriana Rezal/Community Impact Newspaper)
PHOTOS: Scenes from the downtown Houston march for George Floyd

People of all ages, colors and creeds packed downtown Houston June 2 to march in memory of former Houston resident George Floyd.