News from the 84th Texas Legislature

Economy and Small Business

HB 40, a bill clarifying that the state—not local authorities—regulates oil and gas activity, was signed by Gov. Greg Abbott on May 18. It took effect immediately.

News from the 84th Texas Legislature Representatives discuss a bill May 5.[/caption]

HB 931, a bill that would change how unemployment insurance benefits are allocated, was sent to Abbott on May 20. According to the bill’s analysis, current law “incentivizes unemployed individuals to remain out of work for at least four weeks because they will be paid double for the fourth week of unemployment.” The bill amends how individuals would be eligible for benefits.


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 SHF 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.


As the 84th regular session of the Texas Legislature winds down, the House and Senate are coming to terms over proposed bills affecting state budget considerations including tax relief for homeowners and businesses.

On May 20 the Senate Finance Committee passed HB 32 that cuts $2.5 billion in franchise taxes, with a franchise tax rate decrease from 1 percent to 0.75 percent over the next two years. The bill raises the tax threshold for small businesses from $10 million to $20 million.

The House and Senate chambers are at odds as to how to cut taxes for residents, with the Senate touting a property tax cut and the House promoting a sales tax reduction.

The House of Representatives unanimously passed SB 20 on May 19. The bill, proposed by Sen. Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, increases the disclosure and reporting of state contracts.

“Texas citizens rely on state contracts to receive services they need, and we must ensure that those contracts are awarded fairly and transparently,” Nelson said.

Public Education

At a May 14 House meeting, Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, moved to postpone consideration of HB 1759—the school finance bill he co-authored—until July 4. As a result, any school finance changes would have to come from general appropriations bill HB 1, according to Aycock’s staff.

News from the 84th Texas Legislature Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, moved to postpone consideration of HB 1759 at a May 14 meeting at the Capitol.[/caption]

On May 11 Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 149 into law. The legislation will establish committees to determine if students who pass classes but fail state tests can graduate.

On May 7 the Senate passed HB 4. Filed by Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, the bill aims to implement high-quality standards for prekindergarten education. In a statement, Abbott said he thinks HB 4 will help strengthen the foundation for student success. At press time he had not signed the bill.

Health care

On May 19 the House passed SB 339, which legalizes and regulates the growth of cannabis plants high in cannabidiol and low in tetrahydrocannabinol in Texas.

Gov. Greg Abbott can veto SB 339, sign the bill or take no action.

SB 339 would allow patients access to cannabis as medicine upon the recommendation of two board-certified medical specialists. According to the bill’s analysis, cannabidiol oil has been shown to “dramatically decrease” the number of seizures in people with intractable epilepsy, or people with a higher risk of a shortened life span, bodily injury or mental health impairment. Cannabidiol oil is an extract from the cannabis plant.

Higher education

Many bills slated to bring various changes to higher education establishments are still waiting for passage.

News from the 84th Texas Legislature University presidents Bill Powers and Mark Hussey joined forces earlier in the legislative session, asking lawmakers for funding.[/caption]

SB 11, which would allow licensed concealed weapon owners to carry a firearm on public college campuses, was approved by the Senate but still has not been heard on the House floor.

SB 1819, a bill repealing current law allowing undocumented students—referred to as “Dreamers”—to pay in-state tuition rates, is waiting to be heard by the Senate. Other bills currently in limbo include those that would issue revenue bonds to help higher education institutions fund capital projects, such as new facilities, on campuses.


Public schools cannot require students, teachers, parents, and other staff members or visitors to wear masks after June 4, Gov. Greg Abbott declared in an executive order issued May 18. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Leander ISD 'highly recommends' masks; tax-free weekend tips and more Austin-area news

Read the latest business and education news from the Central Texas area.

School supplies will be exempt from the 8.25% sales tax Aug. 6-8. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
What to know before the statewide tax-free weekend Aug. 6-8

Customers will not have to pay the standard 8.25% sales tax on select clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks under $100.

Photo of a building with solar panels on the roof
Austin Habitat for Humanity's ReStore uses discount home improvement to build communities

The store sells sustainable construction materials, clothes, appliances, jewelry, furniture and the odd novelty item.

The project will cause lane closures between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. from July 29 to mid-August. (Courtesy Austin Corridor Program Office)
Austin begins construction on pedestrian crossing signal on Burnet Road

The project will last from July 29 until mid-August and is funded by the city's 2016 mobility bond.

Photo of the Sobering Center
Travis County moves forward with plans for mental health diversion program at Sobering Center

The program would divert people experiencing mental health crises away from jail and towards supportive services following low-level offenses.

Baylor Scott & White Pflugerville
Ascension, Baylor Scott & White to require all employees be fully vaccinated against coronavirus by fall

Ascension and Baylor Scott & White have announced all eligible employees must be vaccinated against COVID-19 in the coming months. 

Photo of an egg dish
Kerbey Lane Cafe serves the Austin community with 'family feeling'

Since 1980, the cafe has served up breakfast, lunch and dinner at locations around the Capital City.

Austin City Council will convene for a regular meeting July 29, its first since mid-June. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Austin City Hall notebook: Council to look at downtown safety, homelessness and budgeting in return from meetings break

The first regular council meeting since mid-June features a packed agenda and opportunity for resident feedback on Austin's proposed budget.

Photo of a hand holding a vaccine vial
As COVID-19 hospitalizations track upward, Austin Public Health renews call for vaccinations

APH also mirrors the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's latest guidance for vaccinated individuals to wear masks in some circumstances.

The request to table talks regarding designated campsites came one week after city staff detailed two properties that could be used for such an initiative. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Ellis, Harper-Madison call for halt to Austin's 'Band-Aid' sanctioned homeless encampment plans

The East and Southwest Austin representatives shared their thoughts on the process one week after city properties in their districts were tapped as workable encampment sites.

Photo of a woman holding a Pride flag
Austin July and August events: Bat Fest, monster trucks and Pride

A variety of in-person and virtual events are happening around Austin this summer.

Photo of a home with a "just listed" sign in the front yard
A seller’s market in Central Austin drives challenging landscape for buyers

Local experts say a "perfect storm" of construction obstacles continue to restrict home supply.