News from the 84th Texas Legislature

SJR 5 infoTransportation

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.

Economy and Small Business

Representatives discuss a bill May 5. Representatives discuss a bill May 5.

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.

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.

Public Education

Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, moved to postpone consideration of HB 1759 at a May 14 meeting at the Capitol. Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, moved to postpone consideration of HB 1759 at a May 14 meeting at the Capitol.

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.

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.

Higher Education

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

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

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.

SB 339 infoHealth 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.


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.


Construction is underway on this house in the Quail Hollow neighborhood in North Austin. Recent real estate market data shows new homes are selling at a median price of over $600,000 this year in Northwest Austin. (Iain Oldman/Community Impact Newspaper)
Sky-high real estate drives urban sprawl

A Central Texas seller's market brings challenges for homebuyers.

The new 35-story building overlooks Lady Bird Lake and Shoal Creek. (Trent Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Workers celebrate topping out of Austin 'sailboat building' concrete structure

Workers who contribute to the construction of the Block 185 building celebrated topping off the structure, a big milestone for the development project that began in 2019.

A system to identify at-risk Austin Police Department employees has not been effective. (Maggie Quinlan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Audit finds Austin police system to flag at-risk officers is failing

Austin's city auditor and police chief agree the police department's computer program to identify at-risk officers is not fulfilling its mission.

A rise in COVID-19 cases has Travis County back in stage 4. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Austin reverts to Stage 4 guidelines with rising delta variant cases

As delta variant COVID -19 cases are sending more young people to local ICUs, The Austin-Travis County Health Authority has moved the area back to guidelines that require masks indoors.

Spicy Boys at Fairweather Cider Co.
Fried chicken food truck Spicy Boys opens new North Austin location

Spicy Boys offers customers a variety of fried chicken options, including sandwiches, chicken wings and boneless bites.

Opening day at Q2 Stadium
US men’s soccer team to visit Q2 Stadium this fall

The U.S. men's national team will host Jamaica for a FIFA World Cup qualifier game on Oct. 7.

Capital Metro is hosting a series of virtual meetings to hear feedback from the community on the latest Project Connect designs. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Capital Metro seeks community input on latest Project Connect design

Want to have your voice heard about Project Connect? Tune in to the upcoming virtual meetings.

The Reserve at Lake Austin is a senior living community under construction off City Park Road in Northwest Austin. (Courtesy Solera Senior Living)
Northwest Austin senior living community looks to January 2022 opening

New complex to have 120 living units and an outdoor memory garden.

Leander Marketplace PUD would be located at the northeast corner of Hero Way and US 183. (Screenshot courtesy city of Leander)
Leander eyes development with restaurants, retail; Bin Drop opens in New Braunfels and more top Central Texas news

Read the top business and community news from the past week from the Central Texas area.

Dozens of Austin residents spoke virtually and in person July 22 to share their thoughts on the city's proposed fiscal year 2021-22 budget. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Police funding again takes center stage in public hearing on Austin's proposed FY 2021-22 budget

Dozens of city residents calling into or appearing at City Hall on July 22 shared their thoughts about policing and the city's spending plan.

Round Rock ISD announced July 22 that a virtual learning option would be provided for students in kindergarten through sixth grade, citing COVID-19 vaccine availability and Williamson County's recent increase in reported cases. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Round Rock ISD announces virtual learning for grades K-6 this fall

Round Rock ISD announced July 22 that it will offer virtual learning for students in kindergarten through sixth grade and release its COVID-19 safety plan July 29.