News from the 84th Texas Legislature

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

Economy and Small Business

On May 14 the Senate Natural Resources & Economic Development Committee discussed HB 590, which would create corporations to develop and commercialize technologies created by higher education institutions.

HB 40, a bill clarifying that the state—not local authorities—regulates oil and gas activity, was sent to Gov. Greg Abbott on May 6.

In April, Abbott signed into law SB 293, which would allow ESPN, NASCAR and Ultimate Fighting Championship events to be considered eligible for the Texas Major Events Trust Fund.


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.

Public Education

Gov. Greg Abbott signed SB 149 into law May 11 to become effective immediately. The legislation, filed by Sen. Kel Seliger, R-Amarillo, will establish committees to determine if students who pass classes but fail standardized tests can graduate.

“While it is critical that the state appropriately holds public schools and districts accountable for delivering the best possible education, we must protect Texas students from being penalized as a result of evolving testing standards,” Abbott said in a statement.

On May 7 the Senate passed HB 4, which was filed by Rep. Dan Huberty, R-Houston, and aims to implement high-quality standards for prekindergarten education. Abbott declared the bill an emergency item and issued a statement saying HB 4 will help strengthen the foundation for student success. At press time he had not signed the bill.

On May 6 chambers of commerce, school boards and superintendents came to the Capitol to voice support for HB 1759, the House’s version of an education budget allocating $3 billion for education. The Senate’s version allocates about $1.4 billion.

At press time HB 1759 was slated to be discussed on the House floor May 14.

Health care

On May 7 the Senate’s Health & Human Services Committee voted 8-1 to pass SB 339, which legalizes and regulates the growth of cannabis plants high in cannabidiol and low in tetrahydrocannabinol in Texas.

The bill was referred to the Public Health Committee in the House on May 11 and would allow patients access to cannabis oil for medical use upon the recommendation of two board-certified medical specialists. Cannabidiol oil has been shown to “dramatically decrease” the number of seizures in people with intractable epilepsy—people with a higher risk of a shortened life span, bodily injury or mental health impairment. There are about 149,000 Texans of all ages with intractable epilepsy, the bill states.

Higher education

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]

Bills slated to bring changes to higher education are still waiting for passage.

A bill that would allow licensed concealed weapon owners to carry firearms on public college campuses was approved by the Senate but still has not been heard on the House floor. A bill repealing a law allowing some undocumented students to pay in-state tuition rates is waiting to be heard by the Senate but has not cleared its first committee in the House. Some other bills in limbo include those that would issue revenue bonds to help higher education institutions fund projects such as new facilities.


On April 28 the House unanimously approved HB 31, which would decrease the state sales tax rate from 6.25 percent to 5.95 percent, and HB 32 by a vote of 116-29, which would reduce the state’s franchise tax rate by 25 percent.

“Today the House voted [for HB 31] to provide all Texans with tax relief that encourages job creation and economic growth,” House Speaker Joe Straus, R-San Antonio, said.

Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio, opposed HB 32, saying the money saved should be spent on state needs including public schools and veterans programs.

“If you think we have enough money in our schools, vote for this bill,” he said. “... If you believe our health care plan is the best plan that we can provide to our Texans, vote for this bill. Otherwise, know we’ve just sent a tax relief bill to the Senate with HB 31.”

On April 28 the Senate passed SB 762, which increases the amount of business personal property that is exempt from property tax from $500 to $2,500.

“Every Texan that owns a small business, is a sole proprietor, LLC or others will love this bill as it saves them time and money,” Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, said.


A new brewery will soon be opening on Cypress Rosehill Road at the former location of The Shack Burger Resort. (Shawn Arrajj/Community Impact Newspaper)
Misfit Outpost by Fortress BeerWorks coming soon to The Shack in Cypress

The owners of Fortress BeerWorks and Misfit BeerWorks are partnering on a new craft beer venture. The 5-acre site will be family-friendly, dog-friendly and host live music on the weekends.

As variants are isolated and identified, Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass believes the vaccines available can handle identified variants (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
'The vaccines we have are effective against all the variants out there': Houston Methodist's Dr. Ian Glass discusses variants, vaccinations

As Houston Methodist identified its first case of the lambda variant July 19, Dr. Glass believes vaccines can handle known variants.

Houston Yoga and Ayurveda specializes in natural yoga practices. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Houston Yoga and Ayurveda to celebrate 10-year anniversary in Cypress

The company began in March 2011 and specializes in ayurveda, the oldest known medical practice in the world, according to owner Sharon Kapp.

Peter Lake (left), chair of the Public Utility Commission of Texas, and Brad Jones, interim president and CEO of the Electric Reliability Council of Texas, provided an update on state regulators' electric grid redesign efforts in Austin on July 22. (Ben Thompson/Community Impact Newspaper)
Regulators: Texas electric grid prepared for potentially record-breaking demand next week; 'once-in-a-generation reforms' underway

The heads of the agencies in charge of the Texas electric grid met in Austin on July 22 to provide updates on their grid reform efforts.

Harris County Judge Lina Hidalgo is pleading with residents to be more vigilant, asking all residents to start wearing masks again in indoor settings and asking those who are vaccinated to urge their friends who are not to get the shot. (Screenshot Courtesy Facebook)
Harris County raises coronavirus threat level as Hidalgo asks all residents to mask up indoors

Although those who are vaccinated are very unlikely to end up in the hospital, officials said wearing masks in certain situations could help reduce transmissions to the more susceptible unvaccinated.

Harris County Emergency Services District 11 commissioners received updates on the status of its upcoming ambulances services at a July 22 board meeting. (Community Impact Newspaper staff)
Harris County Emergency Services District No. 11 commissioners discuss upcoming ambulance service

The district will take over providing emergency medical services across more than 177 square miles of north Harris County, currently being provided by Cypress Creek Emergency Medical Services, on Sept. 1.

School starts Aug. 23 in Cy-Fair ISD. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Here is when students in Cy-Fair ISD return for the 2021-22 school year

The start of the school year is just around the corner.

Jersey Village City Council proposed a budget that includes increases for the fire and police department. (Courtesy city of Jersey Village)
Jersey Village proposes allocating more funding for fire, police salaries in fiscal year 2021-22 budget

About $5.5 million is designated for city fire and police department compensation in the proposed 2021-22 budget.

Memorial Hermann has locations throughout the Greater Houston area, including Memorial Hermann The Woodlands Medical Center. (Courtesy Memorial Hermann)
Memorial Hermann visiting policies change as COVID-19 cases rise

As of July 21, Memorial Hermann has changed its visitor policy in light of a recent increase in COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations in the Greater Houston area.

Houston unemployment is above state and national levels, while home sales in the region continue to be strong, according to a July 21 economic update from the Greater Houston Partnership. (Emma Whalen/Community Impact Newspaper)
Unemployment, strong housing sales mark 2021 Houston economy, Greater Houston Partnership says

While Houston job recovery lags due to the pandemic, area home sales are strong, according to the Greater Houston Partnership.

Munzer Kabbara graduated from Cypress Woods High School this year and will be swimming for the Lebanon Olympic team. (Courtesy Cy-Fair ISD)
Look for these 5 Cy-Fair ISD alumni in the 2020 Summer Olympics

Former Cy-Fair ISD athletes will be going for the gold represeting the United States, Lebanon and Nigeria.