Texas Legislature

Texas Raises Sentencing For Hit-And-Run Car Accidents To Equivalent Of DWI Manslaughter

Sep 22, 2019
Courtesy of the University of Texas Athletics / The Texas Tribune

A new law increased the punishment for failing to stop and render aid to match the sentence for DWI manslaughter. The goal is to deter drunken drivers from leaving the scene of an accident.

From The Texas Tribune:

Three years after his son's death, David Wood saw the driver accused of hitting his son on the highway in 2014 and leaving the scene finally receive a guilty verdict — but the punishment wasn't what he, or the prosecutors handling the case, had hoped for.

Red Godwin pours a beer behind the bar at Zilker Brewery in Austin. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signed new laws that will allow breweries to sell beer to go out of their taprooms, and allow food and wine retailers to deliver beer or wine directly to customers. The new laws go into effect Sept. 1Credit Sergia Flores / The Texas TribuneEdit | Remove

The state's top leaders are reminding prosecutors that marijuana is still illegal in Texas.

The letter from Gov. Greg Abbott, Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, Texas House Speaker Dennis Bonnen and Attorney General Ken Paxton comes after district attorneys in major cities said they have effectively stopped prosecuting low-level marijuana possession cases since House Bill 1325 went into effect on June 10.

During this year’s legislative session, Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price was among scores of city leaders who actively opposed yet another series of attempts by state officials to limit how much money local governments collect. But with lawmakers determined to reform the local property tax process, she and other mayors had little luck fighting off what many city officials considered attacks on local control.

From Texas Standard:

Now that the 2019 legislative session is over, it's time to reflect on the legislators who impressed and those who disappointed. Texas Monthly was paying close attention all session and just published the 23rd edition of its Best and Worst Legislators list.

In late May, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill to help veterans exposed to open-air burn pits. It would create a state registry of health and exposure information and use it for outreach purposes. Now, advocates and state officials are wondering how — if at all — they’ll share that information with the Department of Veterans Affairs.


Gov. Greg Abbott signed the Texas Religious Liberty Bill, known as the “Save Chick-fil-A bill.”

Marjorie Kamys Cotera / The Texas Tribune

The bills aim to create a "hostile environment" for human trafficking in Texas and address sexual assault, said Gov. Greg Abbott at a bill signing ceremony Tuesday in Dallas.

From The Texas Tribune:

Gov. Greg Abbott claimed Tuesday he can keep Texas' plumbing board alive without calling a special legislative session, as he reassured plumbers who were worried their profession will no longer be subject to state regulations.

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The 2019 legislative session saw fights over renewable energy, climate resilience and pipeline construction. Now that the dust is settling on the field of battle, what do the results tell us about Texas lawmakers' priorities for energy and the environment?

Three of the five bills dealing with expanding broadband in Texas are either waiting on the governor’s desk or are already in effect. The results have proponents optimistic.

Texas incarcerates more women than any other state. The number of women in Texas prisons has ballooned since 1980, growing by nearly 1,000% – twice the rate of men. 

A record number of marijuana-related bills — 63 — were filed this legislative session. But only two bills made it across the finish line: the regulation of industrial hemp and the expansion of the state’s Compassionate Use Program.

The Property Tax Reform Package Is Heading To Gov. Greg Abbott's Desk

May 28, 2019

A sweeping property tax reform bill that aims to slow rising property tax growth will soon head to Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk for approval, capping a yearslong effort to address a pocketbook issue that has animated Republican leaders and angered their voters.

A bill that aims to prevent violence in Texas schools – one of Greg Abbott's legislative priorities – is on the governor's desk.

Senate Bill 11 would require schools to teach lessons on mental health, substance abuse, coping mechanisms and suicide prevention. The bill is a compromise of House and Senate efforts to keep schools safe after 10 people were killed in a shooting last year at Santa Fe High School.  

Days after top Republican leaders announced they had a deal on a school finance bill long in the making, the Texas House and Senate on Saturday approved the final legislation, bringing mandated teacher pay raises and property tax cuts one step closer to becoming law.

From Texas Standard:

Americans pay some of the highest prices in the developed world for prescription medication: On average, each individual spends $1,200 per year. But now, some states are trying to change that. On Wednesday, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis signed into law a bill that would implement a price cap on insulin, the first law of its kind in the nation.

State lawmakers have breathed new life into a major mental health bill with bipartisan support, after it was temporarily struck down by a North Texas Tea Party leader.

Texas has the highest percentage of uninsured women between the ages of 18 to 44, according to a new study from the Georgetown University Center for Children and Families.

The Texas Senate moved Tuesday to abolish the cap on how many trained school teachers and support staff — known as school marshals — can carry guns on public school campuses, nearly an hour after the House voted to approve a separate and sweeping school safety bill.

The Texas House expanded a sweeping school safety bill that now calls for students to learn about domestic violence prevention, requires certain training for school resource officers, and would provide an undetermined amount of state money for campus security measures and mental health initiatives.

From Texas Standard:

Momentum for one of Gov. Greg Abbott's priority issues this legislative session appears to have dwindled. Ordinances passed in Dallas, Austin and other Texas cities, which require private employers to offer paid sick leave to employees, will remain on the books now that an attempt to prohibit them failed to pass in the legislature.

A surprise medical bill may be a thing of the past for many Texans. In a unanimous vote, the Texas House approved a Senate bill banning health care providers from sending steep medical bills to insured Texans in emergencies.

The Texas Senate unanimously passed legislation expanding the Texas Compassionate Use Program on Wednesday. The legislation is expected to become law, enabling more patients to purchase marijuana-derived CBD oil in Texas.

The Texas Senate approved a bill Friday that would allow handgun owners to carry their concealed firearms without a license for up to 48 hours when leaving an area due to a mandatory evacuation order.

The Texas Senate bill bans any governmental entity from punishing a private business for its past donations to religious organizations. Critics condemned it as a new version of the 2017 bathroom bill or as a reaffirmation that the state is hostile to LGBTQ people.

Juan Figeroa / The Texas Tribune

The chambers will need to negotiate how to give teachers pay raises, whether to adjust how students take standardized tests and how to provide long-term property tax relief for Texans.

From The Texas Tribune:

Texas Legislature 2019

Two weeks after a federal judge blocked the enforcement of a state law that prohibits government agencies in Texas from doing business with contractors who are boycotting Israel, Gov. Greg Abbott signed a bill this week narrowing the controversial law to exclude individual contractors.

For the eight-and-a-half years she spent in prison, Kristan Kerr looked forward to one thing every month: a visit from her daughter, Chloe. Visit by visit, she watched Chloe grow from a toddler to nearly a teenager.

"I just watched her grow all the way up," Kerr says. "One visit, she couldn't read, and then the next visit she was reading something to me."

Convicted for aggravated robbery in 2011 – she was the driver — Kerr says she wasn't making good choices back then, and it meant missing out on a lot.

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