The 83rd Legislative Session is quickly drawing to a close. We are constitutionally allotted 140 days each odd numbered year to pass legislation and a state budget.
When the house adjourned last night, hundreds of house bills died due to legislative deadlines. The House will continue to pass Senate bills but will no longer be able to pass house bills on the regular calendar.
The House and Senate will adjourn Sine Die on Memorial Day, May 27th. Following this final adjournment of the legislative session, the Governor has 20 days to veto bills.
If you’d like to research bills please visit the Texas Legislature Online.
Protecting the Second Amendment
The House of Representatives spent Saturday, May 4th passing bills to strengthen the Second Amendment Rights of Texans. There were 13 bills on the calendar and only one failed to pass.
House Bill 972 will allow colleges and universities to adopt a campus carry policy to let students, staff, and faculty over the age of 21 who are concealed handgun license holders to carry a licensed firearm on campus.
I am also a joint-author of HB 1009, which allows school districts to create "school marshals." Any current faculty or staff member, such as the vice principal or a teacher, could be trained and certified as the school marshal through a two-week summer training program conducted by the state. The bill is based on the federal air marshal program.
Other bills passed included Senate Bill 864, which reduces the amount of training required for a concealed handgun license to no more than six hours. HB 485decreases the fee for a CHL to $25 for volunteer or reserve peace officers and honorably discharged members of the military, as well as correctional officers employed by the Texas Department of Criminal Justice. HB 48eliminates the requirement that an individual complete a handgun proficiency course every five years before renewing a CHL.
HB 508 prohibits a state agency or municipality from incorrectly barring a CHL holder from entering a building with a licensed concealed handgun. HB 1076 bars state agencies from enforcing new federal gun laws prohibiting semi-automatic weapons or high-capacity magazines. HB 1314makes it a criminal offense for federal officials to seize weapons if the state determines that the seizure violates the Constitution.
HB 1077will allow students at institutions of higher education to transport and store firearms s in their vehicles while parks on campus. Faculty, staff, or employees of a public or private college or university are already allowed this right.
Reforming the Franchise Tax
The House has taken a major first step in statewide tax reform with the passage of House Bill 500 earlier in the week. This bill makes permanent the $1 Million small-business exemption, and extends an across the board 5% reduction in taxable business revenue; providing a substantial reduction in tax burdens for all businesses in the State of Texas. The bill also includes provisions which exempt moving expenses for businesses who relocate to Texas from other states, giving Texas a competitive edge in luring businesses which create new jobs and infuse new wealth into our communities.
Criminal Justice Bills
The Galveston County District Attorney’s office brought me requests at the beginning of the session resulting from legal issues that have been confronted in Galveston County. In response to these needs, I filed two bills which change the sentencing guidelines for serious criminal offenses.
Senate Bill 727 adds burglary with intent to commit a felony sexual offense to the list of 3(g) offenses, making these convicted defendants ineligible for judge-ordered community supervision. In addition, SB 727 makes an inmate serving a sentence for burglary with intent to commit a felony sexual offense ineligible for release on parole until the inmate's actual calendar time served, without consideration of good conduct time, equals one-half of the sentence or 30 calendar years, whichever is less. The underling felony sexual offenses in SB 727 are Continuous Child Sexual Abuse, Indecency with a Child, Sexual Assault, Aggravated Sexual Assault and Prohibited Sexual Conduct.
House Bill 2396 creates an enhancement for those that are violent to their family or household member in front of a child under 15 years of age, requiring that they do a minimum of thirty (30) days in jail, or if given probation, must serve five (5) days in the county jail.
Both of these bills have passed in the House and are making their way toward the Governor's desk.
There are seventeen days left in this legislative session, and I will continue working to ensure that each of these items is signed into law by the end of June. As always, feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns you may have. If you are visiting the Capitol, I would very much like to visit with you.