The first called session of the 83rd Texas Legislature ended on Tuesday, June 25th as the state Senate worked until midnight in an effort to complete the business set forth by the Governor for consideration.
When Governor Perry issued the call of the special session in late May, the Legislature began working to facilitate the implementation of permanent redistricting maps for the House, Senate and Congress. Also included on our agenda were specific bills reforming the state's juvenile justice provisions for capital crimes, creating long-term transportation funding strategies and modernizing health and safety regulations for abortion providers.
Of these 4 initiatives, only the redistricting maps were passed out of the Legislature and sent to the Governor's desk. Our efforts on juvenile justice reform, transportation funding and abortion regulations were effectively killed as a result of a filibuster in the Senate, which stalled these House-passed bills through the midnight deadline on the final night of the 30 day special session.
Each of the measures that failed to receive final passage in the First Called Session has been included on Governor Perry's call for the Second Called Session which convened on Monday, July 1st.
Juvenile Justice Reform:
The United States Supreme Court recently declared that life imprisonment without parole for capital offenses committed by an individual who is 17 years of age is unconstitutional. House Bill 4 / Senate Bill 2 bring Texas law in line with constitutional requirements by recognizing 17 year old offenders as juveniles during the trial and sentencing of capital offenses.
House Joint Resolution 1 / Senate Joint Resolution 1 will allow Texas voters to transfer a percentage of the existing oil and gas severance tax over a set base amount to the state's primary highway fund. The projected allocation of approximately $1 Billion per year would enhance the Department of Transportation's ability to plan, build, and maintain public highways to accommodate the state's growing population and increased traffic demands.
House Bill 2 / Senate Bill 1 will raise the health and safety standards of abortion facilities to the same which are required under law for ambulatory service centers. The bill includes provisions requiring that an abortion-providing doctor have admitting privileges at a hospital within 30 miles from the abortion center, and would have set standards for abortion inducing drugs. House Bill 2 will also prohibit abortions after the 5th month of pregnancy.
I am proud to be a joint author of House Bill 2. I joint authored this legislation during the regular and first called sessions. It is important that Texas protects the lives of women and the pre-born. It was an honor for me to give the closing comments in support of this legislation during the first called session.
If you would like to follow any of the bills during the Second Called Session of the 83rd Legislature, please visit the Texas House of Representatives website here. A detailed explanation of how a bill becomes a law may be found here.
If your summer travels bring you to your state Capitol, please visit my office in the Capitol extension, office number E2.714.