Juvenile Justice Reform: Passed
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. Senate Bill 2 brings Texas law in line with constitutional requirements allowing for the possibility of parole after 40 years served.
Pro-Life Legislation: Passed
House Bill 2 prohibits abortions after the 5th month of pregnancy. House Bill 2 also raises the health and safety standards of abortion facilities to the same that are required under law for ambulatory surgery 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 sets standards for abortion inducing drugs.
Transportation Funding: Not Passed
While the Legislature successfully passed Juvenile Justice Reform and Pro-Life legislation during the month of July, the third and final component of the Governor's Call, transportation funding, was not completed prior to midnight on the 30th day of the Special Session.
The Governor called the House and Senate back into a 3rd Called Session to address the need for additional funding for the Texas Department of Transportation (TXDOT). TXDOT projects that it needs an additional $1 billion/year for maintenance of current roads and another $3-4 billion/year for acquisition of right-of-ways and construction of new roads to maintain current levels of traffic congestion. This stems from a combination of rapid growth, with approximately 1200 people moving to Texas each day, and a desire to meet our transportation needs without new debt or toll roads. The strategies under consideration would provide TXDOT with an estimated additional $1 billion/year by diverting some of the revenue from the oil and gas severance tax to transportation. Even with successful passage of the measures currently under consideration, transportation funding will remain an important item when the 84th legislature convenes in January of 2015.
If you would like to follow the Transportation Funding Bills and the House and Senate proceedings during the Third 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.
In Other News:
Tax Free Weekend Set for August 9 – 11:
The Texas Tax free weekend has moved a week later this year. House Bill 483 moved the date of the weekend to the Friday before August 15th. Tax free items include most clothing, footwear, school supplies and backpacks priced under $100.
For more information on the Tax Free Holiday, please visit the Comptroller’s website here.
Texas Department of Transportation Awards Grants to House District 24:
The Texas Department of Transportation has awarded Transportation Enhancement (TE) program funds to Clear Lake Shores and the City of Friendswood.
The City of Clear Lake Shores will receive $999,478 to fund portions of the Town Center Project. This award will help add pedestrian lighting, ADA compliant ramps at intersecting streets, and build a pedestrian and bike bridge across Jarboe Bayou to connect the residential area, civic area and parks principally located on the island to the Town Center.
The City of Friendswood was awarded $50,324 for designated bike lanes near Friendswood Junior High School and Centennial Park. This addition will improve mobility and safety for individuals traveling in the area.