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Posts under ‘That’s our Lege’

Tesla makes its pitch

It’s a start. At a packed committee hearing Monday evening, advocates for Tesla Motors told a panel of Texas House members that it was time to bring state car sales laws into the 21st century and allow the company to sell its luxury electric vehicles in Texas. “The future is here,” said state Rep. Eddie […]

Our corporate allies

Whatever else you may think, they represent our best chance to beat back anti-LGBT legislation this session. With more than 20 anti-LGBT bills pending in the Texas Legislature, a coalition of major employers in the state — including Dell, Samsung and Southwest Airlines — is making the business case for fair treatment of gay, bisexual […]

Mostly positive reviews for the Aycock school finance plan

So far, so good. A plan from a top House lawmaker to overhaul the state’s public education funding system received largely favorable reviews from school districts during a marathon legislative hearing that ended late Tuesday night. “While this bill, some consider it not to be perfect, for us fortunately it is a significant step in […]

Bill to ban anti-fracking ordinances likely to go forward

Disappointing. Despite vociferous opposition from local elected officials, environmentalists and citizens, many Democrats in the Texas Legislature are supporting controversial legislation that would strip local governments of the power to regulate or ban fracking. House Bill 40, by Rep. Drew Darby (R-San Angelo), is one of 11 measures in the Legislature filed in response to […]

Call to action: Bypass laws

What Nonsequiteuse says: Teenagers have sex, which means some have unintended pregnancies, which means some have abortions. Is your preference that parents be involved when a minor wants to have an abortion to end an unwanted pregnancy? You might be surprised to know how many minors in that situation desperately wish they could involve a […]

Senate moves forward on sanctuary cities and DREAM Act repeal bills

One. Senate Bill 185 by state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, also called the “sanctuary cities” bill, would cut off state funding for local governments or governmental entities that adopt policies forbidding peace officers from inquiring about the immigration status of people they detain or arrest. The bill passed the Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee […]

Uber and background checks

Uber is back in the news again, and as has often been the case it’s not in a good way. Houston officials discovered crimes ranging from aggravated robbery to driving on a suspended license when they checked the backgrounds of prospective Uber drivers who had been cleared by the company’s review, according to a new […]

Here comes the school finance bill

It’s a big deal. The House education chairman on Tuesday unveiled a $3 billion proposal he hopes will overhaul the way Texas funds public schools and derail a looming lawsuit in the process. “My objective when I began this was to simplify the situation that we’re in,” Rep. Jimmie Don Aycock, R-Killeen, said before providing […]

Bill to kneecap Public Integrity Unit gets unstuck

And away it goes. Senate Bill 10, filed by Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, passed on second reading along party lines. The integrity unit is currently a state-funded division of the Travis County DA’s office that investigates public corruption, insurance fraud and tax fraud. Some Republicans have said the unit has had partisan motives for its […]

Do we need a statewide solution for Uber and Lyft?

Bill Hammond of the Texas Association of Business thinks so. Fans of apps like Uber and Lyft may find that the rules governing their operations in one city differ dramatically from those in a community down the street or across the state. That not only creates unnecessary confusion for consumers and drivers who use the […]

Joining together for equality

Good to see. Standing alongside Democrats, a representative for the state’s powerful business lobby Tuesday denounced two proposed amendments to the state constitution aimed at bolstering protection for people acting on religious beliefs, which detractors say would legalize discrimination against gays and lesbians. “These amendments are bad for business,” said Bill Hammond, chief executive of […]

Marijuana reform advocates get their day

This will be worth watching closely. Four proposals to relax penalties for possessing pot have been scheduled for a hearing Wednesday in the Texas House Criminal Jurisprudence Committee, setting up what is sure to be a closely-watched debate in the middle of the legislative session. It will not be the first Texas committee hearing on […]

Sanctuary cities bill clears first Senate committee

As expected. Senate Bill 185 by state Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock, would cut off state funding for local governments or governmental entities that adopt policies that forbid peace officers from inquiring into the immigration status of a person detained or arrested. Some Texas cities have taken the position that such enforcement is the federal government’s […]

Back to the bathroom wars

Here we go again. The day Caomhán Ó Raghallaigh began living as a man in June 2012 — “the day I became myself,” he calls it — was a moment of immense personal liberation. It was also a political opportunity for Ó Raghallaigh, 57, who was born female. Weeks later, with support from his two […]

More on this session’s beer bills

A story from the DMN about the state of microbreweries and beer-related legislation in Texas. Brewers say they rely on word of mouth among diehard enthusiasts, so they want drinkers — particularly those from out of state — to introduce their beers to friends, neighbors and other connoisseurs. A measure offered by Sen. Kevin Eltife, […]

Call to action: DREAM Act repeal hearing set for Monday

You know the drill. The push to repeal a 2001 law that allows some undocumented students to pay in-state tuition at public colleges and universities is returning to the legislative spotlight, but on an unusual stage. On Monday, the border security subcommittee of the Senate’s Veteran Affairs and Military Installations Committee is scheduled to hear […]

Bill to kneecap Public Integrity Unit stuck in the Senate

For now, at least. A Republican bill to transfer the Public Integrity Unit out of Travis County has snagged in the Senate, where the legislation does not have enough support to force a floor vote — at least for now. The author of Senate Bill 10, Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, acknowledged Monday that she is […]

Decriminalizing truancy

This is important. Senate Bill 106, filed by Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, would make major overhauls to current truancy law, including referring students to a civil court that hears truancy cases rather than a criminal court. Under current law, children as young as 12 who miss 10 or more days or parts of days in […]

Somewhat watered down fracking bill advances in House

By “fracking bill”, I mean a bill to limit how cities can regulate fracking, because that’s how things are these days. In a 10-1 vote, the House Committee on Energy Resources approved an updated version of House Bill 40, among the most prominent of nearly a dozen bills filed in the aftermath of Denton’s vote […]

No gambling expansion this session

This should not come as a surprise to anyone. It’s a sure bet that when Texas lawmakers convene every two years, legislation will be proposed to expand gaming in the state. This year, there are nearly a dozen pieces of legislation covering casino games, slot machines and eight-liners. And just like each time before, the […]

Backlash anti-gay marriage bill heard in committee

Turns out bigotry has a price tag. House Bill 1745, by Rep. Cecil Bell (R-Magnolia), seeks to bar Texas officials from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples or recognizing their marriages—regardless of whether courts determine the state’s ban is unconstitutional. More than a dozen witnesses gave nearly two hours of sometimes emotional testimony during a […]

Compromise bill to reform property tax appraisals

Better than nothing, I guess, but not clear to me yet how much better. State lawmakers are looking to partly close a tax loophole that has allowed big companies to drain tens of millions of dollars from local government coffers in recent years, but any reforms that pass may still not end the legal battles […]

Alvarado’s term limits bill

From the inbox: State Representative Carol Alvarado has filed HB 2917 that, if passed by the Legislature and approved by voters, would change the city’s term limit structure to two four-year terms for the mayor, city controller and councilmembers. “The city’s current structure of three two-year terms restricts an elected official’s ability to truly dive […]

Driverless car legislative update

Like just about everything else under the sun, there were bills filed last week to deal with driverless cars. As self-driving cars move from futuristic concept to plausible technology, the Texas Legislature is looking to become a magnet for the fast-developing industry. Three lawmakers have filed bills aimed at encouraging the use of the technology […]

Trying again to fix birth certificates

This is encouraging. A Republican committee chairman smacked down an anti-LGBT witness Wednesday during a hearing on a proposal to allow same-sex parents to have both their names on the birth certificates of adopted children. Julie Drenner, of Texas Values, claimed the bill would lead to threesomes adopting, affect all birth certificates and require the […]

Not a good session for equality

I know, duh, right? Texas lawmakers have filed at least 20 anti-LGBT proposals this year—likely the most in the history of any state. It’s the type of onslaught that was widely expected among LGBT advocates, due to backlash over the spread of same-sex marriage. Daniel Williams, legislative specialist for Equality Texas, said the group is […]

Costco joins in on liquor sales

Not just Wal-Mart any more. Wholesale giant Costco has joined Wal-Mart and other retailers in the fight to let public corporations sell liquor in Texas. Texans for Consumer Freedom, a group formed last month to lobby Texas lawmakers to loosen restrictions on the state liquor market, announced Wednesday that Costco Wholesale Corporation would lend its […]

Not looking good for medical marijuana

From Trail Blazers: A key lawmaker suggested Tuesday that a bill legalizing marijuana for medical use is probably “dead,” but the sponsor said she’s not discouraged by the “premature” pushback. The bill has not yet been referred to a committee, where it could be debated and voted on, but similar proposals have been referred to […]

Local control deathwatch: Environment

Unsurprisingly, the Denton fracking ban has provoked a strong reaction. As policy dilemmas go, the one triggered when Denton voters decided last fall to ban hydraulic fracturing in their city looked like a whopper: The oil and gas industry versus local control — two things Texas holds dear — in intractable opposition. There seemed little […]

Targeting straight ticket voting

From Trail Blazers: Texas is one of only 10 states still doing straight-ticket voting but a North Texas legislator is hoping to change that. At a hearing today, Rep. Ron Simmons (R-Carrollton) told the Elections Committee that doing away with such an option here would lead to a more informed voter and improve turnout in […]

Bill to neuter Public Integrity Unit advances

Still a bad idea. A measure that would take the state’s public corruption-fighting unit out of the hands of the Travis County district attorney’s office and place it in the Texas attorney general’s office was approved Monday by the Senate State Affairs Committee. The 7-2 vote in favor of Senate Bill 10, authored by state […]

Beer legislation 2.0

Just because craft brewers succeeded in passing a bill allowing them to sell beer for consumption on their premises last session doesn’t mean there isn’t more that can be done to advance the cause of beer freedom. Twinned bills introduced this week would extend direct sales for breweries. The proposals by state Sen. Kevin Eltife, […]

Bill filing deadline has passed

Believe it or not, we are almost halfway through the legislative session, and we have now passed the point where new bills can be filed. Racing to beat a deadline for filing bills, state lawmakers on Friday submitted hundreds of measures on everything from abolishing the death penalty to the licensing of auctioneers. By the […]

Beer vending machines

Sure, why not? Patrons of bars and businesses with proper alcohol licenses would be able to grab a cocktail or beer from an automatic dispensing machine — much like a soft drink — if the legislature passes legislation offered by a Laredo lawmaker. Texas is actually one of the few states that do not allow […]