Off the Kuff Rotating Header Image

Posts under ‘That’s our Lege’

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 […]

Krause re-files Villalba’s anti-gay bill

Alas. One of the state’s most anti-gay lawmakers is going forward with a “religious freedom” amendment dropped by another representative earlier this week amid opposition from the Texas Association of Business. Rep. Jason Villalba (R-Dallas) announced Monday he would “reconsider entirely” House Joint Resolution 55, which critics say would enshrine a “license to discriminate” against […]

Trying again with online voter registration

My State Rep., Carol Alvarado, would like for you to be able to register to vote online. Can I just state the obvious? Why can’t we register to vote online? I manage my banking online, I do my taxes online, I can even buy and sell stock online; so why can’t I register to vote […]

One anti-gay bill pulled

One down, too many to count to go. A House Republican will no longer seek to amend the Texas Constitution to prohibit state and local governments from “in any way” restricting the free exercise of religion, leaving several conservative legislators hustling Tuesday to file an alternate bill. Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, said opposition from the […]

Reforming property tax appraisal protests

From the inbox: Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) releases the following statement regarding Senate Bill 1084, his bill to create a fairer property tax appraisal system in Texas: “Homeowners and local communities across Texas are shouldering an unfair burden when large commercial property owners manipulate the property tax system to drive down their property values and […]

Time to kill Daylight Saving Time?

At least one member of the House would like to do so. I got to the office this morning just before 6 a.m. Or, as I called it two days ago, 5 a.m. Enough’s enough. Isn’t that right, state Rep. Dan Flynn, Republican from Canton? “It is something that was a good idea at one […]

Why only Wal-Mart?

Wal-Mart stands to benefit from legislation that would change how retail liquor licenses are granted, but some potential competitors would not. While two state lawmakers recently filed legislation that would allow retail giant Wal-Mart and other public corporations to sell hard liquor in Texas, the proposed bills maintain provisions that would prevent grocery chains H-E-B […]

Discrimination is bad for business

Good for TAB. The Texas Association of Business has come out against two religious freedom resolutions that critics say would enshrine a “license to discriminate” against LGBT people in the Texas Constitution. TAB, which is the state’s powerful chamber of commerce, unanimously adopted a resolution last month opposing House Joint Resolution 55 and Senate Joint […]

Republicans try again to kill Public Integrity Unit

They might have the votes this time, though as with some other highly publicized “replacement” efforts, their substitute idea lacks a few key elements to make it successful. Under Senate Bill 10 by Sen. Joan Huffman, the attorney general’s office would conduct the initial investigation of complaints against officials, with help from the Texas Rangers. […]

Sanctuary cities bill hearing rescheduled

Didn’t know you could do this in the Lege. A controversial immigration proposal scheduled for a public hearing Monday was postponed after a border Democrat argued that Republicans did not give the public sufficient notice about the meeting. The “sanctuary cities” measure, Senate Bill 185, by state Sen. Charles Perry, seeks to prohibit cities from […]

Ellis files bill to protect voting rights

From the inbox: Senator Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) releases the following statement regarding tomorrow’s 50th anniversary of “Bloody Sunday,” part of the civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama: “‘Bloody Sunday’ played a pivotal role in the long and painful struggle for civil rights and equal opportunities for all Americans,” said Senator Ellis. “Hundreds of […]

Bill to outlaw non-discrimination ordinances filed

From The Observer: A Fort Bend County Republican has introduced a bill that would bar cities from adopting or enforcing non-discrimination ordinances that include protected classes not contained in state law. Texas law doesn’t include sexual orientation or gender identity and expression. As a result, state Rep. Rick Miller’s House Bill 1556 would undo LGBT […]

Statewide non-discrimination ordinance filed

From the Inbox: On the 179th anniversary of Texas Independence Day, Senator José Rodríguez (D-El Paso) filed Senate Bill 856, a bill that would prohibit discrimination in the areas of employment, public accommodation, housing, and state contracting based upon sexual orientation, or gender identity or expression. The bill was joint-authored by Senators John Whitmire (D-Houston), […]

Simpson files pot legalization bill

From the inbox: Texas State Representative David Simpson (R-7) introduced a bill Monday that would strike all language pertaining to marijuana from Texas Statutes, thus abolishing marijuana prohibition in the state. Representative Simpson’s HB 2165 harkens back to a time when government did not intervene in the control of marijuana. And you know what? It […]

More pre-K bills filed

The Observer has the best reporting on the latest pre-k bills that have been filed in the Lege. There’s widespread support around the Capitol for more state spending on pre-kindergarten programs, and much less agreement about how to do it. State Reps. Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) and Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown) have proposed a $300-million-a-year plan to […]

Modified quote of the day: Do it our way or else

From this DMN story about the fight over local control in the Legislature this session. “[States’ rights] generally sounds good until you realize that some [states] are out of control,” said Rep. Jeff Leach, R-Plano. That of course is not what Rep. Leach said, but it illustrates the issue as clearly as I can. Republicans, […]

Tesla tries again

They’ve brought more firepower to the fight this time, by which I mean “more lobbyists”, but we’ll see if they can break through. Let the car haggling resume at the Texas Capitol. A group of state lawmakers on Thursday filed legislation that would allow Tesla Motors to sell its luxury electric cars at as many […]

Judge Dietz would like the Lege to please fix school finance already

So would the rest of us, Your Honor. In his first major appearance since finding the Texas school finance system unconstitutional in 2014, state District Judge John Dietz said Sunday that a solution to the state’s unequal and ineffective public education system should come from the Legislature. “We are dooming a generation of these children […]

The Texas Compassionate Use Act

Looks like this will be the main marijuana-related action in the Legislature this session. Two Texas lawmakers have filed bills that would allow epilepsy patients to use medicinal oils that contain a therapeutic component found in marijuana. But some medical marijuana advocates are reluctant to support the proposed Texas Compassionate Use Act, calling it “appeasement […]

The backlash has begun

Item one. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Friday asked the state Supreme Court to void a marriage license issued to two Austin women who became the first same-sex couple to legally wed in the state. Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, who have been together for 30 years, said their vows on Thursday after state […]

Cities and counties push back on state meddling attempts

They’ve got their work cut out for them. The mayors of Texas’ largest cities on Monday pushed back against an initiative by state lawmakers to place new revenue caps on local communities as a way to answer conservatives’ demands to cut property taxes. As the city CEOs who represent a third of Texas’ population threw […]

Wal-Mart booze update

The Lege gets involved. One week after Wal-Mart sued the state for the right to sell hard liquor, two Texas lawmakers and a new coalition of businesses are taking the same fight to the Capitol. Wal-Mart, Kroger and the Texas Association of Business on Wednesday helped birth a new nonprofit group calling itself Texans for […]

Faith leaders rally for equality

Good to see. Faith leaders from across Texas gathered Tuesday at the state Capitol, urging legislators to lift the state’s ban on gay marriage and pass laws forbidding discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity. While some cities — such as San Antonio, Houston and Plano — have recently passed ordinances that provide lesbian, […]

Don’t stop fighting for choice

That’s the message I take from this. They’re pushing a boulder up a hill in the conservative Texas Legislature. But three House Democrats remain laser-focused on repealing the 24-hour waiting period for abortion imposed by the state’s 2011 sonogram law. “This 24-hour waiting period has proven to be ineffective, unnecessary and cruel,” state Rep. Jessica […]

Improving infections disease response

This is an Ebola-inspired bill, but not an Ebola bill. So say the stakeholders, anyway. Months after three people in Texas were diagnosed with Ebola, several key state lawmakers on Wednesday proposed ways to prepare the state for the next disease-related emergency. The proposal, Senate Bill 538, would allow the governor to declare a state […]

The odds never favor ethics reforms

Better to keep your hopes down and not suffer too much disappointment. Gov. Greg Abbott pledged on the campaign trail to lead the charge to improve the state’s ethics laws, and now lawmakers and advocates pushing for reform are looking to the newly elected governor to help breathe life into proposals at the Legislature. Lawmakers […]

Ending exemptions for vaccines

Hear, hear. A Texas Republican is taking aim at a provision in state law that allows parents with personal or religious objections to vaccines to opt their children out of school immunization requirements. State Rep. Jason Villalba, R-Dallas, said Friday he will soon propose legislation to eliminate what are called “conscientious exemptions” because of the […]

Drug testing for being poor

It’s back, and it’s as bad an idea as it ever was. For years, GOP lawmakers have tried to make drug testing mandatory for some Texans who receive state welfare benefits, with little success. But after making some headway in the Texas Senate in the 2013 legislative session, they hope to pick up where they […]

Abbott-style pre-k bill filed

From the inbox: State Representatives Eric Johnson (D-Dallas) and Marsha Farney (R-Georgetown) today filed a bill to provide incentive payments to school districts to provide full-day, quality pre-kindergarten. To receive the incentives, districts would be required to adopt best practices identified through research as delivering the best return on educational investment. Texas’ current system funds […]

The Dave Wilson bill

A little too little and a little too late, if you ask me. Houston Community College Trustee Dave Wilson has made his way to Austin — in spirit, at least. A bill filed by state Rep. Harold Dutton of Houston would make it a felony to misrepresent one’s residence when running for office — something […]

A bill to outlaw cities

That would appear to be the effect of this. Sen. Don Huffines, a Republican from Dallas, has filed a bill that would prohibit cities from enforcing LGBT-inclusive nondiscrimination ordinances. Huffines’ Senate Bill 343, introduced Friday, is a sweeping proposal that would bar local governments from implementing ordinances that are more stringent than state law on […]