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Abbott signs bills with few likely to reach his desk in final week

 

Three bills reached Gov. Greg Abbott’s desk last week, with the 30-day special session of the Texas Legislature set to expire Aug. 16.

Abbott signed all three into law on Aug. 11:

•Senate Bill 5, increasing criminal penalties for voter fraud, by Kelly Hancock, R-North Richland Hills, and sponsored in the House by Dan Huberty, R-Kingwood

•Senate Bill 20, the “sunset bill” that extends the life of the Texas Medical Board and several other healthcare-regulating state boards, by Van Taylor, R-Plano, and sponsored in the House by Larry Gonzales, R-Round Rock

•Senate Bill 60, relating to the funding of those revived healthcare boards, also by Taylor and sponsored by Gonzales.

Two more bills headed to the governor for consideration are:

•HB 13 by Giovanni Capriglione, R-Southlake, and Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, legislation requiring emergency healthcare providers to report complications from abortions and for the Health and Human Services Commission to publish the data

•HB 214 by John Smithee, R-Amarillo, and Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, banning abortion coverage through the federal Affordable Care Act and allowing private insurers to offer abortion coverage.

And, in an Aug. 12 weekend session, the House debated and tentatively passed SB 1, legislation lowering the property-tax rollback rate and requiring voter approval to increase the rate above the threshold. The House-amended version differed from the one passed in the Senate, however, and as of deadline it was unclear whether the two sides could reach a compromise.

With time running out, the House and Senate did concur on amendments to SB 6, a bill to reform municipal annexation, but a municipal annexation reform bill was still unsettled. Negotiators for both bodies are working toward settlement on that and other bills on the governor’s call as the Aug. 16 deadline inches closer. Racing against the clock are bills that would:

•Increase the average salary and benefits of Texas teachers

•Provide a more flexible and rewarding salary and benefit system for Texas teachers

•Establish a spending limit for political subdivisions and curb their power

•Ban local regulations of the use of hand-held mobile communication devices while driving

•Ensure action is taken to reduce the maternal mortality rate in Texas.

Gov. Abbott, on June 6, called for legislation addressing the previously mentioned issues and a few others to be solved in the current special session, after lawmakers were unable to fulfill his legislative priorities during the 140-day regular session that ended May 29.

Ed Sterling is the director of member services for the Texas Press Association in Austin. Contact him at 512-477-6755 or edsterling@texaspress.com.

 
 
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