The 86th Legislature adjourned sine die yesterday. What a wild ride it’s been!
The best news from this session might be that legislators can return home and stay there until January 2021. With the passage of HB 1 (the state budget), SB 2 (property taxes), and HB 3 (school finance), there’s no reason for the governor to call legislators back to Austin for a special session—and for that, we can all be grateful. (They did kinda-sorta-accidentally abolish the State Board of Plumbing Examiners, but that’s nothing a few extra plungers can’t keep in check until next session, right?)
Now that the session is over, the frequency of these updates will decrease to once a month or as events warrant. We hope you found them to be informative and helpful this past session!
Attorney general bill dies
As you know by now, legislation to grant new prosecution authority to the attorney general in human trafficking-related cases failed to become law. That is a direct result of your personal communications with your local legislators. It is also something that we will no doubt be working on later in the interim. Until then, it’s good for you to know what some legislators said and heard about how that all went down on Sunday, so we want to share with you the video links to the relevant floor discussions on SB 1257:
House: May 26, 2019 floor footage (Starts at 4:15:25, ends at 4:18:45)
Senate: May 26, 2019 floor footage (Starts at 2:40:10, ends at 2:47:21)
We’ll have more to say about this during our summer Legislative Update tour, but until then, be sure to thank those legislators who listened to you; there were many of them in the House, and they deserve credit for taking your concerns to heart.
We are now in the veto period, the three weeks after a session during which the governor holds all the cards. This year, he has until Sunday, June 16 to sign or veto a bill. (In Texas, the governor can also allow a bill to become a law without his signature, but what’s the fun of being governor unless you take the opportunity to have the last word on everything?) To date, Governor Abbott has vetoed six bills sent to him, but more are sure to follow. If you want information on how to request a bill be vetoed, contact Shannon for more information.
New laws with immediate effect
More than 250 of our tracked bills made their way to the governor’s desk this session. It will take us several weeks to summarize them all for our Legislative Update book and related publications, but some have already been signed into law by the governor. Most new laws take effect on September 1, 2019, but a few bills take effect immediately upon being signed. Here are three “immediate effect” bills that have already been signed into law:
- HB 81 by Canales/Hinojosa requiring disclosure of public information relating to certain public entertainment events (effective May 17, 2019)
- SB 306 by Watson/Israel authorizing officers to divert certain intoxicated offenders to sobering centers (effective April 25, 2019)
- SB 416 by Huffman/Walle authorizing the attorney general to provide legal counsel to local governments during a declared state of disaster (effective May 20, 2019)
Curious about any other bills or issues? Contact Shannon with a bill number or issue and he’ll let you know what happened to it.
Legislative Update tour coming soon!
Online registration for our Legislative Update summer tour is now open. Here is the schedule:
- Friday, July 19 – Austin
- Thursday, July 25 – Midland
- Friday, July 26 – San Antonio
- Friday, July 26 – Bryan
- Thursday, August 1 – Denton
- Friday, August 2 – Dallas
- Friday, August 2 – Waco
- Thursday, August 8 – Galveston
- Friday, August 9 – Houston
- Thursday, August 15 – Amarillo
- Thursday, August 15 – Beaumont
- Friday, August 16 – Lubbock
- Friday, August 16 – Conroe
- Friday, August 16 – Jacksonville
- Thursday, August 22 – McKinney
- Thursday, August 22 – Laredo
- Friday, August 23 – Fort Worth
- Friday, August 23- Edinburg
- Thursday, August 29 – Georgetown
- Friday, August 30 – Richmond
- Friday, August 30 – El Paso
- Tuesday, Sept. 17 – Corpus Christi
If you haven’t already received your brochure listing all the locations and details, a PDF version is available online here. Find a date and location convenient for you and your staff and sign up now—seating at some locations is limited and will be filled on a first-registered, first-served basis!
For your reading pleasure, here are some stories and articles we don’t have time to summarize, but they might be of interest to some of you:
- How Kel Seliger gets by in the Texas Senate dog house (Texas Tribune)
- Texas lawmakers are done. Here are this session’s winners and losers. (Texas Tribune)
- Despite bipartisan support, bill tackling intellectual disability in death penalty cases fails (Texas Tribune)
- Analysis: Texas legislators had a successful session, but not a historic one (Texas Tribune)
Quotes of Sine, Die
“But even in states where the attorney general has prosecutorial powers, convictions are still low.”Conclusion reached in an AP story on the relatively poor success rates of human trafficking prosecutions around the country, regardless of who prosecutes them. (Coincidentally, this story was released the same day SB 1257 was withdrawn from consideration).
“You will never please or appease those folks and I’m sure as hell not going to waste my time trying. … You are fooling yourself and you are not respecting your constituents and you are not respecting this institution if you are chasing their wants and their desires.”House Speaker Dennis Bonnen (R-Angleton), responding to press questions about criticism of the legislature’s performance by conservative grassroots organizations like Empower Texans and Texas Right to Life.
“Pretty much, we just couldn’t get any buy in from our Senate colleagues on this.”
State Rep. James White (R-Hillister), explaining the failure of various House attempts to limit officers’ ability to arrest for certain fine-only offenses.
“I’m still doing penance for 2017.”State Sen. Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo), on why he thinks the Lt. Governor failed to recognize him to pass any bills this entire session.
“I love being lieutenant governor. This is the coolest job in politics in the country, and it’s a very powerful job. … This rumor has absolutely been the craziest thing I’ve ever seen.”Lt. Governor Dan Patrick (R-Houston), denying rumors that he is seeking a job in President Trump’s administration.
“Thanks Senators for your work with the House to pass legacy legislation that will improve the lives of every generation. See you in 2 years. NO SPECIAL SESSION. #txlege”Sine die tweet by Gov. Greg Abbott.