Stayin’ Alive: What Bills Are Still in Play As Clock Runs Out?

Sine die. Latin for “without a day,” it’s also Texan for “this once every two years simultaneous debacle and demonstration of democracy is almost over.”

It’s the day that the state legislature adjourns at the end of its current session. And this year, sine die falls on Monday, May 31, which means that deadlines are hitting fast and furious as lawmakers attempt to get their bills over the goal line.

Tuesday was a major deadline for the House, who was tasked with a slate of senate bills of varying levels of controversy that needed a second reading before midnight. After midnight, the bills are dead (although some will likely be resurrected in special sessions to come — more on that in another story). 

Wednesday is the last day for the House to consider most other Senate bills on second and third reading. Thursday is the last day the chamber can distribute Senate amendments, and Friday is the last day to act on them. Several more deadlines happen over the weekend, culminating in adjournment on Monday

And a lot of bigger ticket bills are getting a lot of attention in separate stories, so we thought we’d provide a brief list of some of the lesser-known bills that are living to see another day (as well as some who are headed for the governor’s desk, having made it through the multiple gauntlets of senate, house, senate, and house again approvals. 

(Read: Our continuing coverage of the Texas legislature’s 87th session)

Senate Bill 797 requires any school who is presented with a poster or framed copy of the phrase “In God We Trust,” must hang it in “a conspicuous place in each building of the school.” The poster or display must also include the U.S flag centered under the motto, as well as “a representation of the state flag.” No other words, images, or information can be added. Still Alive.
House Bill 1900 and SB 23 will penalize cities with more than 250,000 residents if they reduce law enforcement funding. Those penalties include potentially having sales tax revenue siphoned away for state use, bans on increasing property taxes and utility fees, and being stripped of the ability to annex and potentially allowing any areas annexed within the last 30 years to de-annex. Still alive.

SB 4 will require all professional sports teams to play the national anthem before games, or lose contracts with the state government. It’s headed to Gov. Abbott’s desk. Ready to Sign.

SB1, or the state budget. It’s the one that must be passed, and is still alive, but winding its way through the final days of the legislative session.

HB 5 addresses the gaps in broadband accessibility that were exposed during the pandemic by creating a State Broadband Development Office that would oversee grant disbursement, low-interest loans, and other opportunities to improve access to broadband internet. Still Alive.

SB10 would ban taxpayer-funded lobbying, essentially preventing cities, school districts, and counties from hiring lobbyists. It failed but may come back in a September special session when the legislature reconvenes to handle redistricting. Dead.

SB14, which banned cities and counties from requiring companies to provide benefits and other terms of employment beyond what is required by state and federal law passed after an amendment that exempted ordinances that ban discrimination based on hair texture was added. Still Alive.

HB999 creates a path toward graduation for this year’s high school seniors who haven’t passed the STAAR test, which is required to graduate. Many seniors faced interrupted learning because of the pandemic or may be unable to come to campus to take the test in person. Headed to the governor’s desk.

(Read: STAAR Must Be Taken in Person, State Says)

HB4110 addresses the growing number of catalytic converter thefts in the state by strengthening regulation of the sale of the part. It passed the senate Tuesday night, clearing a path to the governor’s desk.

(Read: Plunderers Pilfer Particularly Pricey Part)

SB1728 would assess an $190-240 fee annually on electric vehicles, and another $150 to anyone who drives their electric vehicle more than 9,000 miles a year, plus an annual $10 surcharge to fund a charging infrastructure advisory council. Dead.

HB1818 — also known as the “puppy mill bill” — requires pet stores in large counties only get their dogs and cats from animal shelters or rescue groups, not puppy mills. It passed both chambers, and now goes to conference committee. Still Alive.

HB3880 — also known as “The Beckley Wilson Act” — seeks to make it easier for districts to identify students who are suspected of having dyslexia, making more certain that children diagnosed with it can access additional services. It must be read Wednesday to make it any further this session. Still Alive – for now.

HB1365 gives broader authority to the Texas Education Agency, and makes some of its decisions unappealable. Tuesday night, it narrowly missed death, but came out of committee and got a second reading in the House with a floor amendment. More amendments came today, and the bill passed on a third reading. It will head to committee now to square up changes with the senate. Still Alive.

(Read: Bills Take Aim at Local Control, Finances, and Ratings for Districts)

Bethany Erickson

Bethany Erickson, Digital Editor at People Newspapers, cut her teeth on community journalism, starting in Arkansas. Recently, she's taken home a few awards for her writing, including first place for her tornado coverage from the National Newspapers Association's 2020 Better Newspaper Contest, a Gold award for Best Series at the 2018 National Association of Real Estate Editors journalism awards, a 2018 Hugh Aynesworth Award for Editorial Opinion from the Dallas Press Club, and a 2019 award from NAREE for a piece linking Medicaid expansion with housing insecurity. She is a member of the Education Writers Association, the Society of Professional Journalists, the National Association of Real Estate Editors, the News Leaders Association, the News Product Alliance, and the Online News Association. She doesn't like lima beans, black licorice or the word synergy. You can reach her at bethany.erickson@peoplenewspapers.com.

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