It’s Friday in Austin, and the House debated SB 1, the Appropriations Bill, until 1:30am this morning. We began Thursday by presenting three bills in the House Special Purpose Districts Committee at 7:30am, then I went to the House Transportation Committee where we had a full hearing at 8:00am, then we went to the House Floor. Four hundred and one amendments to the budget were pre-filed, including one I filed to help support community colleges. After over fifteen hours of debate, the budget was finally passed. The budget will now head to a conference committee with House and Senate members so that the differences between the two chambers may be worked out.
In this edition of the Capitol Review, we will cover:
- Safety and Security of Texans
- Support for Israel
- Blue Ridge Landfill update
- Current Status of Team Thompson Bills
Hannah and Gabrielle served as Honorary Pages on the House Floor yesterday morning. It is always great to see constituents from the district in Austin, and I was grateful to have their help! It has been an honor for my office to sponsor 9 honorary pages this Legislative Session.
SAFETY AND SECURITY OF TEXANS
- Republicans in the Texas House will continue to protect and promote the 2nd Amendment rights of Texans to carry by providing additional support and access to those that wish to bear arms. Committee Substitute House Bill 300 decreases the fee for an original or renewed license to carry a handgun. Currently, Texas has a $140 application fee for a handgun license and a $70 fee for a renewal. HB 300 reduces the original and renewal fee to $40 for the general public for a 5-year license ($8/year). This will lessen the burden on individuals who wish to obtain a license to carry a handgun.
- I believe that the most important role of government is to protect our citizens, including the most vulnerable and unborn. We will continue to work tirelessly to advance prolife legislation in Texas. Committee Substitute House Bill 200 is the Partial-Birth Abortion Ban, and I am proud to be a co-author. HB 200 bans partial-birth abortions and prohibits the sale of fetal tissues and organs. While partial-birth abortions are banned by federal law, state prosecutors cannot enforce federal law; this provides an enforcement mechanism for Texas to prosecute those who perform partial-birth abortions. The bill also establishes a statewide ban on the sale of fetal tissue.
The Pearland ISD Education Foundation’s Evening for Education Gala on March 25th was an immense success! Thanks to all the people who contributed to this incredible event. Pictured here are, from left to right, Representative Dennis Paul, myself, Pearland Mayor Tom Reid, and Senator Larry Taylor.
SUPPORT FOR ISRAEL
A critical trade partner to Texas and strong ally to the United States, the state of Israel has been incessantly targeted by boycotts and sanctions. The Texas House will not stand for the investment of taxpayer dollars in companies that seek to isolate Israel and we shall do everything in our power to keep Israel insulated from these economically harmful efforts. House Bill 89 prohibits the state from investing public funds in companies that boycott Israel, and I am a proud co-author of this legislation. This bill defends the state’s economy from financial or contractual engagement with parties who would inflict economic harm upon Israeli and other state businesses based on national origin discrimination. HB 89 protects the financial interests of the state’s citizens by ensuring that state investment funds and contracts with the private sector are shielded from the economic damage and instability caused by companies that engage in discriminatory boycotts against Israel.
Last week, a number of interesting guests came from Sea World to visit the Texas Capitol, including this bald eagle! The bald eagle is one of the largest raptors in the world, and they often have wingspans of 7 feet!
BLUE RIDGE LANDFILL UPDATE
On Tuesday, I presented HB 2958 in the House Committee on Environmental Regulation – the committee I Vice Chair. HB 2958, if passed, will create a moratorium on permits issued by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) for municipal solid waste facilities (landfills), and will require a study to examine changes that need to be made to the current operations for landfills. I filed this bill to address some of the issues brought to light by the odor complaints in the northwest portion of my district. We had a productive discussion, heard testimony both for and against the bill, and I look forward to working with my fellow committee members to pass this legislation out of committee and send it to the House Floor for a vote.
It has been a beautiful week in Austin. After recently being pruned, the rose bushes are back in bloom in the rose garden on the northwest Capitol grounds!
TEAM THOMPSON BILLS – CURRENT STATUS
There are 54 days left in the 85th Legislative Session. Here’s a quick look at the status of the bills I have filed this session – we are still very much in the middle of thelegislative process:
- HB 915: relating to named driver insurance policies and certain related exclusions. This bill was voted out of the House Insurance Committee 9-0 and will soon be set for a House Calendar.
- HB 938: relating to the designation of a portion of Farm-to-Market Road 518 in Pearland as the Officer Endy Ekpanya Memorial Highway. This bill will soon be scheduled for a hearing in the House Transportation Committee.
- HB 947:relating to the designation of a portion of Farm-to-Market Road 1462 in Brazoria County as the Lieutenant Colonel Roy Lin Tisdale Memorial Highway. The bill passed in the House 140-0 and was referred to the Senate Transportation Committee this week, awaiting a hearing.
- HB 991: relating to the selection and summons of prospective grand jurors. The bill is awaiting a hearing in the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence.
- HB 1075:relating to the frequency of criminal background checks for sports officials registered with the University Interscholastic League; authorizing a fee. The bill is awaiting a hearing in the House Committee on Public Education.
- HB 1110: relating to increasing the punishment for assault committed against certain sports participants. The bill is awaiting a hearing in the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence.
- HB 1719: relating to continuing education requirements for county tax assessor-collectors. The bill was voted out of the House Ways and Means Committee 10-0 and will soon be set for a House Local and Consent Calendar.
- HB 1788:relating to state support for assistance with payment of existing debt on certain bonds issued by school districts. The bill is awaiting a hearing in the House Committee on Public Education.
- HB 1962: relating to the creation of the Brazoria County Municipal Utility District No. 69; granting a limited power of eminent domain; providing authority to issue bonds; providing authority to impose assessments, fees, and taxes. The bill was heard yesterday in the House Special Purpose Districts Committee and will likely be voted out of committee next week.
- HB 1963: relating to the creation of the Brazoria County Municipal Utility District No. 70; granting a limited power of eminent domain; providing authority to issue bonds; providing authority to impose assessments, fees, and taxes. The bill was heard yesterday in the House Special Purpose Districts Committee and will likely be voted out of committee next week.
- HB 2125: relating to the establishment of a program for the collection, transportation, and recycling of architectural paint. The bill was heard April 5th in the House Environmental Regulation Committee and needs to be voted out of committee.
- HB 2285: relating to the establishment of the Texas Institute for Coastal Prairie Research and Education at the University of Houston. The bill was heard in the Higher Education Committee on April 5th and will likely be voted out of committee soon.
- HB 2332: relating to the creation of the Brazoria County Management District No. 1; providing authority to issue bonds; providing authority to impose assessments, fees, and taxes. The bill was heard yesterday in the House Special Purpose Districts Committee and will likely be voted out of committee next week.
- HB 2958: relating to a temporary moratorium on permits for municipal solid waste facilities. The bill was heard in the Environmental Regulation Committee on April 4th and needs to be voted out of committee.
- HB 3184: relating to an exemption from payment of tolls for certain vehicles. This bill is awaiting a hearing in the House Transportation Committee.
- HB 3591: relating to the composition of the aviation advisory committee. This bill will soon be scheduled for a hearing in the House Transportation Committee.
- HB 4058: relating to systems of prior authorization for the control, management, and disposal of certain nonhazardous, industrial solid wastes for which there are minimum federal requirements. This bill is awaiting a hearing in the House Environmental Regulation Committee.
It is an honor to serve you in the Texas House. Please do not hesitate to contact me if I can help you with any state matter.
God Bless Texas!