Veterans who have burn injuries can now ask their utility companies for discounts, no matter where in Texas they reside now that the Burned Veterans Bill has passed in the Legislature.
State Sen. Leticia Van de Putte sought to expand the benefits of a bill passed in the last session to the statewide population of burned veterans.
The bill allows investor-owned utilities, municipal co-ops and retail electric providers to establish discount programs similar to the one that has proven so successful in San Antonio the last couple of years.
House Democrats were able to stall a vote on a bill that would have mandated welfare recipients be drug screened before receiving benefits, an action that ultimately killed the bill entirely.
The bill would have required anyone applying for Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) benefits to be screened for illicit drug use and it immediately struck a chord with House Democrats like Rep. Sylvester Turner of Houston.
Now that every opportunity for Medicaid expansion is gone at the state capitol, the lawmaker who authored the GOP plan, which eventually failed, explained what medical options are left for the state’s working poor.
Rep. John Zerwas, R-Simonton, is a doctor and has seen first hand the problems the 1.5 million Texans without health insurance face when it comes to seeking medical care.
House Bill 928 would criminalize any police officer enforcing a new federal gun law in the state of Texas, and it immediately struck tensions between Sen. Craig Estes, R-Wichita Falls, and Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston.
"I could be for this if you take an amendment I’m going to offer to your bill," said Ellis. "I’m going to offer an amendment to close the 'gun show loophole.'"
"The criminal background checks at gun shows would doom this wonderful bill that we are trying to do right here," replied Estes.
A House budget committee passed Senate Joint Resolution 1 to fund state-related water plans. The measure sets up an empty fund that the state can use to fund water projects over the next 50 years, and now heads to the House floor for a vote.
While many of the committee confidently voted for the resolution, others had reservations.
At this point in the legislative calendar many bills are facing a looming demise, but Rep. Drew Darby, R-San Angelo, said he has found another way to get money for transportation needs.
"One of the obvious ways is to take some money in the budget and devote it to our energy related zones that have borne the burden of most of the oil and gas production. They are just simply deteriorating and they’re not safe anymore," Darby said.
After meeting for hours behind closed doors, House Democratic leaders declined the Republican deal on the state’s budget bill.
Rep. Sylvester Turner, D-Houston, the vice-chair of the Democratic Caucus, said House Democrats are unified in their stance against the budget in its current form, which promises $3.2 billion for education funding.