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.
A bill that provides $630 million worth of tax incentives has already made its way out of the House, and is now heading to the Senate floor for a vote.
The bill has been altered from its original wording, streamlining those benefiting down to one business group.
"I explained to my colleagues as we’ve been trying to work through this in the last couple of days: It’s almost like I have to pick which three of my kids gets something and which do not. It’s almost impossible," said Sen. Glenn Hegar, R-Katy, who is carrying the bill in the Senate.
At this late stage in the legislative session, most bills that haven't made it out of at least one chamber are left to the wind, but there is still a chance for a bill with bipartisan support that proposes to provide immigrants without legal documentation a driver’s permit.
Rep. Roberto Alonzo, D-Dallas, is carrying the bill, which was authored by Sen. Tommy Williams, R-The Woodlands.
The Senate has passed a bill that prohibits the state’s transportation department from turning free roads into toll roads, but the "do-or-die" deadline is approaching fast for it to clear the House in time.
Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels, authored Senate Bill 1029, which addresses the conversion of existing state roads into tollways. She said there are several highways throughout the state being eyed for this type of tolling, one of which is Hwy. 281.
After making its way through the Texas House, the Senate Criminal Justice Committee approved a bill that allows students and faculty to carry a handgun to class.
Sen. John Whitmire, D-Houston, the chair of the committee, told those registered to speak against the campus-carry bill that if this version of the bill didn't make it out of his committee, lawmakers will likely find a way to pass a similar campus-carry bill at another time.
The Senate Criminal Justice Committee hearing was to be one of the last phases for a bill that would set up the state’s first exoneration commission to examine past wrongful convictions to determine what went wrong.
The hearing began with Sen. Joan Huffman, R-Houston, stating she didn’t feel the Tim Cole Exoneration Commission was a needed item, and then it escalated from there.
Jim Pitts, R-Waxahachie, a house leader on the Legislative Budget Board, said the joint committee has hit snags in several areas, but has reached a tentative agreement on some key spending issues in regard to Senate Bill 1, the state budget bill.
"Hopefully we will have an agreement sometime today on public education," Pitts said, adding that they were discussing $3.2 billion for public education would be taken from the state general revenue and property tax appraisals.
From now on political nonprofit groups will have to post any contributions being received from lawmakers or money going towards political campaigns thanks to a bill passed in the Texas Senate and now House.