Texas Legislature can now vote on bills

Hundreds of bills passed by the Texas legislative session are now laws as of Sept. 1.

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Over the course of the next few days, big changes could come to Texas laws. Monday marks the first day the state Legislature can vote on specific bills that have passed out of committees. By law, the Legislature cannot vote on any bill for 60 days, unless it is one of the governor’s emergency items. Now that those 60 days are over, the Senate has a full agenda and can now pass bills that have made it out of committee.

One bill they could vote on would be to name FM 685 in Pflugerville after Travis County Sheriff’s Senior Deputy Jessica Hollis. She was killed last September when flash floods swept away her patrol car in Western Travis County. Another bill would ban the sale of e-cigarettes to minors. Right now, there are no restrictions. If it passes, it would make the penalty the same as selling regular cigarettes — up to a fine of $500.

Senate Bill 149 would change the requirements to graduate from high school. Right now, you can’t receive a diploma if you have not passed the STAAR test — the standardized test given in every school. This bill would allow students to still get their diploma, but only after a meeting with the school principal, counselor, teachers and parents. They would then be able to decide whether or not a student should graduate.

The Senate could also start taking up two bills that have had a lot of people talking when it comes to gun control. The first would allow people with a CHL, or concealed handgun license, to carry handguns out in the open. This bill has sparked heated protests at the Capitol in the past. Despite its “Wild West” roots, Texas is actually only one of six states that does not allow gun owners to holster handguns openly.

Another bill would allow Texans to carry guns more places on college campuses. It would expand existing law letting students, staff and visitors carry concealed handguns anywhere on campuses, including previously restricted places like classrooms and libraries. There would still be some restrictions. If passed, the campus carry bill would still not allow weapons in hospitals operated by universities. To be clear: The bill would only apply to college and university campuses. Carrying guns at elementary, middle and high schools would still be illegal.

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