Tracking Texas Politics: May 11, 2015

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Here’s what’s happening in state politics for May 11, 2015.

After Monday, any House bill that hasn’t received a committee hearing is dead. Monday is one of many deadlines coming up this week. With only three weeks left until session ends, we’re reminded of how the Texas Legislature is meant to kill bills, not pass them.

On the Floors:

A bipartisan bill is up for debate that would get more parents and the community involved in a public school’s campus turnaround plan. After a school has been failing for two years, leaders have to submit a plan to turn that school around and HB 1842 would give parents direct input.

In Committees:

According to Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D-Laredo, and State Affairs Chair Joan Huffman, R – Houston, they have the votes to pass a statewide texting and driving ban out of committee. Rep. Tom Craddick, R – Midland, has tried two sessions in a row for this, last session the idea died in committee. Monday, the State Affairs Committee is expected to vote it out to the Senate Floor for one of the last major steps to law. According to Sen. Huffman, the vote on the Senate floor “will be close.”

Coming Up:

The U.S. Supreme Court heard arguments about whether same-sex couples can get married under the Constitution a few weeks back. Conservatives in Texas say, so what? Tuesday, the House will likely vote on connecting issues. The first is a bill by Magnolia Republican Cecil Bell, that would ban government officials from issuing or recognizing same-sex marriage licences. Earlier this year a Texas judge said our traditional marriage law was unconstitutional. That led to the Travis County Clerk issuing exactly one same-sex marriage license to an Austin couple. If passed, Bell’s bill would take funding away from local governments – should something similar repeat itself.

The other bill would protect the right of religious organizations to refuse service or recognize a marriage if it’s against their religious beliefs. Last week, scores of pastors and priests came to testify at a similar bill in the Senate. The Senate could take up that bill as early as Monday.

The State is running out of execution drugs. A bill will be called to the House floor and likely pass that would keep secret the manufacturers of the deadly drugs. Drug manufacturers report they’ve received threats and the state is responding by keeping their information private. The Senate can take up a similar bill this week.

In Texas, a court – if deemed appropriate – can grant permission for a minor to get an abortion without parental consent. Religious conservatives don’t like this and a bill by Rep. Geanie Morrison, R-Victoria, would limit that process. It’s known as “judicial bypass” and it’s always been a controversial topic, with around three hundred teenagers a year terminating a pregnancy through this process. The House will likely pass this measure this week.

 

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