Tracking Texas Politics: May 21, 2015

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Another deadline approaches. To stay alive after Saturday, all Senate bills need to pass a House committee. If they do not, the authors will need to find a similar bill and amend their idea to that bill. All while final negotiations on the budget and tax cuts are finishing up. Numbers begin to trickle out with 10 days left in session.

On the floor:

A bill protecting pastors and religious organization’s right to refuse to marry and recognize the marriage of a same-sex couple, sailed through the Senate and will be voted on by the full House, Thursday afternoon. SB 2065, by Senator Estes, R-Wichita Falls, recognizes the sincerely held religious beliefs of many across the state, marriage is between one man and one woman, and would protect them against lawsuits if supreme court would make same-sex marriage legal across the land.

A texting while driving ban that already passed the House needs one more Senator to bring it to a vote. Nineteen is the number; the idea by Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland, has 18 supporters according to the author’s office and the Senate sponsor’s office. This is the third time Rep. Craddick has pushed for it and this time it is could be dependent on one unknown Republican senator. A bill to repeal in-state tuition for undocumented workers and a bill to ban “sanctuary cities” – where Federal immigration laws are ignored because of time and resources question; all could be brought to the floor for a vote with support for one or two lawmakers.

In committees:

The House Public Education committee will discuss broadening the definition of hazing. SB 33 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini, D – Laredo, would clarify the definition of hazing in the education code so violators won’t slip through the cracks. It also clarifies immunity for someone reporting a hazing violation – they need to come to the University, before the University comes them. The bill also sets the prosecuting county where the University is located. When House lawmakers are finished on the floor, they’ll start the committee.

In that same committee, House Public Education, a Senate bill that would put cameras in special needs classrooms will be debated. Several high profile pictures and stories about “focus rooms” – pretty much solitary confinement for misbehaving kids with special needs –  has drawn the attention of some lawmakers. The cameras would record the teaching environment so parents can know what exactly happened before the kid was sent to the “focus rooms” and how long they were in there.

At 9 AM, the House Committee on Economic and Small Business Development will take up the Governor’s idea of dismantling the Texas Emerging Technology fund and put the money in the Texas Enterprise Fund and the Governor’s University Research Initiative – to recruit Nobel laureates and big time professors to Texas Universities. The city of Austin however, has been influenced by technology start ups and companies that benefit from the Texas Emerging Technology fund.

When someone tries to take a gun through the airport security line, they get a third degree felony. Many CHL holders, simply forget they are carrying. In Dallas, more than half charged with the felony are over the age of 65. In Austin, twelve people – including an Austin firefighter – have been charged this year. A bill by Rep. Drew Springer, R – Muenster, would take away that third degree felony. Passengers still cannot take guns on planes. The CHL holder will have to take the weapon to their car, their home, or check it underneath the plan. That bill comes up in the Senate State Affairs Committee at 9 AM.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee will take up two bills that have gained attention. The first is requiring a peace officer to have a search warrant before conducting a body cavity search. The second would decriminalize truancy and put a longer in-depth process in place that tries to understand why the kids is skipping school. Lawmakers begin the debate when Senators finish on the floor, or at 1:30 PM.

Coming up:

A bill allowing CHL holders to carry their guns openly in public could come up for a vote and likely passed by the end of this week.

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