The Austin American-Statesman did a great job of compiling a list of bills that died and those passed on to the governor to be signed into law. As a follow up to yesterday’s post, the Senate did not vote to restrict tuition increases as the House had earlier. I’ve selected a few to bring to your attention below, but to see the full list, click here.
Deader than dead (unless there’s a special session):
CHIP expansion: Allows certain families that earn more than the income limit for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to pay to join. Perry threatened to veto this one if sent through. Some have raised the point that Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison voted for SCHIP (a similar program at the Federal level), and this may have been more a matter of political posturing than actual policy disagreement.
Voter ID: Expands voter identification requirements at polls. Perry pushed hard for this, but it proved to be the most divisive issue of the session. If the governor decides to call for a special session, keep your eyes on the resurrection of this bill.
Social issue bills regarding abortion ultrasounds (women seeking an abortion must be offered an ultrasound) and stem cells (a budget provision prohibiting the use of state dollars for embryonic stem cell research) both failed as well.
Bills sent to the governor and awaiting approval:
Top 10 percent: Scales back the number of students the University of Texas at Austin would have to admit under the law guaranteeing a spot to those graduating in the top 10 percent of their Texas high school class. This is certainly a contentious issue in Austin. It’s unclear if this increased standard will have a ripple effect on other state universities (i.e. higher enrollment since UT will be tougher to get into).
Small-business tax cut: Exempts more small businesses from the state’s business tax. Based on his campaign Web site, this seems to be where Perry wants most of the focus from this session to rest.
Other accomplishments of this session include a bill that requires juveniles convicted of murder to serve life in prison rather than death sentences, a bill that expands half-day prekindergarten programs into full day programs, and a shield law that protects journalists, in some cases, from having to reveal confidential sources.
Big thanks to the following Statesmen staffers for compiling this list: Corrie MacLaggan, Mike Ward, W. Gardner Selby, Kate Alexander, Asher Price, Claudia Grisales, Ben Wear, Ralph K.M. Haurwitz and Jason Embry