86th Texas Legislature

Eddie Seal for The Texas Tribune

Katherine Edmundson didn’t know her 7-year-old son was off Medicaid until she took him to the dentist for his annual cleaning in February. An employee at the front desk told her that his coverage was invalid and that her son couldn’t be seen that day.

The issue of improving mental health care across the state seemed like a unifying theme at the outset of this legislative session. It was also highlighted as an emergency item by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, who called for more student mental health screenings in response to last year's Santa Fe High School shooting.

Now, it's become the subject of some controversy at the statehouse. 

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

The Texas House tentatively approved a bill Tuesday that would require doctors to treat babies born alive after a failed abortion attempt.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A bill before the Texas Senate would allow felons to seek public office only if they have received a pardon.

Current election code says a candidate who has been convicted of a felony must either be pardoned “or otherwise released from the resulting disabilities” – but it doesn’t define “resulting disabilities.” Senate Bill 466 would remove that clause.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

The state Senate passed legislation Monday that increases criminal penalties for election-related crimes in Texas. Voting rights groups have said they worry the bill could criminalize honest mistakes, among other things.

Juan Figueroa / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate broke a logjam Monday that had paralyzed a piece of priority legislation for weeks — blunting a controversial provision in its property tax reform package and then advancing the bill, without having to deploy a procedural “nuclear option" to move it.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

State lawmakers started this year’s legislative session with the intention of tackling bipartisan issues — namely, education and property taxes. Last week, though, abortion politics complicated that goal.

Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

After facing unexpected friction in Texas’ Republican-dominated Legislature, a pair of bills to override local rules mandating paid sick leave and standardize employment practices across the state passed the Senate on Thursday over the objections of LGBTQ advocates who have warned the bills could threaten local non-discrimination protections.

Speak of the House Dennis Bonnen on the grounds of the Governor's mansion for a joint press conference with the governor and lieutenant governor on Jan. 8, 2019.
Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

A Texas GOP fundraiser Tuesday brought state House Speaker Dennis Bonnen face-to-face with the gun rights activist whom state troopers recently intercepted at Bonnen’s home, the latest chapter in sharp tensions between the two.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

The Republican leadership in the Texas Legislature announced an agreement Wednesday to swap a sales tax increase with property tax cuts.

Proponents of decriminalizing the possession of small amounts of marijuana say fewer tax dollars will be spent housing people in county jails for nonviolent crimes.
Callie Richmond for The Texas Tribune

Lawmakers of all political stripes were chomping at the bit this session to file — or sign onto — bills that would decriminalize or lessen the criminal penalties for Texans found with small amounts of marijuana.

Juan Figueroa / The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate on Tuesday approved a two-year, $248 billion spending plan that includes $2.7 billion for a nebulous goal of property tax “relief” — but with seven weeks left in the 2019 legislative session, the upper chamber has yet to rally behind a way to spend those funds.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A national nonprofit says Texas’ system for putting holds on driver licenses is unconstitutional and is threatening to take the state to court as lawmakers decide the program's future this legislative session.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

After news broke that an activist pushing a “constitutional carry” gun proposal tried to visit the homes of several Texas House leaders, state Rep. Jonathan Stickland, R-Bedford, declared his bill on the matter dead and wrote in a statement Friday he’s “officially canceling” his request for a committee hearing.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

Austin's rules on short-term rental units – those vacation rentals on apps and sites like Airbnb and Homeaway – are under fire at the Texas Capitol. House lawmakers heard testimony Thursday on a bill that would override the city's ban on properties in residential areas that aren't owner-occupied.

Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

After more than three hours of discussion, the Texas House nearly unanimously passed a comprehensive bill to reform the way schools are funded and slow the growth of property tax bills.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Austin Independent School District would pay $194 million less in recapture in 2020 if House Bill 3, that chamber's $9 billion school finance plan, is passed.

KUT

Nine bills concerning marijuana and hemp are set for public hearing in the Texas House on Monday.

Jorge Sanhueza-Lyon / KUT

For years, short-term rentals – the rooms and homes on apps like Airbnb and HomeAway – have been the subject of lawsuits and hand-wringing on the part of regulators and people looking to rent out properties.

Texas House Appropriations Chairman John Zerwas, R-Richmond, talks with House Speaker Dennis Bonnen Wednesday, as the House took up the budget debate.
Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

In Dennis Bonnen’s first major test as speaker of the Texas House, the chamber he oversees resoundingly passed a $251 billion budget Wednesday after a long but largely civil debate — a departure from the dramatics that have typically defined such an affair.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

The Texas House is scheduled to debate its $250 billion budget Wednesday — and possibly into Thursday morning. It marks the full chamber’s last chance to change House Bill 1 before House leaders begin private negotiations with the Senate on 2020-21 funding priorities.

Shelby Knowles for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Department of Criminal Justice has put a hefty $1 billion price tag on the proposed installation of air conditioning in all of its uncooled prisons. But some lawmakers eyed the cost with skepticism Thursday as the department has a history of greatly overestimating cooling costs.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A wide-ranging voting bill in the Texas Senate “would sharply escalate an ongoing campaign of voter suppression” in the state, voting rights advocates say.

Tony Hisgett/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Lemonade stands aren't legal in Texas, but House lawmakers gave a preliminary OK today to a bill that would undo that legislative oversight that's dragged on for 85 legislative sessions.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / The Texas Tribune

State Rep. Stephanie Klick, R-Fort Worth, was on the floor of the Texas House in 2015 trying to convince her colleagues to open up the state to medical cannabis, and it was not going well.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

State senators are considering a bill that would raise the minimum age to buy tobacco products in Texas from 18 to 21. 

Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

After being rebuked by Gov. Greg Abbott for the state’s botched review of the voter rolls, the director of the Texas Department of Public Safety took “full responsibility” Tuesday for providing data to the secretary of state’s office that included thousands of individuals whose citizenship should never have been in question.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

What started as seemingly simple state legislation hailed as good for Texas businesses is drawing skepticism from legal experts and outrage from advocates worried it would strike employment protections and benefits for LGBTQ workers.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

A bill that would create more uniform policies on speech at Texas colleges and universities passed unanimously out of a Senate committee Monday.

Julia Reihs / KUT

With Texas House lawmakers unveiling their long-awaited school finance proposal Tuesday and the Senate's version likely close behind, teacher pay appears to be emerging as one of the biggest sticking points between the two chambers.

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