86th Texas Legislature

In Austin, Texas, a new raft of anti-LGBT legislation is working its way through the state legislature. One of the bills would allow state licensed professionals of all stripes — from doctors and pharmacists to plumbers and electricians — to deny services on religious grounds. Supporters say the legislation is needed to protect religious freedoms. But opponents call them "religious refusal bills" or "bigot bills."

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

Showing their usual united front, the state’s “Big Three” political leaders on Friday tried to remake their case for why the Texas Legislature should deliver on long-term, ongoing property tax relief before the session wraps up this month.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

The Texas Senate advanced a bill on Thursday that would require pregnant people to receive counseling before getting an abortion.

Rows of chairs in the House chamber of the Texas Capitol.
Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

On its face, you might think a bill to treat wastewater from oil and gas operations would get the support of environmental groups. But you'd be wrong.

Marijuana plants
Marjorie Kamys Cotera for The Texas Tribune

After a brief discussion, the Texas House gave preliminary approval Monday to a bill that would reduce the penalties for low-level possession of marijuana — a move lauded as a win by those eager for the state to take its first major step toward loosening its staunch marijuana laws.

Friendswood Republican Larry Taylor
Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

In the first legislative session after the deadly mass shooting at Santa Fe High School, the Texas Senate nearly unanimously approved a sweeping school safety bill Monday aimed at preventing — or at least mitigating — another mass tragedy.

Emree Weaver / The Texas Tribune

After a long wait, the Texas Senate has finally unveiled a thorough proposal for how to tackle school finance and school property tax reform — bringing back several ideas the House already nixed.

Gabriel C. Pérez / KUT

At least one person has died on Texas roads every day since Nov. 7, 2000. Despite efforts to “End the Streak,” as the Texas Department of Transportation puts it, the state still leads the nation in traffic deaths.

Fatalities did fall about 2% between 2016 and 2017, but more than 3,700 people died in 2017.

Miguel Gutierrez Jr. / KUT

An analysis of shooting incidents in Houston that resulted in the death or injury of a child found that guns had been safely and securely stored in less than 2% of cases.

Bob Daemmrich for The Texas Tribune

What should be the future of “Texas Time”?

Legislators have been battling over this question for decades — and soon Texas voters may get to decide.

Juan Figueroa / The Texas Tribune

The Texas House on Tuesday gave broad preliminary approval to a bill that would allow farmers in the state to legally grow industrial hemp — a move lauded as a win for the state’s farmers.

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.

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