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Bill roundup: A look at some of the legislation that isn’t making regular headlines

Gabriel C. Pérez

It can be hard to keep track of every single bill making its way through the legislative process at the capitol, especially the bills that don’t make regular headlines.

This session, a few bills have dominated much of the discussion — including the budget, as well as bills related to healthcare for transgender youth and school vouchers.

But about the rest of them?

Sherri Greenberg is the assistant dean for state and local government engagement and a professor of practice at the Lyndon B. Johnson School of Public Affairs at UT-Austin. She said she is keeping an eye on a bill dealing with gambling this session, among others.

“There are so many bills filed you cannot even imagine. And there are typically a few bills that, as we say, take all the oxygen out of the room,” she said. “But there are many other bills. So, for instance, casino gambling, online betting. Those are bills that have had a lot of money behind them this session. There is also a lot of legislation regarding health and human services. So, for instance, there’s a bill that looks at whether we can provide more help for family members who are taking care of relatives’ children.”

The online gambling and casino bills were passed out of a House committee recently, Greenberg said.

“They passed with nine in favor and three opposed,” she said. “However, there is a long way to go for both of those bills, because they would also have to be approved in the Texas Senate. And Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick has made it known that he does not look favorably upon either one of those bills.”

Another issue lawmakers are trying to address is the shortage of workers to care for elderly and disabled Texans. Advocacy groups have been pushing for legislation to help fix that problem, Greenberg said.

“Some people are optimistic because the Legislature has additional revenues this session, much more than we saw last session,” she said. “We know that we have a part of the population that is aging, that is graying. What can be done to provide more caregivers to increase the pay for caregivers? And then also these issues, whether it’s child care or relatives who take custody of children. But there are a lot of issues in the health and human services realm as well as, of course, foster care. So there are many people who are supporting and pushing for some of the additional revenue to be used in these areas. We’ll see what happens.”

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Another bill to keep an eye on would crack down on bots buying up concert tickets. This bill was introduced in part because of the difficulty Taylor Swift fans faced buying tickets to the pop star’s tour this year.

“This certainly exploded with the whole Taylor Swift kerfuffle. And there has been a bill filed and in fact, had a hearing just this week in the Texas House of Representatives that would try to put an end to chat bots buying up all the tickets and fans not being able to get them and also not being able basically to resell them,” Greenberg said.

The bill, HB 2444, was introduced by Lewisville Republican Kronda Thimesch and enjoys some bipartisan support.

Greenberg said it’s important to keep an eye on these “smaller” bills since they often have a big impact on people’s lives.

“These smaller bills can have a really big effect on people’s lives, whether it’s children, the elderly, buying concert tickets,” she said. “In our day-to-day lives as Texans, these bills really matter.”

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