The Austin Chronicle

After the Election, the Deluge of Bills

By Richard Whittaker, November 11, 2014, 2:00pm, Newsdesk

163 Senate bills. 244 measures from the House. The 84th session of the Texas Legislature may not kick off until Jan. 13, 2015, but lawmakers have already been busy filing draft legislation for consideration.

Locally, only one state rep from the Travis County delegation has filed any bills, and she's also the newest. District 50 Democrat Celia Israel is pushing House Bill 76, allowing electronic voter legislation.

It's far busier over in the Senate, but almost solely because of Sen. Judith Zaffirini, whose gerrymandered district is really anchored in Laredo. She has filed a grand total of 34 bills already. Unsurprisingly for the lawmaker who pushed hardest for the creation of the Senate Higher Education Committee in the 81st Legislature, many relate to the state's universities, including Senate Bill 21, relating to revenue bonds; SB 22, highlighting outcomes-related funding for colleges; and SB 24, requiring that university trustees undertake a training course before they are allowed to vote on budgetary or personnel issues. How this will all figure in to the ongoing struggle over the UT presidency has yet to be seen, but that fight seems inevitable.

Joining Zaffirini in filing is Sen. Donna Campbell, R-New Braunfels. A hot contender to become Lt. Gov.-elect Dan Patrick's successor on the Senate Education Committee, she's pushing SB 199, turning the Cap Metro board into a purely elected body; and SB 120, upping the penalty for interfering with a mail-in ballot from a state jail felony to a third degree felony.

Other significant measures proffered include:

SB 137, Sen. Charles Perry, R-Lubbock: limiting appropriations growth to increase in state population and inflation.

HB 130: Rep. Rafael Anchia, D-Dallas: overturning the ban on same-sex marriage.

HB 106, Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Canton; HB 164, Rep, James White, R-Woodville: open carry legislation for handguns.

SB 143, Sen. Sylvia Garcia, D-Houston: automatically informing voters of problems with their voter registration form.

HB 111, Rep. Trey Martinez Fischer, D-San Antonio: same-day voter registration.

HB 880, Rep. Tom Craddick, R-Midland: a statewide ban on texting while driving.

Luckily/sadly for Texas, most of these measures will either end up dead on the vine, folded into omnibus bills, or rewritten beyond recognition.

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