Collectively, the Austin delegation passed more than 150 bills this session. Here's a small sampling:
• HB 1678 (with Rep. Irma Rangel, D-Kingsville) requires the Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board to implement a uniform policy to attract a diverse population to Texas universities.
• SB 1447 requires that counties make public the location of former solid waste landfills and inform owners of property over the landfills of their location.
• HB 2269 (with Rep. Peggy Hamric, R-Houston) exempts university co-ops from property taxes.
•HB 618 requires school districts to notify parents when their children are enrolled in classes taught by teachers who are not certified or improperly certified to teach a certain subject.
• HB 861 makes it a crime to coerce a child into joining a gang.
• SB 231 (with Sen. Rodney Ellis, D-Houston) creates a statewide campaign to encourage Texans to enter the high-tech workforce.
• HB 1689 provides student loan repayment assistance to full-time early childcare workers.
• HB 2611 requires officeholders and candidates for public office to file contribution and expenditure reports electronically, making campaign information more readily available to the public.
• SB 955 (with Sen. Teel Bivins, R-Amarillo) provides grants for pre-reading instruction to low-income pre-kindergarten students.
• HB 149 prohibits courts from charging a fee for a petition for a writ of habeas corpus.
• HB 234 requires that affidavits used to justify search warrants be made available for public viewing.
• HB 1059 requires that carnival ride operators inspect the safety restraints on rides daily, and allows cities and counties to inspect rides suspected to be unsafe without prior notice.
• HB 3420 prohibits coaches and school personnel from selling so-called "performance-enhancing" drugs and supplements to student athletes.
• HB 1652 creates an education and prevention program for hepatitis C within the Texas Department of Health.
• SB 445 (with Sen. Mike Moncrief, D-Ft. Worth) creates a federally funded Children's Health Insurance Program (CHIP) providing insurance to children whose parents make less than 200% of the poverty level.
• HB 820 mandates automatic review of children's Medicaid eligibility when a family loses Medicaid benefits. If a child remains eligible for Medicaid, he or she will be re-enrolled.
• SB 39 (with Sen. Eddie Lucio Jr., D-Brownsville) allows defense attorneys to inform juries that if they sentence a person to life in prison, he or she will not be eligible for parole for 40 years.
• HB 3021 amended a bill by Rep. John Smithee, R-Amarillo, to create an ombudsman program to help health care consumers deal with HMOs' appeals and grievance procedures. -- E.C.B.