Odds and Ends from the 86th Lege Session

Progress made for rape survivors, Beer-to-Go passes, and more

The end of the road in the House chamber (Photo by John Anderson)

Real Progress Against Sexual Assault: Rarely seen bipartisan support buoyed efforts to improve how the state handles sexual assault, supports survivors, and tracks cases within the criminal justice system. Of note, Rep. Donna Howard's HB 1590, which passed both chambers unanimously, will create a Sexual Assault Survivors' Task Force in the governor's office to collect information from organizations and government agencies across Texas to analyze gaps and promote best practices. Also, the state's statute of limitations for civil suits over sexual abuse has been extended to 30 years under HB 3809, and several new laws will create a statewide framework to better address rape on college campuses. And the biennial budget includes nearly $78 million earmarked for sexual assault issues, including funding rape crisis centers, expediting rape kit processing at the DPS forensics labs, analyzing assault prosecutions across justice agencies across the state, and establishing a telehealth center to allow rural areas more access to trained sexual assault nurse examiners...

The South Will Not Rise Again! Efforts to make it more difficult for the state and its cities to do away with Confederate monuments didn't succeed this session. After some tense moments in both Senate and House debate, measures to require a public vote, or supermajorities of the Legislature, to remove, relocate or alter such memorials – or in some cases to forbid their removal entirely – failed to make it through both chambers to Gov. Greg Abbott's desk...

Raise a Glass to Beer-to-Go: Craft brewers finally prevailed over their opponents in the big-beer wholesale market and gained the right – enjoyed by breweries in every other state – to sell their products directly to the public at their facilities, as wineries and distilleries and (of course) brewpubs already can. Beer-to-Go survived the late-session twisting and turning of must-pass Sunset review legislation for the Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission (HB 1545), but another long-sought liberalization of the state's whacked-out liquor laws – allowing beer and wine sales at 10am, rather than noon, on Sundays – did not.

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86th Texas Legislature, sexual assault, Donna Howard, House Bill 1590, Sexual Assault Survivors' Task Force, statute of limitations, rape crisis centers, rape kits, DPS forensics labs, sexual assault nurse examiners, Confederate monuments, Greg Abbott, Beer-to-Go, Craft brewers, breweries, Texas Alcoholic Beverage Commission, House Bill 1545

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