Last week was the half-way point of the 85th Legislature. While we have finished more than half of the 140 days, there is still a lot of work to get accomplished for the people of Texas.
Last week the House continued working, debating bills on the House floor, and hearing bills in committees. The House State Affairs Committee heard HB 200 which would ban partial birth abortions and prohibit the sale of fetal remains. Although this ban has been in federal law, and upheld by the Supreme Court, it is not yet in Texas law, which prevents our local law enforcement from enforcing these laws. HB 200 will help with the enforcement of this policy and will also serve to end the abhorrent practice of selling the remains from an aborted child. I am looking forward to casting my vote for HB 200 in the State Affairs Committee.
This week, the House will debate HB 1818, the Railroad Commission Sunset bill. At least every 12 years, each state agency is given a top-to-bottom review to make sure that the agency is still fulfilling its purpose. This review determines what changes can be made to make the agency more efficient and what parts of the agency are no longer needed. This year, the Railroad Commission, Texas' oil and gas regulator, is going through the Sunset process. A strong oil and gas regulator is vitally important to East Texas and the continued growth of our economy. I expect that the House will debate and pass this bill next week.
I have heard from many of you about different provisions in the proposed budgets and wanted to shed some light on the process that the budget goes through. Each legislative session, the job of introducing a budget switches between the House and the Senate. This year, the Senate will first debate the budget and then send its proposals over to the House for debate. As you can imagine, the budgets that come out of the House and Senate have many differences, from funding levels, to program cuts, to instructions and state agencies. In order to reconcile these differences and arrive at a unified budget, the House and Senate appoint a conference committee which works together to settle the differences between the two budgets. The final budget then goes back to each chamber for final approval. This is a long process with many changes.
If there are priorities for the budget or any other legislation that you would like me to know about, please contact me at 512-463-0556 or firstname.lastname@example.org.