Texas Public Radio - A controversial bill that would make it harder for homeowners and companies to recover certain damages from their insurance companies — cheered by the insurance industry and criticized by liberal groups and some businesses — cleared the Texas Senate on Thursday.
Senate Bill 1628 by state Sen. Larry Taylor, R-Friendswood, would make broad changes to the way homeowners and businesses can sue insurance companies who don’t deal with them fairly, or don’t adequately pay out on claims made under property and casualty insurance policies, such as losses after a storm, fire or accident.
The bill would establish a two-year time limit on seeking claims.
The Texas Tribune - State Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, has been trying for months to pass legislation that would make it tougher for local entities to bring in more tax revenue by taking advantage of rising property values.
On Thursday, he managed to add language to a bill from state Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, that could do just that, though not as severely as many local officials had feared.
Creighton’s bill, Senate Bill 1760, aims to make the administration of local property taxes more transparent with provisions such as directing the comptroller to publish a ranking of property tax rates statewide and requiring local entities to justify future tax increases on election notices and ballots.
Guns.com - A bill to suspend state taxes on sales of guns, ammunition and other sporting goods the last weekend in August sailed through the Texas Senate by a vote of 21-10 last week and is headed to the House.
The measure, which is a revamp of legislation that failed last year but is proving more successful the second time around, would set aside a weekend as a tax-holiday for guns, ammo and also archery equipment, hunting blinds and stands, decoys, optics, gun safes and cases, and firearm cleaning supplies.
The legislation’s sponsor, Sen. Brandon Creighton, R-Conroe, cites neighboring Louisiana‘s gun tax holiday as an benefit that Lone Star sportsmen should have as well.
State Impact - Houston area residents who live near some scrap metal recycling facilities are inhaling dangerous levels of a metal carcinogen called Chromium Six. It’s the same pollutant at the heart of the class action lawsuit portrayed in the film Erin Brockovich. The Houston Chronicle first reported about the pollution in 2012, after the city received 189 complaints over five years about red and yellow smoke, explosions, fire, and difficulty breathing in the affected areas.
State Representative Gilbert Peña, a Pasadena Republican, introduced a bill, HB 3760, that would give regulators at the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) more oversight over metal recyclers. At a committee hearing on the bill Tuesday, Peña said the solutions required by the bill would be simple.
Breitbart - A police body camera bill passed in the Texas Senate on Thursday by a split vote of 22-8, but faces the Texas State House which has two of its own bills. The bill does not mandate that Texas peace officers use body cams, but mandates uniformity of policies by those using the cameras provided by a grant. The eight Senators that voted against the bill were all Republicans.
SB 158 was authored by Royce West (D-Dallas) and was co-authored by Senators Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) and John Whitmire (D-Houston). As passed, the bill applies to sheriff’s departments, city law enforcement offices, and the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS). Local police and sheriff’s departments could apply for grant funding but it is a volunteer program. Senator West was the author of the legislation that provided for cameras in patrol cars.
...The bill is now on its way to the Texas State House where similar issues are expected to be raised. Texas State Representative Allen Fletcher is the Chair of the Emerging Issues in Texas Law Enforcement House Committee and the bill, and those like them, will have to go through his committee. Breitbart Texas spoke to Chairman Fletcher who said he would be carrying the Senate Bill through the House.
Austin American-Statesman - Thousands of Texas high school seniors who may not graduate in May because they have not yet passed all their end-of-course exams came one step closer Tuesday to securing a reprieve.
After approving a few last-minute tweaks to the measure, the Texas House gave preliminary approval Tuesday to Senate Bill 149. The legislation would create a special graduation committee — made up of parents, teachers and principals — to determine whether a senior should be able to walk the stage despite failing up to two of five exams they currently must pass before receiving a diploma.
...The House vote, which was a voice rather than record vote, came the same day nearly 2 million elementary and middle school students took math, reading, science and social studies STAAR exams. Implemented in 2012, the testing system is more rigorous than its predecessor, the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS, test — hence the new-found problem Seliger has described as a “graduation crisis.”
“This is resolving a problem that we created,” state Rep. Dan Huberty said Monday. The Houston Republican sponsored Seliger’s bill in the House.
Tenth Amendment Center - The Texas Senate passed a resolution serving notice and demand to the federal government to “halt and reverse, effective immediately, its practice of assuming powers and imposing mandates and laws upon the states for purposes not enumerated by the Constitution of the United States of America.”
Introduced by Sen. Brandon Creighton (R-Conroe) and 15 co-sponsors, Senate Concurrent Resolution 1 (SCR1) passed through the state Senate on Apr. 13 by a 20-11 vote.
Houston Business Journal - Texas business leaders see cities’ inability to control their own pension funds to be a liability that could slow economic development.
Rep. Jim Murphy, R-Houston, has filed a bill to shift the control of municipal pension funds away from the state and to local cities in House Bill 2608. Sen. Paul Bettencourt, R-Houston, who replaced Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick in the Senate, is carrying the companion bill in the Senate.
Control of public pensions traditionally belonged to the state, set by Texas law. Murphy and his conservative supporters want that control shifted to the local pension board, with pension terms defined by municipal ordinance.
Austin American-Statesman - The Texas Senate gave preliminary approval Monday to a divisive bill designed to help thousands of public school students pay for tuition at private or religious institutions.
After rejecting a handful of Democratic-proposed amendments to the measure, the 31-member upper chamber approved Sen. Larry Taylor’s Senate Bill 4 on a mixed, 18-12 vote.
Houston Chronicle - Local community leaders officially opened the first completed segment of the Tomball Tollway during a special community observance on Sunday.
About 1,000 area residents were undaunted by the threat of rainy weather to take part in the Stroll the Toll event, which offered the chance to walk along the new roadway before it opened to traffic.
"This is something that is really big, for not only Tomball, Texas, but for Northwest Harris, County, Montgomery County and the great state of Texas," said Bruce Hillegeist, president of the Greater Tomball Area Chamber of Commerce.