News Article | March 02, 2023
Week in Review: A Digest of What Happened This Week at the Capitol
Leadership’s Priorities Begin to Take Shape
House Speaker Dade Phelan and Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick both reserved low bill numbers for their previously announced legislative priorities. As the legislative calendar advances toward the cutoff for bill filing on its 60th day, those reserved bill numbers are being replaced with filed legislation that brings details to Phelan’s and Patrick’s priority issues.
Last week, Phelan announced the filing of four of his priorities:
- HB 4 by Rep. Giovanni Capriglione (R-Southlake), to protect online personal data.
- HB 12 by Rep. Toni Rose (D-Dallas), to extend Medicaid services for new mothers to one year.
- HB 18 by Rep. Shelby Slawson (R-Stephenville), to grant a parent access to a child’s social media settings and limiting data collection.
- HB 300 by Rep. Donna Howard (D-Austin), to exempt baby and feminine hygiene products from sales tax.
Fourteen low-numbered bills remain unfiled and reserved for remaining priorities of the Speaker.
In the Senate, most of Patrick's priorities remain unfiled. To date, only the state budget; SB 2, by Sen. Bryan Hughes (R-Mineola), to restore the penalty for illegal voting to a felony; and SB 30, by Sen. Joan Huffman (R-Houston), the 2023 supplemental appropriations bill for the 2022-23 budget, are available.
Officials Offer County Perspective to House and Senate Committees
The Senate State Affairs Committee met on Monday, Feb. 27, and heard several bills that would affect elections and county and district clerks. SB 2 returns the penalty for illegal voting from a misdemeanor to a second-degree felony, which was the penalty before 2021. SB 599 by Sen. Brian Birdwell (R-Granbury) gives the county district clerks the authority to carry a handgun in the courthouse and permission to issue a handgun license to a district clerk. SB 578 by Sen. Judith Zaffirini (D-Laredo) amends existing law relating to the confidentiality of certain personal information of a person who is protected by a protective order.
SB 578 and SB 599 were voted favorably out of committee without amendments and recommended to the local and uncontested calendar. SB 2 was voted favorably out of committee without amendments.
Montgomery County District Attorney Brett Ligon and Montgomery County Sheriff Rand Henderson testified in the House Committee on Criminal Jurisprudence on Tuesday, Feb. 28, in support of HB 513 by Rep. Will Metcalf (R-Conroe). Ligon and Rand emphasized the significant uptick in fentanyl overdose deaths seen in their community. The bill creates a standalone felony offense, not tied to weight, for the manufacture and delivery of a controlled substance that causes an overdose resulting in death or serious bodily injury.
Carlos Lopez, Travis County Constable and Legislative Committee Chair of the Justices of the Peace and Constables Association of Texas, testified in the House Committee on Homeland Security and Public Safety on Tuesday, Feb. 28. Lopez explained the duties of the office of the constable and advocated for additional funding for law enforcement.